These days, almost everyone is trying to lose weight, detox and lead a healthier life, opting for organic and/or raw, unprocessed food. However, the modern day temptation for cooked and processed food is constantly presented to us. It’s important to keep in mind that if you get so caught up in resisting it and striving for ultimate health, you might become either anti-social, or so stressed about being healthy that the outcome will be just as toxic as eating and living badly.

“Low fat yoghurts, skim this, ‘natural’ that – making me think I was doing the right thing, but not feeling or really physically seeing any particular benefits”
– Sarah Vosper

Some people say that following a raw diet demands a lot of time, is more expensive and makes you hungry on top of everything. Sarah Vosper, a 27-year-old Greek Australian woman living in Sydney, has a different take on it.

Sarah practices bikram yoga, works as a model, loves soft-sand runs, blogging and is an organic raw food enthusiast. She is currently setting up 51raw with her brother, which is a small business that looks to help inform people of common health misconceptions and ways to help increase their everyday vitality, while also working on a denim label called seiv.

Sarah has generally, since her late teens, been into healthy eating, but a lot of that was misguided by marketing.

“Low fat yoghurts, skim this, ‘natural’ that – made me think I was doing the right thing, but I was not feeling or really physically seeing any particular benefits,” she says.

“I had about a two year period of random sore stomach encounters over in Europe, which worsened when I came back to Australia, it got dismissed as IBS by a doctor, and not wanting to believe it, I discovered the Blood Type Diet by Dr Peter J. D’Adamo and started to introduce more organic whole foods into my diet, which actually turned things around for me and which I still follow.”

However, her real health food venture started at the beginning of this year. She overworked herself, was not eating healthily and ended up not being able to get out of bed and walk. Her brother encouraged her to eat raw, starting with some simple juices, working her way into cocoa snacks and then raw meals. It surprised her how quickly she got better and how much her palate noticed a change after ten days. She no longer craved coffee, but rather, wanted big fresh salads. She acquired a desire for fruit that she never used to like, such as honeydew, rockmelon, grapefruit and papaya.

“Since then I have gone back to cooked food every now and then, but definitely eat predominantly raw. All of this is helping me learn about my body and what feels right. Physically I’m much happier and stronger on a complete raw food diet, but socially it’s nice to go out for a warm meal with friends every now and then,” she says.

“You might find you get hungry more frequently throughout the day, but I believe you get full much faster and more easily through raw organic food, as your body gets satisfied more easily by the abundance of nutrients and minerals that it is given. Another thing with raw food is that when you eat you get an immediate energy response, whereas with cooked food, particularly large portions of it, your body throws all of its energy into digesting it, which often leaves people feeling tired and even lethargic.”

In regards to time, Sarah says it completely depends. To make a big salad for dinner and wash up, or throw everything into your blender for a morning smoothie is much faster than cooking a roast dinner or a traditional breakfast.

“Sure chopping up some fresh fruit and filling up a muesli bowl might take slightly longer than eating cereal out of a box, but if you compare the two in terms of feeling full and satisfied and the benefits for overall health, those extra few minutes are second to none,” she says.

Finally in terms of cost, she admits that “buying organic and buying more fruit and vegetables (especially if you are juicing) would cost more compared to shopping for pesticide and herbicide ridden foods at your conventional big shopping centre, but then if you weigh in how many times you get sick, how much you spend on medication versus not getting sick and keeping a healthy immune system through raw organic food, I would bet that they even out the same”.

It’s important to be aware though, that by eating raw and organic your body will go through an initial detoxification process. Your current health and level of toxic build up will determine the level of your reaction – a lot of people tend to give up because they feel ill and think raw food is not for them, however it is just proof that you’re doing something great for your well-being and future vitality.

The side effects of going raw will basically be the initial stage of releasing toxins that you have already accumulated. Raw plant based foods will start the process of pushing these out, whether they are stagnant non-fibrous foods that are trapped in your colon, or heavy metals you’ve absorbed through non-filtered water or food.

Sarah believes everyone can do it. It’s all about breaking habits and mentally sticking to a goal to get you through the initial detox process of it.

For her, consciously being predominantly raw and avoiding refined sugar has been a regime for almost a year now.

“This past year has been unreal, I’ve definitely noticed a big shift in my health. I haven’t had a cold or flu all year, I’ve only experienced one day of getting sick which was due to a week of overworking and lack of sleep, and by putting myself straight on a juice fast I was mind-blown at how I quickly switched back to normal health. My stamina has definitely improved, but I believe this is also due to incorporating a bikram class and a bit of surfing into my weekly routine. Physically my skin has been clearer, little wrinkles that I had a year ago around the edges of my eyes have completely disappeared! My teeth are definitely whiter and my skin goes a really nice golden colour when I get a healthy dose of sunshine.”

Being Greek, it must have been difficult to give up the Mediterranean diet.

“You actually can still eat certain meats on a raw diet, as long as they are cured,” she says.

“I personally don’t encourage eating meat, it is a non-fibrous and highly acidic food, but I’m definitely biased here as I’ve been vegetarian since I can remember. Once I understood that the meat on my plate was a living animal I had no interest in eating it. It was not initially animal rights or health concerns that inclined me to a plant-based diet, it was just the disinterest in eating animals. This choice didn’t come easily though, I faced a big struggle convincing my parents that I seriously did not like or want meat and even had one lucky getaway from my grandmother who chased me through our village square in Greece with a meatball on the end of a fork. I never thought it was unnatural to eat meat, I just had no interest in it.”

Avoiding anything that is heavily processed or containing chemicals should be everyone’s main concern. Even though it is marketed as food, it has gone through so many stages that it hardly resembles the original produce.

“We get overloaded with enough toxins from air pollution, cleaning and skin care products, not to mention non-filtered water every day, so, avoiding chemicals in our food is an absolute necessity,” she believes.

“If you’re buying something not in its raw state- the exact way nature has presented it to us – then make sure you read the label,” Sarah says.

According to raw foodists, cooking is thought to denature the enzymes naturally present in food that help us digest it and absorb nutrients – diminishing its nutritional value. Cooked meals force the human body to work harder in order to process the food that may contain harmful toxins that can lead to chronic digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, accelerated ageing, not to mention weight gain. Anti-oxidants, cancer-fighting compounds known as sulforaphanes, are massively reduced when we cook our vegetables, while vitamin C and folate levels are destroyed as advanced glycation takes place. It’s worth mentioning that minerals present in raw fruit and vegetables are essential to beauty and can stifle signs of ageing. The natural, symbiotic bacteria found in unpasteurised fermented foods significantly secure and boost our immune system. Even if the raw food diet doesn’t take your fancy, it is still worth a try at attempting a more natural diet that moves away from processed elements.

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