A New View on Nutrition – Week 27

                A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I still don’t have a clue what foods I “should” be eating in order to be healthy. Yes, I know fruits and vegetables… but, to be honest, I don’t really like all that many. Yet, I insisted that I needed to change my diet in order to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Knowing that I need to eat healthy but not being sure exactly what “healthy” means for me, I thought about what I hope to achieve by changing my eating habits. I decided that what I really want to work on are all the symptoms that prompted me to begin this Holistic Challenge in the first place. So I began researching which foods and other natural methods are recommended for each of my particular complaints. I am hoping that combined with trying some other natural suggestions, changing my eating habits will begin to have a positive effect and relieve or ease the following symptoms:

            • Migraines
            • Anxiety/Depression
            • Acne
            • Unwanted hair growth
            • Stained teeth, unhealthy gums
            • Eczema and dry skin, frizzy hair
            • Stomach/GI issues (constipation, diarrhea, irregularity)
            • Anger/irritability/mood swings
            • Pregnancy symptoms – nausea, heartburn
            • Back pain
            • Fatigue, lack of energy
            • Poor appetite and sleep quality
            • Low libido
            • Low attention span

(Yes, I know we’re getting pretty personal here… but c’mon, we’re all human. And really, isn’t that the fun of an online journal anyway – talking about all the nitty gritty details of life with a certain degree of anonymity?)

I started by looking up which foods were best to consume for folks dealing with the above listed symptoms.

Chronic Headaches/Migraines

[  Water

Alternatives*: unsweetened herbal tea or decaf coffee and fat-free or 1% milk
Water rich foods: watermelon, berries, cucumber, melon, soups, oatmeal, tomatoes* and lettuce

[  Salmon

[  Eggs*

[  Olive and canola oils

[  Lean beef*

[  Whole grain fortified cereal

[  Mushrooms

[  Broccoli

[  Spinach

[  Sweet potatoes

[  White potatoes

[  Swiss chard

[  Fresh amaranth

[  Quinoa

[  Almonds*

[  Sunflower seeds, other seeds and legumes

[  Bananas*

[  Avocados

[  Dried apricots

[  Brown rice

[  Whole grains

[  Plain fat-free Greek yogurt*

[  Sesame seeds

*Conflicting opinions argue some foods, such as these, may actually trigger headaches instead of relieving them.

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Practice stress management and relaxation techniques

[  Get plenty of sleep

[  Exercise and stretch daily

[  Pay attention to your body’s alignment (while working, standing, sleeping, etc)

[  Explore manipulative therapies (chiropractor, acupuncture, Reiki, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, a personal trainer, etc)

[  Avoid caffeine, alcohol, dairy, sugar and processed foods.

[  Stay hydrated.

Depression/Anxiety

[  Water

[  Whole grains & seaweed

[  Potatoes

[  Blueberries

[  Acai berries

[  Almonds

[  Pure dark chocolate

[  Maca root (powder)

[  Cheese

[  Peanut butter

[  Nuts

[  Sesame seeds  

[  Oats

[  Milk

[  Poultry

[  Bananas

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Herbal supplements such as kava and passionflower

[  Avoid processed foods, refined grain, sugar, caffeine and alcohol

[  Meditate

[  Exercise

Acne

[  Water

[  Salmon, mackerel and sardines

[  Walnuts, beans, flaxseed oil

[  Nuts

[  Avocado

[  Red grapes

[  Fennel

[  Artichoke

[  Brown rice

[  Garlic

[  Broccoli

[  Alfalfa sprouts

[  Green and herbal tea (burdock root, dandelion greens, milk thistle and red clover)

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Practice relaxation and stress management techniques

[  Stay hydrated

[  May need to avoid dairy

[  Supplement** with apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice

[  Green food supplements** (chlorophyll, spirulina and barley greens)

[  Tea tree or jojoba oil and/or oil cleansing

[  Baking soda, milk of magnesia, aloe applied to skin

[  Herbal steam facial

**Always consult with your health practitioner before using herbs and supplements. 

Unwanted hair growth (Hirsutism)

[  Black cohosh**

[  Saw palmetto**

[  Spearmint and green tea

[  Romaine lettuce

[  Onions

[  Tomatoes

[  Whole grains

[  Potatoes

[  Cinnamon

[  Crimini mushrooms

[  Apricots

[  Sunflower seeds

[  Licorice root

[  Wheat germ

[  Tuna

[  Barley

[  Skinless Chicken

**Always consult with your health practitioner before using herbs and supplements. 

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Plucking

[  Shaving

[  Body Sugaring (Natural Wax)

[  Threading

[  Avoid dairy

Stained teeth, unhealthy gums

[  Pineapples

[  Ginger

[  Carrots

[  Basil

[  Cheese

[  Sesame seeds

[  Skitaki mushrooms

[  Onions

[  Salmon

[  Broccoli

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Avoid coffee, tea & colas

Eczema and dry skin, frizzy hair

[  Salmon

[  Watercress

[  Apples

[  Sweet potatoes

[  Fish roe

[  Carrots

[  Turmeric

[  Red wine

[  Broccoli

[  Red grapes

[  Cherries

[  Citrus fruits

[  Raspberries

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Eliminate food allergens from your diet (can include dairy, corn, eggs, shellfish, wheat (gluten), citrus fruit & food additives and preservatives)

Stomach/GI issues (constipation, diarrhea, irregularity)

[  Water

[  Oat bran

[  Cabbage juice

[  Carrots

[  Lettuce

[  Pears

[  Yogurt

[  Fennel seeds

[  Flaxseed

[  Peppermint

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Eat smaller meals

[  Eat slowly

[  Exercise

[  Practice deep breathing & relaxation techniques

[  Take a hot bath or apply a heating pad or hot compress

[  Drink between meals instead of with them

With each new symptom I researched, I started to realize what this “holistic” journey actually is — an active and conscious process of changing each and every aspect of the way I live. This is more than changing what or how I eat, sleep and work out. It is developing an awareness of the self down to the very core. Physically, this means learning how my body works; it’s discovering what is lacking, where I am overindulging and how to use my strengths to my advantage. I am not any particular symptom; I am a whole person: a body, a mind and a spirit unified. This means there is no special food or fitness routine or relaxation technique that is going to help me with any individual symptom. No. Instead, I need to pay attention to what is going on with me as an entire being and then respond accordingly. Looking up these foods is great, but looking into why they are good for me is even better. I soon began to notice a link between the foods that were being recommended and their particular nutrients and vitamins. I also noted a pattern in the additional suggestions being mentioned for each symptom. Relaxation techniques, yoga and meditation, focusing on hobbies and positivity were all recommended. And one word in particular kept repeating in my search results: stress. While I recognized that I was picking up on a pattern, what I didn’t realize was that I was about to stumble upon a whole new part of my holistic journey…

DISCLAIMER: For informational purposes only. Always consult your health professional before making any lifestyle changes. 

Sources

THE THEORY

First things first: In order to solve a problem, it needs to be addressed at the root… Why does it happen in the first place? I believe that for me, these problems and my responses to them can be attributed to a number of factors:

1.)   Poor health: inadequate nutrition, exercise, sex and sleep

2.)   Poor parenting: witnessing unhealthy coping mechanisms during childhood as well as not being taught healthy & proper ways to experience & express negative feelings

3.)   Traumatic childhood experiences

4.)   Immaturity: my young age, lack of wisdom/knowledge/experience

5.)   Weak spiritual life

6.)   *Possible chemical explanation/genetics: i.e. brain chemistry or hormone imbalance

While I have sought help with this “illness” that resides in me from medical professionals in the past, I have never before taken a “whole person” approach to my health. Instead, I looked to these “experts” to “cure” whatever it was that is ailing me. What I didn’t understand before is that there is no magic cure. It is up to me to improve my health and well-being. In order to achieve a better life, I need to take all of me into consideration. I need to change my entire lifestyle: my thoughts, my words AND my actions. Enlightened with this realization, I began researching holistic healing.

After a bit of studying, I developed a theory: I believe I can lead a balanced, healthy and happy life by using simple, all-natural and smart {cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, modern} methods to treat my mind, body and soul. I believe that by maintaining positive thoughts & words and making positive changes in my lifestyle habits, I will be able to “cure” my body of most, if not all, its ailments without the use of prescription medications.

While I strongly believe a solution like this exists, I am skeptical of many holistic products and services on the market today. My hope is that this project will not only lead me in the direction of true wellness and good health, but that it will also help differentiate between fact and fiction in holistic health and healing for others. In short – I’m looking for natural healing that really works and that anyone can use. I want to learn how to live a healthy life so that I can teach American Dream Makers across the nation that they, too, can live healthy, happy and balanced lives.

*I invite you to follow my journey over the next 6 months in what I am dubbing “The ME Project: A Skeptic’s Search for Holistic Healing” – my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pursuit for health and happiness.