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12 STEPS TO RAW FOODS
by Victoria Boutenko
Forward - By Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D. (H)
"Twelve Steps to Raw Food is a breakthrough work for the live food movement. The breakthrough is the understanding, humbly articulated by Victoria Boutenko for the first time, that there are many people who are literally addicted to cooked food. Because of this addiction to cooked food they have a very difficult time transitioning gracefully to a full live food diet. This book is an answer to their problems. Victoria, in a very thoughtful and compassionate way, outlines a breakthrough 12 Step program to support people successfully in their transition to live foods. She takes much of her understanding about the idea of cooked food addiction from the tradition of 12 Step programs. Starting with this as a base, she has formulated a very compassionate system for helping people make a successful transition to live
"Another aspect that makes this book very positive for people is its support for turning people into their own best expert. There's a lot of confusion in all fields involved in nutrition, whether it's live foods or not. And her clear way of approaching this is encouraging people, once they're through the detoxification, to trust their own body cravings because these cravings often tell a person what they really need for their bodily health at that moment. Another aspect to her work is a very excellent chapter on detoxification as part of the transition to healing. She skillfully covers all the symptoms that people commonly have and turns the detox into a celebration. In fact, she turns this whole transition process, which for so many people is not the easiest thing, into a celebration - a celebration of
life and of love for ourselves.
""This book is destined to become a classic. I am grateful for the opportunity to write an introduction and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is helping others move into a live food lifestyle, to any teacher of live foods, and to any live food friend who needs support at any level. This book is one of the most supportive and nurturing offerings in the live food movement that I've seen in years. Victoria Bountenko has made a wonderful contribution with this book and I am grateful for this breakthrough!
Blessings to your health, well-being, and spiritual joy,
Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D. (H)
Director of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, author of Conscious Eating and Spiritual Nutrition and The Rainbow Diet."
A Note From the Author
"When I say in my classes that cooked food is addictive, people laugh. When I say we should have "Cooked Food Anonymous," people laugh even more. But in fact this is not funny. Most people go on raw food for some serious reasons, like me, my husband and my children. To me going on raw food meant choosing life over death. I was dying, I went on raw food and I am alive, healthy and happy. I am grateful that I had support from my family. When I was watching other people trying to be raw fooders, I have found that staying on the raw food diet is difficult without support. When we go on raw food, we are acting against everything that is considered normal and expected around eating.
"Out of compassion to all people who experience difficulties staying on a raw food diet, with the support from my family, I have created this 12 Step program. I tried it for one year in many classes before putting it into a book. I have been teaching 12 Steps to Raw Food, that treats cooked food as an addiction. They are experiencing no temptation to eat cooked food. Just none. These 12 Steps help people to stay on raw food no matter what. They study 12 Steps to Raw Food in Seattle, Eugene, Silver Spring, San Mateo and many other cities. These groups are growing every day. If you want to contact them please see the information at the end of this book."
Excerpt from Chapter One - Life and Energy
"When people talk about raw food, they usually talk about enzymes. Enzymes are energy. Enzymes are life. We cannot see enzymes with our naked eye, but we can see the life and energy that is the result of enzymes. For example, if I take two almonds, one raw and one roasted, and plant them in soil, within three weeks the roasted almond will have disintegrated into the soil. The raw almond will remain where I planted it. In spring the snow melts on the mountain and flows down to water the soil, inhibitors will be unlocked in the almond and it will have the potential to give birth to a beautiful big almond tree, which will give birth to thousands more beautiful almonds. As this illustration shows, the difference between the roasted almond and the raw almond is life and death. One has enzymes and one does not. One carries within the potential of life, the other has had life cooked out. If I were to take two almonds (one raw and one roasted) to a scientists and ask for an analysis of both almonds, the scientists will see no nutritional difference between the two almonds. Both almonds have the same amount of calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc and copper as if they are absolutely equivalent nutritionally. However, as the example shows, one carries life in enzymes while the other does not.
"In order to understand how enzymes work, let us fantasize a story. On a beautiful June day you are walking through an apple orchard. You look for apples, but they are still green and hiding in the leaves. You cannot see them easily and they don't really smell. You return to the orchard in July. The apples are big and red and they smell great. The apples seem to be calling to you, "See me, smell me, eat me." You realize that to an apple, being eaten by an animal or a human being means the continuation of life. You reach out and pick a large red apple. You take a bite. The apple is filled with live enzymes. As you enjoy the flavor and texture of the apple, the enzymes (likened to little handy-men with suitcases full of magic healing tools) work on your body. As you walk along, the enzymes work through your body as a healing team, repairing what needs attention. You feel good and full of energy because the apple carries the enzymes within it to digest itself. Your body does not have to put out extra effort to digest the apple. Later the apple leaves your body in the form of fertilizer and continues to live. You have participated in the circle of life. Everything is circular. It is a
"The following weekend you return to the orchard and pick a basket of apples. You take the apples home to make baked apples with caramel and cinnamon, just like your grandmother used to make. You create your dish and put it into the oven to cook. The baked apple looks pretty and smells delicious. It looks as nutritious as that apple you picked and ate raw last weekend. But it is not. This apple has been cooked and the enzymes are destroyed.
You bite into the sweet baked apple; caramel and cinnamon stimulate your taste buds creating a pleasant sensation. You finish your serving and then go to lie down. You are feeling a little sluggish and tired. Inside your body your own enzymes have to leave their work, maybe cleansing
the liver, protecting you from tumors and evacuation toxins here and there, to come digest the cooked apple that does not have any enzymes of its own. When this apple finally leaves your body, into the toilet, it is filled with your own enzymes. These enzymes are gone forever. Cooked food does not contain live enzymes and so takes enzymes from your body to digest the food. These enzymes then leave your body, leaving you with fewer enzymes than you start with. Dr. Edward Howell, a leading nutritionist, suggested that the average American at the age of 40 has only 30% of their enzymes left. We can still walk, talk and think at this point, but when we have only 30% of our enzymes left, plus they have to give about 75% of their energy to detoxify the body, we become less sensitive to other people, and to ourselves. We may survive physically but not spiritually.
"The good news is that even if we have only 30% of our enzymes left, we still can live our portion of life, if we go on a raw diet and let the body purify
"There is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion in the field of enzymes. In fact many licensed nutritionists don't understand the importance of enzymes in our food. If you want to have a proper diet, gaining complete clarity about enzymes is crucial. For example, let's look at the difference between raw fat and cooked fat. Why does fat exist? We all need fat to lubricate our eyes so we can see, to lubricate our skin so it is soft and to lubricate our hair. We need fat to lubricate our joints, so whenever we move our joints we don't squeak like an old garage door. We can't get live fat from pasteurized milk, butter, sour cream or roasted nuts because it's all cooked! We could be very obese but lack real fat. Our bodies are desperate for raw life fat. The best sources of live fat are avocado, young coconut, durian, olives, nuts, seeds and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.
"I remember when I was very obese. I was 120 pounds more than I am now. During that time I started to crave avocados. I was able to eat eight avocados a day. Before that, to me, they tasted like soap. When I was eating avocados, I started to lose weight faster. This is because of the enzyme in the fat of avocados, lipase, was able to penetrate my saturated fat deposits, break them into saller pieces, and take them out of my body. Isn't that amazing?
"Another example is calcium. When we lack calcium, we are advised by advertising to drink pasteurized milk. You've all seen the ads that ask "Got Milk"?
I would argue that when we need calcium, the more appropriate question is
to ask "Got wheat grass?" or "Got sesame seed milk?" Cow's milk is not intended for human consumption; it does have calcium, but it also contains very
concentrated protein and produces excessive mucus. Secondly, pasteurized
milk has been heated until the enzyme activity has stopped. The enzymes are
destroyed; there is no life. The body only absorbs empty lifeless shells of calcium
"Wheat grass is where a cow gets her calcium and is easily digested by the human body because the molecule of chlorophyll and the molecule of human blood are almost identical. Sesame seeds are the richest in calcium among all other seeds and nuts. Sesame milk is delicious and can easily replace cow's milk.
"As I said earlier, enzymes are life and energy. We are human beings and we are spiritual beings. We need energy so we move and work and also love, share, communicate and be sensitive to each other. Every time we eat cooked food we lose enzymes. In our cooked food filled bodies, our enzymes are doing hard work. Because cooked food does not have enzymes, our body cannot use it. Therefore, the body treats cooked food as a toxin and is only concerned with getting rid of it."
Excerpt from Chapter Two - The Human Body Never Makes Mistakes
"How does the body adjust to cooked food? The body creates mucus and uses this mucus as a filter. All the surfaces of the digestive tract that are designed to absorb the nutrients from food become covered with mucus film that protects blood from toxins. The mucus film begins at the tongue and continues all the way through the intestines. Many people can see this mucus on their tongue. People who have a thick mucus coating on their intestines usually have white tongues as if they just ate sour cream. The body creates a little mucus, to begin with, to filter out the toxins from the cooked food. The more cooked food we consume, the more mucus the body produces as a protection. The more harmful the food substance are to the body, the more this mucous film builds up. As the years go by it becomes thicker and harder.
"Our body initially creates mucus when we eat our first cooked food as a baby. The next time we eat cooked food the toxins in the food do not penetrate the body completely because of the mucus protection. You may ask: what is the mucus made of? The human body, brilliant as always, creates the mucus from the cooked food itself! This mucus covers our entire digestive tract, to prevent us from absorbing the toxins in cooked food that would make the body sick.
"We are afraid of e-coli, salmonella or other bacteria, so we cook, pasteurize and irradiate everything. Food is now highly processed and prepackaged.
We eat a lot of cooked food and, therefore, our body creates a lot of mucus.
"Naturopaths call this mucus in the intestine by the name of mucoid plaque. Mucoid plaque looks like a green, rubbery hose about twenty-five yards long. Because of the mucoid plaque, our nutrient assimilation becomes low.
The mucoid plaque protects us from absorbing toxins, but at the same time we cannot absorb nutrients. The more mucus we have, the fewer nutrients we can receive. After a number of years of eating cooked food, we develop severe nutritional deficiencies, become hungry and malnourished.
"We become hungrier and hungrier. We come to the point like I did eight years ago, that when I was leaving the table, I was already hungry again. We're constantly hungry because our body is desperate for nutrients.
Our cells are crying for all the minerals we need. They are asking for sodium and for magnesium, and for copper and zinc. Oh please, I want some potassium! We're constantly hungry for something, but when we eat, only a small percent can be assimilated.
"When we go on raw food and if we stay on raw food, this mucoid plaque can be dissolved. When the time is right, the body will dissolve it. The more we eat raw food, the more plaque gets dissolved. If we go 100% raw, it goes away completely and our assimilation goes up. When we decide to go 100% raw, we don't need to send a telegram to all our organs announcing the change. Our body hears the message and begins to change right away and begins to celebrate. It says, "Hey! He/she decided to go raw. Did you hear that? He/she's going 100% raw!"
"The following table shows how the amount of cooked food we eat in our diet relates to the amount of food that is assimilated in our body. I don't claim this table is scientific, but I know that it is true. These are not precise numbers, but these numbers do make sense and if you ever go on raw foods you will also know that they are true.
"Percentage Cooked Food to Raw Food
Consumed and Percentage Nutrition Assimilated
% of raw food % cooked food % assimilation
5 95 .03
10 90 .06
25 75 .1
50 50 .3
75 25 1.0
99 1 3.0
100 0 30.0
"I'd like to explain this table by way of an illustration. We'll call the main character Jim, age between 40 and 50. Jim eats very little raw food. He is always hungry because he is not getting enough nutrients. He has a big belly because he eats a lot to try to fill the hunger in his body. He has a weak back because of the big belly, and he's always tired. Jim consumes a diet that is 5% raw. Anyone who makes sandwiches or buys hamburgers is eating about 5% raw because the tomatoes and lettuce make up the 5%. At this point Jim's body is assimilating approximately .03% of the nutrition in the food. Let's say Jim got really, really sick. He goes to a health store and learns that he might feel better if he eats a vegetarian diet. He adds a lot of fresh food to his diet and cuts out the meat. He is now consuming 25% raw food and 75% cooked food. His assimilation increased three times to .1% or 1/10%. He's starting to feel better and he has a little more energy. He hangs out with his new friends who are also vegetarians. One of them invites him to a raw food potluck. Jim is so impressed with the dishes and the presentation that he increases his raw food intake to 50%. He is now assimilating 1%. 1% is a lot, a good number, 30 times more than he used to have. He begins to look like an interesting man. Jim used to think that no woman would ever look at him, because he was getting old and aching. Now he looks healthy, he's looking younger and his color is coming back.
"Jim begins to read a lot of books on raw food eating and he even begins to teach his own raw food class. He is now consuming 99% raw food and 1% cooked food. And he is assimilating about 3%. Jim is so healthy now that he looks 10 years younger. He has a lot of friends and he is very social. Everyone loves him. We check in with Jim several years later. He has read many raw food books and has gone to every possible retreat and class offered on raw food. One morning he wakes up and hears his inner voice telling him to give up cooked food all together and to go 100% on raw food. He makes that choice. Within two or three months of consuming only raw foods, his assimilation becomes 30%. His assimilation has increased form 3.0% to 30% in just two to three months. Why did changing his diet from 99% raw food to 100% raw food make such a difference in his assimilation rate? The 1% is significant because his body's defense against cooked food is now taken away. He now begins to eat only once a day, a small bowl of salad, that's it. He only needs one small bowl because he is assimilating 30%. Remember when Jim was eating 95% cooked food and ate a lot to feed his starving body? AT that point he was only assimilating .03%. Now on a 100% raw food diet, Jim is assimilating 30% nutrition. This is why he only needs a small amount of food to satisfy him. That's enough for this man. That's how much I eat. That's how much my husband eats. That's how much my children eat.
"When my son Sergei, who is 16, goes snowboarding, he leaves at 6:30 a.m. and comes home at 7:00 p.m. He takes with him two organic oranges to eat on the shuttle bus. He eats one on the way up to the snow and one on the way back home. That's enough because he assimilates 30%.
"Sergei says that his snowboarding friends go several times to their lunch bags to drink hot chocolate and eat sandwiches because they get so hungry. They get hungry and have energy crashes and have to go eat. Meanwhile, Sergei is snowboarding all day and he's never tired, and all this on two oranges. The secret is that he is assimilating 30% while they are assimilating only between .03 and .1%. Going back to Jim is an example, why did the final 1% shift from eating 99% to 100% raw food make such a difference in the assimilation rate? I gleaned the answer to this from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) literature.
"Alcoholics are encouraged at AA meetings to get 100% sober.
If they return to the meeting and say they are 99% sober, because
they drink only one shot of vodka every other day, they will be told that they are not sober. AA members have noticed a long time ago that quitting 99% doesn't ever work. If someone wants to quit drinking he/she needs to go "cold turkey" or 100%. This last 1%, no matter how small it is, will keep a body adjusted to being a drinker.
"We can use this analogy for cooked food too. For example, Andrew has been consuming cooked rice since childhood, his body has adjusted biochemically and psychologically to this consumption. One day Andrew became aware that white rice is not healthy for him. He decided to stop eating rice. As a result Andrew's body has developed strong cravings for cooked rice. Cravings are biochemical and emotion expectations of the body. His body has been adjusted to receive carbohydrates from cooked rice. Andrew started to consume carbohydrates from raw corn, sprouted grains and carrots. After two months Andrew's body readjusted and his rice cravings stopped. If Andrew would continue to eat rice even in tiny quantities, his body readjustment would never be completed and Andrew would continue to experience cravings for rice.
"Secondly, when we eat, say, a baked potato is there a mark on the potato that says this is 1%, this is 10%? Do we always know when to stop? Also, our parents taught us that we have to finish our food because there are children in China that are starving to death. So we cannot just throw food away, we have to finish it, even if it's more that 1%.
"And so, when we allow 1%, we leave the door open to indulge when we feel like it. When we are depressed or hungry or angry or tired that's when we overeat. That's when we indulge in eating cooked food, drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs. Giving up the last 1% of cooked food in the diet is closing the door on cooked food all together. When we close the door on cooked food we close the door on temptation.
"When our family went on raw food 100% eight years ago, our dear friend Judy also went on raw food. But she went on raw food only 95%. I suffered for two months during my body's adjustment of going completely off cooked food and eating only raw food. After two months, I was no longer attracted to cooked food. I had lost my appetite for cooked food. I stopped paying attention to restaurants or to the smells of food or coffee. I have lived for three years in Ashland, Oregon and I don't even know the name of one restaurant. I know three health food stores and I know a juice bar. I don't pay attention to anything else. Cooked food looks like plastic to me, inedible. That's how I feel. I am not tempted to eat cooked food because it no longer looks like food to me.
"My friend, Judy, however, is still suffering. She stays on raw food for weeks at a time, and then company will come to visit and she'll eat cooked food again. She reports, "I stayed for two weeks on a 95% raw food diet and then my aunt came to visit and she made a beautiful baked cake and I had to try it. Then I started to eat more cooked food. I failed. I fell back." She has also said, "I was doing very well until Thanksgiving, and then I decided I would take a break until after Thanksgiving. It took me until the second week in February to reclaim my 95% raw food diet." By keeping the door to cooked food open, even 1%, my dear friend Judy is prolonging her suffering.
"On 99% we are still addicted and we allow ourselves what we want, when we want it. I have met many people who have achieved 99% raw food only to return to completely cooked food months later. This tiny 1% will inevitably lead us back to cooked food. What I'm trying to say is that going cold turkey is much easier. Yes, you might have to suffer through two months because every temptation will create suffering. But after two months, life is easier.
"Take all temptations (cooked food, processed food, take out menus) out of your house and don't go out to the restaurant, birthday parties and cooked food potlucks for at least two months. Create a temptation free zone. The easier way to become 100% raw is to make the change consciously. Do not become a raw fooder until you feel completely ready.
"When you understand that cooked food is addictive, you want to stay on 100% raw food. Becoming a raw fooder without the necessary support is hard. I know some people who understand raw food is good, and they became raw fooders and they stayed as long as six months, but at certain times they became hungry, or lonely, or depressed, or tired and they returned to what is familiar to them, cooked food."
We hope you enjoyed these excerpts from Victoria's latest book
and will want to order a copy for use in your life and others you
care about. The book is 167 pages long and enjoyable to read and
Copies of the Book - "12 Steps to Raw Food", by Victoria Boutenko are
available for 15 .95 plus $4.00 S&H by email, or at the online bookshop -
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