Sometimes I feel like I’ve been a lifelong student of Nutrition. Even long before I formerly started my studies at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition back in 2006, I always had my nose buried in the latest health or diet book, and was using myself as a human guinea pig to experiment with some supplement or another.
I can laugh now when I look back and think about some of the crazy things I believed to be true because I see how far I’ve come.There was actually a stage in my life where I guzzled diet coke like there was no tomorrow, ate liquid egg whites from a carton, touted the health benefits of tofu, and was all about artificial sweeteners. No calories? Bring it on!
All I can say about that now is “yikes” and that I’m so happy I got myself sorted out.
Thankfully throughout the years I’ve had some amazing teachers and guides, and have been taught some invaluable lessons. Below I’ve noted some of the most important ones that I will always hold to be true.
1. Your Body is Always Talking. It speaks in the language of symptoms and it’s up to us to listen. It oftentimes starts by communicating in whispers, and it’s only after we ignore those whispers long enough that they turn into blatant screams. Excess weight, migraines, digestive problems, depression, chronic fatigue and so forth are all signs and symptoms of something going on at a much deeper level. It takes practice to really tune into the body and listen to what it’s trying to tell you, but like learning any new language it gets easier the more you practice. The first step is just becoming aware of your body and its intricate workings – even if you can’t yet decipher what it’s trying to tell you.
I can honestly say, my best teacher to date has been my GI tract. It always lets me know when I’ve veered too far off track or when I need to reconsider my lifestyle choices. Tweet that!
2. One Diet Does NOT Fit All. As the saying goes, one man’s food is another man’s poison. While some people can thrive off of one type of particular diet or food, the same ones can be debilitating for somebody else. There are many factors to consider here including: lineage, diet and health history, current state of health, internal cleanliness, food sensitivities and so forth. Certain foods while suitable for some, can actually wreak havoc on another’s delicate digestive terrain. It’s important that we feed ourselves food that nourishes our body, while avoiding those triggers that can set off a chain of unfavorable reactions like inflammation. Sometimes it takes some hard work and dedication to pinpoint those triggers, but let me tell you the payoff is worth it!
Leading me to my next point…
3. Digestion is EVERYTHING. Health begins in the gut, and so too does disease. Over two-thirds of our immune system resides in the lining of our intestinal tract and it serves as our first line of defense against any invading substances we ingest. When I’m meeting with a client for the first time, it doesn’t matter what the health condition or reason for seeing me, whether it’s weight-loss or an eating disorder I always address digestion first. Optimal health can only ensue if digestion is functioning properly.
4. You are NOT what you eat. Rather, you are what you digest, assimilate and absorb. If you have faulty digestion you can be eating the healthiest diet in the world yet still struggle with health problems if you can’t absorb any of those wonderful nutrients or manufacture any of your own. As per point # 3 – address digestion first!
5. Your Diet will Evolve along with your Beliefs. Nutrition facts have a short shelf life. Things are always changing and new information is always being presented. It wasn’t too long ago that we were told to avoid all fat like the plague and now it’s made a major comeback!
I think it’s great to stay abreast current information and the latest research but after you’ve been on this path long enough there comes a point when you’re no longer swayed by the latest diet, supplement or “superfood”. You just know what works for you and you stop messing around.
There are a lot of great teachers and health experts with varying opinions on “the right way” to eat, and it seems each one always has the evidence to support their claims. Collect the golden nuggets that serve you best, and leave the rest. Don’t cling to any one paradigm too tightly and always be open to other points of view, even if they go against your “sacred rules”.
Keep in mind though… just because something doesn’t resonate with you right now, doesn’t mean it won’t later. If only a few years ago someone had told me some of the new and amazing things I’m learning today back then, it would have fallen on deaf ears because I wasn’t ready for the information yet.
Constantly re-evaluate your beliefs as you gain new insight and perspective along the way. Even as a practitioner and teacher of this work, it’s most important to be a lifelong student first and foremost.
In the comments below let me know what your best health & wellness lessons have been. And if you liked this post please share via the buttons below!
p.s. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out my upcoming 4-week nutrition + yoga workshop I’m running with Donna Wilding. Details here. Early bird is in effect!