Many of my clients expect that I’ll divulge the secrets of the ideal diet but while I have been taught in over 100 dietary theories through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) there is so much more that encompasses our relationship with food.
The truth is, you can’t truly approach nutrition without acknowledging the role it plays in an overall healthy lifestyle, along with many other factors that contribute to health and happiness. That’s why IIN teaches holistic health. It's important for you to see the connection between what you eat and how you live, so that the end result is a balanced individual who knows how to nourish your unique body and thrive.
Here are 6 core concepts unique to my approach to nutrition:
I recognize that everyone is different! There is no single diet or wellness approach that is going to work for everyone, and that’s ok. In fact, an increasing amount of research supports this approach, and it has even been recognized by the newest U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
I will help you in the process of self-exploration through trying different foods or wellness routines, asking themselves “high-mileage” or deeply meaningful questions, and accepting their unique nutritional or lifestyle needs without comparison or judgment. As long as you’re eating mostly whole foods, feel good doing so, and are healthy and happy, then the possibilities of what you should eat and do every day are endless.
As mentioned above, true health is about much more than food. You can eat all the leafy greens you want but if don’t like your job, are unfulfilled by your relationships, or are lacking daily movement or other forms of self-care, then you will be undernourished in life. Primary Food is the concept that nutrition, career, relationships, spirituality, fitness, and pursuing your passions play an equal role in creating wellness and should all be addressed when exploring health. This concept is so important and popular that my mentor who founded IIN, Joshua Rosenthal, wrote an entire book about it!
Most diets focus on the things you should avoid, creating a cycle of deprivation, pressure, shame, and failure. In my approach, I focus on change by adding more good things into your diet as opposed to reducing the not-so-good. By adding more of the good stuff without really trying to change everything all at once, a natural cycle of abundance and curiosity sets in that gradually “crowds out” the not-so-good things. In this way, you’ll find that your preferences change over time, your cravings become redirected, and you simply won’t want the same things that you used to, or you’ll at least find it much easier to have balance.
Have you ever found yourself disagreeing with how others approach wellness – or lack thereof – but are uncomfortable speaking out and drawing attention to yourself? We’ve all had a tendency to make ourselves “fit in” with the crowd so as not to create an inconvenience or be labeled as different. But is this really helping anyone? In my approach, I encourage you to “fit out” by being your amazing, beautiful self. Stop playing it safe and let your real self shine, be different, challenge the conventional thinking about wellness in your community, and do the things that make your heart sing.
You know what else is good for you once in a while? Indulgence, fun, and pleasure! Sometimes being a little bad just feels so good, doesn’t it? We believe in balance and that means letting loose once in a while so you can simply enjoy yourself and feed your soul. 90/10 is a helpful reminder that if you eat wholesome foods and take good care of yourself 90% of the time, then your body can handle a cookie or a glass of wine from time to time. The point of wellness is not to adhere to anything so strictly that all the joy is sucked out of life. As long as you’re wellness-oriented the majority of the time, then you deserve to relax and indulge on occasion too.
Eat Real Food
Last but definitely not least, my core philosophy when it comes to eating is all about whole, unprocessed foods. We encourage students to eat seasonally, explore a diverse diet of different colors and textures, including vegetables and fruit, grains, different sources of protein, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It really doesn’t matter if you’re an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, macrobiotic, Mediterranean, gluten-free, dairy-free or any combination of the above. The most important thing you’ll learn here is how to truly listen to your body and either give or reduce, depending on what makes YOU feel your best. Through this experience, you’ll also understand the preferences of others much better and will be able to share the valuable process of self-guidance towards wellness with a deeper understanding and greater patience and acceptance.