In recent years, alternative medicine and holistic wellness have increased in popularity. While not quite a replacement for modern medicine, holistic methods offer a strong point in that having good health means more than the absence of illness or ailment.
True wellness is a sophisticated interplay between physical, mental, and social factors. Traditional modern medicine mainly focused only on the physical aspects of patients. The new generation of healthcare professionals are being trained to now look at patients as people and to assess social determinants of health in addition to prioritizing mental wellbeing.
The transition to more holistic care in medicine is one that continues to this day. While medicine is making a slow transition, other industries focused on health are also making the change. One of those industries is nutrition.
Holistic nutrition is a newer approach to nutrition that takes into account more than just calories, macros, and physical benefits that certain foods have to offer. Holistic nutrition looks at how foods taste, how foods play a role in social health and the factors that contribute to certain food choices.
Below is a closer look at holistic nutrition and how it can enable your health.
Factors considered with holistic nutrition
Traditional nutrition tends to provide consumers with stringent guides and diets to follow to achieve their health goals. Typically these goals are focused on purely physical goals such as losing body fat, increasing muscle fat, or improving overall physique.
While these goals can be achieved, it is typically at the expense of feeling poorly and missing out on the social aspects of eating with others.
Holistic nutrition looks at your end goal and provides you a sustainable way to achieve results while still giving you the ability to enjoy the other benefits of eating such as enjoying the food you eat and the ability to go out with friends. Below is a deeper look at the factors taken into account with holistic nutrition.
The physical factor is typically the target of nutritional advice. Whether it be weight loss or weight maintenance, nutrition plays an undoubted role in your physical health. With holistic nutrition, the same science behind nutrition is utilized to enact change within the body.
Where the two differ is that holistic nutrition will not place the pure priority on the want for physical change.
Instead, a holistic nutrition plan will typically provide a less extreme results-driven diet that may otherwise be utilized in a traditional nutrition plan. Instead, a diet that is more sustainable and less extreme will be utilized to deliver results in a potentially longer time frame.
The mental factor is a large portion of dietary choices that can be omitted in traditional nutrition. The food choices that you make on a daily basis are almost entirely a mental process. From how you perceive flavors, to what foods you are craving, nearly every aspect of food choice has an underlying mental process that seems to be completely overlooked.
Holistic nutrition ensures it takes into account the mental aspects of nutrition. From diving into the reasons as to why you make certain food choices, to understanding that food is something that is enjoyed holistic nutrition utilizes these to help make an appropriate plan. When you are able to dive into the reasons you make the food decisions that you do, it is much easier to implement a lifestyle change that plays on those deep-level needs.
Another way holistic nutrition shines is that it offers the ability to choose feeling good and energized as a goal rather than looking at diets as merely a means of providing physical benefits and goals.
The body needs specific nutrients to feel energized and a nutritionist can choose foods high in molecules like CoQ10 and Vitamin B12 to help support your energy goals.
It is no secret that food plays an integral role in bringing people together. For centuries, eating food together has played an important role in social gatherings. Today nearly every holiday consists of sharing a meal with others.
With a rigid diet, people are stripped of their ability to fully enjoy the experience that events like these have to offer since they need to eat beforehand and pass on the foods friends and families worked hard to make. Imagine being on a juice cleanse during thanksgiving. Where traditionally you would be having a good time sharing a meal with your loved ones, you are placed in an environment where you are essentially torturing yourself by being tempted to eat but unable to.
Many traditional nutrition plans seem to forget this aspect of food and simply act like dinners with friends and family don’t exist, and that their client needs to stick to the exact rigid diet plan set forth.
Holistic nutrition acknowledges the occasional need to stray from diet, and that food is more than just a calorie number that needs to be controlled. Rather than forbidding social meals, holistic nutrition would advise responsible eating. Essentially, enjoy the food set forth by friends and family, but avoid extreme overeating and remind yourself of your long-term goals.
Holistic nutrition can also utilize this factor to find foods that you are more likely to enjoy. The stereotypical “healthy meal” of chicken and rice that many nutritionists provide people is bland and does not cater to what foods an individual grew up eating within their culture.
Factoring in culture can give a holistic nutritionist the ability to find food options that are likely to taste good to you and ones that are likely to be at social gatherings.
How does holistic nutrition enable your health?
Holistic nutrition is the future of nutrition since it takes nutrition and makes it easier for it to be implemented into your life as a true lifestyle change. Too many diets focus on short-term results and once the desired results have been achieved, the diet simply disappears. From a health and wellness perspective, intermittent dieting and unhealthy eating patterns are not ideal and can actually be detrimental.
Holistic nutrition enables your health by giving you the tools to make sustainable changes in your eating patterns. By looking at the social, mental, and physical factors of food choice, a holistic nutritionist is able to provide a plan tailor-made for you and your life. Rather than forcing you to change your eating patterns to a generic dietary plan, holistic nutritionists provide a tailor-made plan that you are more likely to adhere to and implement as a lifelong lifestyle change.
With a better level of nutrition, your body is able to work at its best potential. Vitamins, minerals, and nutrition, in general, are important and through a holistic nutrition plan, you can elevate your standard of nutrition throughout your life which can allow your body to stay healthy and for you to feel great while doing it.
In summary, the practice of holistic treatments is taking over the world of health and wellness. The next generation of healthcare providers is being trained to look at patients as people instead of a problem to be fixed. This change is also occurring within fields like nutrition where rather than simply crunching numbers and providing bland meals, nutritionists are taking into account many other factors to supply people with the very best nutritional options for them that still allow them to enjoy food and social meals with others.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.