When I first began to research the concept of a raw food diet I remember thinking surely no one can possibly choose to live on nothing but uncooked food 24/7? I figured RAW must be an
acronym, that it probably stood for something alluding to a predominantly, but not exclusively, raw food lifestyle. It turns out raw means raw! Raw foodism (or following a raw food diet) is the dietary practice of eating only uncooked, unprocessed foods.
The concept of using a raw food diet to heal the body originated in Switzerland. It was promoted as far back as the early 1900’s by medical doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner who came to the conclusion that raw foods could be used to heal sickness.
Advocates argue that raw or living foods have natural enzymes which are critical in building proteins and rebuilding the body, and that heating these foods destroys the natural enzymes and can leave toxic materials behind. The raw foods movement has been going strong for quite a while. Many raw food advocates believe that food is best eaten in its natural, unprepared state, with all the enzymes intact. People who adopt this diet are often referred to as ‘raw fooders’ or ‘raw vegans’.
The concept of using a raw food diet to heal the body originated in Switzerland. It was promoted as far back as the early 1900’s by medical doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner1 who came to the conclusion that raw foods could be used to heal sickness. Dr Bircher-Benner suffered from jaundice and used apples to recover. His clinic located in Zurich, ‘Vital Force’, still treats patients today.
Ann Wigmore, Norman W. Walker, and Herbert Shelton were fellow early years advocates of the raw food concept. Shelton2 was arrested, jailed, and fined several times during his career.
Accused of practicing medicine without license, he educated his patients on the benefits of rawism and other alternative health and diet philosophies.
As a plant powered Paleo, the concept of a predominantly raw, caveman regime works well. I already incorporate plenty of raw recipes and juices into my diet. I like the theory and principle behind consuming lots of natural, nutrient rich foods. The other brilliant thing about preparing raw Paleo food is its simplicity. There really is so much more to raw foodism than boring salads! Never has that been better highlighted to me than during the time I spent in France this month.
Nestled at the foothills of the French Pyrenees, Yobaba Lounge is a five day raw food and yoga retreat set in a magnificent village chateau in the quiet commune of Chalabre. The village itself is an unspoilt bastide of shaded paths and quiet alleyways. It feels like a completely different world. It’s so very French and I absolutely adore it.
I’m here to retreat, but also in part to work. As a plant-powered food blogger I’ve been invited to assist in meal preparation for retreat guests. Food shopping is an absolute pleasure. We wander around the brightly coloured markets buying locally grown fruit and veg, the stall holders smile and chatter away, keen to assure us everything they sell is ‘bio’ (organic).
The local land is rich and green. Its rivers rarely run dry and the summer climate is much more amenable than the parched coastal resorts an hours drive away on the med. Flourishing with organically grown fruit and veg, local traders supply the numerous weekly food markets dotted around neighbouring villages in the Aude. The community has a relaxed and spiritual bohemian vibe with an emphasis on self kindness and well being. The people here know how to look after themselves. Good food, fresh air, and sunshine provide the perfect base combination for replenishing health.
The Yobaba philosophy to nourish body, spirit, and soul is further encompassed in Mangalo’s yoga practice… This combination of live, raw, Paleo foods and simple, energising yoga compliment each other beautifully.
Yobaba retreat promotes ‘gourmet raw food’ and that’s exactly what our host Gertrud creates. Each incredible dish is testament to her notion that vegan, Paleo, gluten free, and dairy free meals need never be dull. Gertrud puts as much care and fine detail into perfecting her culinary creations as she does in creating a magnificent living space and the exquisite taste of each dish matches her sublime presentation. From colourful red and yellow chia pudding breakfasts to raw pad thai and Paleo chocolate ganache, this is true nourishment in every sense.
The Yobaba philosophy to nourish body, spirit, and soul is further encompassed in Mangalo’s yoga practice. His calm, soothing voice reflects his teaching – gentle, spiritual, and considered. Aside from a few random classes at the gym over the years, I’ve never really bothered trying to embrace the benefits of yoga. I like triathlons, lifting weights, and adrenaline sports. In truth, the concept of standing on one leg and stretching always seemed a bit boring. Five days in and I’m completely hooked. Mangalo has been been leading meditation, yoga courses, and retreats for over ten years. His style of teaching is elegant and all encompassing. Beginners feel welcome, experienced yogis feel suitably challenged. No one feels out of place.
This combination of live, raw, Paleo foods and simple, energising yoga compliment each other beautifully. My diet at home is super clean already but I leave the retreat feeling even further replenished. I incorporate lots of raw food into my existing Paleo meal plans, but now that I’m home I’m going to make a conscious effort to eat fully raw at least two days a week and I’m excited about further perfecting my yoga practice.
Experiencing the benefits of raw, Paleo food has been a life changing experience and one I’d thoroughly recommend.
If you still don’t quite believe it then take a look at these five important benefits of Raw Paleo:
- Raw Paleo foods have higher nutrient values than foods that have been cooked.
- Cooked foods can contain harmful toxins which may cause chronic disease and other problems.
- Raw Paleo foods such as fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants which can help slow the signs of ageing.
- Raw Paleo foods are super quick and easy to prepare.
- Eating Raw Paleo needn’t be expensive. Opt for fresh, seasonal vegetables and buy store cupboard staples such as nuts and seeds in bulk.
Fancy a stay at Yobaba Lounge?
- B&B with raw or continental breakfast from £95 for a large double room or £150 for a suite.
- 5 day retreat including all food from £975 per person (based on a couple sharing a large double room) or £1,250 single occupancy.
- Flights with Ryanair to and from Carcassonne to East Midlands, Liverpool, and London Stansted from £24.99. Free airport transfers available.
- Meyer-Renschhausen, E., & Wirz, A. (1999). Dietetics, health reform and social order: vegetarianism as a moral physiology. The example of Maximilian Bircher-Benner (1867-1939). In Medical History, 43(3), 323–341. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1044148/
- Oswald, J.A. (1989). Yours for Health: The Life and Times of Herbert M. Shelton. Franklin, Wisconsin: Franklin Books. ISBN 0-9620490-0-X