Nutritional therapy should be more than information regurgitated from a piece of software in beautiful graphs and colour charts that tell you exactly what to eat, how to calculate your calorie intake and the nutritional content of your meals. So many people fall for the artificial quantification of food thinking a ‘diet plan’ will tell them exactly what to do, when and how.
The problem is, diet plans will give you a set of instructions to follow and you will follow that in a superficial manner for a while until eventually you leave it to one side because being told what to eat or drink is simply an artificial exercise. There is a lot more to food than calories and nutrients. Trying to reduce Nutritional Therapy to a strict set of rules and criteria on food intake is always going to be short lived.
Think about how long humans have been on Earth and how our basic needs had to be fulfilled in order to survive. We are still here and that means we have made it – for hundreds of thousands of years, we have been able to survive well enough to endure all sorts of harsh circumstances without going extinct. Scientists, medical doctors, highly specialised consultants, nurses, nutritional therapists and dietitians all share a common challenge in their careers: humany physiology is riddled with ‘black boxes’ and the only way to get a sense for what is going on sometimes is taking a step back to try and get some perspective.
It really isn’t a piece of software that will outsmart our basic survival instincts. Besides, it always bothers me when people hint at the lack of ability of our bodies to inform us of what we need. All of a sudden you can’t trust your hormones anymore, your appetite or even thirst signals are portrayed as unreliable and you are told to drink 8 glasses of water every day whether you’re thirsty or not. You are told you must never go more than 3 hours without eating – even when you’re not hungry! You are told you must always have breakfast, you must juice, you must consume superfoods every day… and the list goes on. These are very common examples of grossly generalised information which is not backed up by science nor adjusted for individuals. Yet, these myths of ‘nutrition’ can propagate to become dogmas. I would say this is all rather counter intuitive to put it lightly.
Just stop for one moment to think about some questions: how on Earth did we make it here if our senses were as limited as that in reality? How did we survive much harsher environments in the past and managed to progress enough to get where we are today without carrying our little bottles of water and power-food snacks to see us through? Why would you not trust your body’s ability to inform you of what you really need at any moment in time? Why are we losing the faith in our ability to survive? Why do we think our bodies are letting us down? Do we really think we can outsmart our physiology? After all our bodies are live and highly sophisticated biological systems which are capable of dynamically interacting and adjusting to their surroundings.
This is not something to be taken lightly. We have an array of complex and advanced mechanisms which inform us when to eat and drink, what to eat and how much. The illusion that all of a sudden a software or even somebody else who you consider an expert can do a better job at telling you what to eat is just fantasy. No, I don’t intend to talk myself out of a job here. Rather, I’d like to make it clear that my expertise goes beyond telling people what to eat. I don’t want to become a food ‘guru’. Far from it, I want you to master this task yourself and regain confidence in your body. I want you to free yourself from doubt and most importantly from the overwhelming amount of misleading (and often plain wrong) information being thrown at you from all directions. I want you to find out for yourself what really works for you. That is what I consider my job and this is far more exciting a task than policing your food intake.
Issues pertaining nutritional needs are real and a paradoxical problem in the Western World where so much food is available without much effort. But the solutions are not going to be found in detailed food plans or strict diets that specify all your dietary needs on a daily basis. What really makes a difference is the understanding that you need to gain in order to make sense of your bodily signals. Once you understand the underlying reasons for imbalances in your body, then you can trust your ability to make decisions for yourself. Following a strict food plan is a doomed approach. If you don’t learn what you need to learn in order to make the right choices in a variety of circumstances, no food plan will help you with that. You need flexibility. The better your flexibility to adapt to your environment the better your health will be.
For that reason, I like the term Nutritional Therapy since as such it encompasses much more than a diet plan. A therapy will help you make sense of what is going on inside you and around you and help you put the pieces of the puzzle together in order to see the clear connections between your health and many other aspects of your life. It will also help you see what influences are at play and how you can behave in response to several stimuli. What is optimum health for you is different from somebody else and you need to know exactly how you can get to your goals within your personal circumstances.
There are many promises out there but in reality much of it is skillful marketing. The only promise I make my clients is that they will learn important things about themselves and that learning will lead them further. It will always be up to you where you get to but you certainly won’t leave without a better insight of how to get there. Depending on how much you want it, you might end up further than you expected. How can I be so sure? Because I will look at you and tell you my expert opinion, without dependence on fancy software graphs but with real interest and skill. I believe fancy graphs and diet plans cannot win over human experience and a personal search for knowledge.