FoOD as THERAPY isn’t a new idea. It actually sounds quite a lot like something Hippocrates might say, you know, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Integrative health & food therapy specialist Christine Dionese of Garden Eats is sharing some of the two fundamentals of food therapy according to her. We love taking a deeper look at the way we’re eating and why. Here’s Christine with the basics on personalizing your approach to healthy eating…
Wondering what food choices will serve your goals for wellness best? Turns out your ancestors and modern science have more in common than you may have realized. Personalized food therapy brings together this connection.
Search the keywords “healthy eating” and a familiar swath of food-buzz-terms will turn up – kale, gluten-free, fermented, sprouted nuts, macrobiotics, raw juices, paleo, vegan, pescetarian… With so many dietary trends and fads, along with all manner of health coaches dispensing advice, it can be daunting to reach the solid conclusion, “so what should I be eating?”
Most nutritional and food-science health experts can agree that the above foodstuffs and dietary types do a fairly decent job at offering a large number of people health-conferring effects.
But, the question still remains: Which ones are right for me, now and later, and how can I determine this?
Taking a healthy eating approach through personalized food therapy helps answer that question. Because we all eventually become what we eat, why not consider this perspective: Who we are dictates what we should be eating!
Many new patients come to me already possessing fairly balanced eating habits. I define “fairly balanced eating habits” as: enough calories from sustainable and organic sources, a diverse seasonal selection and a pro-emotional relationship with food. Some consult reporting health concerns along with these healthy eating habits, while some simply express wanting to amplify their daily routines through food. From here, we consider how food therapy can achieve these goals.
The two principles on which food therapy rests are both subjective and objective:
one: Understand your “constitution” type
Determining your constitution type involves asking questions about your everyday preferences, attributes and patterns. A spleen or earthy constitution type may prefer warm, sweet foods while a liver constitution may thrive with bitter or sour foods.
Typical basic questions to begin determining constitution may include:
– Do you tend to be cold or hot?
– Do sweet or pungent foods make you feel well?
– Does a large meal or small meal work for you?
– Do you tend toward acidic or alkaline foods?
– Does a glass of wine help or hinder your digestion?
– Does caffeine make you feel alert or fatigued?
Sound complicated? It’s not. A well-qualified practitioner with an understanding of constitution types can get you started.
two: Integrate your ancestral & genetic data
What your people ate long ago is likely what you will thrive from eating now. Taking a closer look at where your people came from, if they were nomadic, and what their eating patterns were often reveals a more transparent understanding of why certain health concerns have developed over time and how they can be addressed or reversed.
Thanks to modern epigenetic research we can look at objective, genetic data that measures gut microbiology, digestive processes, methylation, immunology and endocrinology to couple with the constitutional information we gather. Together, this information answers those questions of whether the body wants you to feed it raw foods or cooked foods, meats or vegetables, legumes or fermented foods, bigger or smaller meals and even helps determine a very essential aspect of food therapy: which plant-medicines to incorporate into our foods.
Once this essential information has been acquired, your food choices can be adapted to suit your goals for wellness in the most personalized ways possible. The food therapy approach will amplify your previous healthy eating habits to create foods that are essentially prescriptive. Consider it an eat-for-life philosophy. You’ll still enjoy the comforts and experiences surrounding the foods you love, yet with a renewed sense that they’re contributing to your longevity.