3 Key Nutrition Principles
What is a healthy diet? It seems that are a myriad of new theories about what is best.
Keto, vegan, low fat, low calorie, high fibre, Intermittent Fasting, TRE (Time restricted eating) – I’ve seen online articles about all of these in the last few days alone.
So how do you know which is best?
As always, I’m not going to tell you what you must do and what you mustn’t do. I’m going to invite you to think about your nutrition. Is it serving your health goals? And if not – what needs to change?
And I’m not going to overwhelm you with everything that I’ve tried over the years – that would take more than one article!
I was lucky enough to study with the Nutritional Healing Foundation, their mission is to
to reclaim the healing aspects of nutrition…. ‘Using food’ to create an environment where each and every cell in your body can heal and be happy.
What a beautiful statement. Heal and be Happy.
I learnt so much from the course, not just about food, but about lifestyle, and mindset.
Some people think about nutrition is like going on a diet, that it’s all about restricting what you can enjoy. There is really much more to it than just eliminating ‘bad foods’ (which is such a subjective term)
I wanted to share 3 basic principles that will serve you well. First of all, we really need to come from a place of doing this for love and respect and compassion for ourselves. Whatever your health is like now, whatever your weight is now, this is not about beating yourself up and looking backwards with regrets or any negative emotions, like guilt or shame.
I’d like to think about nutrition in a different way. What if we came to thinking about nutrition from a place of loving ourselves, from a place of nurturing ourselves and in the way you would with a sick child? If you were looking after a sick child, you would lovingly prepare some healthy food for them wouldn’t you? So why don’t we think about doing that for ourselves? Come from a place of loving yourself, giving yourself the right nutrition, not about denying yourself pleasure. If there are things that you really want to eat, how about just eating those things in moderation?
Principle 1 – Water
I remember years ago a friend of mine, who was very ill at the time, went to see a nutritionist. After the first session, I called her up and asked, ‘How did it go?’ She replied – ‘Oh my goodness! For a whole hour this woman talked to me about water and nothing else, just went on and one about how I need to drink enough water, and I know that already’
‘That’s interesting’ I replied, ‘but are you doing it?’ She admitted that she knew the theory, but had not been drinking enough water.
It sounds so basic, but so many of us are dehydrated, there is a huge body of various studies showing that many cases of dis-ease start with the body just not getting enough water, and so the easiest, low-cost thing you can do to improve your health, and improve your nutrition is just simply up the amount of water that you drink every day.
They say two litres is probably the average for most people, but you’ll know yourself whether you need more. Some people may think, ‘I drink tea or coffee all day’, but this is about drinking water. If you want to make it taste nice, you could make water for yourself with fruit cordial (sugar free) in it.
I love to put some slices of lemon slices, or lime or some frozen berries, it’s so easy to keep in the freezer and just add to your drink of water every day.
While we are thinking about increasing our amount of water that we drink, I’d also invite you to think about limiting the amount of caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks that you may be consuming because they have the opposite effect, they can make us dehydrated.
So it might appear that you are drinking plenty, but you are not. You may be drinking things that are actually going to dehydrate you. There’s a couple of books I could recommend to you, and one of them is written by a guy with a strange name, Dr. Batmangheldi – ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’ is highly recommended. He has written a few books about water, and he’s done a lot of studies on the fact that a lot of diseases are caused by simply being dehydrated. He states that inflammation, the cause of many diseases, can be treated with water, and he advises trying this before prescription drugs or anti-inflammatory medication.
He did a lot of studies not just reversing illness by treating people with adequate amounts of water, but also looking at preventing illnesses as well. But on a basic level, if you don’t want to go into that scientific study, you can just think about trying for yourself. Try it for a week, try drinking more water, try drinking two litres a day, and see how you feel.
I know myself; I respond well. When I do this, I can tell that I feel a bit more alert. We know that pain sometimes is caused by dehydration. Certainly, a headache can be caused by dehydration. My skin always feels better when I’ve been drinking plenty of water as well. I feel like the toxins have been flushed through my body.
Another excellent book is by my Nutritional Healing teacher, Lesley Pierce
‘The Life Saver’s Guide to Water’ – a small but very worthwhile book, ‘Amazing and concise book on how much water you should drink and why… crammed with fun facts about water. Not a thick weighty tome but crammed with everything you need to know about how to drink enough water’ according to a reader’s review.
Water is the stuff of life, and I’d ask you to think about are you getting enough?
Principle 2 – Eat real foods
The second principle is thinking about what you eat and to limit the amount of processed foods that you eat. If you are eating something out of a packet, what’s in that packaging?
What sorts of chemicals are in that food that you’re eating? And somebody said to me once when you go down to the big supermarket, and it’s usually a huge place, and there may be one little aisle that’s the ‘health food’ aisle, but what’s the rest of the food? It might be brightly coloured, it might be full of chemicals, it may be full of packaging , but if it’s not health food, what is it? Because I believe that most food is either helping your health or harming it. So, let’s make some good choices. Try and increase the amount of raw fruits and vegetables that you have. Pick something that you like and we don’t want to make this feel like you’re being deprived or you feel like you’re being punished.
There are so many fruits and veggies. Find stuff that you like and fill up your plate with those and try and limit the number of processed foods that you eat. If there’s chemicals in there and you can’t even read the name of some of these chemicals, you can bet your life that your body doesn’t even recognize them.
Try and have a variety of colours and for me, I find this easier to keep a good variety, if I sit down at the beginning of the week, usually on a Sunday, and think about the week ahead, what I’ve got on, whatever I’m doing, planning out the food that I’m going to eat, and making a plan to include some things that I love. If I know I’m going to be out and about planning to take a healthy snack with me avoids me grabbing some junk food because I’m in a rush.
I always plan to include some things I enjoy, and things that I know are good for me, a healthy balance of all of those things. The main thing is though, to enjoy your food. We are doing a loving, compassionate thing for ourselves by making sure that we are fuelling our bodies with the right nutrition.
Principle 3 – Know your own body.
What suits some people may not suit you. After a cancer diagnosis, many people will ask should I go vegan? Should I eliminate dairy? Should I eliminate meats? What are the things that I should be doing? And unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all. It’s really getting to know what suits you, your own body.
And I’ve got a good example of this. My husband, a few years ago, had a knee injury and he put a lot of weight on. He went from being very active every day to sitting on the couch for months, awaiting his operation. He was really concerned, and quite depressed about the weight that he put on. And had time to reflect and think about his diet. He was in his late 40’s, and all his life, like so many people, he had had brown toast for breakfast, which he thought was quite healthy. Then he would have a sandwich at lunchtime and often some bread in the evening as well.
When he hurt his knee, he decided to try cutting out bread. And after a week of doing this, he could not believe the difference in how he felt. His stomach bloating had gone down, he felt so much better, he felt like he had more energy. He honestly didn’t realize he’d been eating this bread for years thinking that to feel bloated after food was normal.
And it was only because he eliminated that one food that he could actually pinpoint what it was. It can really help to keep a food diary. If you are feeling sometimes lethargic after you eat certain foods, it can become really obvious. For me, I know myself, if I eat a pizza, it lies so heavy on my stomach afterwards, so I don’t eat that anymore.
But everyone’s different. I’m speaking to friends and this morning, Cheryl, who has just done some allergy testing and she’s allergic to Brazil nuts! She was thinking ‘these are a healthy thing for me’. But for her, they’re not. So, you can go down the route of going for allergy testing if you think that’s necessary.
But why don’t you just start with the food diary? Just write down everything that you eat in a day and reflect on how do you feel after that. Do you feel energized? Do you feel tired? Do you feel a bit bloated? Do you feel like something’s not quite right? And when do you feel really alive? When do you feel nice?
I know for myself, a good veggie stir fry is one of the things that I absolutely love, and I always feel great after I eat that. And certain things I know make me feel better, and I just ate more of those. I just incorporate more of those things into my life. So how about getting to know your body, what’s good for you?
And one of the things that really stuck with me when I did my nutritional healing training was the 80/ 20 rule. And so, we all know that there are foods that are a bit naughty, you know, a cream cake or an alcoholic drink or whatever it is., and if that’s one thing that you love and you look forward to, well keep that treat.
I would never say rule out treats. Nobody would say that. You don’t want to be depriving yourself, but keep it for a treat. Don’t be eating things every day that have little or no nutritional value and expect yourself to be healthy because that’s not going to happen.
I love cake, especially a beautiful birthday cake. I’m never going to say no to that, but I don’t eat that every day. But when I do eat it, I enjoy it and it’s a treat. I don’t feel guilty about it, I savour the sweetness and know I am also giving my body what it needs to heal and repair, alongside that sweet treat.
And so, I’d invite you to think of that in the same way as well. Enjoy your food, enjoy your nutrition. If you’ve got any specific questions, get in touch with me.
Thanks for reading, Stay sane, stay safe!
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