-ELENA UPTON, PHD
I have been a holistic health practitioner for nearly thirty years and over time I’ve observed that when someone takes the plunge and decides to step into a healthier lifestyle, there are three main areas that trip them up.
Dietary choices are confusing since there are so many arguments about what and how we should eat. New diets crop up all the time. Way back when there was the Atkins Diet, the Scarsdale Diet, the South Beach Diet and the Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet, to name a few. Then the Body Ecology Diet emerged and the Zone Diet. In recent times vegetarian diets and vegan diets have gained favor with a wider audience. At this moment it is the Paleo Diet that has spread like wildfire.
Where do you begin to choose the diet that is correct and appropriate for you?
The key is not to choose a diet at all, but a lifestyle. When you adopt a lifestyle that works for you, meaning it:
• Fits into your schedule
• You like it and don’t feel deprived
• It accomplishes your goals
…then you’ve hit a home run!
So you’re asking, “How do I do this?”
First, take an overview of your lifestyle. Are you a working Mom or a stay at home Mom? Are you a bachelor who doesn’t cook, or a vegetarian in a family of meat-eaters? Everyone’s situation is different and as a result, requires different choices. The choice you make needs to be palatable and achievable, or you are setting yourself up for failure.
Here are a couple of examples:
I had a client who was a bachelor with no interest in learning to cook anything
complicated. He needed to lose weight, as well as move away from unhealthy food choices. I decided to take him on a field trip to Trader Joe’s. (a fairly healthy grocery store located in many US states.)
As we walked the store, I showed him salads (many were organic) that were pre- prepared. All he had to do was open the package and mix together. Some included protein, and for others, I suggested protein by adding some frozen precooked shrimp, pre-cooked chicken, and even turkey with no nitrates or hormones.
We discussed him purchasing a small portable grill (like a Foreman). We continued to walk through the isles as I pointing out the simple, quick meals he could prepare using the grill. A sweet potato, vegetables, all the foods he loved and had no previous concept how easily and quickly they can be cooked to perfection in minutes.
Healthy eating doesn’t mean bland either, I reminded him to season his foods
with salt & pepper, Provence seasonings, fresh herbs, etc.
Now that he would be less intimidated by grocery shopping we moved on to making better choices in restaurants. Eating out can be especially challenging when traveling. I persuaded him to stay away from fried foods, heavy sauces, cheese laden dishes, and to ask the server questions about ingredients.
With his new lifestyle habits, he lost twenty pounds, and his cholesterol dropped nearly twenty points in a short period.
Another example was a young woman who had been a vegetarian for many years. She had failing health and had no idea why, since she felt her lifestyle was full of conscious, healthy choices. She ate organic food almost exclusively, took supplements, exercised and meditated. When I asked her to write down her food plan for a week, I could easily see what was happening. She fell in the category I call “Starvatarian.”. It wasn’t surprising her blood work showed anemia, as well as other deficiencies.
Vegetarianism is great, as long as you put the necessary time into learning what a complete protein is and how to accomplish this within a vegetarian diet. Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean you can get by on cheese sandwiches, or better yet, fake cheese sandwiches and pasta.
We discussed what constitutes a balanced diet, brought some variety into her meals and she recovered fairly quickly. (As a side note the remedy for anemia is Ferrum Phos 6x + Kali Mur 6x, three times daily for at least three months. The herbal formula Floradix can also be added to the protocol.)
Another example was a middle-aged woman who couldn’t lose weight no matter the diet she was on. The first issue was that she had been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for years, which disturbed her liver due to an excess of estrogen. This also contributed to packing on the pounds around her torso.
We worked on gentle liver drainage and again, I asked for a list of dietary choices for a week. What she didn’t realize was that there was far too much starch in her diet, quickly breaking down into sugar and then being stored in her fat cells.
For this person, proper food combining was the most significant adjustment to make. Since she already had a healthy diet, it was a matter of pointing out that she could not combine an animal protein with a starch (like rice or potatoes), since the body does not manufacture the enzymes necessary to digest both a starch and protein simultaneously. Once she understood the rules of food combining, she was on her way and started to lose weight effortlessly.
My last example is a guy diagnosed with celiac disease. He was devastated since he loved bread. His digestion was quite compromised since he probably had the issue for many years before it was discovered. As a result, I suggested he also eliminate dairy to speed up the healing of his gut.
The Paleo Diet was the perfect solution for this person. He was a meat eater and was delighted with the food choices within this diet and soon no longer missed wheat and dairy. The remedies to heal his gut were Chelidonium, Nux vomica, and Bovista. Within three months he was doing very well.
These are a few examples of why choosing the correct diet that fits your needs, and your lifestyle is the simplest and easiest way to lose weight, regain digestive health and enable you to stick with a healthy way of life.
Supplements is a Pandora’s box! So many, when deciding to ‘get healthy’ start reading health blogs, magazines, newspaper articles and books, then purchase supplements that sounded like something they might need.
This method of choice is a complete waste of money and can also be hazardous to your health! It is never a good idea to self-diagnose. You may be buying things not well suited for your particular issues, or maybe you are focusing on symptoms, instead of causes. Over-taxing the body with supplements that may not be metabolized can make matters worse.
Utilize your money more wisely by seeing a qualified holistic practitioner such as a Homeopath who can evaluate your case properly, or an Acupuncturist who can diagnose by reading your pulse, or a Naturopath who can use any number of types of testing to give you proper feedback and create an appropriate protocol that will suite your needs.
Working in this way, you will also be monitored, and you will be able to properly measure your progress.
Here are a couple of examples of poor choices innocently made when self-diagnosing:
Buying the herb Echinacea because you read it is good for the immune system and proceeding to take it for an extended period of time. This herb can be harmful when taken for a long period. Its proper use is during a cold or flu, or at the change of seasons to support the immune system. Treatment should then stop until needed again.
Antioxidants are the latest and greatest health buzz. CoQ10 leads the list. This supplement again can be harmful to someone who does NOT have a free radical issue or free radical damage.
Detoxification and cleanses are another areas of concern. I have seen clients make themselves extremely ill from home brewed cleansing protocols to the point where they became debilitated and needed medical intervention.
One particular area of concern is fasting. Fasting can be dangerous for some, especially when continued for an extended period of time.
It is important to understand what you are putting into your body and why. Always consult a reputable practitioner and ask questions. Be sure you understand any treatment and/or protocol you are about to commit to.
Another common mistake is choosing products or programs that are a quick fix, or claim to be. Whether it be a diet, supplements or an exercise program. Your choices should be carefully adopted into your lifestyle and be part of an overall health regimen.
Too often I see clients on a collision course with a diet that brings weight loss quickly, but did nothing for balancing blood sugars, healing the pancreas, fixing food allergies or balancing other gut issues. In these cases, the weight usually returns quickly. This type of dieting can put you in a situation that is even harder to heal.
The same goes for supplements. Cramming in an extensive collection of pills over a short period usually confuses the body and ultimately can set you back even further.
Fake food tends to be part of the quick-fix plan. Bars, a diet of shakes and vegan ‘fake’ foods are never a good solution. Sometimes there are short-term benefits, but as mentioned previously, can set you back by confusing the pancreas and other aspects of digestion. Whole, fresh food is always better than packaged nutrition.
Another category is exercise. Exercise programs with trainers may be too grueling, especially if the person is adrenal depleted. Choose an exercise program you like, not one you are told you should do. Ultimately you won’t stick with it, and it will set you up to fail.
Whatever dietary program, protocol, or lifestyle adjustments you choose, be sure you are comfortable with the changes, enjoy them and be sure you have the time to put them into motion. If you dislike the new “diet” or exercise program, or can’t handle swallowing lots of pills three times a day, you won’t be able to stick with it.
It is also not possible to expect any program to magically fix, in a very short period, issues that have taken years to manifest. No matter the claims, there are no shortcuts when it comes to health.
Find a program that works for you mentally and emotionally, you’re your pocketbook and your lifestyle, then go for it! This is your path to success.
Remember, whenever you make a commitment to health, it automatically spills
over in a positive way to those around you.
For further information on natural health topics and specifically Homeopathy, check out ‘Blog’ and ‘Homeopathy’ at www.elenaupton.com
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