12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Food

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Why do we overeat time and time again? Why do we make poor diet choices while we want to be healthy? What makes losing weight so difficult? These and many other vital questions are addressed in 12 Steps to Raw Foods in an open and sincere dialogue. Based on the latest scientific research, Victoria Boutenko explains the numerous benefits of choosing a diet of fresh rather than cooked foods. This book contains self-tests and questionnaires that help the reader to determine if they have hidden eating patterns that undermine their health. Using examples from life, the author explores the most common reasons for people to make unhealthy eating choices.

Rather than simply praising the benefits of raw foods, this book offers helpful tips and coping techniques to form and maintain new, healthy patterns. Learn how to make a raw food restaurant card that makes dining with co-workers easy and enjoyable. Discover three magic sentences that enable you to refuse your mother-in-law’s apple pie without offending her. Find out how to sustain your chosen diet while traveling. These are only a few of the many scenarios that Boutenko outlines.

Written in a convenient 12-step format, this book guides the reader through the most significant physical, psychological, and spiritual phases of the transition from cooked to raw foods. Embracing the raw food lifestyle is more than simply turning off the stove. Such a radical change in the way we eat affects all aspects of life. Boutenko touches on the human relationship with nature, the value of supporting others, and the importance of living in harmony with people who don’t share the same point of view on eating. Already a classic, this enhanced second edition is aimed at anyone interested in improving their health through diet.

Customer Reviews:

  • Powerful Personal Story Backed by Science
    I read the earlier edition of this book over two years ago, along with all the previous Raw Family publications. Victoria's characteristic Russian warmth and passion always come through, and I so appreciate the love and dedication she brings to her readers. Starting with Green for Life, though, she now also offers scientific evidence, studies and research to support her stories, suggestions and claims. If Green for Life impressed me, the revised and expanded edition of 12 Steps to Raw Foods blew me away!

    This book is so thorough that even a skeptic would find it difficult to argue. Victoria includes 12 pages of footnotes and a one and a half page bibliography. As her chapter on clarity explains, one need not turn away from intuition to listen to experts; however, it's also nice when spiritual nudges, personal experience and science converge.

    In addition to the scientific and psychological references, Victoria has clearly grown as a teacher during the past seven years. She has become a teacher of teachers, and this shift works to empower her readers. Throughout the text, she reminds us that we each have gifts to share and encourages us to find our purpose. Perhaps the most refreshing thing about this book is Victoria's reminder that the "main goal" is not to become a raw foodist. Rather, a raw food diet provides energy that we can use to propel dreams into reality. By assuming that each reader can go on to teach raw food "cooking" classes or encourage others on their spiritual path, Victoria also reframes the way new raw fooders view themselves. Instead of perpetual students grasping for answers, Victoria treats her readers as future teachers who will have valuable insights and experiences to share.

    Although I eat a high-raw vegan diet, I am not myself a 100% raw fooder. I would still recommend this book to anyone who wants to lose weight or who finds him/herself obsessing about food, body image, or health issues. Reading 12 Steps to Raw Foods goes beyond just trying to change one's diet. Victoria asks us to look at our relationship to food, to ourselves and to the entire world, but she does so in such a humble, graceful way. This is a book whose wisdom unfolds over the course of time, and thus a book that offers rewards in each rereading. Victoria ends by asking, "How many people can you influence in your lifetime directly and indirectly? Eventually, I think, the whole planet. Is it worth a try?"

    After spending any time with Victoria through lectures or her books, the answer bubbles forth as an emphatic, "Yes!"

    ...more info
  • A fantastic new edition!! Review by Raw Network of Washington
    Review by Susan Albrecht

    Victoria Boutenko believes that our bodies are designed to be healthy, that our bodies are perfect, and that sickness is not normal. For Victoria, absolute health is having enough energy to manifest dreams. Yet many people simply do not have enough energy to do so, or engage in a mental and physical struggle of ups and downs which make it difficult to remain joyful and fulfilled. For Victoria, the health and joyfulness that is our natural birthright can be found in nutrition. Standing in the way of optimal nutrition is a dependency on cooked foods and a corresponding belief that it is simply too difficult or not possible to change eating habits in a significant way.

    The dependence on cooked food and the steps that can help one successfully end the dependency are outlined in Victoria's book, 12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Food. The newly revised and updated second edition is now twice as large, containing about 80% new information and more detailed insights into the burning question of why humans should eat raw, about human dependency on cooked food, and how to people can end this dependency. This is a book for people interested in changing their dietary habits, for those completely new to raw, and for raw fooders interested in learning more about Victoria's research into the diet of the first humans, which focuses on the "gatherer" aspect of the hunter-gatherer paradigm of early to recent human lifestyle and nutritional needs. While we all learn in grade school about the hunter culture, not many of us learn about the gatherer lifestyle that was central to ALL people, not just Native Americans. It is exciting to learn that the "first bread" was little more than crushed seeds of grasses mixed with water and "baked" on stones heated by the sun. Clearly, for thousands of years, humans ate their "bread" raw.

    Central to the new edition is Victoria's other research into the power of greens. Victoria and her family had been raw for nearly ten years when they began to feel they had reached a plateau in their levels of health, noticing symptoms of less than perfect health. Yet it was when her children started to complain of increased teeth sensitivity that Victoria knew something was not right with her family's nutrition--such symptoms Victoria recognized as an indicator that her family's complete nutritional needs were not being met. This realization resulted in a three year quest to learn and collect data on all human foods. What she found is that the one food group that matches all essential minerals and vitamins recommended by the USDA, including protein, are greens! Convinced that greens are the most important food, Victoria was stumped at how to incorporate an optimal quantity into her diet (even Victoria was not able to consume more than several cups of shredded greens at a sitting). After many experiments, she discovered that blending greens in a high-speed blender with sweet fruit and water resulted in a wonderful concoction that is not too sweet and not too bitter. These "Green Smoothies" as she called them, are "freshness" in a complete package.

    The new edition of 12 Steps to Raw Foods also contains more detailed information on the "twelve steps" of how one can end his or her dependency on cooked foods, the ten benefits of green smoothies, and the physical, emotional, biological, and spiritual aspects of how and why we feed our inner hunger. This is a book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in healthy living, and is a "must read" for those seeking to better understand the relationship between nutrition and optimal health. Victoria demonstrates this relationship in an informal yet practical way, offering numerous tips and strategies. Planting a seed to help and inspire others can be as simple as preparing raw food for a friend or family member. While you never know if or when that seed may germinate, you are the most positive example of joyful living. As an ambassador of the living foods raw lifestyle, you have the potential to influence others simply by attaining your own optimal level of health. And this, Victoria makes clear, is worth a try. ...more info
  • Best Foods and Best Health
    Surely with this book Victoria Boutenko will establish herself as a pioneer in the teaching of graceful living upon the planet and within our own bodies. From the information density, consistency, clarity and authority of this work more of us will become able to "get it right" as some of our ancestors did.

    Most reassuring is Victoria's ravenous pursuit of knowledge:
    "I started collecting data about every single food that existed for humans."
    "I read all of the raw food books about this diet that I could find..." "I...checked out thirty books on addiction."

    Paraphrasing and quoting:

    >Wild animals intuitively prefer fresher, more alive foods...and they rarely develop human-type degenerative diseases. Domesticated animals, fed processed pet food, develop cancer, diabetes, arthritis...

    >Primitive peoples HUNTED and consumed meat to survive long winters, but preferred to GATHER greens, fruits, tubers, nuts, seeds, berries, blossoms, mushrooms, sprouts, bark, seaweed...less hazardous, less laborious.

    >Insects have been a survival food or a delicacy for most or all human groups or tribes throughout our history, and 80% of earthlings consume them regularly and deliberately, and 100% consume 1-2 lbs of them each year - unintentionally. Actually, it would be safer to have more insects and less pesticide residue in our foods. And, anyway, by weight and amount of feed required, various insects are more efficient sources of protein than beef, chicken, pork or lamb.

    >Greens are rich in almost all essential minerals and vitamins recommended by USDA, including protein, but they must be thoroughly chewed in order to release their nutrients (requires much time!). And also, stomach acid must be very strong... A blender can rapidly rupture most of the cell walls of the greens and fruits for easy nutrient assimilation.

    >Inside plant cells, tiny organelles break down carbohydrate and sugar molecules to provide energy - but only if there is no cooking.

    >2-3 cups of green smoothies daily will provide you with all of the beneficial nutrients. After a few weeks most come to crave and enjoy the smoothies. Boutenko recommends adding blended greens daily to one's diet for several weeks, and then, transitioning to a raw diet.

    >Paraphrasing quoted results of studies conducted at accredited universities:
    1.There is ample evidence that cooked and processed meats and fish contain mutagens and carcinogens.
    2.Acrylamide, a human carcinogen, formed during heating of starch-rich foods, is present in a disturbingly large number of staple foods.
    3.Nine of eleven studies...less cancer with raw vegetables.
    4.Heating in hydrogenation and frying involves thermally oxidized fats which produced cellular damage in the hearts, livers and kidneys of lab animals.
    5.Cooking meat at high temperatures for a long time produces heterocyclic amines and other mutagens, and increases risk of colorectal cancer.
    6.A review of 206 human studies and 22 animal studies about cancer vs. fruit and vegetable (esp. raw vegetable) consumption produced consistent evidence for a protective effect against cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, endometrium, pancreas, colon, oral cavity and pharynx.
    7.Heating produces AGEs (advanced glycoxidation end products) in foods, and they are involved in...arteriosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, heart failure, decreased resilience and flexibility in tendons and ligaments...

    >During WWII, with restriction on animal foods, the incidences of some diseases were generally reduced.

    >Your body never makes mistakes - for example:
    1.A fever fights pathogens and infection.
    2.Diarrhea minimizes the contact time between intestinal mucosa and gut pathogens or ingested toxins.
    3.Vomiting gets rid of food when digestion energy must be diverted for healing.
    4.Our bodies naturally crave foods that aid healing.
    (Not coffee or donuts - cooking can create false cravings.)

    >During infancy we are "imprinted" as to food choosing, good or bad, and this persists to defeat well-intentioned dieting and even stomach-stapling in adulthood, but a raw foods regimen can prevail.

    >Bread, milk, meat, sugar and salt (opiates in the first 3) are probably the most addictive of all common foods. In one study, tumors were shrinking for 132 cancer patients newly placed on raw diets, but misunderstanding of the power of cooked food addiction brought on their demise.

    >Boutenko's workshop success rate greatly improved after she learned and taught about addiction. Compulsive eaters probably must quit cooked foods "cold turkey" in order to start and maintain raw diets.

    >At times of higher stress, persons raised on a raw food diet tend to crave grapes, figs, bananas...instead of confections.

    >Raw foods are not "comfort foods" unless one is truly hungry. One needs to develop non-food stress management (spirituality, non-food interests, appreciation of small things.)

    >It is not our business to control our children or our parents, even if they are dying from cancer. The best method for influencing others toward raw, healing foods is to persist happily and deliciously in the lifestyle ourselves and to respond well to any curiosity, while being supportive of the rights of others to persist in their own lifestyles, while also graciously declining offers of their food when necessary. Nevertheless, simply feeding them delicious raw foods can be most persuasive! For best palatability, in every dish you prepare there should be an element each of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter.

    >To avoid your own relapse, write down your main life goals along with planned responses for each of your temptation situations. A restaurant "acceptable foods" card is also helpful.

    >Develop a support system: friends, websites, publications, exercise clubs, raw potlucks...

    >Embrace other healthy habits: exercise, sunshine, good sleep, proper breathing, pure water, stress management...

    >In lieu of investing in materialism, cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude and forgiveness which will bring increased pleasure to life and lessen one's dependence on addictive, cooked foods.

    >Long term incentive can be gained from the increases in resources to do what one wants, resulting from time saved (quicker food prep, reduced sick time, longer life) increases in energy and strength, and savings of money. Boutenko's family's health money goes to best foods instead of health insurance, for example.

    I hope that these sketchy notes will motivate you to read the book for a deeper understanding.

    Other reviews, browse: "Bill Norwood" "customer review" Amazon.com
    ...more info
  • Be sure to get the updated and revised version!

    Don't get me wrong. The first version is not bad, but the second version ROCKS...!

    I have read probably 2 or 3 dozen books on raw foods and this is definitely one of my favorites. I "gobbled up" this book!...more info
  • 12 Steps to Raw food
    The book inspired my husband and me to try to eat raw foods for atleast one meal and to eat as much as possible. We both feel good and my blood sugar fell. The book is a good and simple way to encourage one to try to adopt the concept....more info
  • This Edition is Almost Completely New Material!
    Greatly expanded, this edition has so many new things, it should have had a different title from the first! It includes so much of Victoria's expanded knowledge and wisdom, such as the green smoothies, scientific studies showing the superiority of raw foods, and the power of gratitude. Victoria was even bold enough to include a chapter on eating insects! This may seem strange, but many humans around the world do eat them, and she wisely points out that if Americans weren't so concerned with this, we wouldn't have to use all those pesticides.

    But this book also contains the old wisdom from the first edition: how cooked food is very addictive, and raw food simply doesn't have the mind-altering substances that make food become "comfort foods."

    And of course there are some of the best raw food recipes ever. If you haven't tried Igor's crackers and the Live Garden Burgers, you simply haven't realized your full hedonistic potential, whether you are a raw or cooked fooder!...more info
  • Fantasitc Book
    You will be amazed at the knowledge this woman entered on the pages of this book. It is mot a recipie book although it does have a few in the back. It is just so full of Facts that I find myself quoteing it all the time! An absolute must read for the average diet american, or those who like to change the average americans diet. ;) ...more info
  • Inspiring
    I have become more and more interested in becoming a raw foodist. This book was helpful in describing the reasons their family became raw and some of the hurdles they had to go through. I have been making green smoothies every morning since I read the book and have even created my own. ...more info
  • 12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Food
    This is a very good book for those attempting to go raw in a cooked foods world. The author charts her own exhilarating adaptation to the raw fooder lifestyle. She frankly, poignantly, and sometimes amusingly presents the reader with various possible pitfalls of making such a drastic lifestyle change, and gives tips on how to avoid them. By repeatedly referring to anecdotes about her experiences as a messenger of raw foodism, Boutenko makes the lifestyle seem natural and enjoyable, but also(and importantly) feasible. By exhaustively referencing medical and other research[there are pages and pages of citations at the back of the book], Boutenko makes the lifestyle seem sensible and optimally health-giving, that is, a desirable thing to want. She argues that, based on her experiences promoting raw foods, the greatest barrier to going raw is physiochemical cravings for cooked food. She presents the process of ridding oneself of cooked food cravings and of switching to raw foods in the form of a practical 12-step process. The author implores the reader to trust themselves with their bodies and health, which makes the transition seem like something one can manage through a modest exertion of will. Boutenko's writing is precise and her tone is lighthearted and earnest without ever being goofy or preachy. I would recommend this book to anyone considering going raw without knowing the consequences to one's appetite and lifestyle, and to anyone concerned with learning more about "taking control" of their health. Over all, a very informative and encouraging book....more info
  • Change you life with Green Smoothies
    I've tried every type of diet known to man, and I have finally found the answer with green smoothies. I've had all kinds of health problems, but now I see that what my body really needs is more greens. Victoria Boutenko is so thorough in her research and her approach. Her advise about dealing with the other people in your life and outside temptation is also so helpful. Also be sure to read "Green for Life". Whether you can make a drastic change in your diet or just add smoothies to your usual eating, you're going to see a difference in your health and well-being. I am able to add even more greens than she suggests in her recipes. I pack my VitaMix full of kale, collards and spinach and zip them with two cups of water. Then I add two apples and two pears. It's so delicious, I drink it all day long, and I'm never hungry for "bad stuff". If I miss a day of smoothies I really feel it. Now I'm trying to find a blender I can use on my trips to Europe. Any suggestions?...more info
  • Support for raw food journey
    Reviewed by Juanita Watson for Reader Views (1/09)

    Victoria Boutenko's revised and expanded "12 Steps to Raw Foods" is magnificent! If you have ever attempted to incorporate raw/living foods into your diet to any degree, and hit the wall of resistance, you absolutely must read this book.

    Through sharing her own experience, Victoria's humility really serves to strengthen her message. Now a pioneer in the raw food community, Victoria's enthusiasm for eating raw in her early years led her to teaching many classes on the benefits of adopting a raw/living foods lifestyle. But even though her students loved raw food, and wanted to change their eating habits, it was typically reported that the found it too challenging to stay on a raw diet. It was a defeating contradiction that puzzled everyone.

    It wasn't until Victoria began researching the field of addiction that she discovered the missing component. As she can attest from her own experience, the struggle and suffering wasn't caused by eating raw food, but it was from not eating cooked food. Victoria's cravings, as well as her student's were actually withdrawal symptoms - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual withdrawal symptoms! Armed with a greater understanding of the addictive nature of cooked foods, Victoria devised coping techniques for new students to overcome their cravings and manage their detox from cooked foods.

    Victoria's 12-Step outline, which is very loosely derived from her personal research into AA and OA, has helped countless people rise above the struggle of changing behavior, and into an empowered state of raw consciousness. To date, Victoria has taught close to 200 workshops worldwide on this subject and continues to this day.

    Her step process guides readers to:

    Become aware of their dependency
    Acquire the skills and tools needed to go raw.
    Recalibrate inner thoughts and emotions.
    Avoid temptations and get the support you need.
    Adopt healthy habits.
    Reframe life goals and/or spiritual mission.
    Support others on their raw journey.

    There are a few recipes in this book, but it is not designed as such. It is more a declaration of reasons to go raw, and a realistic and honest look at the road to get there. "12 Steps to Raw Foods" by Victoria Boutenko is absolutely a must read for anyone that may be struggling on their raw food journey, as well as anyone interested in the addictive nature of food in general.

    ...more info
  • A helpful first step into going raw.
    I bought this book as a second option, not being able to get hold of the Boutenko's first book 'Raw Family', either here or Stateside.
    It is a really interesting read and one has to applaud the tenacity and determination of the family to go raw, when they had so little support and knowledge. For example, Mum got rid of her pots and pans and covered the top of the oven with a large chopping board. Not many people would make such an immediate and final decision.
    I am a bit concerned that an example of an average day's food intake in the book seems pretty sparse; especially so having read now other books on the subject that include a fantastic array of dishes and ingredients. However, this book is a good general 'introduction' to going raw, and I recommend it....more info
  • So helpful
    Victoria Boutenko does it again with clear information and fabulous recipes. This was sooooo helpful....more info
  • Overwhelmed with warmth and gratitude
    I just finished reading the revised 12 Steps. Although I read voraciously, I rarely finish a book feeling so overwhelmed with warmth and gratitude. I sat motionless, hugging the book to my chest, as I was reflecting on its message for a good twenty minutes. As a writer I share one quality with Victoria: I approach my subjects from a very personal perspective. If I ever doubted that is the best way to reach people, I know after reading this book that it is the only way.
    ...more info
  • a great resource but not for me
    Well, having devoured Victoria's book "Green for Life" and loving my daily pint or two of green smoothies, I ordered this book and thought it might help me to bridge the gap from cooked food addict to a true living foods goddess...and it is a VERY well written, wonderful book with lots of valuable insights, tools and resources (recipes, etc) but as someone who has experienced the difference that proper food combining makes, I just can't go along with the raw food recipes that attempt to replicate burgers, pizza, etc. They're a food combining nightmare though they are probably tasty as could be.

    Now, on the one hand I'll admit that improperly combined raw dishes are still a step up from cooked burgers and fries (the raw fries recipe sounds delightful and like a great standalone snack) but since my body can't handle those combinations or the high fat content of recipes loaded with nuts, I can't really use this book as that kind of resource. I realize that not everyone feels the same connection to food combining and if that's the case and you want a good book to demystify the transition to raw foods, this is a jewel.

    I'd so love to see someone come up with some great living foods recipes that are properly combined, but I wonder if that's even possible when you're trying to replicate cooked dishes. I also have a bit of an issue with that line of thinking; why give up burgers and pizzas to embrace the natural taste and energy of uncooked foods only to go to great lengths to replicate those same cooked dishes? Why not learn to really savor and love simpler tastes and textures? That might be too drastic and in that respect this book could be a really helpful bridge for a lot of people. Sort of a way to have your cake (literally!) and eat it too.

    The recipes also require things like dehydrators and food processors, neither of which do I own or want to. I like things ultra simple, I hate to be in the kitchen too much whether the stove is on or not. They're not as complicated as other recipe collections I've seen in the raw world, but I'd be surprised if I use any of them more than once or twice per year, if that.

    Great read, lovely woman, amazing sounding dishes, but ultimately not very useful for me personally.

    Still, for anyone else out there looking to make the leap from cooked to raw who doesn't care about food combining, this could be a godsend. ...more info
  • Very thorough
    Of all the raw food books I own, this is hands down the best. Viktoria Boutenko is very thorough, providing scientific information as well as anecdotes and advice. I especially like Chapter 7, What the First Humans Ate - its a completely different view of our diet based on Jane Goodall's work on Chimpanzees, as well as early hominids. Makes you think... hmm... raw foods does make sense.

    The second thing I really enjoyed about 12 Steps to Raw Foods was the spiritual emphasis of raw foods, because when it comes down to it, its not JUST a diet. We must all battle our addictions, preconceptions, and social pressure in order to be successful.

    Oh! And there are some great recipes at the end of the book!!...more info