Raw food cleanse – how to do it properly

Whether you are a meat-eater, follow a cooked vegan diet, or are a raw vegan, it’s all too easy to get into bad nutritional habits. What was supposed to be a one-off or occasional treat can soon become a regular diet fixture, creating bad habits that can be hard to break.

While you can gradually wean yourself off unhealthy foods, it’s very easy to backslide and revert to your previous unhealthy habits.

The food you eat ultimately becomes part of you, and that’s why the expression “you are what you eat” rings so true. If you continue to eat unhealthily, you too will become unhealthy.

One of the best ways to get your diet and, therefore, your health back on track is to do a raw food cleanse. Raw food cleanses are like boot camp for your digestive system. If you are not currently following a raw vegan diet, a raw food cleanse is a great way to introduce you to the advantages and benefits of this type of diet while still providing you with “an out” when you reach the end of your cleanse.

In this article, we are going to lift the lid on raw food cleanses so that you know how to do one properly.

Raw food cleanse

Why do a raw food cleanse?

A lot of the food we eat contains toxins. Toxins affect how your body functions and your health. They can disrupt your immune system and lead to illness, trigger allergies, cause weight gain, rob you of energy and vitality, and otherwise affect how you look and feel. Common toxins include caffeine, GMOs, food additives and other artificial ingredients, added sugars, salt, as well as pesticides and herbicides.

A raw food cleanse not only contains none of these things, but it also provides your body with the nutrients it needs to remove those toxins from your system. A raw food cleanse does precisely what the name suggests; it cleanses your body and its internal systems using nothing more than the power of raw foods. If you feel lethargic, bloated, unwell, or have trouble losing weight, a raw food cleanse will reset your body and get you back on track. 

What to eat on a raw food cleanse?

There are lots of raw food cleanse plans available for you to follow, but they are all fairly similar in the foods they allow and recommend. Because vegan foods are best for cleansing and eating uncooked animal produce would be as dangerous as it is unpleasant, fruits and vegetables will be your dietary mainstays. Your cleanse may also include raw nuts and seeds and small amounts of unprocessed vegetable and nut oils.

Remember that just because you haven’t cooked a food doesn’t mean that it’s raw. For example, some nuts and seeds are roasted, most nut milks have been heated, and commercial fruit juices are often made from concentrate that has been exposed to high temperatures. Make sure the food you eat really is raw; otherwise, you won’t get all the benefits a raw vegan cleanse offers.

The basic guidelines for most raw vegan cleanses are:

  • No meat, dairy, wheat, eggs, processed sugar, coffee, or alcohol
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit, raw vegetables and drink freshly made juice and smoothies
  • Drink lots of water
  • You can also drink warm water with lemon juice

How long should a raw food cleanse last?

You can do a raw food cleanse for anywhere from three days to three weeks, and many raw vegan dieters follow this type of diet all-but indefinitely. The duration of your cleanse depends on several factors:

1. Your current diet – if you are a meat-eater, a raw food cleanse will be a significant departure from your usual diet. This can make following a raw food diet much more challenging. A short 3-5 day cleanse may be more tolerable than going raw vegan for 21 days. In contrast, if you are already a vegan, switching from cooked food to raw should be much less of a challenge, and you should be more comfortable with a longer cleanse.

2. How toxified you are – the more toxified you are, the longer it will take your body to rid itself of those toxins. If your regular diet is very unhealthy, or you have a lot of symptoms of toxification, a longer cleanse would be more beneficial.

3. Your determination – some people find sticking to a prescriptive diet very hard. If you are unable to follow a prescriptive diet for a long time, choose a shorter raw food cleanse, such as 3-5 days. If all goes well, do another, slightly longer cleanse next time. Gradually work up to a full 21-day cleanse over several months.

When deciding how long to do a raw food cleanse, it’s better to choose a short cleanse and finish it easily than choose a longer cleanse and quit partway through. Remember too that, if you reach the end of your cleansing period successfully, you can always extend it to get even better results.

How will you feel during a raw food cleanse?

While a raw food cleanse is designed to make you feel healthier, initially you may experience some side effects that mean you actually feel worse. These side effects will soon wear off and are nothing to worry about, but it’s important to anticipate them. Common symptoms and side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Cravings
  • Unpleasant smelling sweat and breath
  • Skin breakouts
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss

Some of these side effects are caused by the detoxification process, while others are a form of withdrawal from unhealthy foods. A few of the side effects are the direct result of eating an abundance of very healthy raw food. The good news is that, as your body becomes accustomed to your raw food cleanse, the side effects will disappear, and you’ll be left feeling healthy and happy.

Ending a raw food cleanse

If you are a meat-eater or a cooked vegan, when your raw food cleanse ends, you may be tempted to jump right back into your old dietary habits. Don’t do it! For starters, it will be a big shock to your body and could lead to digestive upset and other unwanted symptoms. You may also undo some of the benefits of your cleanse.

Instead, you should gradually transition from your raw food cleanse a little at a time. Slowly reintroduce the foods you’ve not been eating for the last few days or weeks, trying to keep unhealthy foods to a minimum.

Alternatively, if you enjoyed your raw food cleanse and want to continue on the raw vegan path, consider transitioning into the 80 10 10 diet or any other raw vegan eating plan. This is arguably the best way to consolidate your results and avoid undoing all your good work.


A raw food cleanse is an excellent way to reset your body quickly and get things like your digestive and immune system working properly again. Regular cleanses can be very beneficial, but it’s also important to try and avoid toxifying your body in the first place. And the best way to do that? By following a raw vegan diet, of course!

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