I, Courtney, am a vegan and ultra marathon runner. My diet consists of mass amounts of fruits, veggies, greens, brown rice, yams, beans and VegaOne or Vega Protien powder. This past week I was asked by a friend of mine, Carson, who is also a vegan runner, to participate in a raw food challenge. Eating only raw foods for 7 days. Excited about the new challenge I gladly agreed to join him.
I was both anxious and excited to see how my body would perform mentally and physically cutting out the cooked portions of my food, rice, yams and beans. Although, at this particular point in time I am not training for any extreme running distances, I wanted to see how my daily life performance would be affected if at all. My main goal was to gain a fresh sense of clarity in my mind and body. I am not one for new years resolutions, however I was hoping to bring myself into 2015 feeling cleansed and renewed.
Day 1- Day 7 Meals:
- Breakfast started with a giant smoothie an entire blender full – 2 bananas, 2 hand fulls of spinach, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup frozen peaches, 3 strawberries, juiced ginger root juice, juiced beet juice.
- I would eat 2-3 more bananas (on top of the 2 in my smoothie) for a snack.
- Lunch was a huge salad mix of greens, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, shredded carrots and cabbage with lemon and lime juice squeezed for a little flavour.
- Snacks = apples, 5-6 oranges, 1-2 mangos, celery sticks or carrots.
- Dinners would be a smoothy again or another leafy green salad.
- A lot of raw eaters have dehydrators, food processors and juicers which assist in making a mass variety of foods, I already own a food processor and juicer therefore used them to make some of my favourite raw food snacks and juices.
- In the food processor add pitted dates, raw cashews, raw chopped walnuts, chia seeds, a tiny bit of vanilla flavouring, and coconut oil, blend it all together and yum! an amazing delicious snack. – this is what I usually use to eat instead of gels and bars while on long runs for fuel.
- I am a huge fan of juicing beets and ginger. I always add the juice to my smoothies.
- I have never been one for counting calories, I did not count them as I ate raw, however I do see it being beneficial when trying to eat raw for the first time, making sure you are receiving enough calories in a day may help in feeling hungry, headaches and feeling low of energy.
- Fruit and veggies are very fibrous and filling due to the amount of water they contain, leaving you feeling full however can leave you calorie depleted leading to headaches and low energy.
- I was planning on sharing recipes with you all however there really isn’t much to it and what I have listed above is what I ate the only other thing to make note of is when making the smoothies feel free to add and change up the fruit.
During the 7 days I maintained exercise everyday, a couple of runs and hikes of 1-2 hours, my daily gym weight lifting routine and hot yoga classes.
How I Prepared:
- I did not bother to research or look up raw recipes due to the fact that many of them require a dehydrator.
- I headed to my local fresh market and purchased large amounts of the fresh foods I listed above.
- I knew I would be consuming more then one banana and having more then one salad a day therefore I just made sure to buy a few extra heads of lettuce, 2 boxes of oranges instead of one and 5 bunches of bananas instead of 2 for example.
- You can always run to the store to buy more produce when needed as this is usually what I do anyways, eating fresh fruits and veggies usually requires more then one shop a week.
- I mentally prepared myself by making sure I had enough foods handy, cut prepped and ready to eat.
- On the night of the 6th day I had a large friends/family dinner party to attend, I just made sure I had a salad packed and lots of fruit for snacks. I brought my own foods with me that way I would have no excuse to eat what was being served.
- Also note that you can usually buy your fruits and veggies cheaper at a local market. Sometimes in bulk amounts also.
- Working through day 4 I started to notice I was getting a head ache and my energy levels felt like they were slipping. Eat!
- What I learnt was that even though I was not feeling hungry, I needed to eat a bit more, consume a few more calories and as soon as I did that the head ache suppressed and I felt less of a lack of energy.
- I also got minor headaches on day 5, 6 and 7. I would just be sure to eat again to help relieve the headache and continuously drink water.
- Other then the occasional headache I managed to maintain my overall energy levels and my mind felt surprisingly clear throughout the 7 days.
- It was great to have other friends participating, we were able to provide each other with support and converse about how we were feeling, what we were eating etc.
- It was hard at times, my most prominent craving was rice. My body really wanted rice and a yam sushi roll (my fav!)
After the 7 Days:
- The first day back to the non-raw food options, I felt weird that morning knowing that I was able to eat rice again, your body and mind just get in the flow of of creating a new habit, and since I had been craving it the previous days I decided that for breakfast I was going to have a cup of brown rice.
- I started to incorporate cooked foods back slowly, a cup of brown rice the first day and the second and then I added back cashew butter on organic brown rice cakes (2 a day) the following days my normal eating menu of yams and beans along with the fruits, veggies and leafy greens.
- I have felt my energy rise back up slightly and I have increased the intensity of my workouts again.
Eating raw left me feeling renewed and refreshed both body and mind. I was excited that what I was craving was rice and not chocolate or sweets. Once you clean your pallet your body will crave what it needs. Your body will tell you what it needs for fuel, its your mind that tells you what it wants not what it needs. Up for a new challenge, ready to refresh your body and mind… clean your pallet, give raw food a try, you never know the next thing you crave my just be kale!!