Journal Entry: 10/11/2011
What does it mean to be a Holistic Nutritionist?
Holistic: Relating to, or concerned with wholes, or with complete systems, rather than the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.
In other words, it is the finished puzzle, and not the individual piece that completes the bigger, or WHOLE, picture.
Holistic Medicine then, is generally defined as the method for treating the whole person, not just their headache, liver, heart or any other part of the body.
It is “an approach to medical care that emphasizes the study of all aspects of a person’s health, including psychological, social, and economic influences on health status.” (Thanks, dictionary.com).
Thus when discussing nutritional needs, it is important to start at the beginning where we acknowledge that the body functions as a whole organism.
This “simple” philosophy is the foundation for everything I believe, write, and teach. It is also how I define myself as a Holistic Nutritionist.
What it means is that the optimal functioning of the body is dependent on the nourishment, love, and care each cell receives.
When one organ suffers, other organs work harder to compensate. When one organ suffers, the body suffers. It is one of the many self-defense and survival method “techniques” of the body. In fact, we may be able to withstand months and years of “indescribable” exhaustion, pain, indigestion, acne, –you name it– before “discovering” a more “notable” or commonly discussed and “treated” ailment, like a “bad” thyroid, high cholesterol, a specific cancer, condition, or disease, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, these “common health complications” are just the symptoms. Diabetes, for instance, is not the problem, nor are the blood sugar levels themselves. Yet, we are more comfortable with these “bigger name disorders” because acknowledging that the “little things along the way” may have gotten us there. Understanding that certain things (and more specifically, “foods”) greatly harm the body is still not widely accepted. Acknowledging that we have the power to make an impact on our life is harder.
How does this happen?
We tend to wait before we make changes in our lifestyle. We deal with the discomfort, look for quick fixes (pills, drugs, foods, “cleanses,” vitamins, and so on), and forge ahead, ignoring the warning signs. It could be something as simple as masking exhaustion with a few caffeinated beverages a day, or eating away the feelings of anxiety. It is easy to do– “treat” (and mask) the symptoms, that is.
Don’t wait for someone to give you a “label” before making healthy lifestyle changes.
The bigger picture is overlooked for many reasons. Sometimes it is because there is “not enough” “scientific” data to back the claims of following a more wholesome diet. We do not always see the immediate connections. We smooth everything over by allowing “everything in moderation.” Many times we fall victim to “quick-fix” marketing ploys, promising us new life if we just swallow a few pills each day. Most of the time we continue on with the rest of our lives like nothing has changed. Or… we become wrapped up calorie-counting, or in marketing “catch” words like: “Organic,” “Natural,” Low Fat,” No Sugar Added.” It is no crime. That is what has come to make “sense.”
The itty bitty puzzle pieces. What about the bigger picture?
It is not always easy to take a nap. Healthy food will not always be available in every situation (so come prepared). Schedules will not always allow for the perfect, and ideal healthful situation. However it is up to us to be responsible for our body in the present tense.
The exciting news is that we have a tremendous amount of power. The body is an incredible self-healing machine. Healthy lifestyle changes can occur at any time in a person’s life. There is no need to wait until we can label a disease specifically. We can accept that something is not right, and act on it. We can avoid attributing these too “common” diseases to unknown, or uncontrollable factors like genetics, or too many variables to take responsibility for our health (economic status, stress, medications, lifestyle, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, etc.).
Treat the body as one whole living organism, and you will be wowed by the results from your head to your toes. Focus on whole plant foods, and unprocessed goods (healthy vs. wholesome). Read ingredient labels, and focus on the way food is prepared, and what is added to it, instead of focusing on calories, fat grams and carbs. Foods containing less ingredients are generally more healthful (unless using natural spices, etc). Read more about enjoying a healthful diet here.
The —WHOLE— body.
In the beginning it can be hard to grasp how the body really functions as one living organism because it is so easy to want to treat the symptoms, or swallow a few “diet” pills with a diet soda, a low fat dressed salad, and a reduced fat bag of chips. But when you are looking for lasting results, and optimal health– look at the WHOLE picture (instead of the calories, fat grams, sugars, and carbs).
As a closing example: I was recently talking to a woman about the pain and inflammation in her knee. She was limping and apparently, as she informed me, had been so now for over a year. Inflammation can be caused by a number of factors, diet being a key contributor. What struck my fancy about the conversation however, was not a guessing game about what her diet may be/have been, or what she may have done to trouble the knee in the first place, but rather by the way the pain in her KNEE was affecting so many other areas of her body– her back, her shoulder, her other leg (where she was placing more weight), her digestion, her emotional state, etc. This “bad” knee was hurting other parts of the body, and the other parts of the body were hurting because they were trying to compensate for her hurt knee. It wasn’t just that her knee hurt and everything else was fine… The body is a whole body. Not just a hurt knee, or a headache.
Food for thought: After the surgery, and with the same lifestyle she leads… will the inflammation just miraculously just disappear? Will it come back and spread over time? What will happen to the rest of the body?
What are your thoughts on treating the body as a Whole Organism? Have you seen “miraculous” results from changing up your lifestyle. Have you had experiences with “detoxing.” What were the results? Did you go back to your former way of life? How is your body affected as a whole?