As food obsessions, nifty diet ideas, and body image preoccupations continue onward, and an ongoing effort toward avoiding illness, preventatively through diet & lifestyle choices, business opportunities continue to cash in on an ill informed populace with regards to building and maintaining health from infancy to old age. Many are left chasing misconceptions around health & disease resistance only to find they don’t always feel too well and eating becomes a guilt and fear based daily experience. Eating, for many becomes less about pleasure, and much more about ritual, ideology, and personal opinion or political missions vs sustaining health, maintenance of cell energy production for a strong immune system and increased performance for exercise pursuits or how we are living or choosing to live. Not to mention enjoyment, or sharing a meal with friends or family. The fitness industry, an industry I have been participating in in one form or another for many years, has its own share of misconceptions and ideas around health, fitness and wellness and this only adds to the publics confusion as this can be where many seek advice. I too, fell vulnerable to many fantastical ideas as well as confused by one dynamic or dogmatic personality or another in an effort to alleviate symptoms of how I was living. My own naïveté, like that of many of my clients, falling prey to misinformation. Ah life, ya gotta love what it takes to learn 🙂 Many fitness professionals often build relationships in the medical community to help bridge the gap for our clients who need it, while others seek higher education to meet the ever growing needs of their clientele.
Hippocrates in reference to doctors or health practitioners states to “do no harm” and many of us practitioners, health coaches, trainers of varying sorts & instructors, seek to follow this tenet.
What fresh real food is may not have required much thought for much of human history when compared to obtaining it, which likely dominated. It seems that today, we have become increasingly preoccupied with how, what and why we eat what we choose to eat and in today’s world, convenience is high priority. These may just be a result of having the option to choose or maybe of marketing strategies learning to offer solutions to our fears. I grew up in a home where a home cooked meal was highly valued and sitting to eat together was often required, my mothers family being Sicilian, cooking and preparing occupied a good proportion of their time with a long tradition of ideas & values around fresh food, my father being from Puerto Rico, where food makes up the very fabric of their culture with its various historical influences coming together.
With as many directions as this subject can go, I’d like to zero in on the one where all of us can use some clarification and doesn’t seem to reinforce one dogmatic idea or another. One thing is for sure, we need to eat and to maintain and offer our bodies the best opportunity to build health and support cell metabolism, and we need to eat frequently to meet the demands we place on ourselves in relation to how we live, how we exercise and our daily lifestyle choices and priorities. Exercise, as I’ve learned from myself and in working with clients, can make this equation slightly more complicated, and if daily stressors tend to be high, which is basically all of us, then the need for specificity in how we shop, eat & manage our energy intake can’t be undermined. This is a huge challenge for many and where we aim to offer guidance to our clients & members. Specificity in food choices as well as exercise protocols is key for our clients coaching & training sessions. Food and meal frequency, portion size, macronutrients proportions, will all vary from person to person and it can’t be emphasized enough that one size fits all approaches to diet & food choices simply come up short. What works for one person may not & often doesn’t work for another in the same sense that an exercise or workout plan must be individualized for any hope of success in acheiving ones goals. Otherwise, we’re playing roulette and leaving our efforts to chance. Time is of the essence, and in trying to align healthy lifestyle choices with fitness goals can sometimes be daunting and all too often folks miss the mark. One very basic, simple and effective concept that I picked up from two colleagues whom I have studied with, Josh & Jeanne Rubin of East West healing is that the only place we should start is by eating foods that align with human physiology. This seems simple enough and in many ways it actually is, just seek out real natural foods, try to keep them organic right? Well its not so simple as it turns out. While many things are edible, it seems that this doesn’t mean we should eat them. Some foods are easily digestible and highly assimilable, others are somewhat digestible, while others aren’t really digestible at all and often do more damage than good. What makes this confusing is that we assume that because something is “natural” or organic we should eat it or that it must be healthy. To add to the confusion, I have found that many whom I work with to experience is what can be digested and absorbed by some people cannot be digested or even handled by others. Again, like exercise choices, it seems there’s no room for “one size fits all” approaches to eating. This gets particularly complicated in “so called, developed or westernized” countries, having a broad range of choices, and a subsequent ability to experiment with dietary fads, ideas and a seeming endless variety of foods imported from all over the world, in any season, and availability whenever one desires. With an abundance of industrial foods, it’s easy to see where many get side tracked in where to make the best choices for themselves. Now I’m a New Yorker, born & bred in Manhattan, and have done some traveling here & there. In places where smaller scale farming & distribution seem to still be the more of the norm, it’s almost as if most are eating seasonally, locally grown and fresh foods just by default. In many places, maybe most, this has always been the norm. Even pesticide, herbicide or fungicide use is vertically unheard of, if even obtainable. not due to trendy or nifty ideas. But that may all be changing. In many places, people in any given community are following similar style eating patterns, and have done so for the greater part of their cultures history. I’m not going to delve into the pros & cons of industrialized foods as these concepts better left for other forums. My goal is to shed some light on the seeming confusion that preoccupies most in making healthy choices and how to make sense of what it means to eat foods that align with how our bodies work. Understanding some basic principles may help some to make better choices, for themselves, and possibly liberate some of us from the endless merry go round of confusion in building & maintaining a happy healthy & active lifestyle with far less effort.