What You’ll Learn
- There is more to diet and nutrition than meets the eye, and it begins with expanding our knowledge about how to eat and that the goal should not be about weight, rather health. » Jump To This
- Truly optimized diets should be personalized and specific with quality foods based on your mental state and biochemistry to harmonize and restore balance to your entire system. » Jump To This
- Take time to consider the following when selecting quality foods: where was it grown, how was it treated, did it travel far before it got to you? » Jump To This
- HOW you eat is just as important, if not moreso, than WHAT you eat. » Jump To This
- This article will provide you with 8 actionable steps to re-establishing a healthy relationship with your meals. » Jump To This
The Earth has always provided us with means of nourishment. From the diversity of foods across nations to the variety of plant and animal life at home, our bodies have co-evolved with our food. Primarily, this evolution has made it easier for our bodies to maintain their natural homeostasis and to digest and extract precious nutrients from the foods we consume. When healthy, our bodies are the most complex and perfectly efficient machines ever crafted. They make sense of the environment around us and generate fuel, expand and grow, and even create life. From our environment, our body obtains everything it needs for life and for healing.
Even when we aren’t at our healthiest, our body still performs many of these tasks, but with each passing day, they become more susceptible to disease. There can be many reasons we might fail to perform at our best, but lately, changes in the ways we interact with food have become one of the leading causes of our estrangement from optimal health. Truthfully, nutrition has become one of the most convoluted areas of advancement to humans. We strayed from methodical and mindful habits, toward mass production of food items. We shifted away from eating fresh vegetables and fruits grown from home gardens to feasting on genetically modified foods with extended shelf lives or produce and grains treated with pesticides meant to protect harvests easily. This wouldn’t be the first-time humans, in the name of technology and advancement, thought they could beat Earth in something it has spent billions of years perfecting. Unfortunately, the repercussions have significantly increased the risk of diseases that were once relatively uncommon. Now, you’d be an anomaly if you didn’t know someone who suffered from obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer.
To reduce your risk or improve your prognosis, there are many key steps you can take to start the healing process within you. Your body is a biological machine, and after years of improper nutrition, it may be bogged down and not operating well – but it isn’t impossible to fix. Humans, at heart, are adaptable organisms. But with a little help from nutritious foods, we are able to naturally heal ourselves. Whether your goal is to lose weight and decrease the load on the sum of your parts, or relieve the pressure of inflammation building in your system, changing your diet is the perfect place to start. However, as simple as it can be to say what’s wrong about your diet, it can be difficult to make sense of what is the right diet for you.
However, there are ways that you can increase your awareness of dietary habits that promote healing. We should be looking at nutrition as a series of steps to integrate a wide variety of foods that promote the optimal health of our bodies and our minds; and most of all, we should look to nutritional wisdom that is supported by science. In truth, nutrition could be the cure to disease; as the cornerstone of Preventive Medicine. When it comes to promoting health, the results are undisputed: nutrition IS the first line of defense.
Nutrition is Not About Weight; Nutrition is About Health
The word diet doesn’t evoke feelings of peace or happiness for many. It is synonymous with restriction, hunger, and negative self-image. Most diets are built for failure, forcing you to choose between one restrictive option over another, neither satisfying nor flavorful. This has led many experts to assume that those who failed to lose weight weren’t compliant with their diet, and for some people, this may be the case. In fact, many studies originally supported this claim, suggesting the issue arose from misjudging food portions, participants failing to log their diet, and even suggesting memory was to blame. Perhaps people just couldn’t remember what they did or didn’t eat.
Where some of the studies may have had some merit, they all fell under the same bias. They all blamed the participants of the diet for failing to lose weight. Until recently, very few were willing to accept that their methods were to blame. Indeed, it can be difficult to restrict foods you consume, and the more progressive among health practitioners know that healthful eating should focus more on what foods to consume, rather than what foods to restrict. There is more to nutrition than meets the eye, and it begins with expanding our knowledge of just how intricate the connections are between our food and ourselves.
Nutrition Should be Personalized
We are all our own person, with different needs and unique tastes, and each with our own dietary requirements. Despite humans sharing nearly 99.9% of the same genes, our DNA varies in subtle yet significant ways. We vary in eye color, skin color, in behavior and personality. Each person is unique, and now scientific advancements are beginning to unmask the complexity between our individuality and our individual nutritional needs.
Already, the New York Center for Innovative Medicine offers the same kind of concentrated focus on nutritional care as you might receive from your primary doctor’s office through advanced testing and personalization systems. It’s not so far-fetched to receive specific dietary recommendations with quality foods based on your mental state and biochemistry to harmonize and restore balance to your entire system. By testing a sample of your blood, Innovative Medicine can determine your bioenergetic state, offer a true holistic analysis of your health, and help you heal yourself through personalized nutrition.
“There is no one-size-fits-all diet. Each person is unique, and their dietary considerations should express that uniqueness. This is something we embody at NYCIM with each and every patient as they go through a healing regimen.”CAITLIN POLICASTRO, NP
Clinical Director, NYCIM
First, Teach Yourself About Food Quality
If you’re looking to improve the types of foods you’re eating, there is no better place to start than by focusing on their quality. Change the way you look at food by appreciating how it came to your plate. Consider each food as a whole: where was it grown, how was it treated, did it travel far before it got to you? You wouldn’t necessarily bring a stranger to your table for dinner without proper introductions, because sharing a meal is a very intimate setting. Grow your awareness of the foods you consume and refrain from foods doused in chemical pesticides or that are genetically modified. Focus on eating sources where you know the meat is free-range, hormone free, and cared for humanely. Treat your food with respect, and you will find your body becomes more accepting of it. With high-quality food, the availability of the nutrients is higher and our bodies don’t have to fight to digest and make sense of it. Nor do we have to defend against pathogens that enter with our food. If every time you consume a meal, your body must produce an immune response to purify it, you can consider it an unnecessary strain that can harm your body’s natural defenses.
Treat your body like a temple. Make thoughtful choices to consume quality ingredients, and most importantly: eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
Organic fruits and vegetables contain some of the most beneficial nutrients our world has to offer. Rich in vitamins and minerals, bursting with antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories, a plethora of studies have shown these bioactive phytonutrients common to fruits and vegetables combat disease, alleviate inflammation, and prevent cancerous cells from forming. What more could one need?
Don’t Forget to Eat with Intention
Meal times used to be a social gathering, a moment of bliss shared among loved ones, fostering harmony in the home. Today, feeding times are a little more difficult to negotiate. Everyone has their own schedule and it can be difficult to practice mindful eating habits, especially at work. Additionally, many people suffer from poor relationships with their food, buying into negative emotions that manifest into real physiological responses, like altering your body’s natural pH. When we experience anxiety with our food, this signal is transmitted deep into our cells by our sympathetic nervous system, changing our metabolism and influencing our stress response. Essentially, feeling self-conscious or nervous when we eat can influence how well our body digests our food and how waste is excreted. Switching to a more relaxed state can heighten our digestion and improve the pH of our body to a more balanced, neutral state.
“Both the psychological mood and the physical accessories that surround you when you eat may influence the way in which you metabolize food and in turn your health and wellbeing.””SUSAN ALBERS
8 Tips to Rebuilding Your Relationship with Food
There are several ways to influence these reactions, such as practicing mindful eating habits. Consider these 8 steps as your guide to re-establishing a healthy relationship with your meals.
- When it is time to sit down and eat, take the time to truly chew and enjoy your food. Chew slowly, deliberately and chewing at least 30 times per mouthful (as per recommendations from Dr. Harald Stossier and the Viva Mayr Diet).
- Breathe between bites.
- Be thoughtful and present for your meal time. Sit down to enjoy it, rather than stand.
- Shy away from negative emotions and imagine the healing properties of your meal.
- When you sit down to eat, try to avoid turning on your TV or looking at your phone.
- Connect a positive emotion between mind and body with each taste.
- Engage your taste buds by appreciating each ingredient, its appearance, odor, texture and flavor.
- Enjoy your designated meal time with friends and family.
By taking these steps, you can begin to reroute your neurological connection with food. One of the most positive ways you can adjust your perspective of food is to eat with intention and allow yourself to relax and enter a state of peace.
Understand it’s Not Always About What Works Best for Others, it’s About What Works Best for You
If our genetics can rapidly shift based on our environment (as seen in the science of epigenetics), is it so unbelievable that how we respond to different foods would also vary? Currently, there are many scientists who are conducting studies to evaluate how differently people experience the same foods. Much of what we consume gets broken down and absorbed through our stomach and digestive tract, but now scientists are finding not everyone metabolizes food the same way. This is in part due to the uniqueness of each person’s biochemistry.
As we age, our health is determined by the foods we regularly consume and how we exhibit care for our body. If you tend to gravitate toward nutrient rich foods and focus on maintaining a healthy level of activity, you’ve equipped your body with a strong and resilient immune system. Furthermore, you’ve supported the health and well-being of beneficial microbes in your digestive system that make up what is called the gut-microbiome. Together, they work in sync to efficiently digest your foods. When healthy, your gut microbiome can even metabolize certain components in your food that you can’t digest and turn them into beneficial nutrients like Vitamin K and butyrate. Some studies have even found that this can influence your blood glucose response to food by buffering their impact and slowing down the dispersal of sugar into our bloodstream. This eases changes in blood glucose for those who may be more susceptible to spikes in sugar. Your gut microbiome is as unique to you as a fingerprint, so your response to different foods might not be as mainstream as you believed.
When you start down a path toward holistic nutritional healing, coming to appreciate it may be a winding one. But with each turn, you learn something more about you, something new. Channeling proper nutrition can be a beacon on your way to inner healing. It can teach you so much more than just which foods are good for you and which ones aren’t: it can be the blueprint that you use for anything you interact with. How you treat what enters your body should be how you treat everything in your life: with respect and gratitude. Be conscious of quality, be mindful and be present, and understand that you are more than just the sum of your physiological processes. You are capable of utterly transforming your health and restoring your internal balance. You are powerful.
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