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Diets and Discipline 10/24/11

What really makes up a balanced diet? Raw foodists Beryn and Peter Daniels share the basics.


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We get asked questions around diet all the time. What exactly constitutes a balanced diet and why is it that the same diet doesn’t work for everyone? The truth is, there is no one-diet-suits-all formula.

Our diet, for lack of a better word, constantly changes and evolves, just as we do. Even within the genre of raw food, the diet we ate when we started on our journey is vastly different from the diet we eat today. No doubt, it will be different in five years from now. The reason? Our bodies call for different foods and nutrients. This is based on a countless number of factors – 
seasonal change and availability, stress levels, physical activity, mental activity and so on.

The importance of understanding the nature of nutrition and what constitutes a balanced diet goes without saying. We need to adjust our bodies to eat more intuitively and with greater awareness.

The MAIN food groups are called the MACRONUTRIENTS, these are:

  • Proteins
  • Carbs
  • Fats

The MICRONUTRIENTS are:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Enzymes
  • Phytonutrients

On a Western diet, we eat far too many macronutrients and not nearly enough of the micronutrients – so much of the latter, which are incredibly sensitive to heat, are destroyed when our food is cooked. (For more info on this, read the chapter in the Rawlicious recipe book called Macro and Micronutrients).

The following foods are plant-based, MICRONUTRIENT-RICH, i.e. whole foods that make up the proteins, carbs and fats.
Protein: these foods are packed with free-form amino acids and are perfect for building your own body protein

  • Green leaves
  • Grasses
  • Sprouts and micro-greens
  • Seeds
  • Superfoods such as hemp seed protein powder and spirulina

Carbs: 
(these are simple and complex sugars)

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Green leaves & salad
  • Whole grains
  • Natural sweeteners such as honey, dates, agave nectar and yacon syrup

Fats:

  • Avocado
  • Olives, olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Western diets often include far too many omega-6 (found in most types of vegetable oils) and not nearly enough omega-3 oils (a healthier fatty acid). It is an excellent idea to include Chia seeds into your diet and to take an omega-3 supplement such as Omega-Pure (a vegan algae oil). Hunger is your body’s search for minerals, i.e. micronutrients. A balanced diet is all about finding the right ratio of fats, carbs and proteins to suit your body type and cater for your external environmental factors and stressors. It is easy to overdo the fats and carbs when you get started on a high raw diet, while at the same time, gorging on lots of fruit will put your sugar-levels off balance and eating too many nuts will put unnecessary strain on your liver. 
Greens can form up to 50% of your diet and should be a food group all of its own. Remember to juice your greens, make green juices, green smoothies and lots of salads. Variety is the key and spice to life and the broader and wider the selection of fresh, organic foods you can eat, the more balanced your diet will be.

Doesn’t it take a lot of discipline to follow a raw diet?

Firstly, eating a high raw diet is really not a diet it is a lifestyle shift. Amazingly enough, the first hurdle seems to be in our minds. What we’ve found, through years of teaching about raw foods, is that once people start to eat more of it, the body responds, your hunger is truly satiated for the first time and you start to experience more energy and life-force. It doesn’t take discipline to want more of that! As raw chefs, Peter and I co-wrote Rawlicious and recently launched our DVD, Elements for Radiant Health, to help you find creative, fun and delicious ways to enjoy raw foods and understand more about the lifestyle and its vast array of benefits. Check out their site for more.

To get you started, here is an amazingly tasty raw chocolate mousse which will show you that eating raw doesn’t mean you can’t still eat dessert.

Guilt-free chocolate mousse topped with a raw cacao chocolate

Chocolate Mousse
The key to this recipe is to add enough sweetness to offset the taste of the avocados and enough cacao powder to change the colour and give it that chocolatey flavour that makes this dessert so delicious and super healthy.

4 avocados
1½ cups cacao powder
¼ cup coconut oil
¾ – 1 cup agave or maple syrup
¼ cup water

In a power blender, blend all the ingredients until smooth.

Peter and Beryn are both UK-trained, Raw Food Chefs working towards raising raw food consciousness in South Africa. They travel all around Southern Africa presenting Raw Food Courses and educating people about the healing power of raw, living foods and superfoods as well as demonstrating how to prepare these foods in interesting and delicious ways. Find out more atwww.superfoods.co.za. They are also authors of the Rawlicious recipe book.

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.


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