In an ideal world, there would be no need for someone to tell us what and how to eat. Like animals in the wild, prehistoric humans, and some traditional peoples who are very in touch with their bodies, we would naturally be drawn to eating a vibrant, constantly changing, delicious, satisfying diet, free of deprivation; a diet perfect for our individual needs.
We would also know when we are comfortably full, and when not to eat. Without fad diets and "what she eats" pieces on actresses and models in terrible women's magazines influencing us.
We would eat intuitively, based on the naturally fluctuating needs of our bodies through our changing external and internal environments – weather, season, our physical and mental state, demands put on our bodies, and so on. Our bodies would be highly sensitive to even the smallest changes in our environment.
As a result of our being in touch with the Earth’s natural cycles, our digestion would work pretty harmoniously. As a result of eating intuitively and in harmony with the cycles of nature, our energy levels would be optimal, our libidos healthy, our minds sharp.
Get your nose out of Anastacia, we’re in the 21st century!
Does this sound like a fantasy? If you’ve read the book Anastacia by Vladimir Megre describing a reportedly true encounter with a woman brought up in the Russian woods, you’ll know the lifestyle I’m describing! In our modern world, living this way seems like a far-off fairy tale.
From the day we are born and even before then, we are over-fed a steady stream of chronic stress, environmental pollutants, questionable diets and diet trends leading to binges on easily sourced fast food, and chemical stimulants. We have been taught not to trust our innate cravings and tastes, instead turning to coworkers, scientists, celebrities, the media and fad diets to tell us what and what not to eat, never mind how, when and why we are eating.
If there is a perfect diet for humans, an "intuitive diet" would be it. Deep down, we know what’s best for us, just as a bird, a wolf or a child does. But it’s hard to eat intuitively when we’re mentally fatigued by our stressful lifestyles, and we’re confused by the enormous amount of often conflicting information about food that lies out there.
Over-stuffed on dietary information
Be careful about reading health books – you may die of a misprint! – Mark Twain
For anyone who has decided to improve their diet, it soon becomes apparent that healthy eating is not as straightforward as first imagined.
There are diets based on religion, ethics, medical systems, anthropology, the seasons, blood types. You can choose to be vegetarian, vegan, even a fruitarian; you can adopt a macrobiotic diet, a raw foods diet, a Paleo diet, a ketogenic diet; you can minimise fats, or carbohydrates, or proteins; you can base your diet on Chinese medicine or Ayurvedic medicine.
The problem is most of these systems contradict each other. One book might tout the wonders of soy, another will warn us of its dangers. One book might advocate a diet consisting primarily of raw foods, rich in enzyme vitality; another advises to limit intake of raw foods, so as not to dampen the digestive fire. One book will champion honey as a super-food; another says honey is just as harmful as any other sugar.
Most mainstream books on nutrition advise us to limit intake of fat, especially saturated fat; an increasingly prominent minority contends that actually, traditional animal fats are good for you, or that coconut oil, a saturated plant fat, is a cleansing weight-loss food. Some authorities say that supplements are essential; others say they just give you “expensive urine.”
The examples are endless. We ask ourselves, how do we find the diet that’s right for us, if there is one? Maybe they all have elements of truth, despite their blatant contradictions. Or maybe none of them are right.
To our detriment, we have confused ourselves with mountains of conflicting dietary information. Despite our persistent focus on diet and all the research that goes into it, we have ended up more sick, depressed and confused than ever. We have lost our natural way of eating and knowing.
Return to intuitive eating
Eat when you are hungry, drink when you are thirsty, sleep when you are tired. - Taoist adage.
The only reliable authority, in the end, is your own body. We need to learn how to trust our bodies again, and how to listen to the messages it is sending us about diet. The simple tools of tuning into our bodies and fully experiencing each bite of food have the power to resolve any questions about food choices and diet.
This doesn’t mean we should go out and fully experience every bite of a large bucket of KFC if you don;t actually you feel like it! After a life time of ignoring your body, getting back in touch with it can take a little bit of work and a lot of patience.
It’s hard to listen to the body when a symphony of opposing authorities on diet are shouting their new findings and guaranteed weight loss methods from the rooftops.
Somehow, we need to restore our sense of body trust if we are to start feeding ourselves properly. This is where it can be helpful to have a nutritional therapist with an understanding of non-diet approaches such as Health at Every Size or Mindful Eating. Someone who can balance healthy eating with sane eating!
What I do
As a non-diet dietitian, I empower people to start eating in the way that’s most beneficial and intuitive to them. I show them how to get back to basics and re-learn how - not necessarily what - they really need to eat for optimal health.
To qualify me to help you, I’ve spent the last decade developing my philosophy within every area of the food and nutrition field – from working as a veterinarian in our modern food systems, and researching the eating habits of animals, to working as a nutritionist consulting with chronically ill and hospitalised patients, to working as a non-diet dietitian with people suffering from eating disorders and in the throes of "clean eating" and fitness junkie recovery.
I’ve done the work for you in sifting through and integrating into my practice evidence-based dietetic and naturopathic science, and wisdom from more traditional schools of thought such as Chinese Nutritional Medicine, Ayurveda and Yoga. My goal is to provide a truly holistic, deeply personal and highly effective service for people with health, eating and body image problems, people who just want to maintain their health, and people who struggle with dietary fads and conventional dieting.
In a one-on-one consultation, we explore simple new ways of eating that will markedly increase your enjoyment of food without disease, BUT ALSO without guilt. We investigate your behaviours and conditioning around food and how we ignore vital messages from our bodies.
We address habits like food "addiction", under- and over-eating. We discuss the role of yoga, meditation and other mind-body practices that have been scientifically proven to help us get in touch with our intuitive way of eating and being.
Want to find out more? Check out what a private consultation with me looks like.