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Defending That My Diet’s Not All Raw

Robyn Openshaw - Nov 10, 2008 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

I read the raw foodists all the time (Patenaude, Wolfe, Boutenko, and lots more).   I think their diet is fantastic.   Sometimes I go all raw, for a few days, weeks, or even months.   I wouldn’t criticize anybody for a minute who wants to do it permanently, as some of my friends do–they all enjoy excellent health.


So why don’t I eat 100% raw and promote it on my site?   I thought I’d lay out my defense of NOT being all raw.


  1. Yes, when man discovered fire and begin to cook his food, he altered it for the worse, killing the life force in the food.  But I think we’ve adapted biologically to thousands of years of eating whole, cooked plant foods, eaten as part of a diet containing lots of raw plant food.   I think 60-80 percent is usually enough to provide outstanding disease prevention and an ideal weight.   EVERY meal and snack should contain raw plant food.   What we’re NOT adapted to is cooked, REFINED foods or a diet heavy in cooked food.    
  2. I think that grains and legumes are good food.   They’ve been used for thousands of years by most of the populations of the world.   They provide good energy in the form of both carbs and protein, and the perfect amount of fat (which is to say, not very much).   Hundreds of studies say they prevent disease.
  3. Most people can’t afford to eat 100% raw.   Boutenko said several years ago that her family of 4 spends $1350 monthly ($45/day).   Because I feed my family highly inexpensive whole foods in the form of legumes and grains, I spend $800/mo. to feed 50% more people than Boutenko does.   In summary, my program is very do-able financially.
  4. It’s very hard to feed kids, especially teenagers, an all-raw diet.   Without grains and legumes to give them higher calories and faster food to prepare, moms can really burn out and teenagers get surly and . . . downright hungry.   I have tried it.   It’s really hard (nigh unto impossible) to feed a house full of competitive athletes and teenagers all raw.  
  5. On the other hand, it’s not very hard to eat 60-80% raw, at least after completing a learning curve (my 12 Steps to Whole Foods program is the learning curve, as I experienced it, flattened out for my readers to skip all the rabbit holes I chased down that were a waste of time).   It is, however, nearly a quantum leap, I’ve found, to go from 80% to 100%.   It’s like the effort differential between getting a B+/A- in college, and getting an A.   That difference is MUCH bigger than the difference in your effort, for instance, between getting a C and a C+.   A 60-80% diet is achievable for anyone, allowing for social events not to become a stress and excellent health to be achieved.

So don’t get me wrong: I love the raw movement.   But Boutenko writes about people going 100% raw and then swinging to almost no raw, back and forth.   I never eat no raw–always, always 60-80 percent, even while traveling.   (You can get salads almost anywhere.)

And I think that’s the most important thing: to be consistent about eating well, and keep your “raw” above 60 percent every day and always as high as you can, so you are providing lots of enzymes and not taxing and aging your organs.   I also recommend having periods of eating as simply and as close to 100% raw as you can–like a “detox week.”

Posted in: 12 Steps To Whole Food, Mind/Body Connection, Relationships, Tools & Products

23 thoughts on “Defending That My Diet’s Not All Raw”

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  1. Thank you!

    It is because of posts like this that I can succeed on a mostly raw diet. We are a family with eight of our nine children still at home. Even going 60 – 75 percent raw increased our budget significantly but going all raw is not possible. Plus, it is not practical to expect my teens and adults to make those changes right now.

    If I had to be 100% in order to say that I am eating a raw diet, I would just fall back into hardly any raw … my unfortunate all or nothing mindset is a detriment sometimes. Keeping it high but not stressing about Thanksgiving at my in-laws makes a peaceful, joyful and healthy way of life.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am working on 60% raw, but trying for 100% whole foods.

    I believe for me right now, the change to whole foods is most important , before I figure out where to move on to from there.

  3. It also makes a high raw diet much more approachable & doable for the average person.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi all

    I don’t know why people are stressing out about this subject. I know there is alot of plant material I can’t eat raw. Like legumes and broccoli really cause me pain.

    From my own personal experience and what I have read people should be more focused on excersise and cutting caloric intake. Unless of course you are and athlete. I also think just as much or more emphasis should be put on drinking alkaline water only.

    Also trying to eliminate stress from your life. The release of the stress cascade of hormones and chemicals in your body creates inflamation which ages a body. Also without happiness and love and bounding no amount of health food and water will make you health.

    Mind, body, and spirit, all three but be healthy for true health. All three of these things are just as important.

    Have a great day all.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sorry about the mistakes in that post. I need to wake up more. 🙂

  6. http:// says:

    I’m going to blog pretty extensively in the next few weeks about why raw food is definitely worth our time and attention.

    But all very true that decreasing stress, showing love, exercising, and drinking lots of good water are factors in our health, too.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you Robyn,

    I am a raw foodist. I have been for 20 years and I didn’t even know it was called such a thing. I went to good earth a year ago, I was looking at the raw food area. A cute girl that worked there walked up and asked me if I was raw.

    I was thinking “Ra” the sun god. I was quite flattered until I figured out what she meant. Anyway there a certain vegatables I can’t eat raw. I think it is okay to cook them but not until they are obliterated. I like steamers myself.

    What I was saying earlier is that I don’t think people should stress about not being 100% raw. There are other things that you should concern yourself with. Like water!!! There is more sources for good food than there is water.

  8. Anonymous says:


    I have a question about your Himalayan salt crystals. I have the hardest time excepting the idea that God would put something our bodies required in one remote place on this earth. I was checking out the salt site this morning and couldn’t help but roll my eyes a few times. “A Sole bath, taken during the correct phase of the moon…” Come on! That’s crazy. I currently have a high end RO system. I know that you don’t like these. (I’ve had it for five years, though.) Do you really believe that I could balance all my mineral needs out if I drank the (RO) water/sole mixture? Would the salt make my RO water acceptable? I drink two glasses of water as soon as I get up and am usually still thirsty. Do you think this has anything to do with the RO sys? Just curious. -Monica

  9. http:// says:

    Tracy, I think I will hereafter always call you Sun God. Funny story!

    Monica, I don’t think salt has to come from the Himalayas. Unfortunately, we’ve refined all our salt sources, and even the Real Salt folks here in Utah somewhat refine. If we weren’t all mineral deficient (thanks to a variety of things, including the leaching of minerals from bones and tissues by the acidic refined foods we’ve all eaten), I wouldn’t be so concerned about getting those trace minerals. But we have to compensate for that–and mineral deficiency is behind so many of our health issues.

    You can use sea salt for a big improvement over totally refined salt. But the OHCS has 30+ additional trace minerals. (And yeah, I read the ENTIRE book put out by the OHCS scientists and have the same reaction–phases of the moon? I’m not there yet!) But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    I like R.O. and have one myself. I love that it removes everything. But then the water is mineral-free and acidic. So then my water goes through coral calcium to pick up minerals again and on to the ionizer to become alkaline and ionized. Again, seems like more than God could have ever intended, and it is . . . but in some cases like alkaline water, we’re compensating for the craziness we have in our world. Pollution, stress, fragmented foods everywhere, etc.

    Let’s just START with the basics, though. I’m blogging on that tonight.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to comment on the cost of eating raw. I’m trying to incorporate more and more raw foods into my diet. Still have a ways to go, probably only about 50% right now. Would like to get up around 70%. Gardening is a good way to offset some of the cost. For the past two years I have been learning to grow a garden. Next spring I plan to almost triple the size of my garden. My goal is to grow almost all produce for my family of five. I think it is also important to learn how to extend the growing season. I’m still harvesting fresh romain, chard and collards from my garden. There is a little bit of a cost up front getting started but in the long run you can save lots of money by growing most of your own produce. Next year I also plan to get some fruit trees. Besides cutting costs gardening also helps us be self sufficient.


  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi Rockin Robyn,

    I was wondering if you feed your family potatoes. If so how do you serve them. For me, I want my potatoes cooked. I remember eating raw potatoes when I was a kid but I don’t like them now.

    What about squash? I love squash but I like it cooked.

    Is there a way to eat these vegatables raw?

  12. http:// says:

    See Ch. 6 of 12 Steps about potatoes. I would be sad if I heard of someone eating them raw. I mean, I’m all for raw, you know that–but potatoes were meant to be cooked! (Sweet potatoes, raw, though? Yum!)

    Squash: it’s good cooked, but I often julienne it in salads. Some of my favorite recipes in Ch. 5.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, i finally got my OHCS!!!-

    now i’m scared to do something wrong—here’s my question-in general and for my sole–will I ruin my sole if I put normal tap water in it? what kind can I buy in a bottle if so? (I’ve seen smart water- electrolyte enhanced water—what is this?)

    also—if I don’t have an ionizer for now –OR a RO system—am I better off using my britta filter than having my tap water (which tastes like metal By the way?)–what is the worst good better and best for water?

  14. http:// says:

    Lala, if you’re drinking water from the tap all day, another teaspoon (in your Sole) isn’t going to make a difference.

    Good: Brita water (at least the chlorine is removed by the charcoal)

    Better: Reverse Osmosis or distilled water (from a neighbor, maybe?)

    Best: R.O. system and then water ionizer in your house, so you’re getting completely pure, mineral water that is alkaline

    You can read about this in one of the nutrition myths on my homepage.

    (Anyone reading, I do group buys for GSG readers so they can get wholesale pricing on Life Ionizer models and R.O. systems, so write me at if you want info about this.)

  15. Anonymous says:

    What about Mount Olympus?

    I have looked at all the water options. If you don’t have a water set up like Rockin Robyn then the water I would recommend is Mount Olympus. The ph of their water is only 7.3 but they don’t treat their water and it is spring water.

    Also they have weekly home delivery and it is affordable. The company is local as is the spring.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Tracy, there are a couple raw squash recipes in “Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen” by Ani Phyo. I think one is a butternut recipe and the other acorn, but you could use any hard squash. You chop the squash in a food processor until it’s small like couscous or rice.

    I tried one of the recipes a couple of times. It calls for nuts, dried fruit, cilantro, and some spices. I really like it, but my wife thinks it’s a bit bland. So, I’m going to start making it for my lunches.

    Also, the Boutenkos have a butternut squash cookie recipe on their website or in Victoria’s book “12 Steps to Raw Foods”. They are also good; although it’s a different kind of sweetness than you’d expect from cookies.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info Jayroo!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Jaroo!

    I have used raw squash also to make a soups in my blendtec blender similar to their tortilla soup recipe they have in the blendtec recipe book.

    The point of my post was to point out that I think there are certain vegatables that are more palatable cooked, like russet potatoes. Sure you can eat anything raw but will you is the question. I know brocolli is good for me but I won’t eat it raw. I love it in steamed with lemon juice and salt on it. If I cook it this way I might not get the maximum nutrients but I will eat a 100% more of it than I would otherwise.

    Also what about the blendtec blender? I know our natural diet is not supposed to be fruits and vegatables whipped to absolute distruction in a blender. But it allows me to eat the things I know are good for me with ease.

    My plan for the future is to incorporate more wild plants in my smooties next summer. Without the blendtec I know I wouldn’t do it because they just don’t taste good.

  19. Anonymous says:

    but am I ruining the sole in any way having tap water (in the actually water WITH the sole) or am I cancelling out the affects by having crappy water?!!!

    Robyn what do you think about mount olympus?!!an okay choice instead of other water? honestly I can’t think of anyone i can borrow water from–though i really want to consider getting the RO and ionizer with tax returns (just gotta get my hubby on board)

    in the group order—the top mounted ones—how much space do they take and do they all have adjustable PH levels? (ie 7 for drinking up to like 12 for cleaning?!!) THANKS (I can email you questions–just don’t know if they’ll get lost)

  20. http:// says:

    Mt. Olympus may be much better water. I have not viewed the water report to know what contaminants it does/doesn’t have. No, you’re not cancelling out the effects of Sole using tap water.

  21. http:// says:

    Yes, the ionizers allow you to adjust the pH level.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ra: look for wood sorrel next summer. It’s often mistaken for clover, in fact most drawings of four leaf clover are actually drawings of four leaf wood sorrel. Anyway, it’s very delicious. Most people liken it to lemonade.

    I think it’s good enough to eat by itself. But it also has a nice flavor in green smoothies. Adds some sweetness.

  23. Anonymous says:

    If Wood sorrel is the little green clover with the tiny yellow flowers, I found that in my yard this year. I used to eat it as a kid. But I got an idea to mix this clover with dandelion. Dandelion is so bitter and it is hard to eat or drink. I thought maybe if I combined them together (the bitter with the sour) maybe they would cancel each other out. Seemed to work. So I was going to try it in a smoothie but didn’t get around to it and it is cold now. So next year I will try it again and hopefully it will help me get my dandelions (calcium) down. 🙂 Althea

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