Confused and Overwhelmed
In the last few days of writing my book, I felt very stuck. I felt so torn between contradicting research on nutrition, my personal experiences, stories that I hear from my clients, parents who are doctors, and my friends…. It seemed that there is no agreement, no final TRUTH when it comes to what our bodies thrive on both physically and spiritually.
I refuse to tell YOU, my readers, a pretty lie about Ayurvedic approach to nutrition being perfect or about Paleo diet being bad. I can’t bring myself to say that certain foods that vegans would look down upon such as fish or chicken don’t have a place in a healthy diet of someone who wants to heal their digestion. And no matter, how many times I try to include organic fresh dairy that is supposed to be good for my Vata-Pitta constitution, I always miserably conclude that I do much better without this ‘sattvic’ food. I also can’t ignore the fact that many ‘healthy’ ayurvedic practitioners don’t look the part. And the country where Ayurveda was born is stricken with high rates of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
It brings tears to my eyes to think that there is no perfect answer for everyone about what we should eat. As much research as I do, some days I still feel not sure about what to feed my body. It seems that if I understand things and follow them, then my body should feel at 100% all the time. There should be no days with puffy eyes, low energy, bad mood, or dry skin. I might have overly high expectations for myself but I think that someone who is teaching others how to be well should be in impeccable state of health. And I am sorry to tell you that some days I am just not there!
I do my best to listen to my body, to stay current on all the research, to experiment and keep a food log when I try something different. But if someone asks me whether they should follow a vegetarian, Paleo, Ayurvedic or a Mediterranean diet, all I can say is that you can make each one of these work or fail depending on how you do it.
So far among all this confusion and contradicting research, I stick to several guidelines that seem to work for me and most of my clients. Most of them are from Ayurveda, some of them are from long discussions with my dad and our experiences, others are just intuitive.
Key Principles I Live and Eat By:
- Like increases like and opposites create balance. When it is cold outside, I prefer warm foods. When my lips feel dry, I will add more healthy fats into my diet. When I feel sluggish, I have something light, spicy, and go for a run.
- Each human being is unique and needs a unique approach to life and food to feel balanced and thriving. I would never give out a general list of foods or daily guidelines to my clients because 1. It will overwhelm them, 2. There is no guarantee it will work. It takes me about 60-90 minutes and 2 long questionnaires to get to know my clients, to understand where there are coming from, what they believe and how they relate to life. Only then I can give them certain guidelines and ideas to experiment with. At the end we always analyze their experience and make conclusions.
- Digestion is an energy-consuming task for our body. Easy-to-digest foods will leave more energy in the body to do other things. Hard-to-digest foods might leave you very little energy to do other things. This idea is simple and key to feeling light and clear.
- Food combining can easily make or break your gut, energy levels, and clarity of mind. If it is new to you, start with no fruit with or after meals.
- Each food has a personality. The more you eat of that food, the more you take on the qualities of that food.
- There are many DIFFERENT diets and approaches to nutrition that can create a thriving healthy human being. There is no one right and everything else is wrong. There have been tribes all over the world eating different traditional diets and living healthy. One of the common threads of most healthy diets is REAL UNPROCESSED food, very limited sugar, and lots of physical movement in the fresh air. Our body is very adaptable and is meant to thrive in different conditions.
- Negative expectations, beliefs, and fears about food will have a strong negative effect on the way you feel physically. If you are afraid that a lentil loaf will make you bloated, it will.
- Exercise is about increasing life energy in the body, not draining it. It should not feel like a punishment. It should bring joy, happiness, and be aligned with the way you want to feel.
- Meditation is key to changing habits without relying on willpower and self-abuse.
- Emotions can make you hold on to weight, feel constipated, sluggish, stuck, break out in hives, and have all kinds of nasty symptoms. Food is important but you have to deal with emotions as a part of a healing process.
- YOUR Personal Wellness Vision should be clear and you should come back to it daily. I do it in the morning and ask for guidance and support to align every action throughout my day to my Wellness Vision. If you don’t have it, start here first!
Here is what I say to my higher self most mornings: Let me embody my values. Guide me to be fully aligned with my values, to feel light and clear and inspired so I can help others from a place of authenticity and personal experience.
There should be lots of alkaline green food on the plate at least 2 meals a day.
- There should be a favorable balance towards alkaline and positive thoughts and experiences throughout the day. I strongly believe that negative expectations, judgment, criticism, being in a rush, anger, and self-abusing thoughts can’t be neutralized just by a healthy diet alone.
- What worked in the past hundred or thousands years ago is not guaranteed to work in the present. We have to account for our environment, lifestyle, responsibilities, and desires. We can use past knowledge for guidance, inspiration, principles, and lessons. But in the end, it is okay to change things, to adapt them to YOU, and not to feel bad about letting go of traditions.
- When not sure what to eat, remember the last time when you felt great and were at your happy weight. What did you eat then? What else in your life was different? Try to bring in more of what is missing now. If it worked before, there is a good chance it will work again.
- How you eat is important just as much as what you eat. Eating the healthiest food on Earth when stressed, rushed, upset, angry won’t make you healthy.
There are more beliefs that are important but these are some of the key ones. I will explore them deeper in my book which will come out in Jan 2013. For now, I choose to let go of the confusing theories, and to rely on my body’s wisdom. I know I can help many to let go of their confusion about what to eat, as well. For now, I just focus on taking care of my body so my mind stays clear and inspired to share the deep knowledge from within.
Your Turn: How do you sort through the contradicting an often confusing information?