The subject of nutrition is vast and rife with controversy. The more one really gets into it, the more disheartening it can become, as accomplishing the ideal of perfect nutrition seems further and further out of reach (unless you devote an extraordinary amount of time and money). Science has learned a lot regarding a basic understanding of the nutritional needs of the body, but more mystery remains than has been revealed. The body simply isn’t a text book.
Everyone’s bodies are different and constantly changing so it is nearly impossible to pinpoint precisely how much of a given nutrient is needed. There are numerous tests that can play a helpful role in determining nutritional needs but these tests are often expensive and they mostly point to nutrient levels at the time of the test, which are subject to change. Sometimes these tests offer crucial data, as in certain acute conditions, but in most cases they are not necessary.
Naturally, the foundation of good nutrition is a wholesome, balanced diet. Of course diet is another topic rife with controversy. Truly, what defines a wholesome, balanced diet changes from person to person. A powerfully healing food for one person can be near poison for another. In general, we understand that the less processed or refined a food is; the more whole a food is; the better it is for us! Our bodies evolved close to the earth. So it goes without saying, a diet subsisting on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, pastured or wild meats, fungi, and herbs is going to improve health and happiness in every way. These whole foods are superior to fried, sugary, factory farmed, industrially processed junk.
Really, the first step is to get clear about who you are and where you’re at. By looking at one’s health history and their current state of well being, much can be deduced about likely nutritional requirements and necessary dietary changes. Some things we are ready to change and others we may not be ready to change. That’s ok. We can start by finding ways to consume more of the good and less of the bad, while sorting out some of the sources of stress in our lives. Stress, tension and depression use up nutrients in the body and we often react to these feelings by self medicating with foods that only make it worse. So starting where we’re at, making changes we are ready to make, working creatively with mind and emotions are often the best places to start. A tall glass of water is good too!
Next we need to look at digestion, which tells us a lot about the appropriateness of one’s diet. If your digestion is not working effectively then it doesn’t matter how well you eat; the nutrients won’t be assimilated. The health of one’s gut is affected by many historical factors going all the way back to birth and by what passes through it daily. If the gut is damaged then even healthy food can cause an inflammatory response. Strengthening and repairing the gut is always a priority; balancing the gut bacteria is particularly important. Begin by chewing your food well; the degree one properly chews their food can make the difference between poison and ambrosia.
Part of establishing a healthy nutritional baseline is to evaluate our consumption of important nutrients that are commonly deficient. For instance, there are only so many dietary sources of Essential Fatty Acids and so it’s easy to determine whether you are getting them or not. And you should be. They’re called essential fatty acids because they’re essential! A lot can be deduced from diet because we know a lot about what nutrients each food offers. We also know a lot about what factors interfere with nutrient assimilation and even pull nutrients out of the body. For instance refined sugar will strip minerals from the body and alcohol will pull out B vitamins, amongst other things.
Many people will benefit from the use of nutritional supplements. Although diet should be the primary foundation for nutrition, these days it is very difficult to accomplish optimal nutrition with diet alone. Generations of soil depletion have led to a steady decrease of nutrients in whole foods, thousands of novel toxins must be processed by the body, most lifestyles are very demanding, and the nutritional base we begin with is very much impacted by the health of our parents and their parents before them. Ideally one continues to fine tune their diet and lifestyle so that supplements are only needed temporarily or as an occasional adjunct.
When I meet with clients we take it one step at a time, finding the pace that is most comfortable for the individual. Nutrition is very important and it plays a role in every condition of the body and mind. But there is no need to get overwhelmed by it. What arises in the present moment offers the vital key to what is most important. We can work together to feed what is true for you in your life. Real nutrition begins with authenticity. Discerning what is authentic and nourishing that; this is the foundation from which all positive changes are made. These changes build upon themselves until health and happiness becomes effortless and compelling. Nutrition is all around you!