July 17, 2011 ( Categories Nutrition | Tags: ayurveda, chinese medicine, dietetics, individual, intuitive eating, naturopathy, perfect diet, Yoga )
The perfect diet
In an ideal world, there would be no need for someone to tell us what and how to eat. Like animals in the wild, prehistoric humans, and some modern yogis, dancers and athletes who are very in touch with their bodies, we would naturally be drawn to eating a vibrant, delicious, satisfying diet, free of deprivation; a diet perfect for our individual needs.
We would also naturally know when not to eat – fasting is a natural cleansing process utilised by nearly every mammal on earth, as well as highly vibrant human beings.
We would eat intuitively, based on the naturally fluctuating needs of our bodies through our changing external and internal environments – weather, season, our physical and mental state, demands put on our bodies, and so on. Our bodies would be highly sensitive to even the smallest change in our environment.
As a result of our being in touch with the Earth’s natural cycles, our digestion would flow harmoniously and energy would move freely through our bodies. As a result of eating intuitively and in harmony with nature, our energy levels would be optimal, our libidos healthy, inspiration would come effortlessly, and we would open the flood gates for improvements in every area of our lives.
Get your nose out of Anastacia, we’re in the 21st century!
Does this sound like a fantasy? If you’ve read the book Anastacia by Vladimir Megre describing a reportedly true encounter with a woman brought up in the Russian woods, you’ll know the lifestyle I’m describing! In our modern world, living this way seems like a far-off fairy tale.
From the day we are born and even before then, we are over-fed a steady stream of chronic stress, environmental pollutants, fake foods and chemical stimulants. We have been taught not to trust our innate cravings and tastes, instead turning to friends and family, scientists, celebrities, the media and fad diets to tell us what and what not to eat, never mind how, when and why we are eating.
An intuitive diet is the perfect diet for us as human animals. Intuitively, we know what’s best for us, just as a bird, a wolf or a child brought up on natural wholefoods does. But it’s hard to eat intuitively when we’re physically blocked up by the waste residue of a diet far from what nature intended.
It’s difficult to eat according to nature and when we’re mentally fatigued by our stressful lifestyles, and we’re confused by the enormous amount of often conflicting information about diet out there.
What’s blocking us?
Ancient nutrition sciences, naturopaths and modern medicine all recognise the stagnation of energy and movement through the digestive tract to some extent, and the effect of this on every other area of health.
In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of nutrition dating back 5000 years, they refer to agni, or central digestive fire. A balanced agni is vital and achieved through specific ways of preparing and combining foods. When we are not digesting and metabolising food properly, digestion is sluggish, and a coating of heavy, sticky mucus called amma forms along the digestive tract.
This mucus waste weakens digestive fire, leading to problems in the other 13 “tissue fires” or systems of the body. Similar physiological and energetic philosophies surrounding digestive blockage exist in Chinese Nutritional Medicine.
In naturopathic medicine, this waste is referred to as “toxins”, poorly-dealt with by-products of a diet too high in processed food, sugar, meat and homogenised dairy. In modern medicine, doctors do not recognise a physical build up of toxins as such, but they give names to the diseases that manifest once these toxins accumulate – diverticulitis, for example, occurs when pockets of stagnant digesta are pushed into the walls of the intestine, creating infection and much pain.
This pathological congestion stems from poor diet, but is not limited to the digestive system – think cardiovascular diseases where fatty plaques build up inside artery walls as a result of poor diet, leading to hypertension, stroke and heart attack.
Cancer is also an end result of chronic congestion and the build-up of toxins in a localised or systemic way, causing DNA mutation and uncontrolled replication. Certain dietary factors have been shown to significantly increase the risks of many types of cancers, and the base of scientific evidence supporting causal relationships between diet and disease is rapidly expanding.
Whether we look at it from an ancient, naturopathic or scientific point of view, the congestion of the digestive tract leads to most of the lifestyle diseases we face today.
Over-stuffed on dietary information
“Be careful about reading health books – you may die of a misprint!” – Mark Twain
For anyone who has decided to improve their diet, it soon becomes apparent that healthy eating is not as straightforward as first imagined!
There are diets based on religion, ethics, medical systems, anthropology, the seasons, blood types. You can choose to be vegetarian, vegan, even a fruitarian; you can adopt a macrobiotic diet, a live foods diet, a Paleolithic diet; you can minimise fats, or carbohydrates, or proteins; you can base your diet on Chinese medicine or Ayurvedic medicine.
The problem is most of these systems contradict each other. One book might tout the wonders of soy, another will warn us of its dangers. One book might advocate a diet consisting primarily of raw foods, rich in enzyme vitality; another advises to limit intake of raw foods, so as not to dampen the digestive fire. One book will champion honey as a super-food; another says honey is just as harmful as any other sugar.
Most mainstream books on nutrition advise us to limit intake of fat, especially saturated fat; an increasingly prominent minority contends that actually, traditional animal fats are good for you, or that coconut oil, a saturated plant fat, is a cleansing weight-loss food. Some authorities say that supplements are essential; others say they just give you “expensive urine.”
The examples are endless. We ask ourselves, how do we find the diet that’s right for us, if there is one? Maybe they all have elements of truth, despite their blatant contradictions. Or maybe none of them are right.
For too long, we have gorged on a processed modern diet – even many of the health foods we see on our shelves are processed conglomerations of fractionated sugars, protein powders and other indigestible contents. The body does not recognise unnatural foods and will store them as waste, or weight, no matter how healthy the package seems to make them out to be.
To our detriment, we have followed authoritative dietary recommendations blindly, and confused ourselves with mountains of conflicting dietary information. Despite our persistent focus on diet and all the research that goes into it, we have ended up more sick, depressed and heavier than ever. We have lost our natural way of eating and knowing.
Return to Intuitive Eating
“Eat when you are hungry, drink when you are thirsty, sleep when you are tired.” - Taoist adage.
The only reliable authority, in the end, is your own body. We need to learn how to trust our bodies again, and how to listen to the messages it is sending us about diet. The simple tools of tuning into our bodies and fully experiencing each bite of food have the power to resolve any questions about food choices and diet.
This doesn’t mean we should go out and fully experience every bite of a large bucket of KFC! After a life time of ignoring your body, getting back in touch with it can take a little bit of work and a lot of patience.
It’s hard to listen to the body when a symphony of opposing authorities on diet are shouting their new findings and guaranteed weight loss methods from the rooftops! Likewise, it’s hard to tune in to the body when it’s cluttered with old physical and emotional waste, in the same way it’s hard to see a beautiful landscape in its natural state once it’s been strewn with rubbish and environmental pollutants.
Somehow, we need to restore our systems to their natural, free-flowing state and re-connect with our inner body wisdom if we are to start feeding ourselves properly. This is where it can be helpful to have a nutritional therapist with a multi-disciplinary background. As a nutritionist and dietitian with experience in evolutionary biology, ancient nutritional philosophies and modern medicine, I can guide and support you on your way back to intuitive health and a clean-celled body.
In order to listen to the body’s messages loudly and clearly, it is imperative that we gently clean out our systems after years of unnatural eating and abuse. Much benefit can be found in returning to a cleansing, natural diet that supports digestive function, or balances agni. Another way to describe this process of systemic cleansing, commonly known in naturopathic circles, is detoxification.
Detoxification has much stigma attached to it due to the abuse of this word in innumerable catch-cries for weight loss diets and liver flushes. This is not a short term, quick-fix diet that relies on extended fasts on honey and hot water, knowing your blood type, counting fat and carbohydrate grams, or relying on herbal laxatives, supplements or premium-priced powders.
My philosophy is centred on taking an individualised, holistic approach to embracing a permanent diet-lifestyle that will get you back in tune with your body and spirit. You will lose excess body weight, shed waste that has backed up your system for years, and regain energy you thought you’d never feel again, all on a wholefoods diet that is nourishing, healing and most important of all, delicious, practical and enjoyable.
Your Personalised Consultation
As your personal holistic dietitian, I will empower you to start eating in the way that’s most beneficial and intuitive to you. I show you how to get back to basics and re-learn what we really need to eat for optimal health and a free-flowing system.
To qualify me to help you, I’ve spent the last decade developing my philosophy within every area of the food and nutrition field – from working as a veterinarian in our modern food systems, and researching the eating habits of domestic and wild animals, to working as a nutritionist consulting with chronically ill and hospitalised patients whose health reveals the results of such food systems.
I’ve done the work for you in sifting through and integrating into my practice evidence-based dietetic science, wisdom from naturopathy, Chinese Nutritional Medicine, Ayurveda and Yoga, and evolutionary biology. You can be sure that my approach is nothing short of a truly holistic, deeply personal and highly effective way to let go of excess weight, health problems, and reliance on dietary fads and conventional dieting, forever.
Together, we explore simple new ways of eating that will markedly increase your enjoyment of pure, natural wholefoods without bloating, indigestion, disease or guilt. We investigate your behaviours and conditioning around food and how we ignore vital messages from our bodies that would otherwise guide us towards the perfect diet.
We address food- and sugar-addiction, over-eating, stress, and how to distinguish appetites from cravings.We discuss the role of yoga and other mind-body practices that have been scientifically proven to help us get in touch with our intuitive way of eating.
We put it all together to reveal a new, intuitive way of eating that is highly personalised to your needs, food preferences, lifestyle, and experiences.
Welcome to an instinctive approach to nutrition that aligns joyful, nurturing eating with the authentic needs of body and soul. Let us help integrate your diet with your other life directions and let it be a way to support your passions and purpose in the world.