There's a recent thread about this, if you haven't seen it yet:
Let me mention also that there are MANY different schools of thought on raw foodism, depending on which raw-food "guru" you listen to. Dr. Doug Graham, for instance, advises a low-fat, raw vegan lifestyle, divided about 80% carbohydrate, 10% protein, and 10% fat (that's about 1/4 of an avocado a day, along with fruits and greens). He claims that any more fat than that will set you up for failure on the raw food diet. Others, though, like David Wolfe, preach a diet dominated by avocados and nuts, equaling about 50-80% fat. Others yet believe that raw animal meat and dairy belongs on the diet. Some allow sprouted grains to be consumed, while others say any grains should be avoided. "Mono meals" is another trend, in which raw foodists eat only one type of food per meal. Some people will eat upwards of 15 bananas in one sitting for breakfast, for example.
Depending on which school of thought you adhere to, your results on this diet would vary.
But to address your specific questions:
-Is it difficult?
I haven't maintained a raw food diet long-term, but from the experimenting I've done with it, I'll say generally yes. Socially, it is very hard, if you're aiming to be 100% raw; imagine all the dinner invitations and parties you'd have to decline due to food limitations. Social isolation is commonly reported among the raw foodists. Some people also get intense cravings and go through "detox" (a non-scientifically-documented phase in which the body supposedly dumps toxins into the blood, causing extreme fatigue, headaches, nausea, hair loss, flu symptoms--you name it). Personally, in my times on the diet, my teeth started to hurt from eating exessive sweet fruit.
But on the other hand, clean up is a breeze. All you have to do is throw away the banana peel or apple core. And, if you don't try to make fancy raw food meals (which most people advise against), preparation is also simple--no cooking or messy dishes involved.
-Did you notice a major change in your energy level?
Speaking for myself, my energy fluctuated a lot. It is very, very difficult to eat enough calories when your diet is 80% fruit and vegetables. At some times, I would be absolutely giddy with energy; other times, I could barely pull myself off the couch. It may have been sugar "highs" and "lows."
Most people, though, report a significant energy improvement. This could be due to the fact that the energy once spent digesting heavy meals is now free for other uses.
My weight dropped--too low. Way too low. It is the reason I had to start eating more cooked foods. Most people report effortless weight loss, even if they eat more calories than they did on cooked foods. Many raw foodists see this as a benefit, but often times it can lead to emanciation. Tom Billings, for instance, was a former "fruitarian" (a branch of raw foodism), and at 6'1", his weight at one time dropped to 88 pounds on the diet.
Just a few more comments--if you're really interested in pursuing this diet, I suggest you do some research and look for unbiased sources. Unfortunately, there is a lot of pseudo-science and propaganda floating around in cyberspace, as well as many raw food gurus who try to push supplements to make some money. Whenever you see someone promising that this diet is "magical" and that you will receive perfect health, a perfect body, etc., run the other way! Just like any diet industry, people often have their own interests in mind and will gloss over the truth if it will make themselves (and their products) look better.
In my opinion, sustaining a 100% raw food diet for a long time is next to impossible. I personally recommend a diet with 60-80% raw food, and the rest cooked (but still healthy)--I'm finding this ratio is optimal for myself. When I eat a lot of fruit (necessary in the raw diet), I get sugar highs and lows, my teeth hurt, and I lose too much weight. Balancing this out with the occasional cooked item really helps.
Sorry this was so long. I wish you the best of luck, and if you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask
[This message has been edited by moderator2 (edited 06-28-2003).]