14 weight loss tips

weight loss tips
weight loss tips

Raw Weight Loss: Lose Weight with Love

I've never stopped to count the myriad ways in which people try to lose weight. There's dieting, of course, which ranges from the healthy (raw foods) to the absurd (cabbage soup, anyone?). There are supplements and pills, exercise videos and DVDs, health clubs and diet clubs, frozen and packaged meals, drastic surgery and many, many more ways to lose weight.  Yet what each of these diets lack is one simple ingredient that can transform dieting from a weight loss chore into a new lifelong habit: love.

Victoria Moran, a well-known motivational speaker and writer, published a book called 
The Love-Powered Diet in which she advocates a vegetarian diet. She cites many reasons why such a diet falls under the heading of a love-powered diet.  Eating low on the food chain and mostly plants demonstrates love for animals and for the planet. However, more importantly, when we fill our bodies with healthy, life-giving foods and stop abusing ourselves with food, we love ourselves, which fills the primary need in our lives.

Many of us, however, do not demonstrate love for ourselves when we diet. We mentally beat ourselves up over eating something not on our food plans. We listen to the inner critic while stifling the inner cheerleader. We look in the mirror and see a fat person instead of a healthy person emerging from a cocoon made of extra weight.

Losing weight with love means treating yourself with kindness and compassion. For some people, this feels awkward.  Many of us are so used to the notion that only a tough, critical, judgmental attitude will change our behavior that we feel as if gentle words of encouragement are ineffective. It's as if we were all raised with a drill sergeant lodged in our subconscious!

If the mental image of a drill sergeant barking orders at us or an inner critic constantly belittling our efforts really worked, most of us would be at our goal weights by now.

Since when did yelling, scolding, or calling anyone names motivate good behavior? Think about it this way: would you talk to a child like that? Sometimes when I catch my own inner critic, I'm appalled at how I talk to myself. I think, "If I heard a mother in the store talking to her child like that, I'd consider it child abuse!" 

Approach your weight loss efforts with compassion, love and kindness. Applaud the small successes. If you're not comfortable with this approach, you may want to seek help from a counselor, minister, or coach who can lovingly guide you into new pathways. There is a better approach to weight loss than constant nagging and criticism. Love yourself and the weight loss will follow. 

The Pros and Cons of Weighing Yourself

I once worked for a woman who was truly obsessed with her weight. If her designer label suits grew even a tad bit too snug, she'd starve herself until she was back to her waif-like figure. She had a cartoon on the door of her office showing a girl weighing herself and begging the scale, "Please don’t make me cry today."

I worked with another woman many years ago who had a different relationship with her bathroom scale. Eileen ate the same lunch every day: sandwich, bag of snack chips, piece of fruit. (Not a raw food lunch, but follow my example, won't you?)  She used her scale for feedback. If she noticed her weight consisting going up by more than two pounds, she would immediately cut out her bag of snack chips at lunch. If that didn't work, she would cut her sandwich in half.  That was all. Within a week or two and without much fuss and bother, her weight would be back to what she considered normal and all was well.

One woman punished herself with starvation if the scale reported a certain number; another had a healthier attitude towards her weigh-in.  The scale holds magical powers in the minds of some people, particularly women. Many people grow obsessed with the feedback they receive from their weigh-ins to the point when the scale dictates their mood.

There are many pros and cons of weighing yourself with the traditional scale. On the plus side, weighing yourself weekly or monthly provides hard and fast feedback. Although your weight can bounce up or down a few pounds due to water retention or loss, over time the trend should remain stable for those maintaining their weight or move downwards slowly and steadily for those eating raw foods for weight loss.

On the negative side is the obsession. I myself must be cautious and actually psyche myself up for weigh-ins. I have flashbacks to grammar school when the school nurse would line everyone up and announce our weight loudly to the school secretary sitting at the desk; how mortified we were until someone spoke to her and she realized that her attitude and actions caused many children to be teased.  I know that if my weight has gone up more than usual, my mood can plunge and I want to comfort myself – ironically, with food.

A long time ago, during a period in my life when I shed 30 pounds, I learned to use clothing as a barometer of weight loss. Jeans are great feedback tools because denim is less forgiving than say a pair of elastic-waist sweatpants. A snug pair of jeans growing looser each week means your weight loss efforts are on the right track!

Right now, I have a sexy gray sheath dress hanging in my closet. It was my best dress for ages until 20 pounds crept onto my once-slender frame. Now I cannot even get it over my hips. I use that dress as both my motivation and my weight loss gauge. If the fabric fits a little looser each week or month, I know I am on the right track!

How do you feel about weight loss? Eating raw foods for weight loss is a positive, nurturing step. Many people have lost weight and let their weight stabilize at its natural level by consuming delicious fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. Think about your own relationship to the scale and to weighing yourself, and decide for yourself which method (or perhaps another method) of gauging weight loss success is right for you.  Remember, above all else, be kind and loving towards yourself.  If the scale gives you nightmares or causes you to act like the woman I worked with who would starve herself if she gained an ounce, why do it? Why beat yourself up like that? Be kind, gentle and caring towards yourself…and put the scale in the closet if it's stopping you from loving yourself!  

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Journal for Success

The mind plays tricks on us. We forget little things throughout the day. If we didn't, I suspect that even with its amazing memory power, our brains would get completely overloaded by all the sensory input. The problem for those striving to lose weight, however, is that these little slips of memory make us feel as if we're eating next to nothing yet still not losing weight. We may remember our nicely balanced lunch and dinner but forget about the handfuls of nuts we snacked on in between meals, or the amount of raw chocolate truffles consumed while watching television. One way to overcome this is to keep a weight loss journal.

Weight Loss Journals for Success

Writing down everything you consume and other details may seem time consuming, but if you find a journaling style that works for you it really takes only a few moments and can yield great insights. A small notebook such as an old-fashioned memo book (like the one you probably wrote your homework in as a child) can help you keep track of the basics. Write the date, the time, and what you ate. You can group foods by meals or simply write them down as you consume them.

What to track is a personal preference. Many commercially printed weight loss diaries and charts have spaces to write down the number of glasses of water consumed, for example. I sip water all day long at my desk and typically keep a large pitcher of filtered water on hand at all times. It's a habit I picked up from a commercial weight loss program I followed years ago, but a healthy habit. I have no need to note that I drank eight glasses of water today – I've certainly exceeded that amount.

Yet I do need to write down how hungry I am, and what my emotional state is when I reach for the food because of my long history of overeating from stress and emotional reasons. By noting my hunger level, for example, I remind myself to wait until I'm at an "8 out of 10" before reaching for a snack. A little tummy rumble at a 4 or 5 level of hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "I'm stuffed" and 10 being "I could eat a complete raw turnip I'm so hungry" means I need to wait a little bit longer before eating.

Find a journaling style that works for you. There's no right or wrong way to do it.  Some people recommend a big book, others a small one so it's portable. Write in pencil pen or crayon. Whatever works for you is fine!

Free Online Programs

There are also free online programs to help you track your calories and nutritional intake. They work fine for typical diets but have some limitations for raw food diets. Each food is entered separately, so if you eat an apple, you type in apple and most programs give you a choice of serving size. It works fine for simple raw foods like this, but complex raw dishes may be tricky to track and monitor. Give them a try if they appeal to you. The top two are SparkPeople.com and FitDay.com but there are many others. 

What You Can Learn

What can you learn by journaling? I'm always amazed, first and foremost, when I look over my food diary at how easy it is to slip into food ruts. I find that I'll eat the same breakfast for a week then wonder why I'm bored. It's not healthy to eat the same thing day in and day out. It may be convenient and safe, but our bodies need a wide variety of foods for optimal health. Journals can reveal eating patterns and ruts that may be hindering your weight loss effort.

Another way that journals can help is to pinpoint sneaky calories in foods. Raw foods aren't calorie-free foods.  If you're new to a raw, living food diet, you may find yourself reaching for high fat raw foods such as nuts and nut butters to mimic the same full feeling you got from cooked foods. By writing down what you're eating and looking at it weekly, you can discover sneaky, hidden sources of calories.

Getting Back on Track

If your holiday season was filled with too much merry-making, it's time to get back on track! Don't waste a single moment beating yourself up (mentally, of course) for not adhering to your raw food weight loss program. Refocus, breathe, and get back on track!

Why It's Hard to Get Back on Track

Physically and mentally, it can be difficult to return to your pre holiday eating habits. Why?

Physically, if you've gone off your eating plan and nibbled on processed foods, cooked foods, sugar and flour filled foods, or sipped alcoholic drinks during the holiday season, you've reintroduced many addictive foods back into your diet. As any addict will tell you, one sip is too much and one bite is too much. It tends to reignite cravings. To counter the cravings, it may be helpful to go on a raw juice fast for one or several days. Drinking fresh, pure, filtered or ionized alkaline water and raw juice drinks made from juices such as carrot, beet, cucumber, celery and other cleansing vegetables can help your body 'reset' to its pre holiday state.

Mentally, many holiday treats are comfort foods. Special cookies or cooked dishes that only your family makes, for examples, can bring back comforting memories. It's natural to yearn for that comfort time and time again. It's important to recognize, however, that food brings no comfort in and of itself. 
Perhaps there's something else that evokes comforting memories that's not food related? I have a childhood story book in my office that always evokes comforting memories for me. It's battered beyond belief, but when I need a bit of comfort, I open to the pretty illustrations.
I'm immediately back snuggled in my bed while my mother reads to me. Inside my head, I'm back in a warm, safe zone. I don't need a donut to make me feel that way – I just need something comforting to trigger that memory, and my blue story book does that for me.  What can you find that will evoke similar comfort feelings without the food?

Rethink Resolutions

So many magazine articles are filled with ideas for weight loss resolutions. Instead of weight loss resolutions, take each day as it comes. Make today your focus for weight loss and progress on your raw food journey. You can dream as much as you like about slimming down, but that magic moment comes only after many days of individual work. Have you ever completed a major project, such as writing a big paper for school, a doctoral dissertation, a project for work, building a house, even having a child? None of those happy moments occurred in one day. A house is built one brick at a time, one day at a time. A child is conceived on one day, but takes many weeks of daily growth and development before he's ready to be born, and then he continues to grow and develop for the rest of his natural life! You too are on a journey. You can build your future, one day at a time, starting today.

Keeping Holiday Weight Gain Away

I once read that the average person gains 5 pounds over the holiday season. Another friend of mine, an amazing woman who lost over 100 pounds and has kept the weight off for many years, calls this time of year the "Triple Crown of Eating", starting with Halloween candy and moving through New Year's Eve festivities. 

Depending on where you are in your raw food journey, you may be just starting to embrace this new way of eating, or you may have been eating 100% raw for many years.  If you're in the latter camp, you probably have little to worry about with holiday weight gain. Although I suppose it's possible to overindulge in raw cacao and coconut truffles, refraining from sugar and alcohol is half the battle to keep calories at bay – and in those areas, most raw vegans are fine.

For everyone else standing somewhere on this road we call the raw and living foods journey, the holiday season offers many temptations and opportunities for weight gain. It also offers the opportunity to refocus our celebrations from food to friends, family and faith, if we so choose – calorie free, joy-filled ways to celebrate the season.

Tips to Keep Weight Gain Away

Focus on three of the four F's:  There are four F's of the holidays: faith, family, friends and food.  Focus on the first three and you'll naturally walk away from the fourth. At parties and gatherings, spend time talking to people and catching up. If you feel awkward without a plate of food in your hand, carry a glass of water. Listening is more important than eating.

Stay active and exercise: It's cold outside. There are fewer hours of daylight. Plus there are more activities to pack into each day. But no matter what, keep moving. Even if it means marching in place in front of the television at night instead of laying on the couch and watching a movie, keep moving. Movement makes you feel better, keeps your muscles toned, and burns calories. Don't let the business of the holidays keep you from exercising. 

Avoid alcohol: Some people eating a raw food diet continue to drink alcohol. There are organic, unpasteurized wines available, but do you really need the extra calories? Alcohol can also lower inhibitions and make it easier to snack on all the unhealthy foods you're trying to avoid.  Stay away from alcoholic drinks this holiday season and avoid empty calories.

 Remember, it's just one meal or party: People often eat at holiday meals as if they've never seen food before. Remember, it's just one meal! You'll eat again tomorrow, so don't overindulge today.

Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up if you slip up and have a cookie or two or a holiday dish. Simply move on. Celebrate the successes in your life, enjoy time with family and friends, and embrace your holiday traditions with love and reverence.  

Avoiding Temporary Weight Gain

It's the start of the most wonderful time of the year…the holidays! With family gatherings, office parties, school parties, and so many opportunities to overindulge, many people struggle with weight gain during the holidays. Hopefully as someone who enjoys the raw and living food diet you'll avoid most of the calorie-laden temptations, such as eggnog and alcoholic drinks, but if you've overindulged a bit too much in even raw, vegan treats, and you find your pants tough to zip up, don’t despair. You may be dealing with temporary weight gain. 
Temporary Weight Gain

Temporary weight gain can be caused by many factors.  Whenever we eat or drink differently from our normal way of living, additional sugar, fat, and salt can cause the body to retain water or temporarily gain a pound or two.  Additionally, when you eat a large, heavy meal such as Thanksgiving dinner, the food may take a little longer to digest than normal, leading to a temporary gain of a pound or two in just a day.

Rest assured that this gain is only temporary.  If you weigh yourself every day, you'll quickly drive yourself crazy trying to guess why today you're up a pound or two and tomorrow you're down a pound or two. Try weighing yourself once a week if you're trying to lose weight and once a month if you're maintaining.   In reality, your clothing gives you enough feedback to let you know when you're overindulged one too many times.  While a temporary pound or two weight gain shouldn't make your jeans feel tight, a gain of five pounds or so will, and that may be more permanent than you'd like it to be!

Stay on Track During the Holidays

With all the parties, gathering, food gifts and special treats out there during the holiday season, it may be tough to stay on track.  Try some of these tips to keep holiday weight gain at bay:

Emphasize activities rather than food:  Remember that "holidays" comes from the word "holy days".  The original meaning of the word indicated a special day set apart to worship, honor and recognize the true meaning of the day.  Try emphasizing the meaning behind the holiday rather than the trappings and trimming.  Go to a Christmas Eve concert or visit a nursing home to cheer up the elderly. Visit the skating rink with your children, watch a tree lighting ceremony, or rent all those old holiday movies you love.  When the emphasis is on fun rather than food, you'll find yourself eating less and enjoying more.

 Bring raw foods to gatherings: Yes, you can tactfully bring your own raw food choices with you to family parties and even office holiday potlucks.  Bring a tray of raw vegetables and dip, a healthy green salad, or even a yummy raw dessert. Who knows, you might just pique the interest of someone who asks you for the recipe!

Exercise more:  You know the rule of thumb – exercise more, eat less.  Sorry, but that rule doesn't change during the holidays! You've still got to move.  So get out there and continue whatever you love doing – walking, skating, bicycling.  If it's too cold to work out in the great outdoors, how about exploring indoor exercise options you've always wanted to try? Take a dance class, t'ai chi, karate, or yoga.  Rent an exercise video or DVD and try something new inside. Who knows, you may find a new past time you love!

Choose wisely: If you do indulge, choose your indulgences carefully.  Choose something and take one bite.  There's something called the law of diminishing returns, which simply means that with each bite, you get less pleasure. One or two bites may be enough to satisfy you.

Be kind to yourself:  And remember, even if you do put on a pound or two during the holidays, it's never a good idea to beat yourself up. After all, if you're not kind to yourself, who will be? Pretend you're faced with a recalcitrant child. Would you scream, yell and threaten the child if they did something wrong? Hopefully not! You'd probably tell them what they did wrong and show them the way to do it right, offering praise for each step taken in the right direction. Try this tactic on yourself and see what a difference kindness makes.

While the rest of the crowd may be packing on the pounds this holiday, you can avoid holiday weight gain – even temporary holiday weight gain.  If you do find yourself gaining a bit, cut back a little, work out more, and monitor food choices carefully. But most of all, find a way to enjoy this magical time of year…and be good to yourself.

When You're Happy and You Know It – You Show It

So often we think that when we lose weight, we'll be happy. What if by becoming happy, you lose weight?

It's true. When you're happy, you tend to feel positive, radiant and joyful. If you've been using food to comfort yourself, suppress anger or other emotions, or as a crutch to avoid feeling painful stuff, dealing with the emotional issues may help you shed those unwanted pounds.

Come On, Get Happy!

If you truly have some deep-seated problem, are mourning a major loss, or dealing with buried emotional trauma, seek out a qualified psychotherapist, psychiatrist or other mental health counselor to help you work through the emotions facing you. You don't have to deal with it alone. Twelve step groups, support groups, and religious organizations also offer counseling for free or a nominal fee. 

For many people, however, it's not some major lurking fear or life trauma that keeps them from feeling happy. It's simple thought patterns so deeply engrained that they play over and over again, reinforcing negative moods and behaviors.

Emotions impact so much – our health, beauty, attitude, and yes, even our weight. So come on – get happy! You have only the present moment. Start today.

Changing Mental Mindsets

There are probably as many mental mindsets that cause unhappiness as there are people in the world. But a few immediately come to mind that typically cause unhappiness. Do you suffer from any of these?

•    Comparing yourself to others: Shakespeare called jealousy the "green eyed monster" and indeed, this monster will eat you alive. Comparing yourself to others is a futile effort. You only see the outside of people. Sometimes people's outsides don't match their insides! Someone may look super thin, beautiful, trim and fit but on the inside they're a wreck. Someone else may drive that car you've always wanted or live in the house with the white picket fence that you thought should be yours but have an unhappy marriage. The truth is, everyone has his share of problems, pains and joys. Embrace who you are and what you have. Stop comparing yourself to others!

•    Impatience: We want it and we want it now! Being impatient, either with yourself or others, is a recipe for disaster. Always yearning for something that will happen tomorrow makes you forget to enjoy the beauties of today.

•    Fear: There's a reason Yoda told Luke Skywalker that fear led to the dark side – it does! Fear opens the door to hundreds of emotions that sap the joy right out of life. If fear becomes all-pervasive, it can lead to problems such as anxiety disorder, panic attacks and phobias. 

Learn to be Happy

While some people seem naturally joyful, others need to learn how to be happy. If you fall into the latter camp, here are some ways to increase your daily happiness quotient. Think of it like a prescription for success!

•    Write a gratitude list. From something as simple as feeling grateful for the warm sun on your face to the birthday card you received from someone you love, start by listing 25 things you are grateful for today. Increase that until you're up to 100. Chances are you've got more to be thankful for than you know!

•    Change a negative thought to the opposite: A smile is a frown turned upside down. Turn your negative thoughts upside down to improve mood. A negative thought such as, "It's raining outside and I hate rainy days" can be transformed into, "It's raining outside, making the house seem nice and cozy."

•    Watch what you say. While it's important to talk about real problems, constantly complaining magnifies problems. Complaining about every little thing makes the world seem a darker place. Nip it in the bud and let thankfulness rise to your lips instead of complaints.

•    Affirmations can change a mental mindset. These short, positive statements can be taken from books, articles, or you can write your own. "I choose to be happy." "I love myself." "I approve of myself" are all affirmations that tend to make your mood upbeat.

Change Your Mindset, Shift the Scale

While improving your mood won't guarantee weight loss, it's amazing how many people lose weight after a divorce or leaving a job they hate. They may not have been aware of eating for comfort during a time when they faced daily emotional turmoil. Perhaps working on happiness will help you shed some unwanted pounds. It's worth trying. As they say in 12 step programs, "If it doesn't work, your misery will be cheerfully refunded!"

Breaking the Habit of Nighttime Eating

Step One: Recognize the Habit

The first step to break the habit of nighttime eating is to recognize that you do it. While at first this may seem obvious, many people are unaware that they are snacking at night, or they don't realize it's a problem.

Think about your daily routine. When do you typically like to snack? Are you a three meal a day type of person or a grazer? Grazers like to have a little something every few hours. If you're a grazer, you may have gotten so much into the habit of constantly snacking that you don't even realize you're eating at night.

Step Two:  Decide on an Approach

Some people like to jump in right away and immediately try a new habit. That's fine, but what works for some might not work for others. Some people fail on a 'cold turkey' approach and prefer a gradual transition.

The key is to identify your approach and make up your mind to stick with it. It's amazing how once you make up your mind to do something, you'll feel motivated to continue.

Step Three:  Start Today
Step Three may be the hardest for some people. Start today. Don't wait until tomorrow, when you have a day off or you're not so tired. Try it tonight. If you fail and hit the kitchen for a snack after supper, don't beat yourself up.  Just try again tomorrow night.

For those who are gradually cutting back on their nighttime eating, make a vow that if you have a snack, you will have something raw and healthy. A raw green smoothie or a raw sweet treat (many recipes for these are on RawPeople.com) is a healthy snack your body will appreciate. Fresh seasonal fruit also makes a delightful snack. For those craving salty or crunchy snacks, raw kale chips or dehydrated veggie chips have a delightful crunch.

Step Four: Adjust Your Meal Time

If you can, adjust your dinner time so that you aren't eating a big, heavy meal at dusk or after dark. While this may not be possible due to work hours for some, for those who have more flexibility in their schedules it's helpful to eat during daylight. Be sure that you're eating enough to feel satisfied, too.  It's not good for your body to starve all day then gorge at night. That's a trap many people fall into, but it doesn't help you lose weight. Evenly spaced out, regular raw food meals or healthy meals are best to keep you satisfied and well fed.

To break a bad habit, it helps to have a good habit to fall back on  - or at least a fun activity!

If eating while you watch television is a problem, how about taking up something that occupies your hand, such as a craft or hobby? Knitting, crocheting, counted cross stitch, even a small handheld game or jigsaw puzzle keeps your hands occupied.

Do you crawl into bed and feel very hungry as you try to fall asleep? It's probably habit. Drink water. Repeat a word or phrase over and over to yourself to distract the craving monster from his assault on your sanity.

Unconscious Eating

There's a rare eating disorder in which people actually wake up, leave their beds, walk down to the kitchen and eat in their sleep or wake up to find themselves gorging.  Called Nocturnal Eating Syndrome, it's now recognized as a mental health issue. 

Extremes That Hurt Progress: Overeating and Undersleeping

Two extremes that plague modern society may actually be contributing to the rise in debilitating illnesses: overeating and undersleeping. These two natural activities that should be simply matters of instinct have become so twisted in the modern world that people are constantly abusing their bodies through neglect.


Our bodies were designed by nature to exist on a diet of mostly plant-based foods. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate seasonal, natural, raw foods. They gathered fruit and plants from the fields and snacked on nuts and seeds. 

Think about today's modern man. Instead of roaming the fields and forests, he's roaming the shopping mall or office park. Instead of picking ripe fruit from the tree, he's picking up a large coffee to go and a cinnamon bun from the food court.  Instead of ingesting natural fruit sugars, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes that nurture the body, he's kicking his adrenals into dumping more hormones out through stimulants like caffeine and sugar to keep him revved for his late night meetings and movie date.  Is it any wonder we're all sick – and tired?
Overeating takes its toll on the body in many ways:

•    We tend to overeat on processed foods – fast food, sugar, white flour, packaged products. None of these foods are good for us. They provide calories and inadequate nutrition. They flood our bodies with chemicals that must be removed, further stressing our overtaxed systems.

•    We eat all day and night, never giving our digestive systems a break. The pancreas, adrenals, liver, stomach, intestines and more are constantly in use.

•    We eat too many calories, and the extra energy is stored as fat throughout the body. Fat is also a storehouse for chemicals. The more fat we have, the more chemicals we may have stored throughout the body, which can have adverse affects.

•    The heavier our bodies, the less likely we are to move and get healthy exercise. This only leads to feeling more tired and gaining more weight.

•    Higher body weight is linked with higher rates of diabetes, some types of cancer, and many other diseases.

Eating Raw Foods Counteracts Overeating

Eating raw foods counteracts overeating naturally.  It's difficult if not impossible to eat too many calories on a raw food diet especially if the diet is based on fruits and vegetables (instead of nuts, seeds and oils, which can indeed be calorie-dense).  Eating fruits and vegetables to the point of satiety rarely fills the body with more calories than it needs.
    Following natural cycles of eating also reduces obesity.  By eating during daylight hours only, we reduce the number of hours available to eat.  We also follow our body's natural cycles of digestion, elimination, and assimilation.

Adequate Sleep and Health

Today's modern lifestyle seems to shun sleep as a luxury. "I'll sleep when I'm dead" used to be a saying on Wall Street and the power canyons of Manhattan, meaning that people would work until all hours of the night to get ahead with their careers.  Unfortunately, too little sleep may indeed lead to premature aging and death!

The body needs its down time to rest, refresh and restore.  Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night.  Few people get this much rest and instead try to exist on five hours or so of sleep each night. This can lead to chronic sleep deficits. Many people try to make up for this deficit on the weekends by sleeping late, but the body can only make up so much. Over time, too little sleep may impact cognitive function and heart health.  

Natural Cures: Follow Natures Patterns

Nature is indeed the best teacher when it comes to health.  Following the natural patterns of sunshine and moonlight to guide us when to eat and sleep are turning out to be powerful natural prescriptions.

You may want to try:

•    Eat only during daylight hours

•    Focus on raw fruits and vegetables for filling, nutritious foods

•    Rest when the moon is out. Cut down on late-night television and computer use, which stimulates the brain and glands and creates a false sense of wakefulness, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

•    Kick the habit of using caffeine early in the day to rouse yourself and sleep aids, even natural sleep aids such as herbs, at night.

•    Allow your body at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

•    If you can, get rid of your alarm clock and sleep and rise when your body tells you it needs to.

Natural cycles of eating, sleeping and elimination follow the master plan for health. Incorporate these small steps daily into your life for a healthy, supportive living.

Eating According to Nature's Cycles

As someone interested in the power and promise of raw foods, you're probably interested in natural health and healing too. Our bodies evolved over thousands of year based on the climate, geography and conditions in which our ancestors lived. These ancestors didn't have access to clocks to tell time, nor did they have refrigerated food, packaged goods, and 24/7 convenience stores. 

Our Bodies Evolved on the Pattern of Light and Darkness

Our ancestors rose with the dawn and lay down to sleep when the stars peeked out from the veil of heaven.  Light dictated their natural rhythms. While they had fires, candles, torches and lanterns to light the way, these conveniences were expensive and time consuming. The wealthy and powerful could use candles to enjoy evening soirees. For the majority of people, natural light from the sun guided their daily rhythm.

History Confirms this Pattern

Eating too followed seasonal and cyclical patterns. Until approximately a century ago, people in America and Europe generally ate two meals a day: breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was consumed between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and consisted of a hearty and by today's standards, heavy meal. 

 Dinner was served in the early afternoon, sometime between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m, and was the second major meal of the day. If additional food was served, a light meal in the evening before sunset was the norm.  

Thomas Jefferson Lived into His Eighties and Followed This Pattern

A recent tour of Monticello, the home of the great Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia, underscored this fact. The tour guide described Jefferson's typical day: "He rose at dawn, bathed in cold water, worked on correspondence until approximately 10 a.m, then took his first meal of the day. It usually consisted of bread, cheese, wine diluted with water and fruit in season.  

Then he worked until approximately early afternoon, when he had exercise time. Exercise time consisted of horseback riding or walking the grounds of Monticello.  After exercise time came family time when he played with his many grandchildren. Then the family dined together. 

 Jefferson's major meals consisted of vegetables, bread, and some meat to flavor the vegetables, but he treated meat as a condiment rather than a main dish.  If he ate anything else, the family had sweets, tea and fruit later in the evening."

Can you imagine a family today eating so little? Jefferson's day at Monticello sounds like an ideal mix of intellectual pursuits, social and family time, exercise, and adequate rest. And although not a vegetarian, Jefferson ate differently from his contemporaries, relying upon the prodigious variety of fruits and vegetables from Monitcello for sustenance. It's no wonder that he lived well into his eighties.

How to Eat Naturally

 In the past 20 years, the rate at which obesity and lifestyle related diseases has skyrocketed. Not surprisingly, according to Paul Nison, a raw food expert, this coincides with the dietary advice to eat small, frequent meals. The problem with this advice is that most people forget the word 'small' and instead graze all day, eating 5 to 11 times throughout the course of the day.

Our bodies weren't meant to eat constant big, heavy, cooked meals.  Instead, Nison gives this advice to eat according to nature's cycles:

•     Eat during daylight hours only. The sun gives energy and life, and our bodies are suited to process the energy from food when the sun is shining.  So eat when it's light outside, or approximately from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

•    Allow your body to rest when the moon is out. Our bodies cleanse at night. Eating in the evening, before bed, or during the night puts stress on the body's natural cleansing cycles.  Avoid any foods in the evening.

•    Eat adequate amounts during the day so you're not starving and tempted to graze at night. Eating more whole foods during the day is a great way to fill the body with nutrients during the time of day when it can process them effectively.

Nison recommends a three phrase approach to eating that follows natural cycles.  The three phrases are:

 Phase 1: Eat only when it's light out. Get out of the habit of nighttime eating. 

Phase 2:  Eat only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. This allows the body plenty of time to assimilate foods and cleanse.

Phase 3:  Eat only two meals a day.  This may be the hardest for most people, but Nison believes that our bodies naturally need nourishment only twice a day. Eating adequate amounts of fresh, raw and whole foods ensures proper nutrition and satisfies hunger.

Our bodies evolved not on a clock schedule, but on the natural cycles of light and darkness, day and night. Following natural cycles makes sense and brings us not only greater health, but greater harmony with our surroundings.

Sugar Detoxification: Raw Food Snack Ideas

When you're at home, you have the luxury of a full kitchen and an open schedule. When you're hungry, you can simple pad into the kitchen and grab a nice shiny red apple from the bowl on the counter or grab some raw snacks from the fridge. But when you're on the go – back to school, at work, or just the hustle and bustle of every day life – you need snacks on the go. 

And while it may seem difficult, raw food snacks are simply a matter of planning.  You don't plan to snack on Cheetos because you're so used to grabbing a shiny, crinkly bag of orange colored things off the 7-11 shelf that it seems easier than remembering to pack a few pieces of fruit in your purse. But with a bit of attention, you can eat raw on the go.


Fruit is a godsend for those who crave sweets. If you typically snacked on sugar-filled foods, one way to continue your transition off of sugary desserts is to keep yourself well supplied with fruit. Here are suggestions for fruits that travel well in the car, to school, or to work.  Pack a few napkins and a bag for cores and peels.

Apples: Apples are your friends. They're tough and can take a bit of a beating, although you don't want them too beaten up. You can grab a few and stuff them into your briefcase, purse or a backpack. They don't need refrigeration or peeling. Best of all, they won't leak juice all over your stuff.  Don't be afraid to pack several if you'll be out of the house for a few hours; much on them, and include a small bag in your car or purse for the cores so you can discard them properly.

Oranges: While a bit messier than apples, they also travel well. Peeling an orange can be difficult when away from home. If you don't have a knife and you don't want to use your fingernails, wash a paperclip and bend it open; use the pointy end to make a hole in the orange skin so you can get a grip on it and peel it.  

   Pears: Their tender skin makes pears a bit iffy to transport, but tougher skinned varieties like Bosc (brown skinned) stand up better to travel.

 Plums: Summertime wouldn't be the same without purple plums. Choose a few that are on the harder side to prevent squishing during transportation.

Peaches and Nectarines: More juicy goodness, but same problems as plums – make sure you transport them in a bag, and bring napkins!

Grapes: Grapes are a great portable snack. Seedless grapes travel well. Pack bags of them for your children, too. They're a healthy snack kids love.

Dried fruits are great in a pinch too. Raisins are very healthy and easy to find in most convenience stores. Prunes, dates, and dried cranberries and cherries also make health treats.


As you continue your sugar detoxification you may find that even a sweet piece of fruit sets off cravings for white sugar. Fortunately, vegetables transport easily too.  Wash, peel and slice carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, pepper strips and cauliflower; all transport well.  No drips, no mess, and they satisfy that urge for a solid crunch when you need it!

Nuts and Seeds
Raw almonds, cashews, walnuts and more…yum! Pack a small supply for days when you need energy and won't have time to stop. While calorie dense, they provide great nutrition, healthy fats,  fiber, and protein.


Take water with you wherever you go. Fill your bottle at home from an ionize alkaline water machine or at least your filtered tap water. Keeping well hydrated will also keep hunger pangs and temptation at bay when you're shopping at the mall, volunteering for your school mom duty, or watching your son's baseball game.

It's All About Planning

You can be the typical person and rush out of the house in the morning without thinking about what you eat and drink and succumbing to all sorts of temptations later in the day. Or, you can embrace a raw and living foods lifestyle and plan some simple, easy on the go snacks. 

The choice is yours. It probably takes as much energy, if not more, to decide which fast food restaurant you'll eat at when you're shopping than if you took a few moments at home to pack your snack.  Decide now to embrace a new, healthier lifestyle – and choose raw foods to go!

Judging Ourselves by Others

One thing most people fall prey to at one time or another in their lives is judging themselves by others. Maybe it's hardwired into us. Maybe it's taught when we're young children and Mom or Dad tell us to be nice like Suzy or smart like John.  Who knows? What's important is recognizing when this happens and short circuiting it to keep ourselves on the path to success.

The Sneaky Inner Critic

    People following a raw food lifestyle or embracing holistic practices are no exception to this. Perhaps an intriguing story like Angela Stokes' personal testimonial of how she lost 162 pounds on a raw food diet attracted you to this way of living in the first place. Now as you reach your third month of changing to a raw food diet, you find that the scale has barely budged and you're not the svelte, happy, energetic person you thought you'd be at this point in the journey.
    "But if Angela did it, why can't I?"
    That's when the ever-helpful inner critic begins whispering sweet nothings in your ear. 
    "Perhaps you're not trying hard enough."
    "You're not as good as she is."
    "You're just lazy and fat."
    And so on.
    The inner critic says thing we wouldn't let ourselves say to others. In fact, we probably wouldn't scold a pet using words like this. Yet on and on the Critic babbles, sometimes as a constant murmur in the back of our minds but mostly resting on the waters of the unconscious and lapping just at the shores of consciousness.

Look to Others for Inspiration, Not Comparison
    Raw food testimonials are in the public arena for a reason. They're meant to motivate and inspire others to join the crusade for a healthier, happier lifestyle. When the inner critic picks them up to use as a stick to beat you up with, it's time to remember a few things.

You are:

•    Unique. No one has ever existed like you, and no one in the future will ever be like you. Even if science cloned you, your clone would have different life experiences and consequently be a different person. Think about that for a moment.
•    Special.  This flows from the concept of being unique. If you're unique it stands to reason that you are quite different from everyone else. Consequently your journey through the raw and living foods lifestyle will be different from anyone else's. You may have food allergies or sensitivities. You may crave sweet or salty foods. You have a certain metabolism and genetic makeup that affects your weight loss. Comparing yourself to others is futile.
•    Loveable. This may sound like a strange note to end upon, but go back and read the inner critic dialogue again. You are a person worthy of dignity and respect, not abuse. While you can't control what others say and do around you, you can change the voice of the inner critic. Affirmations, positive imagery, and filling your mind with uplifting and inspiring thoughts is a much better way to support yourself than beating yourself up with comparisons to others. Love yourself first and everything becomes much easier.

Nothing Happens Overnight

    While we may all daydream once in a while about winning the lottery, even millionaires didn't get their money overnight (inherited wealth doesn't count).  They had to work day by day towards building their business, investing their money, and making wise choices. 
    So too a raw and living foods lifestyle doesn't happen overnight. Once in a while you'll find testimony from someone who was able to transition smoothly and quickly, but for the majority of folks, it's a daily step by step process. It can take up to five years to become fully raw, and that's okay.  
    Ever little change you make – every step in the journey – adds to your health and wholeness.
    Start today. Outwit the inner critic. Take your first step now.

Lifestyle Changes Versus Dieting

We've all seen those celebrity diets – you know, the diet programs in which celebrities eat only prepackaged foods, or diet shakes, or special snack bars. They drop 50 pounds, shimmy into a skin tight little black dress, and look spectacular for the trip down the red carpet.
    Next thing you know they're on Oprah's couch bemoaning gaining back the 50 plus 25.
    What happened to these people? They went on a diet.
    You're not going on a diet, even if it is called the raw food diet. You're making lifestyle changes…changes that will last you a lifetime!

Dieting Mentality

    The dieting mentality is famous, or perhaps infamous. The mental self-talk or the constant chatter in your head when you have a dieting mentality goes something like this:

    "Well, I really, really want that slice of pecan pie…but I'm on a diet…so I guess I won't have it…but next week when I reach my goal weight, I can have the pie…oh yeah maybe I'll eat the whole pie…and then get some ice cream for it…and I haven't had chocolate in a while…."

And so on, until you've gradually worn away your last remaining shred of will power and motivation. Instead, you've installed a little switch, like a light switch.  Your brain will flip that switch the day the scale hits your goal weight or you reach the magic day when you go "off" of your diet.

Lifestyle Change Mentality

    Now contrast this with the inner chatter of someone who has more of a lifestyle change mentality.

    "Well, I really, really want that slice of pecan pie…but I know that sugar isn't good for me…and I love how I feel when I eat raw foods…I have so much energy now…my skin is clearer…I feel lighter, happier….I never felt that way on the pecan pie…I'm going to pass on that and have some fruit instead."

Do you see the difference? Because the second person is in it for the long haul, she's focusing on all the wonderful aspects of eating raw. She's remembering how she feels. That's something she wants to keep for a long time to come – energy, healthy, glowing skin, a new attitude.  She want this for keeps. She can pass the momentary pleasure of eating a slice of pie for the long-term pleasure of looking and feeling good.

An Unfolding Process
    Changing from a dieting mentality to a lifestyle mentality takes time. Give yourself credit and praise for taking baby steps towards lifestyle changes. Going out for a walk instead of watching television, eating fruit instead of sugar-filled treats, and enjoying a healthy raw food dinner rather than cooked fast food are wonderful steps you've taken for your health and well being.  Continue your good work. Soon, eating raw will feel so natural, you'll hardly believe this was once new to you!

What to do When you Slip Up!

    Talk to people who have tried to make major health changes, whether it's quitting smoking, starting an exercise program, or eating a raw food diet, and they'll all say the same thing. There are times when even the strongest will power fails. They slip up.

    Why is it that when you start something positive, like changing to a raw food diet, that you're full of energy and enthusiasm – but somehow along the way, you lose that drive and determination?

Food Can Be Addictive

Throughout these articles on detoxification, we've mentioned that detoxifying from white sugar, flour, and caffeine are usually the hardest substances to wean oneself off of during the transition to a raw food diet.  There are many reasons for this, but one reason that most people overlook is that quite simply, these substances are addictive.

Sugar is addictive? But we feed it to kids at Halloween! Gorging on candy is a child's rite of passage.

Sugar is actually highly addictive.  According to William Duffy in his famous book Sugar Blues, sugar forms the same addictive pathways in the brain as hard drugs such as heroin! Yet on the Standard American Diet (SAD), a donut and sweet coffee are morning fare.

Detoxifying from such a highly addictive, insidious food can be quite difficult. In addition to the strong physical hold it has on the body, the pleasant emotions associated with sugar are equally strong.  It takes a while to detoxify from it. Often too, it sneaks back in through a food we think is safe. Sugar can be a hidden ingredient in many foods and once ingested after detoxifying from it, it can trigger a whole cascade of cravings for equally unhealthy foods, all things that can under mine your best efforts at detoxification.

Old Habits Die Hard

    This may be a cliché, but clichés always came from truth. It is difficult to break habits. Experts tell us that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and instill a new one, but experience demonstrates that it may take longer for some people than for others.

    If habit has undermined your detoxification efforts and cooked, junky foods found their way back into your diet, it's important to identify the habits and thoughts that led to the slip.  Keeping a food diary, in which you record all the foods you've eaten, the time of day, and what you're feeling when you eat the foods, may help you pinpoint exactly what happened to derail your detoxification efforts.

New Attitude

    Many people beat themselves up when they slip up. Don't! You're a human being and it is hard to make changes, even positive, healthy ones like changing to a raw food diet.

If you've slipped up…

•    DO go back to eating raw foods – don't allow one slip to turn into a slide (or an avalanche!)
•    DO begin keeping a food journal or diary so you have something written down to help you pinpoint hidden trigger foods or situations that can derail your progress
•    DO give yourself time to detoxify again if you've eaten a lot of something unhealthy. While it probably won't take as long to detoxify, you will still need to readjust.

Give yourself credit for honesty and perseverance. Here's another cliché to keep in mind: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It's probably what your parents told you when you were learning to ride a bike, swim in the deep part of the swimming pool, or roller skate.  And it's what you need to tell yourself to get your detoxification back on track after a slip.

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