How quick fixes in nutrition don’t bring lasting results – the importance of changing your diet for the long run!
We all know that quick fixes of any kind don’t really work, whether it’s financial, dietary, mood lifting or anything else, yet we all fall for it now and again.
There’s a certain sense of relief felt in that moment when we make a firm decision that we believe will definitely solve our problems.
With food, it can often involve the classic ‘diet starts tomorrow’; we sit down with a contented sigh and tuck into a bigger than usual (‘because I’m off it for the next few months’) bowl of crisps or ice cream, then we do the exact same thing after a ‘particularly long, hard day’ for the next week or so, until we eventually give up feeling worse than when we started!
The human body works like an ecosystem, as does the world of food.
Similarly, it’s easy to get swept up in, and yet completely confused by the never ending contradictory advice we’re fed by the media. Nuts are good for depression, red wine is good for your heart etc, only to discover new symptoms appearing, and the ‘latest studies’ now telling us the old ones were wrong all along.
No wonder we’re all so baffled as to what to eat. I think there are two major factors to consider. One is our incredibly powerful emotional connection to food, and the other is the reductionist way in which we tend to look at it.
The reductionist viewpoint takes food, its nutrients, enzymes etc, and breaks them down into bits, then it does the same with the human body. This is necessary to discover the role of each part, but the problem comes when it doesn’t all get put back together again in recognition that they actually work as a whole.
Treating (or mistreating) the kidneys without considering the knock on effect on the heart for example, or consuming loads of olive oil because it’s been said to reduce cholesterol, is to me, a bit like wiping out bumble bees and assuming the lack of their existence won’t affect anything else. The human body works like an ecosystem, as does the world of food. If we stand back and see the big picture, we remember how it’s all interconnected, and it becomes a lot less confusing.
It has to come down to homeostasis and body chemistry! I used to be an absolute, complete and utter sugar addict myself. Cravings, energy, weight and moods all going up and down at the rate of knots. Alongside that went the perpetual cycle of intent, motivation, frustration, judgement, guilt, despair and new resolve, every time I tried and failed to come off it.
Then I started to change my body chemistry at ‘root’ level; hydration, nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar, body pH, minimising toxins/ stress going in, maximising toxins going out etc. (I would strongly suggest seeing a naturopathic nutritionist for tailor made advice).
Changing our eating habits is not just about willpower. We crave because there’s something in that food or drink we need, be it energy, relaxation, or a mood lifter.
Things shifted and I went from strength to strength, but my point is this – during that time, I ‘relapsed’ back onto sugar many times for 6 years, but still felt the benefits of all the other (sometimes very small) changes I made. I relaxed, I started to trust my body, and perhaps most importantly, I learnt to cook healthy alternatives for all the staple foods I loved so much. Rye sourdough bread can replace processed white, kombucha can replace lemonade or wine, and raw chocolate made with maple syrup can replace the usual chemical-laden, high sugar brands. The list goes on; for everything we take out of our diet, we can replace it with a healthier version that really can taste just as good and often much better.
Changing our eating habits is not just about willpower. We crave because there’s something in that food or drink we need, be it energy, relaxation, or a mood lifter. We just get crossed wires; obviously no body needs white sugar, but when we balance our blood sugar levels properly, we find that we don’t actually love milk chocolate quite as much as we thought.
One day we might actively dislike it. This is the reason we mustn’t beat ourselves up when we do reach for these quick fixes. It’s totally understandable.That said, our health is our responsibility, and if we take the time and effort to gently change our body chemistry, replace each ‘out’ with a delicious ‘in’ and hold on to the big picture, the rest will follow very naturally, in an empoweringly autonomous way.
Feature from inside our Thrive Health Magazine Summer issue article written by: Lucy Davies. @haveyourcakeandeatitnutrition
Lucy Davies is a Naturopathic nutritionist based in South West Wales and she runs workshops on fermentation and gut health.