Carol Alt first graced the cover of totalhealth magazine in February 2005. She had recently introduced her book, Eating in the Raw: A beginners guide to Getting Slimmer, Feeling Healthier, and Living Longer the Raw-Food Way. In her book, Carol explained how we could achieve our goals of feeling healthier, getting slimmer, and looking younger by embracing a raw food lifestyle. She defined raw food and explained why eating raw is more beneficial than cooked; as well as how to buy and prepare raw foods and how to eat raw when you are dining out.

According to totalhealth contributor and medical advisor Nicholas J. Gonzalez, M.D. who wrote the introduction to her book Eating in the Raw and for her new book, The Raw 50, “Eating in the Raw has changed lives, sometimes in very small ways, sometimes more profoundly. Since the book first came out, Carol has heard from many readers who reported that their health had been changed for the better by following some of the simple rules she outlined. Many wrote with gratitude that their energy had improved, their headaches had disappeared, the pounds had fallen away, the aches and pains had lessened, just by giving up the junk—the white flour, white bread, white sugar, the chemicals and the synthetics passed off as food—and instead turning to whole foods, clean foods, organic foods, and largely raw foods, with all the vital vitamins, minerals, and enzymes intact and untouched.

“Carol and I continue to be eager to address the question we’re commonly asked by those new to the raw food lifestyle: ‘Must I become a vegetarian to reap the benefits of this diet?’ The short answer is no; while some who go raw do ultimately forgo animal products, including dairy, it is an individual choice based on what combination of foods makes one feel best.

“I am also asked why raw food is beneficial to our health. In the introduction to Carol’s first book I talked at some length about enzymes, those intricate protein catalysts that allow the complicated reactions of life to occur efficiently and rapidly. I also pointed out that food not only provides proteins, fats and carbs, along with the healthpromoting vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, but actually represents an excellent, though usually unappreciated, source of enzymes. In general, we don’t think of food as a source of enzymes, though in fact, all food—whether animal or plant in origin—can provide large quantities of these life-supporting proteins. We can absorb these food enzymes for use as replacements for our own damaged and aging cellular catalysts. But the catch is: Food can provide these beneficial enzymes only if it’s raw.”

TH: Carol, welcome back to the cover and pages of totalhealth. Over the past few years our mutual friend and advisor Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez has kept me current with the excellent reception to your first book, Eating in the Raw. Please review your motivation for sharing the benefits of a raw food diet with the public.

CA: When I wrote Eating in the Raw my motivation was simple: I couldn’t keep a secret. I had been eating nearly 100 percent raw for almost a decade. Raw food had literally changed my life, and permanently so, and I wanted to share what I had learned with everyone.

I have always loved to dispel people’s long-held notions and to shatter their misconceptions. I’ve found that most people will attack what they don’t know. Instead of doing their own homework, they’ll follow like sheep whatever passing fad diet the media happens to pick up on. Remember the no-fat Pritikin diet and the no-carbs Atkins diet? What will happen when the fad becomes a non-protein diet? What will be left to eat?

As a former sheep, myself, I tried all those diets. I never lost weight, or if I did, I never could keep it off. Some of the diets actually made me sick. (I’ll never forget throwing up frozen blueberries one winter when I was on a popular allfruit diet!) When none of the trendy diets worked, I was left to my own devices. And I must say that on my own I didn’t fare much better. While starving myself to try to lose weight, I’d gain weight if I ate a single potato! And, along the way I gave myself hypoglycemia, too.

I had finally given up all hope, my ego’s defenses were down, and I was at my wits’ end. Then one day, God gave me—by way of two brilliant doctors, first Timothy Brantley and later Nick Gonzalez—what has become the key to my life, looks, and the longevity of my career.

What I found is with just a few adjustments to what I was eating, mostly in the way my foods were prepared, I could eat almost anything I wanted. And boy, did the food taste good—unbelievably good! My weight stayed perfect and I felt amazing too. Not only that; it cured the things that were literally ailing me. I still marvel.

TH: No pills, powders, fasts, food by mail, etc. Eating in the Raw is a basic plan for life.

CA: Yes, eating what other diet, living what other lifestyle, can you shamelessly have such a wide range of delicious foods and treats? None. It’s only possible by eating the kinds of foods you find in The Raw 50—by eating raw.

This is not a fad diet. Unlike many doctors and authors who create diets but don’t practice them, or who promote diets but still look and feel horrible, once I started eating raw, I felt and looked great. At forty, I felt better than I had at 20. People regularly came up to me and remarked that I looked better than I did in the 1980s when Playboy magazine called me “the Most Beautiful Women in the World.” The title was something that always made me a little uncomfortable and may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but since I was feeling bad, it was a real shot in the arm.

Then I wrote Eating in the Raw. The subtitle of that book was “A beginner’s guide to getting slimmer, feeling healthier, and looking younger the rawfood way.” Based on the mail I received and the people who stopped me on the street to talk about how Eating in the Raw had changed their lives, the book accomplished what I had set out to do. It introduced people to the benefits of eating raw and showed them how to put raw principles into practice. It dispelled the common misconception that eating raw food means gnawing on a carrot and a stalk of celery and going hungry. The photo on that book’s cover shows me standing beside an array of gourmet entrées and desserts I’m holding a sundae that, I confess, I couldn’t resist eating the moment after the photo was shot.

Since taking up the raw food lifestyle, I have never gone hungry and I have never seen my weight fluctuate, as I did when I was dieting while eating cooked food and constantly struggling with bloating. The allergies and mood swings I had when I was eating cooked food have also disappeared. Many people who have switched to a diet of raw food tell me they’re enjoying these same benefits from eating raw, in addition to others I haven’t mentioned here.

TH: What are the basic differences between your two books?

CA: Eating in the Raw included some easy-to-make recipes, but it was never intended to be a cookbook or a book of menus. I learned a long time ago that it is best not to overwhelm people with too much information on raw food at one time. The important things were to get them interested by explaining the benefits of eating raw food over cooked, to give them some encouragement and inspiration, and to show them what to do and how to do it. I knew what people needed, because they are what I needed to get started. Still, once the book was published, people told me they wanted more recipes and more inspiration. With these thoughts in mind, what you will find in The Raw 50 is a collection of 50 meals that can be made by anyone. The meals consist of 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners, 10 drinks, and 10 snacks. Some of the dishes are easier to make than others but they are all doable.

TH: And they are all raw?

CA: Yes, they’re all raw, of course, and guess what? They are just as tasty as the cooked versions that you eat—or try to avoid eating. And, by the way, my ice cream is more nutritious than your pasta, or the ham sandwich you had for lunch. I don’t have any of the health problems that people who eat cooked food have—Xthough I did before I ate raw food. So it's actually your choice if you want to continue eating unhealthy and being unhealthy.

The breakfasts, lunches, and dinners include recipes that you might pull out and eat on their own—Xa soup or a salad, for example. Or maybe you're having people over and you intend to serve several desserts to your guests: select them from several different menus and try them out. There's something here for everyone and every taste. And for most of us there is enough of a selection in The Raw 50 to start a list of raw staples that will never go stale. Also in the —§Raw 50 Staples—¨ section, we've included a lot of helpful advice and information on starting your raw lifestyle, from outfitting a raw kitchen and stocking it with food, to the health benefits of raw staples.

If Eating in the Raw is —§a beginner's guide to getting slimmer, feeling healthier, and looking younger the raw-food way,—¨ think of The Raw 50 as an essential handbook for meals, snacks, and drinks. Even more important, think of it as your link to a community of people who have embarked on the same journey to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life. If you're concerned with giving up cooked food or still not certain—Xdespite all its benefits—Xthat raw food is for you, here are a few bits of advice from someone who at first feared going raw too.

Everyone's journey to raw is a personal one. Sure, it's great if you can become 100 percent raw, but even being 70 to 95 percent raw in the end will revolutionize your life. Give yourself time to try new things, to explore.

  • Take it easy! Calm down, relax. There is no reason to become anxious or fearful. This isn't a lobotomy or a stomach stapling you're agreeing to. There is no reason to be afraid.
  • Go slow. Add a few raw items to your menu each day. Don't be afraid to try new things. You may not like everything. That's okay. Not everyone is going to like everything. And everyone likes different things. You will find the staples you like.
  • Be sure to eat a variety of foods. Variety is the spice of life. It is also the best way to make sure you are getting the full range of nutrients your body needs.
  • Don't allow the people around you (who might feel threatened by the wonderful changes that are happening to you) to sabotage your progress. Let me tell you that as you change the status quo, they absolutely will try to keep things as they have always been. Don't let other people control you.
  • Never be discouraged by your progress. You're changing deeply rooted, lifelong habits—Xones that may be life threatening but have become a very real part of life for you—Xinto new ones that may be lifesaving; that takes time.
  • Most important, don't try to measure your progress by anyone else. Not by mine, not by the other people whose stories are in this book. Remember, we've had a head start. Join us, but measure your success by the changes in your own life.

I suggest you acquire The Raw 50. Think about what you like to eat now, and then investigate where you can find the raw substitutes for those favorite foods. See how different eating raw is from all those worthless diets you have tried before.

Try it for 30 days and create a new habit of how to eat. See how different you feel and look. What have you got to lose besides some unwanted pounds, a few over-the-counter medications, and the poisonous toxins that are rampant in your body? And what do you stand to gain? Better health, energy, vitality, and youth!

TH: Thank you Carol. Over the past three years we have found Eating in the Raw a real asset and have recently began to utilize the information in The Raw 50 to plan our menus. Any further thoughts?

CA: Yes, steal back your life starting right now. You're not alone. I and others like me are here to help. And thank you. I look forward to our next visit.

TotalHealth editors