Our friend and raw diet expert, Marina Yanay-Triner of Soul in the Raw, has been eating a raw diet for over six years. Not only does she know the ins and outs of sustaining a high raw diet, she understands the obstacles that are met along the way. We asked her to share some lessons she’s learned through the years of transitioning to, and maintaining this lifestyle. These lessons are gold!
1. Find What Motivates You
I went raw vegan over 6 years ago as a result of my mother’s incredible story of healing. My mom healed her own Interstitial Cystitis, which is a very painful bladder disease that very few people have overcome. After being offered conventional treatment that did not work, my mother water fasted and sustained her healed bladder by sticking to a raw vegan diet.
Seeing her motivational transformation before my eyes inspired me to try raw food. I wanted to heal many physical issues that were a result of my emotional trauma of sexual assault from my teen years. Painful PMS, digestive problems, and bloating plagued my life, and I was excited to see how I could overcome these through food. Little did I know, changing my diet would lead to so much healing, from the inside out. I had started a lifelong journey and diet was just the beginning. This is why I love Food Matters TV so much; it is a great representation of the healing power of food, but the resources cover so much more than just food as a modality for healing.
2. Giving Into Cravings Does NOT Make You a Failure
One of the biggest struggles, which I experienced myself at the start, is cravings.
Not only do they impact people physically when they eat foods that do not benefit them, they also impact them emotionally. Cravings cause people to feel really down on themselves for not being successful in a healthy lifestyle. They are also very discouraging, making people feel like they could never succeed eating plant-based.
One of the cravings people typically have is for dairy. Something I always share with my community is that I myself battled a very strong cheese addiction, and it took me several years to completely stop craving cheese. I want them to know that even if they eat foods that they prefer to avoid one day, they can get up and start over the next! It’s important to remember that your confidence and love for yourself will be a key to success in this lifestyle, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Even long-timers like me had to deal with the same struggles.
3. Raw Food Can Still Taste Amazing! The Secret is in The Sauce...
I absolutely love sauces! They give vegetables the most incredible flavor, with very little effort. Because I advocate staying away from oils, as they are processed foods with very little nutritional value, I base my sauces on creamy nuts and seeds and their butters. In The Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen, I teach my students the method for making these sauces. The best part about them is that all you have to do is simply blend them up and pour on any whole grains, beans, or vegetables – and voila! You have yourself a delicious, oil-free, nourishing meal!
4. Eating a Balanced, Raw Diet is Much Easier Than You Think
My approach to food revolves around science-based information. I love that we have so much powerful research about nutrition, which is only growing.
One of my favorite myths to debunk is that it’s very difficult to design a healthy vegan diet and that it requires a lot of special knowledge and effort. Studies show that people who transition to a plant-based diet automatically get more nutrition than on a standard diet. While there is special care required to eat healthy, I’d say that this special care is important for any lifestyle, not just the raw lifestyle.
There’s a lot of bias and fear around eating plants – but they are actually the food source of animals too – so logically and scientifically, they are the most nutrient-dense foods for humans that there is.
5. Say NO to Processed Foods But YES to Dining Out
Be clear on your non-negotiables. I do not bring processed foods into my home. Let me define processed foods for you: foods with ingredients that I do not understand, or foods that are missing one of the three macronutrients - fats, carbs, protein. All whole foods should have all three.
Another non-negotiable is that I definitely do not feel guilty about eating out. I still eat out and enjoy myself on weekends, typically once a week, and I do so without guilt. While I always choose high raw vegan – vegan meals do not always include healthy, whole foods. So yes, sometimes I give myself some slack and simply enjoy food for its flavor.
6. Find Your Ideal Balance Between Raw and Slightly Cooked
After years of experimentation, I found that a high raw vegan diet is the best way to eliminate cravings and eat an easily sustainable, delicious, and nutrient-dense diet. Some fruits and vegetables, like broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables) and bell peppers, are much healthier raw, while others, like carrots and tomatoes, are better for you cooked. In addition, raw diets exclude whole grains and beans, which I believe to be extremely good for you, based on the literature I have read. I love this combination of raw and cooked because making smoothies and eating fruits all day is easy, energizing, and satisfying. Then ending the day with a hearty, cooked meal that includes whole grains and beans, is wonderful!
7. A High-Speed Blender and Fruits, Your New BFF’s
I’d suggest using your high-speed blender lots! Make green smoothie bowls for breakfast (which only take about 10 minutes and taste like ice cream), and blend up sauces for dinner. This will save you so much time on your meals, and provide your food with incredible flavor, so you actually start craving healthy, plant-based meals! I would also recommend snacking on fruit a lot. Have fruit available all around your house; it has become my decoration! What your eyes see, your taste buds will crave! Fruits are the ultimate fast food, so eat up, and enjoy nature’s candy!
8. Have a Delicious Go-To Meal That Will Leave You Satisfied
We all have days where we just don’t feel like cooking, or we’re starving when we walk in the door. Having some quick and delicious recipes up my sleeve (and the ingredients on the ready) is my savior.
My favorite go-to meal for dinner is a Buddha bowl. It includes a great balance of raw and cooked foods, it’s quick, easy, very nourishing, and absolutely delicious – with an amazing variety of flavors and textures.