Diet can be so confusing, especially with the internet to provide us with so many contradictory ideas. I personally like dietary principles that are both empowering and easy to follow. Something that we can see ourselves following for the rest of our lives. Anything too complicated usually ends up stuck in the back of our mind, creating conflicts of guilts and should do’s, rather than becoming the celebration of life that our diet is really all about.
The best dietary advice is simple, affordable, and easily followed by traditional peoples all throughout the world. Food provides health, and thus needs to be a pleasurable experience, rather than a chore. The diet that I like best is defined by two two main points:
- Power of choice
- Quality of food
1. The power of choice (Key words – intuition, wisdom, listening)
We all have choice. We all make decisions everyday as to what we are going to put into our mouth, how much we are going to put into our mouth, and the setting (or the thoughts) from which we feed ourselves. Many wonderful things happen when we start to pay more attention to this decision making process.
“What does my body need right now?”, is the very basic question at the heart of a healthy diet. By listening to the answer we will know whether we need to stop eating or have some more, whether we should have more raw veggies versus more more cooked meat, whether to have desert or to just go for a walk instead. The more will listen, the more refined and subtle the experience of our body, and this life, becomes.
The best choices are ones that feel right, from an intuitive place. When faced with multiple roads to go down, it is our intuition that will know which road is the best road to take. But our intuition knows the best road to take through knowledge and experience. Thus our intuition may say something like, “eat the Macdonald’s chicken strips over the cheeseburger because last time they gave you less gas and heart burn”, which obviously comes from having limited knowledge of food choices, as compared to, “rather than go to Macdonalds at all, go to that little cafe beside it that serves soup and salad made from fresh organic whole foods”, which comes from having a more refined and knowledgeable mind set of ones food choices.
With a properly tuned intuition we can still even nourish a downer mood with food, but instead we may say, “I feel down right now and I want something sweet to lift me up. The last time I felt this way I gorged myself on Oh Henry chocolate bars and then felt even worse the next day. It is the actual chocolate that I really want, not the excessively high amount of white sugar and other crap in those things. So this time I know that just a few slices of that 75% dark, organic and fairly traded, chocolate bar will suffice. I will enjoy its rich flavour, allowing its divine properties to help alleviate this depressed mood I am right now. I know that my body will thank me for it later.” See no guilt, no bad side effects, intuition and integrity left intact.
In order to refine ones ability to make intuitive decisions one must first learn to listen to how one actually feels, to what certain food choices actually do to our body and emotions, while also expanding upon the available knowledge of the different foods from which to actually feed ourselves. This then flows into the next point – The quality of our food.
2. The quality of our food – (Key words – whole, fresh, local, organic, colourful, variety)
By far the best food choices are ones that are whole. This means, as Annemarie Colbrin says,
“Whole foods of vegetable origin include fresh vegetables and fruits; whole grains (millet, brown rice, oats, rye, whole wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, cornmeal); beans and legumes (lentils, chick peas, kidney beans, etc); nuts and seeds. Whole foods of animal origin include eggs, small whole fish, seafood (shrimp, lobster, soft shell crabs), and small fowl. Under this model, when consuming larger animals (pork, beef, venison) the idea is to use as many parts as possible (muscle, kidney, heart, etc), including the bones to make stock, to maximize nutrient intake. Eating whole foods insures consumption of the maximum amount of original natural nutrients, in the right proportions.”- Why Should We Eat Whole Foods?, by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.
This is truly how we have eaten for thousands upon thousands of years. Whole foods give us all the many nutrients that we need, while also coming in an easy to digest package. With proper adherence to the eating of whole foods, I personally believe that we do not need many supplements at all (except for maybe Vitamin D during the winter months in more northern climates).
Try to gather whole foods that are fresh, organic and local as possible. Shop at farmers markets whenever you have the chance. Eat lots of variety, while ensuring as many differently coloured foods as possible. Fruits and vegetables are differently coloured simply because they all contain different nutrients. By eating differently coloured foods, we ensure that we are getting pretty much all the different nutrients we need, pretty simple, and tasty to!
As for quantity of foods eaten, again here is Annemarie’s advice, which I feel is pretty sound,
“Insuring our nutritional health is therefore quite simple. We can do so by consuming daily one or two servings of whole grains, a serving of beans and/or animal protein, plenty of vegetables of many different colors, and fruit and nuts as snacks.” – Why Should We Eat Whole Foods?, by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.
Healthy eating leads to a healthy life, plain and simple. I do not think however that the adjustment of ones diet can solve all problems, and do feel that there are times when actual medicine is needed. I see herbal medicines as an extension of a healthy diet, which are important and necessary additions for when we are faced with illness, particularly with such skin disorders as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. When our diet becomes one that is primarily based on whole foods, then herbal medicines are just an extension of this way of life.
Wishing you health,
Dr. Trevor Erikson