You are what you eat

Photo: istockphoto.com/Jack Puccio
"Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food." – Hippocrates

Some people are turning to holistic nutrition for help with chronic health including digestive problems, insomnia, heart disease and obesity. A holistic nutritionist can also help us navigate through the confusing world of food supplements, conflicting theories and the consequences of specific food choices.

Diet for healing
One of the best ways to stay healthy is with a proper diet and creating that balanced diet has become a cornerstone for alternate health care. Holistic nutrition looks at the complete picture between an individual and their diet, addressing various problems and imbalances.

Individual assessments
The old saying "One man's meat is another man's poison" is the starting off point for holistic nutrition. Since each individual has different requirements for proteins, vitamins and nutrients, a holistic practitioner will create a diet matching an individual's particular dietary needs. A diet balanced for one person might not be balanced for another. Food is seen as potential medicine for well being – not just something to fill our stomachs.

Achieving dietary balance
Your holistic nutritionist will be concerned with how food interacts with your body. They will help you look at your eating habits, your likes and dislikes around food and discover what may be missing from your diet. Getting your diet back on track will correct deficiencies and imbalances so you can get healthier.

No surprises
Typical diets recommended will include high quality, fresh food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, fowl and other meats, as well as fresh made juices, herbal teas, and coffee substitutes. With food allergies on the rise, a holistic nutritionist can also help you pinpoint problem foods and help you find substitutes for them.

Cutting back
Other recommendations may include cutting back on foods high in fat, sugar or caffeine. Processed foods will be a no-no for almost everyone and your practitioner will help wean you off the fast food menu and point you in the right direction for cooking classes or recipe books.

Sometimes all it takes is adding a missing ingredient such as an essential fatty acid like sesame seed oil, sunflower seed oil, hemp seed oil or safflower seed oil. By introducing new foods into your diet you can get healthier. It can also be fun to try something new and different.

Certification
Since this is a relatively new field, holistic nutrition is largely unregulated. Look for a registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP) diploma that is recognized by the IONC (International Organization of Nutritional Consultants). This governing body was established in 1983 to ensure practitioners are meeting high educational standards.

A good holistic nutritionist should work closely with your family doctor and your licensed dietician or nutritionist. Stay away from anyone who promises magic cures or impossible to achieve results like reversing ageing.

Holistic nutrition is an excellent way to get a diet that works for you and can help you achieve optimum health but moderation is the key.

Liam McCann is a freelance writer who visited a holistic nutrionist on the advice of his wife. He recently lost 15 pounds.