A Guide to Eating for Natural Health and Wellness
“What should I eat, doc?” Patients often ask me, many of them suffer pain, sleep, weight, heart, digestion problems. People are increasing looking to diet as a way to improve their health, and they are on the right track.
“That depends on your your digestive capability and your health status” is my usual first answer. “Can your gut handle what you put down your gullet?”
Your gut is the source of your whole body health, and your mouth is the admission to your gut. Healthy use of the mouth is where natural health starts.
Food Intolerance is a useful article by Lawrence Wilson, MD, for people who have signs of digestive insufficiency suggested such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, skin itches or rashes, heart burns, reflux, gas, bad breath or body odor, and dark circles under eyes and more. Click here for the full article.
There is no one diet to fit everyone at every stage of life. Meats and vegetables have their places in disease and in health. What is appropriate during growth years may not be for the golden years, and what works before may not after menopause. One thing is certain: you cannot keep eating like a teenager once you get to middle age and beyond.
If your body does NOT react with symptoms listed in Dr. Wilson’s article, then paying attention to HOW to eat can make a big difference in terms of losing weight and maintaining health. That’s why this Guide was prepared.
If your body reacts with symptoms after eating, you need to consult a medical or nutritional professional for food intolerance testing and dietary advice. Once “what to eat” is professionally established to counter-balance your health issues, then it can work synergistically with this Guide on HOW to eat for natural health and wellness.
For starters, ask yourself: what is your purpose of eating? Do you live to eat, or eat to live? Should you eat for pleasure now and pay later, or eat “health food” without enjoyment at all?
I suggest that we eat to feed hunger and to provide energy and nutrients for the body to run and renew itself. That means eating quality foods in wide variety and in smaller quantity consciously. Eating too much of quality foods is as damaging as eating the wrong foods.
All too often, however, people grab whatever that’s convenient, eat on the go, and eat to stuff themselves. Studies have shown eating fast leads to faster weight gain. People also eat unconsciously to feed sugar and fats addictions, to relieve frustration and to “feel better”. The result over time is weight gain, potbelly, fatigue, illness, and higher insurance costs.
Once you are clear on the purpose of eating, the next key is to get in touch with your body while you eat. Disconnected eating leads to overeating, while conscious eating leads to satisfaction instead of “Oh my stomach!” at the end of eating, and more health over disease over time. Here are my suggestions on the how to eat for natural health and wellness:
- Consciously feel for ENOUGH while you eat. This takes a bit of practice and “de-programming” from old habits at first. Slow down your chewing and connect your mouth with your stomach. Listen and feel for ENOUGH. Your body will tell you.
- Know how many bites and swallows is enough to satisfy hunger — you’d be surprised how much you overeat, and how often. Sometimes 3-5 swallows of the right foods are enough. Then challenge yourself if you can be satisfied with ENOUGH.
- Eat mostly vegetables (cooked and raw) as staple covering half of your plate, with potatoes and grains and wild-caught fish and pasture-raised meat as sides. This is a reversal of the usual picture of Big Meat as centerpiece with vegetable garnish. Try it a few times while practicing steps 1 and 2. You will not only live, you will live lighter and healthier. Steps 1-2-3 are the keys to reverse suffering and prevent diseases.
- Eat with a mission — to nurture rather than to trash your health
- Chew slowly and thoroughly, until the food is pulpy, before swallowing. Once of my patients with full dentures once said, “There are no teeth down in the gut, you know.”
- Feel the food’s texture and built-in flavor.
- Drop all thoughts of work and stress and focus on feeding your heart, brain, gut, etc. Watch animals eat. They never multi-task when they are feeding.
- Feel Thankful and Loving. Turn off TV and turn on relaxing music to dial up the digestive juices.
- Pause halfway into your portion, then sit and smile for 5 minutes before feeling for hunger or satiety. Check in and pause, ask yourself: “What am I feeling? Am I satisfied? Have I reached ENOUGH?”
- Half an hour after you are done eating, check for bloating, sleepiness, sneezing, or faster pulse rate. If you do, make a list of what’s on your plate and consult a medical or nutritional professional.
- Expand variety: macrobiotic, raw, juicing, green smoothies. Take your belly on a global cuisine tour. Experience the world by mouth — isn’t that fun?! Eating the same foods all the time can lead to sensitivity or intolerance to them.
- Add color and flavor with spices and herbs: curry, tumeric, vinegar, ginger, scallion, garlic, instead of ketchup, ketchup, and ketchup.
- Eat foods you prepare at home as much as possible — it saves money, and you know the ingredients for sure if you wish to avoid process foods, pesticides, preservatives, plasticisers, excito-toxins, endocrine disruptors, etc. Yes, that takes time and pots and dishes. Consider the time spent on home cooking as investment in your natural health.
- Choose a Wellness Buddy to practice with once a day, or meet weekly to review.
- For people with food sensitivity symptoms, you can help your own cause by: (1) making a list of what’s on your plate before you start eating; (2) Count your pulse for one minute before you start eating; (3) Count your pulse for one minute 20-30 minute after eating; (4) A difference of 4 -8 means mild food sensitivity; (5) 8 or more beats per minute difference means severe food sensitivity.
Through my teens and my thirties, I could eat anything and everything on the table without suffering any adverse effects. I had no idea about saturated or trans fats. I ate all the ice cream I wanted and did not gain any weight because I was always active. Naturally, that did not last.
Start by asking: is your health on the downhill slide, and how is your digestive capability?
If I could start over knowing what I now know, I’d eat more judiciously, like a Chinese peasant or Okinawan fisherman: a mostly plant-based diet that includes raw and fermented vegetables, lean quality protein (the size of your palm per day), and limited sugar and saturated fats. It is best to consult with a medical or nutritional professional.
Many of my patients come with chronic medical conditions such as fatigue, joint pain, allergies, auto-immune disease, heart conditions. These conditions are easier to reverse if your digestive capability is intact. That means you do not suffer indigestion, bloating, gas, constipation, nor have smelly or floating stools. If you do, then it is imperative to consult a medical and/or nutritional professional on what to eat to rebuild your digestive capability so you can benefit rather than deteriorating from eating.