What is a healthy eating plan …. for weight loss, fatigue, stress, hormone balance, fertility, muscle pain, allergies, sleep …
Being asked what is a healthy eating and what should I eat is one of the most frequent questions I am asked.
Essentially people would like to know:
- What is a healthy eating plan?
- Have you heard of eating plan or diet A or B and if so, what do you think?
- Is there a eating plan specifically for ……..?
My answer is always the same, it depends. There is no one eating plan that suits everyone. We are all different and because we are all different you need to have someone develop an eating plan that works for ‘you’.
Urrgh I can hear from some of you say in frustration. I understand your frustration as I know you are looking for a simple answer to what you believe is a simple question. However what may seem on the surface to be a simple question is in fact a loaded question. Your question assumes I have understanding and insight into a significant amount of information about you as a person.
Let me explain.
Understand your eating, living and lifestyle
A eating plan or diet is in its simplest form defined as the food and drink we regularly consume. I prefer to extend this definition to include not only what we eat and drink but also our living and lifestyle habits.
To understand your eating, living and lifestyle I need insight and understanding of a whole range of factors. It is why I complete a comprehensive eating and lifestyle review with clients before I provide eating and lifestyle recommendations.
The things I need to understand include (but are not limited to):
- Your health history
- Your current health
- Your current food, living and lifestyle choices
- The major influences that determine what you eat and how you live
- How your body has or is responding to your food and lifestyle choices
- What areas of your health are of current concern
- What would you like to achieve by changing your food, living and lifestyle habits.
What is your health history?
Understanding your health history and current health gives insight into:
- medically diagnosed health conditions and/or symptoms (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid condition)
- medication and / or supplements you use
- family history
- potential health predisposition(s)
- areas of health that are of concern to you
- ongoing/current symptoms
- insight into your current level of immunity.
What factors influence your eating and lifestyle?
There are a range of factors that influence your eating, living and lifestyle choices. These include:
- your attitude to food and lifestyle options
- your health knowledge
- your stage of life and age (are you still growing, are you looking to fall pregnant, are you elderly)
- your general background, e.g. your cultural background often influences your food preferences
- how much money you have available to invest in foods and lifestyle choices
- what role food plays in your life, who were the role model(s) that shaped your attitudes to food
- what it means to ‘you’ to be healthy.
These factors will influence your perception of the changes I may recommended, how easy changes will be for you to adopt, and how much support, guidance and direction you will need in making changes. Changing food and living habits for some is straight forward and for others confronting and possibly overwhelming. Research indicates receiving support, guidance and education can increase your likelihood of success in making change.
What we eat is important, but so is how we eat
We are often told we are what we eat. This is partially true but not completely true. You are what you eat, however your health also reflects:
- how well you digest food
- how well you absorb food
- how your body responds to food and lifestyle
- how your genetic profile influences your predispositions to health conditions
- the cumulative health impact of food and lifestyle choices made by you or for you during your life.
Understanding these things, will help guide and inform my recommendations. Not understanding these things and having appropriate strategies to deal with them may mean you find yourself doing what appears to be all the right things but still not getting the results you want.
And as you would imagine, I need to understand not only what and why you eat but also other things including:
- whether you smoke
- whether you drink
- how you respond to and manage stress
- how active you are
- the amount of social connectedness you have in your life
What you eat and how you live day-to-day contributes to the quality of your health from infancy and throughout life. Your body has a level of resilience; however your choices over time influence this resilience and so influence the quality of your health.
Your nutritionist needs to understand your goals
And finally I cannot provide you with a recommended eating and lifestyle plan unless I understand what you seeking to achieve? It can be so many things – to improve your level of energy and vitality, to redress hormone imbalance, to lose weight, to maintain weight, nutritional support for a diagnosed medical condition, prepare for pregnancy, support growth and development or seek relief from symptoms interfering with your quality of life?
Hippocrates put forward the idea that we need to treat the person as a whole, that we are not a series of parts. It is therefore important I understand you as a whole person and treat you as a whole person.
Wholefood and mindful living
I believe in a whole food nutrient dense mindful eating. I also believe in mindful living. Achieving the right combination of gives you the best chance for achieving and maintaining optimal health. I don’t believe in fad diets or eating plans. I believe food is to be enjoyed, it should not only tantalise your tastebuds it should support you to live a happy, healthy and fulfiling life.
If you are seeking to work with someone who will treat you holistically, who wants to help you embed long lasting fundamentals of healthy eating and living in your life, I would be honoured to work with you.
take care, may you stay safe, happy, healthy and free.