Acting in the world of uncertainty: What to do and what to eat when contradicting theories are confusing the hell out of you
Yesterday while lounging outside with interesting books my husband asked me: “Did you know that only 4% of the universe is covered with matter that we understand and the rest is dark matter?”
I didn’t. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
We live in the world of uncertainty where we know just a small fraction of what there is to learn about the planet that we live on, about cosmos, things that surround us and that we use in daily life. Even things that we eat and drink pose more questions than we know how to answer. And our bodies present a mystery of their own.
Nutrition, human body, what it really takes to be in vibrant health, medicine, and herbs – are all part of the poorly understood and largely unknown.
There is a small percentage that we understand and the rest that we are still trying to figure out.
Yes, it’s easy to get super excited with new findings and generalize them. As humans we want to feel confident and simplify things.
That happened when we scratched the surface of understanding fats 40 years ago and decided that all fats were bad for everyone and created a nation that subsided on fat free and low fat products and ended up overweight, depressed, and sick. Now we switched gears and claim that fat is the new black and that everyone should eat it by spoonful and avoid carbs like poison.
Generalization based on limited understanding rarely leads to anything good.
You are unique – so should be your approach to food, movement, work, life
Scientists never found a snowflake that was identical to any other.
Humans are just like snowflakes – completely unique. We really try to resist it because it means that nobody can tell us exactly what our body needs. We have to step up and take responsibility for finding what works for us at any given time of our life. Health is not a static point, it is a life-long journey based on how well you can adapt to the constantly changing internal needs and external environment.
Functional medicine practitioners, Ayurveda practitioners, and others who recognize and appreciate bio-individuality can guide you but you have to be willing to experiment, be patient with getting outcomes, and take an active role in becoming the expert of your own body.
Get comfortable with uncertainty
Have you heard that happiness is proportional to the degree that the person is comfortable with uncertainty?
This is true when it comes to food and self-care. You have to learn how to make decisions that serve you best in any environment given the variables that you can control without knowing some things for sure.
You have to create your basic food rules that you can always refer to even if you are currently evaluating and reading about new findings and research.
You must learn not to jump into things head first when you read a short article about a new best health practice like bulletproof coffee or a new superfood like morninga without first taking time to digest and assimilate the new information. (Where did it come from? Who were the people using it before? What other variables were a part of their daily routine and lifestyle? Can you digest and assimilate it well? How is it processed?)
Mental binging on information will lead to mental indigestion, feeling of being overwhelmed, confused, and lost. Applying bits and pieces of every theory you read about and never taking time to process the information and the feedback from your body fully will lead to disappointment.
I often see women trying a new eating approach after reading a few short articles and then feeling like a failure because they don’t get results. Instead of trying something as an honest experiment by being consistent and observing the important variables, we think that just using one of the elements of any theory should give us quick results.
Here are some examples of trying popular nutrition approaches with potentially disappointing results:
- Doing daily bulletproof coffee instead of breakfast without addressing adrenal fatigue or fat digestion issues or micro-nutrient deficiency. According to Ayurveda Pitta types would do very badly with caffeine and fat breakfast because their mind/body type does better with a substantial breakfast and alkaline greens, some protein and fat. That keeps their metabolism stable and their hunger at bay. This quantity of butter would get the sluggish Kapha even more heavy. Vatas and caffeine don’t really make friends either. Read more about caffeine and Ayurveda here.
- Going high carb vegan without addressing yeast, candida, blood sugar issues. Plant based diets are wonderful but as anything else they can be done in a way that will do more harm than good. Think: not learning how to cook grains and legumes properly, not having enough protein, overdoing nuts and avocados, binging on dried fruit and vegan desserts. Sugar is vegan but it doesn’t make it healthy.
- Starting to eat for your dosha type (mind/body type) based on a short online questionnaire and strict ‘yes’ and ‘no’ food lists. It takes time and patience to truly understand your nature (dosha type) and your current imbalance. A truly individualized ayurvedic diet should be based not only on your inborn mind/body type and the current imbalance but also consider your geographical location, climate, age, stress, and workload.
- Trying slow carb diet without addressing leaky gut, not soaking legumes, having high Vata. Slow carb can be great for sustainable weightloss but it is also pretty hard to digest. Combining legumes and animal protein is a difficult food combination according to Ayurveda which will take a lot of energy to digest. Soaking beans and adding digestive spices would be essential.
So what do you do when information is overwhelming and you don’t know what to focus you energy on:
- Ask yourself: What do I already know that is true for me in regards to eating/food, movement, daily routine? It should be based on your personal experience not just theoretical concept.
- What would I like to experiment with and check if it works for me? It can be food, a ritual, a new habit, a workout routine. In any case, do one thing at a time and track the variables that you are interested in (mood, digestion, hunger, weight, blood sugar, muscle mass, sense of peace and connectedness, perceived level of happiness).
My own experiments
For the past few months I have been experimenting a lot. A big reason for that was because I was trying to create harmony of using internal and external wisdom.
Planning your life, your diet, your workouts based on external wisdom (Ayurveda, nutrition theories, functional medicine, etc) requires years of study.
Learning how to use your internal wisdom allows to speed up the process ten fold. It helps to understand your body from the inside out vs outside in. It helps to guide your personal experiments and allows to make much faster conclusions. It reduces time spent feeling confused, like a failure for not sticking with something, guilt and shame for not succeeding. Without internal wisdom, you are just a collector and carrier of a bunch of theories and facts. Using internal wisdom you gain true personal wisdom. You learn what works for YOU, you start recognizing your unique bio individuality, you can really strip away what doesn’t work and keep the things that make you feel at your optimal.
“Experiment your way to your personal truth” is my approach to food and movement and exactly what I teach my clients.
So here is what I’m thinking: I want to help women individually and organize a small retreat 3-5 days, bring all tools that I used to experiment myself and combine it with mindfulness and body awareness techniques.
By the end of the retreat you will know:
– how your genes effect your diet and inclination for certain conditions
– your carb tolerance and foods that help you to balance energy
– your microbiome and what it means for you
– your optimal exercise intensity and when the stress effect of the exercise becomes too much
– your carb, fat, protein ratios
It would be like a cool personalize lab with a ton of experiments and then mindfulness practices.
If you are interested, get on the list so I can get in touch with you, maybe brainstorm retreat content together, and share the details.
Experiment Your Way To Your Personal Truth!
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