There’s something about the first day of spring that makes me take a huge sigh of relief, like…. “ahhhhhhhh, I’ve made it through another winter”. But if you’re like most of us, you’re probably carrying a little extra insulation from winter’s aftermath.
BUT THERE’S GOOD NEWS!!
With the arrival of spring, it’s time to refresh, reset and revise those goals that have gotten lost somewhere in between our good intentions and responsibilities.
This week will be the first in a series of 8 blogs designed to give you the keys to success during the change in season. I will be blogging about everything that encompasses a Holistic approach to your nutrition and lifestyle in preparation for Summer, and of course, being the 1st day of spring, today is the perfect time to start!
So here’s this week’s key:
As a Certified Nutritionist, of course, I’m going to say that right? But hear me out… What we put into our bodies has profound effects on how well the body functions in all aspects from our energy, mood, mental well-being, and even the way we show up and present ourselves to the world.
We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, well according to science, you are. Think of your body like a computer. Without getting too technical (you can knock yourself out with the research here, and here), what we put into our mouths is broken down and translated into genetic information. It’s like coding for our body. We’re literally ‘programming’ our body with the food we put into our mouths. So, if we have good ‘programming’ (in the form of great nutrition), then we are creating good gene expression, and warding off potential gene predispositions to hereditary diseases such as heart disease or cancer. Good programming allows the body to function optimally meaning you feel well, your weight is within a healthy range and it improves all other areas of health (sleep, stress, cognitive function, gut health, mood, etc).
If we have bad ‘programming’ (in the form of too much processed and refined carbs, bad fats, takeaways, lollies, alcohol etc) then we are ‘programming’ our genes to express in a bad way, like a virus in a computer… Although viruses can be cured, they cause the computer to function at a slower rate, malfunction, and it can corrupt some files. The same happens to the body, with DNA becoming damaged because of these inflammatory substances.
Clear as mud!? Ok so with that scenario explained, fear not! Let’s go into what good ‘genetic information’ looks like. My philosophy and certainly one shared by the HPN Institute is that we should be eating as natural, whole and unprocessed as possible. So, when grocery shopping, treat the supermarket like a forest. If it didn’t roam or grow then it probably shouldn’t be going in our bodies.
To put it another way, most people would know this as simply Paleo, or more precisely low carb Paleo. Although this term has been seriously monopolized over the last 15 or so years, I still very much like the simple framework that it offers: meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, some fruit, a little starch and no sugar.
This type of framework works well for most people most of the time. However, as we are all individuals, and based on things like ancestry (where we’ve come from, what we’ve been exposed to, how healthy we are, to begin with, how well our bodies are absorbing our food and lifestyle factors) there are more and more cases where I see the need to the tweak this approach, up fats and protein, and drop down carbohydrate to a more suitable level for my clients in order to see health markers improve.
For example, you may benefit from reducing carbs down if:
1. You are suffering from unwanted weight around the midsection that you cannot shift.
2. Poor mood or mental disturbances (depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD type symptoms).
3. Hormonal imbalances in the form of PMS, or low testosterone.
4. Feeling a lack in general health and wellbeing.
These all point to insulin resistance which needs to be corrected. You can read more about whether you may be insulin resistant in this article written by Professor Grant Schofield, From the Science of Human Potential.
As you can see, there’s more to it than simply counting calories or even eating the right stuff. When I work with a client, I look at so much more than just putting a meal plan together. I take into account the ‘good programming’ foods, the macro and micro nutrient breakdown, your work/leisure lifestyle, the foods you love, the foods you hate, your non-negotiables (in other words if you take those away from me I’ll kill you) and other things like your snacking behaviours, your social behaviours and wrap it all up into a workable and practical lifestyle plan, that supports your goals, helps you heal your body and be at the weight that allows you to feel and function at your best.
The goal should always be to find a sustainable, healthy lifestyle around nutrition, wellness and wellbeing.
· We should be thinking of the supermarket like a forest and only buying things that either roamed around or grew within it.
· We should limit as much as sanely possible refined carbs and moderate our intake, to an appropriate level if we are finding we are in the problem categories mentioned above.
· A Holistic Nutritionist does so much more than look at the dietary intake. They partner with you to discover underlying health concerns as well as look at better behaviours for lifestyle factors that could be holding you back from the true health and wellness you deserve.