you have been on a diet before, you must be quite familiar with the
concept of menu planning. It is a great tool that helps you keep on
track, allows you to make sure you are getting all the nutrients that
you need and enough calories to get you through the day, and also makes
sure you get a good variety into your raw food diet.
Having a menu can help you make sure that you are always prepared and will never find yourself in a situation where you open your refrigerator and see empty shelves; it helps you see at a glance if all your nutritional needs are being met; it makes the whole process of eating raw foods easy and straightforward.
But first, let's cover the basics on a truly healthy raw and living foods diet:
1. 75% of what you eat must be fresh fruit, vegetables, and greens. Many people fall into the trap of eating lots of dehydrated, nut-rich, "gourmet" recipes and end up failing because they are not getting the results they desire and actually get the opposite results: feeling tired, sleepy, gaining weight, and overeating.
2. Eat as many greens a day as you can - that can be easily achieved through making green smoothies, green vegetable juices, and eating at least one big salad every day. And don't forget sprouts, the most nutrient rich foods on earth!
3. Drink plenty of clean, preferably alkaline water - 6-8 glasses at least: hydration is the key to good health!
4. Your last meal should be no later than 3 hours before your bedtime or 7 pm if you tend to stay up late (remember, even though your mind is up and running, your body still follows its natural rhythms).
5. Eat only when hungry - that is the most important advice I can give you to avoid overeating.
6. Keep your diet interesting - try new recipes, discover new fruits and vegetables, bring as many raw food groups into your diet as possible (I cover at least 20 of them in my Raw Food for Beginners Class).
7. Remember, raw and living foods are about pleasure, not deprivation or forcing yourself. If you don't like something? Don't eat it! Find some other food that will bring you the same kind of benefits but you will also enjoy eating it.
Now, keeping these basic guidelines in mind, let's dive into menu planning.
Here is your easy and simple step-by-step guide to creating a menu that will work for YOU:
1) Take a sheet of paper, and list down all of your favorite drinks and meals - cooked or raw, anything allowed - just write them down without any judgment.
2) Now take a look at your list and cross out any food and drink that you definitely no longer want in your life. Be very honest with yourself here! In the case of comforts such as coffee, bread, alcohol, chocolate or whatever, be realistic: these things may take weeks or months to let go off, however, they will fall away in good time, when you are ready.
3) Now, make a list of foods that you would like to bring INTO your diet (or know you should, such as greens, sprouts, sea veggies, etc), things you want to try or eat on a regular basis.
4) Looking at the lists you have created, come up with a new list of recipes that will incorporate all those foods and drinks that you love and enjoy. If your list of recipes is not very big, go explore the world of Internet - there are thousands of raw food recipes now available online and you can definitely find easy ones to make that will include your foods of choice.
5) Now take a page out of your weekly planner (or just make a table on a blank piece of paper, which will outline every day of the week, with three main meals and two snacks on it). Start filling out the grid with the recipes you have chosen.
A good rule of thumb for breakfast is fruit (unless you have candida) - however much you want, whatever type/s appeal, until satisfied. If you have high metabolism and process fruit really quickly, then try a green smoothie smoothie or nut mylk. A green smoothie is a particularly great way to start your day since it meets your "consume lots of greens" criteria as well as tasting delicious and being easy on your body.
For lunch, your choice will depend on whether you are going high raw or 100% raw. In any case, make sure most of your plate is a big green salad with lots of vegetables, the rest call be a healthy cooked food or a raw dish such as nut pate, sun burger, crackers, zucchini pasta, or whatever else you chose for your list.
For dinner, again, same rule applies. You can also bring a desert on your menu, however, keep in mind that fruit should be eaten before a meal or at least an hour afterwards.
6) When you're done, make sure that your menu meets the following criteria:
Inspiring - you should be getting excited just by looking at it!
Easy and doable - you know you won't follow your plan if it means hours of soaking, sprouting and dehydrating are required, so choose recipes that are quick to make and/ or that will last for days in the fridge. Leave those complicated recipes that take days to prepare for special occasions.
Nutritionally sound - you don't have to have a degree in nutrition, but do check that you have a good variety of foods that will meet your needs for cabs, protein, and fats, as well as all essential vitamins and minerals. Also think in terms of different colors as well as different food groups - try to eat all the colors of the rainbow, ideally every day - this is a classic guideline to go by for ensuring variety in any diet. Also make sure you eat greens every day and don't forget plenty of clean water.
If you are trying to lose weight, make sure to concentrate more on greens and veggies since they are low in calories; fruit and nuts are calorie-dense foods so keep a healthy balance here. If you want to make sure you are getting enough calories but not overeating, you can use an online food journal FitDay.
7) The last step now is to check in with yourself about "life happens" stuff - eating on the run, in the car, while traveling, when hungry and in the middle of nowhere - that kind of thing. What can you make or pack that will help you out in those kinds of situations? Consider making or buying flax crackers or raw snack bars. These travel well and are more calorie dense than fruits and veggies so will keep you going longer. As time goes by you'll soon discover where and when your vulnerable moments are and in time you can become better and better prepared for them.
When you have your menu all filled in and are 100% happy with it, all that remains to be done is to go shopping and have your kitchen stocked and ready for the week ahead!
© 2009 Radiant on Raw
WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Alina Vladimirova, Raw Food and Lifestyle Coach, publishes "Radiant on Raw" - a free bi-weekly eZine for anyone who is ready to look great, feel amazing, and rediscover passion for living. Interested? Then sign up at www.RadiantonRaw.com".