Keep it Simple, Smarty!

I recently chatted with a woman who said she was AFRAID to eat due to fears poured into her head by other practitioners about how “dangerous” food is. I don’t deny that our food system is filled with many toxins, but eating should be an enjoyable experience that creates pleasurable feelings, not fear. I feel it is absolutely criminal for a practitioner to put a burden kissof fear on a client instead of empowering people to make good choices for their particular situation. Choosing a healthy eating plan should be simple, not require memorization or deprivation.

There are many highly complicated, extreme eating programs being promoted at any given time. Following are a few guidelines to follow when creating or choosing an eating style for yourself:

  1. You’re not a cookie, so don’t expect a cookie cutter plan to work: Plans that propose everyone should eat the exact same foods in the exact same combinations do not work and are very misguided. Each person’s body chemistry is wonderfully unique. There is no single eating style that is perfect for everyone. Each style must be personalized to fit your specific needs. Just because a specific style worked for one person does not mean it will work for every person worldwide.
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  2. Focus on the positive:  If there are foods you have been told are not beneficial to your health, focus on all the things you CAN eat instead of focusing on what you choose NOT to eat. Focusing on improving your health and feeling better will help make it easier to eliminate foods. I work with many people who must eliminate specific foods and products from their eating habits due to allergies, illnesses, psychological challenges and other issues. It is perfectly normal to go through a grieving period after being told you need to eliminate foods from your lifestyle. Food and emotions have a link that cannot be severed, so let yourself grieve for a short time, get help figuring out how to make the changes you need to, and then move on. I often find people become so obsessed with the foods they can’t eat that they fail to remember all the foods they can eat. I also find some people feel food is such an important source of joy they cannot imagine having any quality of life without eating certain foods every day. They are living to eat instead of eating to live. If you find you need to eliminate certain foods, focus on the benefits you will gain from avoiding those foods and choose to find joy in experimenting with new foods instead of focusing on the foods you cannot eat. Make your transition positive and focus on the benefits instead of choosing to focus on the negative.
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  3. Don’t ignore the obvious: Related to the point I made above, if you know you respond poorly to a certain food, don’t eat it. Period. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a food allergy or not. Seems simple and makes sense, right? You wouldn’t believe how many people tell me they know a certain food causes negative side effects but they keep eating it because they “just can’t live without it.” If you’ve been diagnosed with food allergies or know a certain food causes a negative reaction, please stop eating that food. If you don’t know why a food is causing a negative reaction, find someone who will help you dig deeper to identify why the food causes the reaction it does. Related to food allergies, some people can reintroduce food allergens in small, infrequent quantities after completely avoiding them for a year, but you must work with a qualified practitioner before attempting to reintroduce a food you know you’re allergic to. This does not, of course, apply to people with Celiac. Here’s a simple way to help yourself make good decisions at every meal: Before choosing to eat foods that may have a questionable effect on your health, ask yourself whether or not the food you’re about to eat will help you or hurt you. Be honest. If the food is going to hurt you or cause a negative reaction, try to choose something else.
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  4. Avoid any eating plan that requires supplementation: I realize that it is almost impossible to get sufficient vitamins and minerals out of commercially produced produce due to soil depletion. However, there are some eating styles that absolutely require taking vitamin supplements because the restrictions in the program make it impossible to get certain nutrients. This also applies to diet plans that put extreme restrictions on caloric intake. I’m a firm believer we should be able to get every nutrient we need from food and should only need supplementation when a systemic weakness requires it. Following an eating style that requires supplementation to maintain good health just doesn’t make sense. Why purposely subject yourself to a vitamin deficiency that will have negative health effects?
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  5. Eat real food: Stick to whole, real foods instead of eating food that contains more chemicals than nutrition. Avoid food in a box, foods that have synthetic vitamins added, and highly processed foods. Eating real foods means you receive nutrition in a form your body can easily absorb. It also means your body won’t have to work hard to eliminate the toxins you’ve consumed. What foods are included in this style of eating? Organic whole grains, meats, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. “Organic” is the key word in that previous sentence. Please try to eat organic produce and animal products produced without the use of added hormones and antibiotics. You may not be able to adhere to this eating style at every single meal, but you WILL see a difference in your health if you follow it as much as possible.

There you have it! Eating well should be simple and should focus on improving health instead of feeding cravings. Eating should never be complicated or frightening.

Need help identifying which foods are beneficial and creating a personalized eating style? Please feel free to contact me. I’d love to help!

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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