A local GP recently asked me for a weekly menu plan…
…to provide him with all the nutrients he needs to remain healthy and get rid of some persistent niggling health symptoms. How much would he need to eat of which type of food, by weight or portion-size, and how often?
I can understand his way of thinking, given that each prescription he gives to his own patients has to be evidence-based, correctly dosed, without adverse effects and checked for interaction with other drugs.
Nutritional medicine can’t provide such hard and fast rules or cast-iron guarantees. Although food can be medicine, food is not a drug. If I tell you to eat oranges, for instance, you will obtain fluid and fibre but not necessarily vitamin C – this depends on the growth and storage conditions of the orange. Your orange might also have been doused with pesticides and cause a stomach ache. Or you may, like I used to, get migraines after eating oranges.
Sure, you are more likely to have a head start if you eat a healthy and varied diet – but what exactly does this mean and does it guarantee good health? It depends…
It depends on:
- the variety and nutritional quality of your food
- how well you digest and absorb your food
- your genetic make-up
- the type and ratio of microbes inhabiting your gut
- your lifestyle (including sleep and exercise)
- your stress levels and emotional state
- your environmental burden and your body’s ability to reduce it
Even the most sophisticated computer would be hard pressed to create a diet ‘on prescription’ – quite apart from the fact that it would need constant updating, depending on seasonal and personal requirements.
So the answer to the good doctor’s question is to eat what is right for YOU at this moment and to improve your body’s ability to absorb and utilise it. First, do no harm (Hippocrates).
How do you figure out what diet is right for you?
After nearly two decades in clinical practice, I have found there are 3 main steps you need to follow to find your best diet. You can do this without feeling miserable and deprived, and when I share this information with my clients, they feel inspired, excited and ready to take immediate action.
Does it work? Here’s what one of my clients told me after following the 3 steps.
Here’s what another said.
You’ll achieve the best results targeted to your personal circumstances with the support of a Registered Nutritional Therapist who can guide you through this process. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a free 10 minute phone call to find out if the 3-Step Process is right for you.
Meanwhile, here are the three steps.
Step One: Clear The Decks
Make the decision to cut out the dross from your body and mind for 4 weeks. This means:
- Eat ‘clean’. Eat real food using traditional cooking methods. Focus on simple, seasonal and nutritionally dense food. Get rid of overly refined, processed, sugary, salty and heavily fried food, alcohol and go easy on caffeine. Take action. Just do it.
- Live ‘clean’. Check your personal care and cleaning products and choose those less harmful to you and your environment. This reduces your chemical load and indoor pollution.
- Think and feel ‘clean’. Set aside time to examine your major life stressors and take active steps to manage them. Get help from friends or professionals if you need it.
Step Two: Define the Problem
Completing Step One generally exposes the problem. It either resolves symptoms or reveals them more clearly.
- Detective work is now required to define the problem. Ask yourself when your health symptoms first started, how do they present, what makes them worse, what helps to ease them, and so on. Thorough intake and tracking of your medical, dietary, lifestyle and family history will provide valuable clues.
- Diet, lifestyle, stress and infections can significantly disrupt the delicate interplay between major systems in the body. Are you closer to understanding how your health problems may have started and what might be exacerbating or triggering them? How can you support your body towards normal function, what needs to happen now?
Step Three: Solve the Problem
Once your unique problems have been identified and understood, they can be managed or, better still, solved!
- Decide on nutritional and lifestyle strategies based on your individual requirements, resources and preferences. Personalisation is critical, so focus on eating what’s right for you rather than following the latest fad. At this stage, your commitment to change is easy because you have started to understand your health journey and have formulated a strategy.
- Once you’ve decided on your plan of action and how to implement it, think very carefully about who will support you (and who might not). I have clients who have successfully lost weight and gained more energy, only to find their efforts undermined by partners or friends. Find a supportive, like-minded ‘tribe’.
- Consistent follow-up is important so that your progress and any changes in symptoms can be monitored. Functional lab testing may be used as scientific back-up and provides further clues in solving your unique health puzzle. Repeat tests can also be valuable monitoring tools to measure whether your nutritional and lifestyle changes are working.
Well Done! You are now on your way…
Martina Watts MSc Nut Med is a Registered Nutritional Therapist (via clinic / telephone / skype). Find out if the 3-Step Process is suitable for you by contacting email@example.com.