Reclaim your diet

IMG_1918Nutrition advice should empower us –
but does it?

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.

The Intuitive Detox

SmoothiesIt’s almost that time of year again when the indulgence of Christmas is over and the search for the latest detox begins. It is a search for a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid. A search for the ultimate superfood and best cleansing supplements. But do we really need to be told what to eat if we want to have a New Year cleanse?

I believe that detoxing is an extremely powerful tool for good health and for years I have written articles giving detox advice. I have provided clients with recommendations on how to detox, on what to eat and what to do. But this year I find myself feeling resistant to giving any advice on the topic.

Why? Because we all know intuitively what foods we personally need to have a break from to support our health. This is our detox. With so much nutrition information available today we are constantly searching outside ourselves for answers and advice. We want to be told what to do and how to eat. But we already know what we should be eating, we just need to tune-in to the wisdom of our body.

This is a much more compassionate way to health. Instead of imposing a set of rules and regulations on the body we listen to what the body needs in order to be healthy. Only you know what your Achilles’ heel is when it comes to food and what the most helpful change would be. Maybe you have a soft spot for sugar, alcohol or coffee. Or maybe you know that bread is making you bloated. You know what you should stop eating for January if you want to cleanse.

When we listen to how food makes us feel we experience direct communication from our body. It tells us what is nourishing us and what is causing imbalances. We then know exactly what the best detox is for us individually today. And it may be different from the detox we needed last year or what we will need next year. This intuitive detox allows our food choices to unfold from within and it lets go any sense of denial and deprivation. It is empowering and it is kind.

So rather than search for a list of foods that you need to give-up in the New Year, I invite you to take five minutes to sit in silence and quietly ask yourself what foods are causing imbalances in your body today? What foods is your body asking you to have a break from? Write down what answers you get and repeat the practice as the 1st January approaches. When you next eat that particular food, observe how it feels in your body – both minutes and hours after you have eaten it. You will begin to notice how your body is constantly but subtly communicating with you.

Let’s make 2017 a year for combining expert opinions with our own inner wisdom. It is time to embrace intuitive, compassionate eating and to let go of fear and rule-based nutrition.