My nutrition page has been designed to educate people about fundamental principles of nutrition. I will try to leave personal bias aside and base my posts off of research and my own knowledge. This post however is very much my opinion based of off personal experience and what I have observed from others. So here goes my rant. My education that I am receiving at National College of Natural Medicine very much mirrors my own nutritional philosophy. The overarching premise is to eat as close to a whole foods diet as possible. This is to say that processed, refined, and preserved foods should be limited and foods that are in their most natural state such as: fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, beans, and seeds should be our primary source of energy in our diet. Pretty simple right? In a perfect world yes, in the United States today? Not so much. Heart disease is the number one killer in our country. Nearly 1 out of 10 people in the United States are diabetic and 1 out of 3 American adults are prediabetic! The problem isn't just the lack of access to affordable whole foods, abundant fast food chains, or the microwave dinners; the problem is that the people that are already obese, sick, and eager for change are having a hard time finding a solution to their health concerns. We live in a world in which we want things fast. Many diets take advantage of this and provide temporary weight loss programs. There are a range of studies showing that 80-95% of those who have dieted, gain the weight they lost back. Granted there are genetic variants that make weight loss much more challenging for some, still these results are disappointing. Many diets are created to help you lose weight fast, but they aren't created to be a diet for the rest of your life. There are some great diets out there that do provide a layout of long-term success, but the number of sham diets outweigh the sustainable ones. Detoxification protocols and gut healing regimes are great because they are temporary and reboot the body's organs.
One of my favorite classes that I have taken in my program, Psychology of Eating, addressed this issue. It turns out that it isn't always the diet structure, but the psychology of the dieter that causes the regaining of weight. When the dieter has to count calories, weigh their food, and prohibit certain foods from the diet, they realize how much of a pain a diet can be. They feel shame for not accomplishing what they had set out to do and gain the weight back, vowing never to diet again. The word "diet" has so many negative connotations. The verb "to diet" means restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight. There are two different nouns for diet: 1.the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats and 2. a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. To produce long-term results, we need to abide by the first diet noun: habitual and sustainable food, not the second. To adjust to such a long-term commitment, lifestyle also needs to be changed.
Just one aspect of lifestyle change is exercise. Long ago we were all active people. We worked hard to obtain food and provide for our families. What we ate came from the land. Now we are faced with a different issue: we have to work for money that buys us food. Many Americans have given up health to earn money. Exercise is the missing component. Exercise improves neurological function, sleep, appetite, insulin sensitivity, and much more! It would seem that exercise is a completely different topic than nutrition, but I think they go very much hand in hand. When we exercise we become more aware of our body. This is a real phenomenon called proprioception. When we participate in a sport for the first time, we feel uncoordinated. Over time our nervous system and musculoskeletal system adapt as we develop muscle memory. Performance begins to improve, and we find ourselves not even having to think. I believe that we can train our body the same way with food. After a while eating healthy, and in the right amounts, a habit is formed. Going about creating these habits is different for everybody. I don't believe there is a perfect diet or lifestyle for everyone.
Well, I only covered one aspect of my nutritional philosophy. I may have to sneak in another post elaborating on other aspects a bit more. Most of us already know what foods are bad for us and are aware of the long-term consequences that follow consuming them. But are we aware of the acute, short-term effects? Through listening to our bodies, we can be more aware of what foods settle with us and which foods do not. Try it out for yourself! Next time you exercise think about what your body is craving to refuel. Try a piece of fruit one day and a doughnut the next. Wait a few minutes while you digest your food. Was there a difference? This practice helps tune your mind-body connection. This is a form of mindful eating and has been proven to help us make better food choices. This can be practiced without exercise as well. Exercise just helps accelerate the immediate reaction to food intake.