The night before being approached about this diet series, I ate BBQ potato chips, a pint of Chunky Monkey and a box of Dots for dinner. If life were the Mean Girls cafeteria, I would sit with the girls who eat their feelings. My life was a constant cycle of binge eating and food hangovers. My eating habits were out of control and this was the perfect opportunity to dig myself out from the depths of my sugar-fueled spiral. I had no excuse. I was in.
I chose The Raw Food Diet and the instructions were simple: You cannot eat any food that has been heated higher than 118 degrees. My goal wasn’t to lose weight, but to investigate whether it would be feasible for someone with my schedule and salary to live the raw diet lifestyle long-term. I wasn’t going to count calories and I wasn’t allowing myself to spend any extra money on food than I normally would in a week. Here’s how it went…
6am: It’s my week to grocery shop for the office. I wake up with a bit of a food hangover from last night’s binge. I had hoped that making myself sick on pizza and sweets would cause me not to want them for a while.
7am: I was wrong. I arrive at Whole Foods and immediately want chocolate. I do all my normal office shopping and then locate the raw food section. There are crackers, granola bars and drink powders. Everything is very, very expensive. There’s no way I can put a $10 box of raw crackers on petty cash, so I move on.
8:30am I arrive at work and unpack the groceries. It’s not until this moment that I realize my desk is directly across from the wall of food. I am going to spend the next five days staring at delicious snacks I cannot eat. I’m already depressed.
9am I need some breakfast. I settle on a kombucha drink, which is the only non-water beverage in the fridge I am allowed, and a banana.
9:30am I’m starving. I eat a pear and an apple. It’s clear that I will need to eat much more frequently to compensate for the lack of calories.
11am Caffeine withdrawal hits and it hits HARD. I have a headache and am super cranky. I probably should have weaned myself off espresso before starting this diet. Too late now!
11:30am I eat some almonds. They’re not caffeinated.
12:00pm One of my coworkers gives me a fancy juice his boss left in the fridge. I’m irrationally excited about drinking vegetables.
2:30pm Someone is treating us to ice-cream! I bring a cup of carrots for the road. Tess mocks my Roady Carrots and is peer pressuring me to order a milkshake.
3:30pm Everyone is eating ice-cream. I am eating celery with raw almond butter.
5:00pm I’m not even hungry because the caffeine withdrawal headache is so severe I’m now nauseous.
7:30pm I make a giant salad and force myself to eat it even though I feel like I’m going to puke.
8:00pm I attempt to write my weekly Things That Make Me Nervous piece. My head is pounding and I can’t think straight. I give up and email Chrissa to tell her it’s going to be late.
9:00pm I go to bed.
7am I’ve lost 2.5 pounds in one day. That can’t be healthy!
9am Breakfast of kombucha, banana and almonds. It’s been one day and I already hate almonds.
10am One of my coworkers is treating to juice at LifeFood Organic! A raw food restaurant! I go to pick up the juices and poke around while waiting for our order. A breakfast burrito catches my eye. It looks filling and is only $12. I’m tempted, but I’ve never bought lunch at work day before and decide to stick to my original plan of only spending what I normally spend. After being there for what seems like forever, I get our juices and leave.
10:45am My entire body is shaking. It’s been almost two hours since my “breakfast” and me want food. I chug my juice and down some almonds. I need to be more serious about eating every two hours.
1pm I make a salad with spinach, blueberries and strawberries. It’s really pretty.
3pm Afternoon snack of celery and almond butter.
3:30pm The caffeine headache is back, with a vengeance. I put on my headphones, which are plugged into nothing. I can’t interact with people right now. I am a monster.
4:30pm Tess is making popcorn three feet from my desk. I avert my eyes, but I can smell the butter and hear the kernels popping. I want the popcorn. I really really want the popcorn. I eat a mango.
6pm I Google “raw diet caffeine”. Every site tells me that I shouldn’t be ingesting caffeine on the raw diet because it is a toxin that will destroy my body. UGH. Everything is awful.
7:30pm I eat the same stupid salad I ate last night.
9:00pm I go over to Marco’s to watch the New Girl and Mindy Project finales. I eat a pear and more almonds. Marco makes fun of how emotional I am, but I love Nick Miller and I don’t care who knows it.
On Day 3 things got dark and my diary devolved into illegible profanities. So, I’ll just summarize…
DAY 3: I’ve gained back a pound and a half. It’s probably all the almonds. My sister has voluntarily started doing this diet with me, which is further proof that I was adopted. She keeps texting me pictures of juice and telling me I need to eat a “more balanced diet”. I tell her I’m not spending $100 a day on raw crackers. I eat the same boring vegetables and nuts I’ve been eating. I’m so sick of all of it. I go to Trader Joe’s to do more shopping for work. It takes every ounce of willpower I have not to tear into a box of dark chocolate peanut butter cups in the middle of the aisle. I’ve banged my knee on my desk like a thousand times today. This diet is making me dumber. What if chocolate is the source of all my power?
Day 4: I’m back down 1.6 pounds. My body is so confused. I’m not as hungry though, so maybe I’m adapting to the lower calorie intake. People keep asking if I feel energized and healthy, but I don’t. I’m tired and annoyed and want a latte. On my way home from work I stop at CVS. I’m really proud I’ve made it this far and want to reward myself with a lil somethin’ special. I walk around the store a bit, but nothing feels right. I would normally treat myself to ice cream or candy in this scenario. Since I cannot do that, I leave empty handed. I’m starting to realize just how dysfunctional my relationship with food is.
Day 5: Weight stayed the same, but my skin is broken out. I’ve never been more excited to see zits in my entire life! I was nervous that if I went on this diet and my skin cleared up, I would know for a fact that junk food causes my acne. I’m so thrilled that I can return to normal foods without feeling guilty about them ruining my skin! The high of this realization takes me through the morning. In the afternoon, the office gets gelato. The one week I diet, they get ice-cream twice. Spirits are low and it’s possible I’ve gotten even dumber. I keep forgetting stuff and getting lost going places I’ve been a thousand times. I’m walking around in a daze. It’s probably not safe for me to be operating a motor vehicle.
DAYS 6 & 7:
DAY 6: Dropped another 1.4 pounds, but I get to eat out today! While shopping, I stop and get a green juice at this health food restaurant. It costs me $8. Juiced vegetables taste much better when they’re free. For dinner I find a restaurant called Raw Star and place an order for pickup on GrubHub. I get stuck in awful traffic and when I finally get there, the restaurant has no record of my order. Their phones have been disconnected and the girl is super casual about it. She, like the other raw restaurant employees I’ve encountered this week, has no sense of urgency. She’s got this zen thing happening which I respect, but it’s day six of this crap and I’m starving. I politely explain that I’m new to the whole raw thing and it’s been a rough week. She looks at me with pity and offers to make me a “donut” platter. I leave with “Spaghetti Marinara” and the “donuts” thirty minutes later. The spaghetti is okay. It’s basically just a ton of sun-dried tomatoes attempting to mask the taste of kelp, but the “donuts” are AWESOME! I think they’re just granola and agave in donut shape, but they’re surprisingly delicious. One is topped with coconut, one with chocolate and one with honey. They should drop the donut ruse, do some rebranding and market themselves as an independent dessert item. I would order these things at a normal food restaurant.
That night I go to my friend’s barbecue. I bring a vegetable platter and then eat all of it. People keep offering me food and I have to explain why I’m not eating. I can’t wait for this to be over. After a “raw diet wine” Google search, I have one glass of white wine and am instantly tipsy. My tolerance is messed up, I’m tired and I want my life back.
DAY 7: Weight stayed the same. I wake up around 8am without an alarm, which is unheard of for me. I usually wake up around ten, exhausted from a night of tossing and turning. This week I’ve been out by eleven every night and sleeping soundly through the night. I have a bunch of writing to do, so I head to Whole Foods to get enough supplies to last me the day. It costs me $42 for one day’s worth of food. That’s just ridiculous. I test out some raw granola bars, which are okay. I end my week with the pint of raw hazelnut cashew gelato, which I immediately regret. I made it the whole week eating healthy and I had to end it by eating an entire pint of ice-cream? I need help.
It’s been a week since my raw diet and I have gained back 5 of the 4.2 pounds. People told me that if I stopped eating sweets for a week my body would reset itself and I wouldn’t crave them anymore. That has not been the case. I love chocolate. I will always love chocolate. If I developed a life-threatening allergy to chocolate, I would probably die. I have been better about moderation, though. My office got ice-cream this week and I only ordered one scoop of strawberry sorbetto. I’m also proud to report that I just received my two week sobriety chip from Caffe-holics Anonymous and I’m finally starting to get my energy back.
My final verdict is (drumroll): There’s no way someone with my schedule and paycheck could exist long-term on a raw diet. To eat well-balanced and diverse raw meals, you either need an excessive amount of time to soak nuts and dehydrate crackers or an excessive amount of cash to spend on pre-made meals and juices. If you’re looking to lose some weight, just cut back on calories, eat healthier and exercise. I don’t think I lost weight because the food was raw, but because I was consuming half as many calories as my body was used to. In the week following, I ate really healthy, but still gained back the weight. Crash diets just aren’t sustainable. They cause your body to go into starvation mode and when you resume eating normally you just gain it all back. If you’re looking for a strict way to force yourself to eat healthier and assess your relationship with food, I say go for it. It was totally miserable, but I learned a lot and I’m really glad I went through with it.
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