Your food is your medicine
Food is such an important part of life on many levels. Food not only provides your body the energy and nutrients it needs to stay alive, it has been a centerpiece for human social interaction for thousands of years. Recently, people in the United States have lost their relationship with their food. We don’t know where it comes from, we don’t know what is in it, we do not prepare it ourselves, and we are often eating it behind the wheel of our cars instead of around the dinner table with our families. The Standard American Diet, aptly abbreviated "SAD," is high in processed foods, unhealthy fats, simple carbohydrates and sugar, all of which have virtually zero nutritional benefits. Chemical additives and artificial flavorings are also prevalent, so it is easy to see how all of these factors can lead to a multitude of disorders.
The naturopathic approach
Your body requires a certain amount of calories, proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, and fiber to maintain a high level of health and prevent future disease. As no two people are the same, you need a dietary plan specifically tailored to your needs. Here at SCNM, we will get to know what your body needs so we can develop an ideal nutrition plan.
Because food provides your body with what it needs to function, an imbalanced or inadequate diet can lead to all sorts of issues within your body. Research shows that obesity leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and numerous other serious conditions, but poor nutrition can wreak havoc on your health even if you are not obese or overweight. An unhealthy diet can contribute to fatigue, autoimmune disease, anemia, emotional problems, and many other issues. At a typical doctor’s visit, a person may be assumed to be healthy nutritionally based on falling into the healthy range of the Body Mass Index (BMI), and therefore nutrition is not discussed in detail. Naturopathic doctors know that there is much more to a healthy body than a simple number on a generalized scale such as BMI, which is more for general population trends and not a great indicator of whether a particular individual is healthy.
A personalized plan
Naturopathic physicians can provide you with a variety of dietary options. Some patients may benefit from a plant-based food diet, while others will see results from a plan that focuses on healthy sources of meat and fats such as a moderate protein, low carb diet. There is no “one-size-fits-all” nutritional plan, so your physician will work with you to develop a menu that optimizes your body’s health and that you can stick to long term. One of the ways a naturopathic doctor can personalize your nutrition plan is by running a food sensitivity test. This testing helps to determine which foods are triggering an immune response in your body. Your physician will then factor this in when designing your specialized plan so you will not be consuming the foods that produce negative reactions.
We are here to answer your questions
Even after learning which foods to eat and which to avoid, patients often have further questions about implementing a new nutrition plan. Are organic and gluten free foods always healthy? What are some healthy meals I can make for my family while on a budget? How do I eat on the go while following a healthy nutrition plan? How do I pick healthy supplements? Let’s look at some answers to these frequent questions.
Organic and gluten free: always the right choice?
Organic vegetables, meats, and dairy are good purchases, as they do not contain the additives, hormones, and pesticides of non-organic versions. With this being said, be wary of packaged foods labeled as organic. It is easy to see when walking through the grocery store that foods with these labels are typically much more expensive, but they aren't always worth the extra money. The truth is that many of these foods still are quite unhealthy, but the marketing departments across the food industry apply these labels to attract customers. In the case of organic foods, the food item itself may just be outright bad for you whether it is organic or not. For example, you can buy organic boxed macaroni and cheese as well as organic ice cream. When it comes down to it, items with organic “raw sugar” still contain a lot of sugar (shocking!), and sugar is a major culprit behind weight gain.
The same applies to gluten free foods, which can be filled with added sugar and unhealthy fats such as vegetable and canola oil. These ingredients are gluten free, but are nonetheless still bad for you. Don’t be fooled by labels, be sure to examine the nutrition facts before purchasing groceries to make sure items are truly in line with your dietary plan.
Eating healthy for less
It is a common misconception that eating healthy means spending a lot of money. The truth is that eating well can save you money on both your food budget and your healthcare bills.
Here are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank:
- Buy fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market. Buying directly from the source will cut out the price hikes imposed by the supermarket and the produce will taste better. If you are buying at the supermarket, look for produce that is in season, it will be cheaper.
- Prepare your lunches at home all at once. Cooking a large amount of healthy protein and veggies at once and then packaging for the work/school week will guarantee you have a healthy lunch ready and keep you from spending money eating out.
- Buy sweet potatoes/yams. Sweet potatoes are an inexpensive form of healthy carbohydrates that are easy to cook in bulk and simple to reheat. On average, the price of a pound of sweet potato is about the same as the cost of one bagel at the grocery store, with significantly more nutritional value.
- Don’t eat out often. Cooking at home will allow you to control the ingredients you use so your meal will align with your nutrition plan. It will also be significantly less expensive than eating at a restaurant, especially if you are feeding a family.
- Ditch the junk and packaged foods. Junk food is often expensive, especially when you look at the ratio of cost to nutritional value. You are getting zero return on your investment when it comes to your health when you purchase junk food. Also, avoid prepackaged foods to save money. It won’t kill you to chop your own veggies and grate your own cheese!
How to eat well when travelling, at a restaurant, or in a rush
In today’s society, it is common to make poor nutritional choices due to work and family obligations. “I have to rush the kids to practice, guess I’ll get fast food on the way” or “I’m entertaining clients, looks like it will be a long night of unhealthy eating and drinking” are probably thoughts you have had in one form or another. Sometimes life happens and you eat a meal that does not follow your nutrition plan. We understand this, it happens to everyone! The key is to limit the number of these situations with a little planning.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Keep healthy snacks in your car/desk. If you have a healthy snack available to tide you over until you can have a proper full sized meal, you won’t be as tempted to resort to fast food or vending machine items. Fruits and vegetables, nuts, and organic beef jerky are good options, or you can use a small cooler for things such as Greek yogurt.
- Be smart at restaurants. You can often look up the menu of a restaurant online ahead of time so you can get an idea of what they offer. Despite what your parents may have taught you, you don’t need to clean your plate; restaurant portions (especially in the United States) are really oversized. It is also a good idea to get any sauces or dressings on the side, as they are typically not good for you.
- Easy on the booze. It may be tempting to enjoy a few drinks while at a company event or to try the new special (sugar loaded) margarita at your favorite restaurant, but alcohol has a negative effect on your weight as well as other functions of your body. Keep your intake to a minimum, and when you do partake, it is best to stick to clear liquor with a non-sugary mixer or a glass of wine.
There are a lot of supplements on the market today, some of which are not healthy or natural. The SCNM Medicinary is the largest medicinary in the Southwest and our knowledgeable staff is here to assist you in finding the proper dietary supplements. Stop by to learn how natural supplementation can help you on your quest for a healthier diet.
We have excellent recipes for you to try out, some of which have been provided by our own students, physicians, and staff. We look forward to adding more recipes in the future. Click below and start cooking!
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The physicians at SCNM are equipped to provide you with nutrition goals for general wellness, weight loss, or specific conditions. Different health conditions can signify nutritional deficiencies or intolerances that we will address with dietary changes and focused nutritional supplementation. Your food will be your medicine and you can get healthier with every meal.
A healthy diet and nutritional program can prevent and/or reverse many disease processes. Feed your body what it needs and enjoy a healthy you!