Opt in to Self-Care
I just got back from the National Association of Nutrition Professionals annual conference in San Diego, Calif., and I feel jazzed to pass along what I learned there to my clients and colleagues. NANP is the premier organization for holistic nutrition professionals.
One thing driven home again and again at the conference was how vastly different getting holistic nutrition counseling is from going to a doctor or registered dietitian. What holistic practitioners like myself do is focus on the underlying causes of disease rather than on “symptom relief.” As one of the conference speakers, Reed Davis, put it, holistic practitioners look for “healing opportunities” rather than dispense “treatment.” So, for example, we try to uncover why are you having persistent digestive problems or migraines or whatever your symptom is, rather than just handing you a pill that will mask your pain – and may eventually lead to other health problems.
Of course, many people do indeed just want to mask their pain. After his first meeting with me, one of my clients said on his way out the door, “You know, I was hoping you’d just tell me there was a pill for this.” So many people don’t want to look at how diet or lifestyle is impacting their health. They want a quick fix for the weight they’ve put on … or the acid reflux they’ve had for years … or the anxiety they feel, rather than look at and remedy the underlying problems with their food choices.
But here’s the thing: As Davis put it so well, “You’ve got to opt in to a self-care model or you will be forced into a disease-care model.” In short, if you don’t address the way you’re living – the processed food you’re putting into your body, for example, or your lack of physical movement day after day – the you-know-what is eventually going to hit the fan. You will develop health problems down the road … if you haven’t already.
Your genetic makeup might determine what those problems are, but genes aren’t destiny. Consider, for example, that about 90% of all cases of high blood pressure can be reversed with dietary measures. 90%! Consider the other chronic medical conditions – all of which doctors treat with medication – that can be reversed or managed with lifestyle modifications, like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
What’s one thing you can do today to opt in to self-care? Maybe it’s starting a walking regimen, or getting your bike out of storage. Maybe it’s giving up soda. Maybe it’s checking the nutrition labels to see what’s really in the food products in your pantry… and then tossing a few of them out. Maybe it’s shopping exclusively in the produce and meat departments of the store and steering your cart out of the deadly middle, where all the baked goods, cookies, chips, and other faux-food killers are.
Maybe it’s picking up the phone and calling a holistic nutrition counselor.
Whatever your step is today, I congratulate you for taking it … and for opting in to self-care.