On the quest to either get healthy or remain healthy, sometimes the overall essential message of Holistic Nutrition can sometimes get lost in the myriad of internet memes, documentaries and sensational headlines. Of course there is no doubt that these media outlets help and support people in their overall life change yet it is important that we don’t lose sight of some fundamental truths that make healthy eating and life change more than just a passing phase; it changes it to a complete way of life.
Over this past year I have sat with many clients who have mostly wanted to change their patterns of eating due to a severe life crisis. About 75% of these clients eventually came to realize that they had the opportunity to implement those changes at a much younger age but did not foresee down the line just how much food would actually play a role in their health whether it was in their soon or distant future. And of that 75% about 60% of them actually follow-through and do whatever is necessary in order to see to it that their food choices and eating habits actually align them on a path to better health. As a Nutritionist, there have been some common themes that seem to set the tone for success on a long term basis when it comes to eating. When done and placed correctly: nutrition does heal. Here are 4 core positions that I would say matter most when it comes to health, diet, lifestyle and longevity.
1) Health Beyond the Hype.
This is an area that seems to be most critical when it comes to wanting to make a life change. Life change is the key phrase because many people are used to “dieting” when they want to achieve a desired health outcome. The problem with this approach, however is twofold: 1) once the “diet” period is over many go back to destructive patterns of eating, and sometimes worse than before and 2) The diet doesn’t allow the body to fully release internal toxicity which is the precursor to establishing a presence of diseases in the body; which is the point of so-called “dieting” in the first place. Knowing that the more plant foods you take in over the amount of animal proteins that you take in sets you on a path to health with proven results. Sometimes we get caught up in the names and movements of these eating habits when eating for health, ethics and environment should be the overall goal. Thinking long term about the foods we place in our bodies comes with benefits that can be reaped in the future.
2) Not a Lost Cause: Food does Matter.
There seems to be a prevalent attitude (though it is starting to change) that exist that has tried to minimize the importance of food in determining ones overall health and life span. It has consistently been shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables, natural foods as well as fast on a regular basis; tend to live longer lives and experience less serious symptoms related to disease. Of course we can’t factor in tragic events that occur that cause death but what is certain is that those causes of death were not food related. It has even been shown that the eating of certain foods on a regular basis even prevents some diseases. So in the long run: it really does matter what we do eat. Modern medicine may have the acute ability to address a specific ailment for a short period; yet over time continuous use of those medications eventually produce side-effects of some type. We can no longer ignore the fact what we place inside our mouths to eat will in truth: essentially become who we are.
3) Investing in Yourself.
Making the clear and obvious choice to take better care of yourself through better food and eating choices is in fact an investment in yourself. It is an investment because it should (inshallah) lessen your visits to medical facilities and time off from the things you like to do because it combats chronic illness. As health care cost continue to rise along with the complications of health insurance, maintaining proper Holistic Nutrition serves as an alternative to avoiding all of these complications described above. We often are told to save for our financial futures, yet we as a nation have yet to fully comprehend that eating healthy is also an investment; especially if you start at an early age. When someone reaches their late age of 50’s and onward; that is the time the body really uses its supply and reserve nutrients to preserve and carry the body on for its duration. Now is the real time to look at food beyond the social setting and its taste alone: food is medicine and the prescription for a healthier you.
4) Perception and Attitude means Everything.
While we may do everything possible to remain healthy and in a functional state, from time to time even the healthiest people can get sick and ill. This is just a reality and a fact of life. Yet there is one major difference in those from whom beat the odds as opposed to those who have given up and the difference is: perception and attitude. Our attitudes about health and sickness can impact outcomes greatly. Point being is that it is that more positive our thoughts and attitudes about health and healing are, it creates a reciprocal feedback loop of wellness and it sets the tone for whatever the outcome will be.
When it comes to health and eating, its knowing that making the healthiest choice is what the body needs to propel it towards a healthy old age (inshallah): that’s the bigger picture. Some results are immediate, like clearer skin, weight loss and better sleep. But the best result lies in the ability to live a life without pain, inflammation and chronic diseases. So no matter what new information that will be hurled at us, we have already come to know and understand the fundamental truth that real health care starts with the individual person, with what we choose to place in our mouths to eat. May we all choose to live life with vibrancy and the best of health that is available to use.
Daud Scott-CHNP; CPT.