So I've been an aspiring raw foodist for about 3 months now. Most days I'm about 80/20.
The side effects that I like best are clarity of mind and being non-depressive. Another one is that I'm rarely thirsty. I used to be thirsty all the time, and drink 90 ounces of water/tea a day. Now I drink more like 30 oz plus a fruit smoothie.
It took me about a year and a half to make this decision. I think this is a personal decision, and not necessarily right for everyone. Feel free to ask me any questions about it, but know that I won't bring it up in conversation or try to push people into it. Its one of those things that if you are interested enough, you will start to research it yourself, which is how you probably happened upon this site. :)
There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of websites out there that are all about raw food.
Here is Raw Food simplified.
First, you've got to decide on some staples to help you transition into raw foods, as you research, read the books and surf the internet. There are also a lot of YouTube videos.
So, for me, my staples are:
Guacamole w/organic tortilla chips (70/30 raw food)
almond butter on Ezekiel sprouted bread
Fruit smoothie for breakfast
cucumbers with dressing
I also ate eggs, fish, and oatmeal - none of which are raw, but are good for transitioning.
After about 6 weeks, I started to crave salad, so now I eat at least one salad a day.
I still eat chocolate - right now, my chocolate of choice is Plumsweets (dried plums in dark chocolate).
I am still learning the vocabulary and overall knowledge and usage of raw foods.
I've read around 15 books on raw foods - these are the two that I highly recommend that you actually own.
12 Steps to Raw Foods
Rejuvenate your Life
Then check out as many raw food books and dvds as possible from your local library. Your local library can also help you get several through interlibrary loan.
If you want to become a raw foodist, you absolutely must start saving up for a VitaMix blender. You can use a regular blender for about 3 or 4 weeks, but you really need to get a VitaMix. Currently, I have a 3600 Vitamix that does ok, but I am saving up for a 5200 that I will buy on ebay.
The way to get through and stay on course as a Raw Foodist, is to go ahead and indulge what you are craving - I often will eat a bite of cooked food, and then think, no I really don't want that, or no, that really didn't taste like I thought it was going to taste. I know that as I grow accustomed to Raw foods, my taste buds are going to change and I won't want cooked food as much.
From what I understand, avocadoes really help satisfy cravings.
I also know that within a year of being a Raw Foodist, I will have to start drinking green smoothies. It is green smoothies (made with lettuce and fruit) that really allow you to get all the nutrition that you need. Without them, you will usually go back to cooked foods. I really can't tolerate green smoothies right now, but I do believe that will change as my taste buds change. I also believe that once I have a better blender like the 5200 that it will make the lettuce more palatable. Green for Life has quite a few great recipes on green smoothies. Some start their raw food life by trying green smoothies first. I also know that green smoothies are terrific for babies, and is a great "first food" at the usual age of 6 months. By the way, if you start babies on solid foods before 6 months, you are just asking for trouble, ie. ear infections, illness, etc. Green smoothies are also great for IBS sufferers.
Coconut smoothies are also really helpful for cravings. They are also yummy. The best way to open a young(baby) coconut (by the way, don't even bother buying the mature brown fuzzy coconuts - smooth skin baby coconuts are so much better) is to take an ice pick and hammer in two holes on top (I even know some who use a mini-drill just for this purpose) and drain the juice into the blender. Then wrap the coconut in a towel, take it out to the porch/sidewalk and swing the towel and hit the ground. The coconut will then be broken apart in the towel - just dig out the meat with the spoon and place it in the blender. The Rejuvenate for Life book has several wonderful coconut smoothie recipes.
Green superfood powder - I've been placing a teaspoon of green superfood powder (I recommend Garden of Life, but whatever you want) in my smoothies. It helps me get my vitamins, etc.
Here's my recipe for a fruit smoothie:
First, put enough liquid to cover the blades. I like to use Tropicana Raspberry Acai pure juice +whatever other juice or nectar I have on hand. About 2-4 ounces of each. Or you could use water.
Then put in a handful of raw pumpkin seeds. These are great for your daily intake of zinc.
Squeeze in some honey (I love Stroope's Wildflower Honey that is locally only available from the Signature Krogers on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas).
Then squeeze in Raw Agave Nectar. This will make the smoothie sweet without using sugar. Whole Foods brand is the cheapest I have found so far for agave nectar.
Then put in 2 pitted dates. Dates have the highest antioxidants of any fruit or tea. They also make anything sweet.
Then put in a teaspoon (or whatever amount you're comfortable with) of green superfoods powder.
I put all the above in first so that it will definitely get blended together.
Then put in some frozen banana or frozen blueberries.
Turn the blender on, and put more frozen fruit in.
I usually put in at least one frozen banana, then lots of frozen blueberries, frozen mangoes and frozen peaches. Feel free to put any other frozen fruit in. I personally don't like frozen blackberries because of the seeds.
Then pour in a glass, and drink up!
If you want to get free supersaver shipping from Amazon, I recommend buying these three products:
12 Steps to Raw Foods
Green for Life
Raw Gourmet Dishes Simplified DVD