As a nutritional therapist I offer dietary advice to clients with the intension that it will allow them to take control of their health. The information is meant as a guide, which individuals can experiment with to see if it is right for them. This means they have to listen to the feedback of their body. In doing so they can observe whether or not they feel better when they eat differently. This might include being aware of any changes to their energy, digestion, menstrual cycle, mood or skin.
Lets look at an example. Last week a patient came to see me for a follow-up appointment. She originally consulted me because she had been suffering from bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhea on and off for the past year. In her first session we discussed her diet, which was generally good, and alongside other changes I advised that she experimented with being gluten-free. For many people a period without gluten can be hugely beneficial for digestive health and symptoms rapidly improve. However, when this lady came for her follow-up appointment she reported that going gluten-free had made no difference to her symptoms.
It is hugely important as a therapist to listen and respond to each person’s individual experiences. Diet advice that is right for one person is not necessarily right for the next, even if they present with the same symptoms. Therefore after listening to my patient’s observations I advised her to re-introduce gluten back into her diet. A gluten-free diet was clearly not improving her symptoms, so I had no reason to advise her to continue. Instead I ordered her a comprehensive stool analysis so that we could identify other underlying causes for her symptoms.
The test results showed that her digestive enzymes were low, as well as her beneficial bacteria. When we corrected this through diet and supplements her bloating, cramps and diarrhea disappeared. It took one month on a targeted protocol for her symptoms to completely clear up. This feedback from her body was proof that the protocol was working and her system was coming back into balance. She felt empowered that the diet changes she had made were right for her because her health had improved and she felt fantastic.
The problem with nutrition information is that if we follow it blindly and don’t also listen to the feedback of our body it disempowers us. We give our power away to someone else to tell us what to eat. In doing so we disconnect from our innate wisdom, we can become unnecessarily fearful about eating certain food groups, and worse still create new health problems. Nobody else knows your body better than you do and it is constantly communicating. If you honour it and listen within you will know whether or not specific dietary advice is right for you.
Your diet does not need a name or a label. It only needs to nourish you. And your dietary needs are as unique as you are. So if you have given your power away by always eating what other people think you should eat, now is the time to reclaim your diet. A nourishing diet is one that makes you feel radiant, is joyful and flexible. It allows you to respond to the needs of your body, which are constantly changing. So turn your attention inwards and listen to what your body is asking for. This is the compassionate approach and it is empowering.