As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time talking about how we, as humans eat.
Talking, reading, listening, dissecting, all of it….
From university lectures, podcasts, studies, articles, social media posts, friends and family too.
What we should or shouldn’t be doing, what someone else is doing, what celebrities or the next door neighbour is doing.
You’d think I’d be sick of it – but no.
However my opinion isn’t sexy. Or often what people want to hear. It won’t make me a celebrity or mega-rich.
And I’m perfectly OK with that.
Since becoming a student of Nutritional Medicine earlier this year (and for those playing at home, this is a complete Bachelor of Health Science degree), I’ve become ever-more aware of the absolute crap that’s flung from one end of the room to the other all in the name of health.
Now don’t get me wrong I was fully aware of it before commencing study in this area and I’d like to think, mostly able to block it out, deciding instead what worked best for me.
However what I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of ‘crap-flinging’ even within the industry itself.
(And yes, I felt a slightly offensive term was required to capture the essence of the situation however please imagine me smiling whilst saying it).
Whether it’s products and brands clearly in it for money and with little regard for the bigger picture, misleading claims and articles from people with large (or not-so-large) profiles or even nutritional professionals themselves.
Endorsements and sponsorships that offer little to the consumer. Reports and approval systems. Television pieces and endless media articles. Unrealistic and blatant misrepresentations. Sensationalised and completely meaningless headlines.
You know what I’m talking about….
The kind of marketing or media that starts with, ‘this diet and that lifestyle will solve all.’
Avoid this. Eat that. Only buy this brand or type of food.
Attacking weight, skin issues or whatever the vulnerability may be.
In the almost 3 years that I’ve had an online presence, I’ve turned down 95% of requests, gifts and offers.
There’s varying reasons involved in each decision of course though I hope this gives you a solid indication of just how thoughtfully I consider my work.
How seriously I take it all – my work, my health and yours.
Let’s take for instance some new research in the area of weight loss that was published last week.
This particular study (that I, and many others in the industry were eagerly awaiting) was shared by many.
So whilst in this instance the research is inconsequential, what is important (in my opinion) is how it was shared and what the average consumer it reaches will take from it.
These papers, although mostly available for public consumption and I’m by no means discouraging that (I am the public after all!), are not intended or written for such an audience.
They’re (hopefully) ethically and extensively researched papers and are aimed at industry professionals/other researchers.
Many of those professionals may then choose to integrate such findings into their practice, further the research themselves or discuss and refine with colleagues.
And in my opinion, as critically reviewing scientific literature is an entire subject of my degree (and that of all medical students), there’s one clear reason for this.
The key word here being critical.
This isn’t the forum to raise all the key aspects of critically reviewing research papers, though it’s a great opportunity to tell you how the aforementioned was shared on social media by the health industry.
With a slanted view on the title of the study, incomplete representation of its purpose and worse still, a biased viewpoint on it all.
In my opinion, because I critically reviewed the entire paper, who the research was undertaken on, why it was done and who funded it were the key and most overlooked factors. In many cases, entirely overlooked.
I can’t say that I read every single word written on the matter of health, though I certainly cover a whole heap of ground.
I’m super duper picky with what I share with you because of how it could be misconstrued.
Always asking myself, what value does this bring to my beloved tribe?
Now of course, you’re no dummy and you could by all means comprehend these reports and papers but the bottom line I always ask myself is what tangible, take-home does it bring to your life, today?
And more often than not the answer is zero.
Hence – no share.
Of course, I integrate these findings into my work, I research further, I consult with other professionals and sometimes even assess/compare to other findings that I’ve made.
In most cases, the average person doing their thing working, socializing, exercising, living and whatever else, will find these kinds of papers overwhelming, confronting and potentially anxiety-inducing at what you are/aren’t doing.
They simply have no place (where they’re often utilised) and were never intended to be circulated with the sensationalised and ridiculous headlines that they are.
On the health industry as a whole, I think it’s often a case of brands and companies saying, this is the market (and it is) so let’s sell what the people want.
I also think there’s a heap of practitioners who view things similarly.
Although there’s potential for backlash and I don’t like to inspire negativity – at least we’ll be talking about this openly.
Possessing such an outlook makes complete business sense – give the people what they want.
However what about the larger impact?
Not only am I not interested in doing business this way though I’ve been on the receiving end far too many times to be capable of doing so myself.
I have the utmost respect for those who like me, have spent considerable time and energy studying their practice – it’s certainly no small feat!
I also acknowledge the countless, passionate and wonderful practitioners out there.
However there is absolutely another side of the coin – the one that unfortunately leads the race and holds all the power.
The health world as I see it, is for most people the same as visiting a mechanic (big love to all the fab mechanics out there like mine!)
The kind of situation where most of us have next to no idea what’s really going on for us or why, and are somewhat at the mercy of the professional that we’re visiting.
Big industry make friends with politics.
Health policy is a reflection of that.
Awareness and education is impinged on who makes what and for who – not necessarily what’s best for you.
So much of the time, people simply don’t know, aren’t exposed to what is really common sense, centuries-old application of food and nutrition or what’s just being ‘sold’ to them at every turn.
It mostly makes me feel enraged and angered on everyone’s behalf (including my own) though I then remind myself and feel reinvigorated by my place amongst it all.
No one owns me and no big business pays my bills.
I can say what I like and hopefully bring to you another perspective and way of living.
Because tell me, how on earth can one idea of how to eat work for all of us?
I have a fair idea that the common sense side of you agrees with me and yet, just as I have, you’ve probably undertaken a diet or lifestyle hopeful in its success based on something you’ve seen, read or heard about.
Without necessarily checking in with you…
Where does this fit into your life? Is this sustainable? Is it required? Do you even want to do it?
Yet the thing that we each need to do is in the too-hard basket and more often than not, not a recommendation made to us.
Not once, in 15 years of visiting specialists of all professions was I asked about what I wanted, nor prescribed a treatment plan or lifestyle modification that looked at me holistically, as a whole human being. With x and y going, with this background and with this goal or fear.
However the greatest health I’ve ever experienced, over the past few years, has been of my own creation.
My own hungering (excuse the pun!) for more self-knowledge and awareness. For getting real with myself and a whole lot of trial and error.
I continue to learn everyday and I also continue to change, as will my requirements. It’s a constantly evolving art – one that’s infinitely more rewarding than could ever be described.
So what’s up? Why isn’t this widely talked about?
No one wants to hear it.
Few of us want to put that work in and even fewer stick at it.
Because we know there will be bumps, that we’ll go backwards and perhaps feel as if we’re not getting anywhere no matter the goal.
Because we’re told the work is tough and unnecessary. Because there’s quick fix around the corner. A ‘drop 5 kilos in 5 days solution’ to sell you or a superfood to change your biochemistry!
So is there a ‘best’ diet then?
First of all let’s define diet and in this case let’s say it’s simply the philosophy and way in which we consume food.
When it comes to ‘best,’ well that’s not so simple and hence the idea of a one-size-fits-all-approach being a little crazy.
As it stands, on this basis and understanding, I don’t think that there is a best diet.
The nitty gritty, the macro and micronutrients, the food combining, the immense scientific and traditional knowledge that we have on the subject of eating is not only important, it’s darn interesting too!
However, it’s also super-duper specific, often requires a degree to properly comprehend and apply (as I mentioned) and is mostly irrelevant for the average person who starts and ends their day with packaged, processed food – so the vast majority of us!
Macronutrients and food combining matter very little to someone over-consuming refined food and Coca Cola as a regular beverage.
Instead, when it comes to something that we can agree on, setting a solid foundation and applying a rule of thumb – there’s one simple word to use here – wholefoods.
Real food, what comes naturally for us and what we’re set up for.
Are there nuances within that?
Absolutely and yes they’re important.
For instance I live an adapted wholefoods lifestyle to therapeutically treat both my autoimmune condition and insulin resistance.
However, the reason that diets; in the more colloquial way the term is used; don’t work and why people’s weight yo-yo’s or they’re always ‘on something’ new is because (other than the all too-hard aspect):
They don’t start with a solid base and get in touch with their body’s natural instincts to then refine and evolve from.
Get the base. Your base.
If needed, tweak from there. That’s where nuances can come into play.
Because we’re each so different and that’s fantastic! Instead of trying to all eat the same things at the same time, why not embrace our bio-individuality? And speaking of media reports, some of this outlook and common sense is in fact being represented in the mainstream.
What so many of us live our life doing however is going from extreme to extreme.
McDonald’s and sugary-everything to salads and starvation.
Because that’s what we’re sold on, it may well provide the fast result we’re seeking (yep, starvation will do that!) and because asking the ‘hard’ questions of ourselves and committing to a lifestyle overhaul is too much.
It’s too confronting.
In part, yes you’re right though what it’s really about is small steps on your journey.
Little wins that become bigger and about finding your own rhythms and momentum on the journey.
It’s also about saying that your health is important enough, that you’re important enough.
Food can be our medicine (preventative too), as well as our poison.
And although my work is outwardly about food, it’s about holistic and overall health. Feeling incredible in every way that you can.
How you view food and eating is as important as the food that you eat and a wonderful basis to start exploring other sides of your health.
If you dare.
This is exactly what PATH TO WHOLEFOODS is all about.
Teaching you how to find eating freedom and feel wonderful. Without relying on a spreadsheet or strict plan, FYI – there’s neither of those. Even though I would have no doubt sold more places in the program if I had offered them.
I have every faith that the insightful and wise women that did join me, will soon have more and more company in that space. The one of solid realization that what we’re fed (in almost every way) isn’t working for us.
PATH TO WHOLEFOODS is about retraining the brain. It’s learning new or refining existing skills. It’s getting real with yourself and about lasting transformation. And you can be notified when our waiting list for the next live round opens right here.
There’s a reason I no longer ‘crave’ anything or feel controlled by food and eating habits.
There’s a reason why I eat what I like and when, in line with my body’s unique needs and maintain a consistent, lean body that I love and loves me back.
The nitty-gritty was only powerful and impactful for me once I established my baseline. Otherwise it’s a whole heap of studies and news articles that mean little to any of us.
It’s from this ‘happy place’ that I can make the best possible adjustments for me and my body – finding that sweet spot and balancing my health and feelings both now and in the future.
Focusing on the all-too-common (though avoidable) degenerative diseases that come with age and the different requirements that I’ll have through my life.
Seeing food as both fuel and pleasure – not either one exclusively and certainly not eating because of what someone else is doing for their body.
I’m not the master of everything, though neither is anybody else and the greatest source of health information is inside of you. It’s what your body is screaming at you and perhaps you’re just simply not listening to?
Many of the resources available to you are fabulous (and I hope that you might consider me amongst them) however I’m always wary of false prophets, the quality and motives of dietary advice out there.
The fact that it’s over a half a billion dollar industry just in Australia (Ibis World 2015) may have something to do with it. From weight loss counselling services to low-calorie foods and dietary supplements.
Sure the market for quick fixes is there though to what end?
We’re fatter and sicker (with avoidable) issues than ever before in human history and we’re doing it to ourselves.
People ask me how to read food labels and I say, real food doesn’t have ingredients – it is the ingredient!
I was in a different place in years gone by and I get it. I get all of the struggles and objections but I also know that outlook doesn’t have a happy ending and it’s one endless, vicious cycle.
The number of women that joined the first round of PATH TO WHOLEFOODS and had tried all sorts of diets was astonishing. The number that no longer feel pulled in that way is nothing short of astounding.
I’m about practicality and integration of simple, delicious, nutritious food into your lifestyle.
I’m not about a diet or saying this is better than that. Or about bringing you leading research because for most of us, a simple change is the place to start not in confusing graphs and long reports.
I’m about ‘teaching a man to fish,’ equipping and empowering you to lead your best life and find eating freedom.
I’m about keeping it real and for those who do, working with you to get this change occurring now.
I’m a resource and hopefully a valuable one at that.
So if you, or someone you love could benefit from getting in touch with their natural instincts and locating the oh-so-fabulous eating freedom, the next round of PATH TO WHOLEFOODS will begin in February 2016. (To get on the list, click here.)
It’s going to be all sorts of nourishing.
You could also share the love by sharing this post and proudly being a part of changing the conversation, and the health of those you love.