INNER VIEW: Keeping It Raw with Dr. Graham
Besides opening this year’s Grammys, Beyoncé and Jay Z recently made efforts at adopting a more plant-based lifestyle as a “spiritual and physical cleanse.” Russell Simmons, André 3000, Common, stic. man and others have been successful for years eating this way. No matter how much celebrity you may have the state of good health has never been for sale. Obesity, cancer, diabetes, stroke, erectile dysfunction and other preventable diseases are at an all-time high. Proper dietary awareness has never been more important.
Dr. Doug Graham is a lifelong athlete and author of The 80/10/10 Diet, Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Grain Damage and other books. He has coached elite athletes worldwide and continues to educate people on how to live healthier and happier lives. I talked with him recently about his journey and things we all can do to improve our quality of life.
Words by Will Loiseau
Will: Were there any events or reasons in particular that led you toward a raw food lifestyle?
Dr. Graham: Yes, when I was a teenager I was a gymnast and a swimmer, spring board diver. I also ran track and field. Being lighter proved to be to my advantage. On a standard western diet I definitely struggled keeping my weight down. I didn’t get fat but I decided to pursue a higher level of health at age 16. I started making small changes in my diet. By the time I was in college I became a vegetarian and a vegan a few years later. I was still searching and at one point decided to do a raw food experiment. I noticed a profound difference. It was a powerful and mind-blowing difference between the way I felt after eating raw and cooked foods. I decided to keep eating raw. The decision is easier to make than the actual action because I didn’t know what the heck I was trying to do. I started to experience some very severe cravings at times and I didn’t know why. Over a period of about 7 years, I gradually refined my raw diet technique until I came up with what I currently call “80/10/10”. I’ve been using that for the last 27 years now. It’s been working so well so I’m not looking back.
What habit was more difficult to kick? Was it sugar, salt or fat?
I’ve always been a fan of vegetables so I never had to really deal with salt cravings. I certainly had to learn to eat enough fruit so that I didn’t have the desire for starchy food. Giving up sweets was very easy because I started eating so much fruit that my sweet tooth was satisfied for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What are your thoughts on the growing popularity of “veggie” foods (Veggie burgers, kale chips, hummus, etc.)?
I have two thoughts about this and one is different from the other. On one side of that coin is a great happiness that more people are turning towards healthier choices. For me personally, I think it is a far easier job to be shown the correct way once than it is to learn the wrong way again and again with each time making minor improvements. I relate it with going to the bathroom. If you ask someone “Where’s the bathroom?” Would you rather they gave you the long circuitous route or would you rather they just told you the most direct route? For me, whole, fresh, ripe, raw fruits and vegetables is so straight forward. You either eat it or you don’t. If you go from veggie burgers to vegan burgers to high-fat, raw burgers…what’s the point? You’re going to run out of motivation to keep making changes eventually. I rather give the straight answer, right up front. Go from eating what you’re eating to fruits and vegetables and you’re done. Let’s move on to the more important things in life like your fitness goals, work goals, family goals or personal development. Of course you’ve got to get your food taken care of.
There’s a great polarity that’s happening in society that concerns me. The people who are taking good care of themselves are taking better care than ever. There are organic clothing and vegan options for shoes. There are environmentally safe paints, non-smell magic markers and real good quality food. On the other hand, there are people taking bad care of themselves. They’re in worst shape than ever and tipping the scales in the wrong direction. It’s a challenge to eat well when there’s no money to eat.
The dollar menu at the fast-food restaurant is cheap and requires no prep. What do you say to those who think fruits and vegetables are too expensive?
Health which supports great productivity is so much less expensive than sickness which promotes no productivity at all. When you’re healthy you can care for others but when you’re sick you need someone taking care of you. The cost of health care runs in the hundreds of thousands for individual people. The difference between the cost of an apple and a burger is pennies. Health is the cheapest option. Health brings great productivity, enjoyment of life, enthusiasm and the best fitness performance. It’s the sexiest option by far is to be healthy. Sickness is not a sexy condition. Vibrant health is the most beautiful thing there can be about a human being. Sickness is very expensive.
Making the transition from eating cooked food to raw fruits and vegetables can seem overwhelming. Do you have any suggestions for getting started on a raw food program?
Talk to someone who’s been very successful on their raw food program and model your program after that person’s program. Learn from the people who already have what you want. If you wanted to learn how to hit a baseball or learn how to do mathematics you’d seek a teacher who can guide you. When you’re up and running yourself you can then teach others.
You’ll go through changes but will keep wanting to make improvements. As long as you remain dedicated to improving you’ll make the next step and the obvious next step. You’ll start to notice the foods that aren’t supporting you and are no longer worth eating.
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