Kristen Suzanne is an accomplished Raw food chef and former competitive bodybuilder. Through radio, television, books, classes, and her blog and email newsletter, Chef Kristen Suzanne helps people live life to the fullest with the healthiest cuisine in the world.

Kristen is based in Scottsdale, AZ, and offers the following services:

Author of Raw food recipe and lifestyle books

Media spokesperson and Raw food advocate

Public and private demonstrations and lectures

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My Personal Story

My name is Kristen Suzanne. I'm going to start by telling you a little about my background in Raw Foods and why I have chosen this diet for my lifestyle. Then, I'll jump into the benefits and details associated with eating a Raw Food diet. After that, I'm going to share with you what a typical day in the life can be for someone eating a "High Raw" diet. This will be followed by some tips and tricks to get started. (Please note that we in the Raw Food movement often capitalize "Raw Food" to distinguish it as a specific cuisine and lifestyle, with its accompanying guidelines, as opposed to referring to any random food item that happens to be uncooked.)

My reason for going Raw is this: Because it works. My goal was to find the truth. I wanted to find what works, what is reasonable, and definitely what is fun. I've been on every supplement there is and tried most of the diets out there. My history includes competing as a bodybuilder in my early 20's, which is where I started getting serious about fitness, as well as embarking on the infamous diet rollercoaster lifestyle. During this time in my life, I ate meat roughly six times a day. I worked out like crazy, preparing for bodybuilding competitions, and I looked great. But something was wrong. I wasn't healthy.

For most of my life, I had intense migraine and tension headaches, acne, cellulite, allergies, and back pain. I was constantly tired and so you'd always find me drinking 2-3 Starbucks' triple venti soy cappuccinos each day. I took plenty of prescription medications, for both my headaches and my exhaustion.

Eventually, I was so tired of not feeling well, of not feeling like I was at my peak unless I medicated myself with something like caffeine or pain pills. I was living a life of stimulated energy instead of Raw energy. I had no idea there was such a thing as Raw Energy. And, wow, what a difference that has made in my life!

Over time, I tried many diets and supplements. Some worked okay, and I would lose weight, but I would still get headaches, acne, and be tired and sluggish, unless I was drinking tons of caffeine and taking energy pills. The benefits never lasted long either, because your body gets used to being in that stimulated state and then requires higher and higher dosages to maintain it. Too many people are looking in the wrong places for the answers on how to achieve optimal health. They're wasting their time, health, and money and they still don't get the ultimate results they're so eagerly seeking. I was one of those people.

Always on a quest to learn more, and to learn the truth, I started looking for other ways to improve my health, when I came upon the information about becoming vegan, and then on becoming a Raw vegan at that. As I started researching more, I realized that with the Raw lifestyle, people were doing this for life and they loved it! This seemed to be the one diet where people were thriving on it for 20, 30, and 40 years. Think about that; most diets are temporary. How many diets do you know of that people stay on, gladly, for life? The true meaning of "diet" is simply "what you eat." It's your way of life, not something you do for two weeks and then stop. But in our culture most people start "diets" only to quit shortly thereafter. Even worse, people usually feel worse after having been on them, because the diets were about deprivation or included eating foods or taking supplements that were unhealthy. The testimonials out there and books from people who have been on a Raw diet, or eating a predominantly Raw diet, for anywhere from 1-40 years, all have the same things in common: They're enjoying radiant health, they feel better than ever, and they love their lifestyle of eating Raw, no matter how long they've been doing it.

The information I was reading was compelling. It just made sense! So, I tried it and was excited to do so, because it didn't involve taking pills or drinking Starbucks, it was all natural, and again, it was plain common sense. After trying this for only a short time, I was blown away by the changes in my body. There was a detox period, which I'll go into greater detail later, but the first thing I noticed was that I started waking up without headaches. My skin cleared up and had a glow. My cellulite started to disappear and I dropped unwanted weight immediately. One of the best things for me was that I started to experience pure, raw energy. The kind where you almost feel giddy because you feel so good. I wasn't on stimulants and I was saving a fortune from not visiting Starbucks so many times. What's even better is that I don't ever feel deprived or like I'm missing out on anything. I love my lifestyle and wouldn't trade it for anything.

What I realize from my own experience is that the problem people encounter is battling through so many inconsistent viewpoints and diets. People don't know what to do. A lot of diets out there can help you lose weight, but it's usually at the cost of your health. Additionally, those diets aren't usually instrumental in helping you if you have heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. Switching to Raw is an amazing experience because you enjoy food that is so delicious, without the guilt or fear of eating unhealthily. Regardless of the state of your health when you start, going Raw makes you healthier. You can actually feel it.

The Raw diet is not a fad. It's not going anywhere because A) it's where our ancestors began, several hundred thousand years ago, and B) the modern benefits are incredibly straightforward, simple, and true. What's more, they're experienced almost immediately. This isn't "radical" as some might have you believe, but rather, it's a growing realization that you can witness all over the place. Restaurants and stores are beginning to cater to the Raw Customer more and more. Even The New York Post has stated that "Raw Food Is Going Glam." The funny thing is it's not as if this is some new thing. It's 100% natural cuisine that has been around since animals started eating. Our digestive systems have been around much, much longer than the relatively recent invention of cooking. (In fact, we're the only animal on the planet that cooks its food — that tiny little fact should raise a warning in your consciousness that something isn't quite right with what we've been doing.) Doctors and everyone else tell us to incorporate this "time-tested" concept of increasing raw fruits and vegetables in our diet. But eating Raw is more than that; it tells us not only what to eat, but also what not to eat. Others have not been so good at telling us what to avoid, as you'll discover below.

There are so many benefits of eating Raw. The Raw food diet has helped many people find health when nothing else did. It can help anyone who wants healthy levels of blood cholesterol, healthy blood sugar levels, pain-free joints, clear glowing skin and shiny hair, reduced or eliminated cellulite, rapid elimination of excess weight, a permanent boost to your immune system, amazingly restful sleep, having unbelievable energy, unbelievable sex, increasing your mental focus, being in a happy and feel-good mood all the time, improving your relationships, and more. Now, I ask you, what other diet out there can do all of these things for you? None!

By eating Raw foods, you can slow down aging so you start to look and feel younger. People who eat a High Raw diet (about 70-85% Raw or more) or All Raw diet have stores of energy and they feel great about themselves! A High Raw diet wipes out any mental pollution in your head, and you're given a clear, focused mindset that lasts all day long. Do you realize how much you can accomplish in a day when mental pollution is cleared from your head and you have a clear, focused mindset? It's so empowering!

If you are sick, if you are tired more often than not, if you are carrying too much fat, or if you want to feel better, this could help you when nothing else has.

Pleasure is important and fundamental to staying motivated and inspired. I eat Raw food because it tastes better. I eat the food I make because it's the best food ever. It's fresh and alive and that's exactly how I feel when I eat it. There isn't much discipline required, because I don't miss the cooked food. Initially, I missed my Starbucks once in a while. But I eventually realized that I didn't actually miss the caffeine. I missed the ritual; the experience of hanging out there, sipping a warm beverage and reading my book. So I sought out other places to have similarly gratifying experiences.

The sad state of the American diet (and, increasingly, the rest of the world's diet, as we export our lifestyle to other countries) is that it has become totally commonplace for people to experience diseases that used to be very rare or non-existent: diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. And, for people who don't suffer from these, it's a desire to feel better that drives them to finding the answers (the truth), usually for losing weight, gaining energy, and sleeping better — naturally. Raw food is going mainstream right now in history specifically because it addresses obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and it tastes delicious — naturally and easily! Eating a Raw diet for health is both proactive and reactive in helping. For example, if you have heart disease, you can start eating a Raw plant-based diet and actually reverse the heart disease! Or, you can eat this way before heart disease hits and you're almost certain to never get it in the first place. The same goes for many other illnesses. It's not necessary for you to be 100% Raw (although it is best to get as high as you can) — it depends on your personal situation. If you're battling any kind of ailment or illness, then the more Raw you eat, the better you'll feel. But, please keep in mind that this isn't an "all or nothing" kind of lifestyle. You don't even have to be 100% vegan, although you'll want to consider it, because this is where many of the biggest, most life-altering health benefits come from. (Meat and dairy are two of the biggest sources of deadly dietary problems.) Like I said earlier, Raw Food has recently evolved into a cuisine unto itself because of the new gourmet Raw dishes available and recent burgeoning demand for Raw, vegan, and organic options. So, just like Italian or Mexican can be enjoyed by vegan and non-vegan people alike, so can Raw Food.

Everyone knows it's healthy to eat fresh, raw fruits and vegetables every day. That isn't breaking news and it isn't rocket science either. Eating Raw food means eating food that it is not refined, not processed, in it's natural state. A Raw foods lifestyle simply says that these foods should be the majority of what you eat. You don't have to eat 100% Raw starting tomorrow, or ever for that matter. To get started, anyone can enjoy improved health and more vitality by eating at least 50% Raw foods. My bet though is that once you start seeing the difference from including more fresh organic Raw foods into your diet, you'll want more, because that's exactly where your body will direct you. And then once you taste gourmet Raw dishes that you can make yourself, you'll wonder why you would ever want to eat cooked food at all. When you eat Raw food, especially gourmet Raw food (which can be very easy to make), the flavors "pop." They shock your palate and wake up your taste buds. You get an experience that goes into your core, like an awakening, or enlightenment. You'll feel so amazing after eating a Raw meal vs. a cooked one. It'll be a no-brainer for you.

There has never been a more important time to bring Raw foods into your life. You will look and feel your best! Don't wait another day to make these changes because you will experience them straight away. That's one of the best parts about eating a Raw diet: You immediately feel the positive effects, within hours. Bear in mind however, that you might initially feel a little anger and wonder, "Why hasn't anybody ever told me this before?" Well, that's why I'm here. I'm here to share this information with you. I've done the research and work that will make it very easy for you to begin. Don't worry if you don't know where to start and this is the first time you're hearing about this. Or perhaps you've been eating Raw and want to learn more. Either way, you've come to the right place. Okay, let's get started!

Next: Details & Benefits of a High Raw Diet