Raw food diet not as simple as it seems

When I was a little kid, I had no problems with vegetables. Between carrots, cucumbers, celery and even broccoli, I ate it all. Now as a sophomore in college, veggies have recently become my number one enemy.

This summer, I was out to dinner with my friend when she told me that she was trying this new thing called the raw food diet. The diet consists of eating only things that aren’t cooked. Basically, you’re limited to vegetables, fruit, beans, sprouts and nuts. Raw eggs and raw fish, like sashimi, are also acceptable.

After my friend explained the diet, I thought, ‘how hard could it really be? I’ll just munch on some veggies and call it a day.’ However, after actually attempting the diet, I realized that I was very wrong.

I started the diet on Sunday, October 9, and planned to continue it until this past Sunday, October 16. After some online research, I discovered that this diet wasn’t going to be a piece of cake, especially since I couldn’t eat any. I decided to enlist the help of two of my friends, Sam and Abby, so that we could all keep each other on track. We live in a sorority house together, so I figured it would be easier to coordinate meal times.

The first two days went pretty well and I was proud of myself.

However, I don’t think our house mom was too happy about the amount of vegetables I was hoarding from the salad bar. Then on Monday night, I heard from several girls in the house that Sam had done the unthinkable — she had pasta for dinner. It was now down to Abby and me. I knew I would have to try even harder to stay on track for the rest of the week.

I kept going with the diet, but the side effects continued to get worse every day. The diet specifically says that consuming coffee is taboo and being the caffeine addict that I am, I was devastated. I had terrible headaches and was very crabby. All I wanted to do was lay on my futon, but my homework wasn’t going to do itself.

According to most online information, the diet is supposed to make you feel refreshed and overall more energetic. For me, it was the exact opposite — so I decided to talk to Jeanette Andrade, who is a dietician at the University, to learn a little bit more about the diet.

“It’s good in the respect that it’s trying to get people to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Andrade said. “But, it’s not something that can sustain you for the rest of your life.”

Andrade explained that the diet is also beneficial because it eliminates saturated and trans fats, it is a good way to lose weight and it can also help prevent disease.

“If you have diabetes, it would probably help your blood sugars and if you have high cholesterol, it would reduce your cholesterol numbers,” Andrade said.

However, it seems as though the negatives outweigh the benefits. People that continue the raw food diet over a long period of time will experience deficiencies in nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals. Vegetables like tomatoes and carrots require cooking for full nutritional benefits. It also makes more nutritional sense to cook beans because raw beans are more difficult to digest.

Another harmful side effect is the rapid loss of weight in a short period of time.

Because of the fast weight loss that comes along with the diet, it can become a danger for those who already have issues with their eating habits.

“I know that some girls especially, use this diet as a means to lose the weight and then they just slowly stop eating,” Andrade said.

Overall, she explained that she wouldn’t recommend this diet to anyone, much less college students, because of the health risks.

Despite what Andrade said, I knew that I had to finish out the diet strong just to prove to myself that I could do it.

Unfortunately, on Thursday night, disaster struck. I was walking home from a night out with a couple of friends, and we decided to get Jimmy John’s, which would’ve worked out well because they have lettuce wraps. However, the second one of my friends said “What about fries from the Beef Stand?,” I knew it was all over. Not only did I eat an order of fries, but I also ordered a cheese dog that was absolutely drenched in liquid cheese and then sprinkled with shredded cheddar. It definitely wasn’t my finest meal choice.

When I woke up the next morning, I was more than upset with myself, because I had screwed up big time. I went downstairs to eat my usual morning banana and realized that this diet just wasn’t realistic for me — or anyone else for that matter. It’s too demanding for college students because of the lack of energy and hunger I was constantly feeling.

I think that the only way I’d really be able to complete this diet would be in the summer, when there’s a ton of fresh produce, and I have the chance to just lay around and sulk. Maybe I’ll do better next time, but maybe it just wasn’t meant for me.

_Taylor is a sophomore in DGS._