What is holistic nutrition?
By definition the word “holistic” refers to the integration of body, mind and spirit. Holistic nutrition strives to bring balance to all of these aspects of the human being. The holistic view sees the human body as a whole unit with intricate systems that depend on one another to operate optimally and efficiently. At a fundamental level, holistic nutrition focuses on the biochemistry of the human body, and recognizes the importance of creating balance where imbalances exist.
Food is the foundation of holistic nutrition. With an emphasis on quality ingredients, the holistic diet consists of organic, whole foods that are grown locally and enjoyed in-season. A key element of holistic eating is to incorporate foods that are nutrient-dense while avoiding foods that have been depleted of their nutrient content, such as processed foods or foods that have been degraded during growth and/or preparation.
At the heart of holistic nutrition is the understanding that good digestion and good health go hand-in-hand. Poor digestion is the precursor to countless illnesses (both directly and indirectly) and as such can have a significant impact on body, mind and spirit. With this understanding comes the knowledge that the human body digests a varied diet much more efficiently than a diet that lacks variety.
Holistic nutrition also recognizes that diversity among the population is as important as diversity in the diet. It takes into account a person’s heritage and biochemical individuality to formulate the optimal diet.
Why is nutrition important?
We are what we eat. Nutrition is important to every area of human life – it is our fuel. The foods we eat and our ability to digest them properly are at the foundation of our beings. In the absence of quality nourishment good health gives way to disease, brain function diminishes, and the ability to live spiritually weakens.
Nutrition becomes paramount as we consider the toxic environment we live in today. We are now faced with a burden that humans have not confronted before. To help manage the daily burden it is imperative to eat foods that will provide clean sources of fuel without further bogging down the body. Whole, organic, seasonal foods offer a significant amount of nutrients not found in foods that have been processed or denatured. The body absorbs and utilizes vitamins, minerals, and essential fats from food sources much better than from supplement sources; although supplementation is becoming increasingly more necessary for many who need added support due to toxic overload. Knowing what to eat and what not to eat is becoming more important each day, as we continue to live in a stressful, toxic world.
Fad diets vs. everyday healthy eating
Everyday healthy eating is a way of life. It is a conscious effort to feed the body in a way that will consistently produce healthy results. This idea opposes that of the fad diet, which is designed to produce quick results in a short period of time. Unfortunately, most fad diets do only that – the results may appear quickly, but they also disappear quickly. In the nutrition field it is commonly understood that over 95% of dieters gain back lost weight (and then some) within a year of dieting. The only way to truly experience long term life changes through nutrition is to eat a healthful diet on a daily basis.
Fad diets generally consist of unhealthy foods and unusual habits that can complicate digestion. Many fad diets lack critical nutrients and often leave the dieter feeling less energetic with feelings of failure and disappointment. On the other hand, consistently eating a healthy diet creates an environment for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients thereby increasing energy levels and creating lasting vitality.
How a holistic nutritionist can help
Holistic nutritionists are nutrition counselors who aim to help their clients by analyzing their current health status and finding ways to improve areas of deficiency through diet and lifestyle adjustments. A holistic nutritionist recognizes the intricate connection between the individual’s biochemical, mental/emotional, environmental/spiritual states, and how each contributes to his/her health or lack thereof. Many holistic nutritionists have devoted their lives to helping others overcome illnesses that either they themselves have conquered or that a loved one has battled.
Guided by the client’s desire to build better health where poor health or disease may exist, the holistic nutritionist will focus his/her efforts on educating the individual. Through education, the client will learn how to diminish illness by avoiding foods and behaviors that contribute to disease. Likewise the holistic nutritionist will teach the client how to incorporate lifestyle changes that will bring about positive outcomes.
Why they are experts
Trained to provide professional recommendations in relation to food choices and preparation, the holistic nutritionist will have obtained certification from an institution that specializes in teaching holistic nutrition. During her education the holistic nutritionist learned to assess clients’ nutritional deficits and systemic insufficiencies, with a focus on designing nutrition programs that aim to provide relief of symptoms and correcting underlying imbalances. These programs may include the avoidance of and the inclusion of specific foods and beverages, tips on how to prepare foods, menu planning ideas, recommendations about dietary supplementation and/or herbal suggestions, and lifestyle and environmental alterations to bring about the desired results.
Additionally, the holistic nutritionist is trained to recognize when a referral to other health professionals is warranted. Based on the needs of the client, he may refer to others who can assist and will work collaboratively with them to support the achievement of his client’s health objectives.
Working with a nutritionist
Just like you, every client/nutritionist relationship is a unique one. To learn more about you and your unique nature, your holistic nutritionists will begin by asking you for a complete health history. This is critical information that will help your nutritionist identify areas of focus when putting a plan together for you. In many instances, she may recommend specific laboratory assessments be performed to get a clearer picture of the underlying causes of your health concerns. These assessments may include tests for food sensitivities, hormone and adrenal issues, and/or mineral hair analysis, to name a few. This approach is most helpful as it eliminates guess work and gets down to the specific reasons why your health may be compromised. Together, you will then determine a course of action and your nutritionist will concentrate his efforts on assisting you with implementing your plan and staying on track.
The relationship with your holistic nutritionist should be collaborative. Be sure to communicate openly and regularly so that she can adjust your program when necessary and be of the utmost help to you.