Often when people hear the word nutrition they think of diets, counting calories and restrictive eating, and for some this has been their experience when working with practitioners in the past. This assumption of what nutrition is or what a nutritionist does, can cause a fear of judgement or shame around eating habits, which is the exact opposite of what we are aiming for. So what is a holistic approach to nutrition? And what does a Holistic Nutritionist do?
We don’t count calories
If anyone asks you to count calories in order to improve your health, heed my advice and walk briskly in the opposite direction. A calorie is a unit of heat and was originally used in engineering and physics to measure energy, more specifically it was designed for steam engines! Counting calories to manage physical appearance gained momentum in the 1920’s and has since been associated with health, nutrition and weight loss. Sure, in theory counting calories to lose weight makes sense because it relies on eating less and moving your body more but it doesn’t take into account that the body fights back – our metabolism slows and our body goes into survival mode storing fat and halting the process. Secondly, it’s incredibly difficult to accurately count calories for successful weight loss because we’re so unique in our physical make up. What works for one, usually doesn’t work for someone else! And thirdly, it creates a barrier around food, which is the last thing we want to do. Eating should be enjoyed, it’s one of the simplest pleasures in life and if you spend most of your free time calculating your energy intake and expenditure on top of all your other responsibilities, you begin to dread eating. A Holistic approach to nutrition on the other hand seeks the joy in eating real food. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I want you to feel good and have fun whilst you improve your health.
As a nutritionist my goal is to empower you to understand how your body works, noticing your own individual signs before you reach a state of being unwell. It sounds so simple, but most people don’t notice their autonomic cues when, for example, their blood sugar is low or when they’re thirsty. The body is sending us signals every single millisecond, we just have to be conscious enough to notice them.
Sounds a bit woo woo but stick with me here. Eating intuitively comes once you are body aware and you understand what food fuels and energises you. It’s not about restricting what you eat though, it’s about recognising how you feel physically and mentally when you eat certain foods. When you’re feeling flat and you reach for a chocolate bar, consider how you feel at that very moment. Sure your energy is low, but are you hungry? Are you sleepy? When was your last meal and what did you eat? Eating is an exchange of energy, we eat to fuel us and keep us functioning. For example, if you have black coffee and a slice of Vegemite toast for breakfast at 8am, your brain and body are going to be starving for energy by about 9am. If however, you start the day with a big glass of water, followed by scrambled eggs with a side of sautéed greens and avocado, plus your coffee an hour later, chances are your focus and energy will be stabilised and you can cruise through to 11am at least. Think of your metabolism as a furnace, if you throw petrol (black coffee and Vegemite toast) on the furnace you will get a flash of heat and fire, but it will dissipate quickly. If you throw on a hardwood log (water, protein, carbs and fats), watch it burn and simmer for hours. Eating intuitively is about understanding how your body works and consuming food that you know will help to function optimally.
Eat real food
I heard a quote recently where someone said “…there is no such thing as junk food, only junk!” and I couldn’t agree more. If your great grandparents didn’t eat it, if it comes wrapped in plastic, if you can’t pronounce some of the ingredients, if the expiration date is months (even years) in the future, it’s probably not a real food item and has been chemically manipulated for convenience. There is no shame in eating packaged foods, however if you want to improve your energy, sleep better, get rid of brain fog, lose weight, balance your hormones or just optimise your wellbeing, you will most definitely not find the solution in those foods. As a holistic nutritionist my aim is to share the beauty and deliciousness in eating real wholefoods, foods that are so full of flavour and texture. I want to educate you to think of an apple with almond butter before you think of a biscuit for your mid-afternoon snack and not because you know it’s healthy for you, but because you know that is what your brain and body need to function at their best and because you know that that snack is delicious!
Keep it simple!
There is no such thing as superfoods. Ok, that’s a lie, there is such a thing as a superfood but it’s not a glamorous Insta-worthy acai bowl that costs $16 a pop, it’s actually the $3 head of broccoli sitting in your fridge. Simplicity is key when it comes to improving your diet and health. There is a common misconception that eating healthy is expensive and this is true if you’re opting for cleverly marketed trendy “superfoods”, however if you stick with natural wholefoods, eating nutritious foods is easy and cost effective!
Food = joy
Eating food needn’t be a chore. Eating food should be fun, carefree and make you feel good. A holistic approach to nutrition works proactively to support your health and wellbeing through food education and empowerment and part of this is to inspire you to get excited about food. One of the easiest ways to inspire joy when it comes to food is to get in the kitchen and start cooking yourself. Understanding what goes into the meals you eat and how your food is prepared is an incredible way to gain insight into your health.
Optimal health is about feeling good both physically and mentally and food is an integral part of the journey. Holistic nutrition is an all-encompassing practice that takes the confusion out of what to eat by giving you the tools to confidently navigate your own health goals. Food should be celebrated and here at Mullen Health we want to show you how. If you have questions relating to holistic approach to nutrition or would like to book an appointment, phone the clinic on 02 4961 4075.
Yours in health,