Why is the modality of ‘Nutrition’ so popular?
This may seem like a strange question, but I think it’s worth not assuming something has value solely based on it’s popularity.
In the health realm it’s clearly dominant as a topic. It occupies practitioners, qualifications, courses, authors, books, websites, online programs, daily conversations, opinions, research, institutions etc.
There are many reasons why it is valuable and we’ll cover some of the most important ones here.
But we’ll also consider some of the limitations of ‘Nutrition’ as a modality to help achieve our health and performance goals.
These are the reasons why it ‘fails’ for some folks.
Let’s start with some of the reasons why nutrition is often at the Forefront of approaches to optimising vitality:
– It has a ‘Causal Influence’. Our approach to what we eat will have an impact on our function. Yes, this may seem obvious, but there are many people just following diets or changing their diets because they have been told to or feel that’s what you’re supposed to do and have no real connection to the role nutrition is really playing in their life.
That’s an enormous amount of resources (time, money, energy) that could be more wisely invested.
I’ve had clients where they’ve never considered that the chronic health challenges they have could be related to the food they eat. It’s never come up in their Doctor’s appointments yet. Or they haven’t considered the link or questioned the connection yet.
So it’s great when we can start to connect the dots and begin to see cause and effect with more clarity.
Simply put, we eat food every day and these choices can contribute to how we function and our experience of wellbeing.
– Secondly – Solutions. Similar to above – when we do have some health challenges, our approach to food and nutrition is one of the most useful tools in the toolbox that we have.
The potential to enhance the function of all areas of the body is there. There are numerous variables and factors regarding nutrition (type, frequency, quality, combinations, etc, etc).
Many nuances. This just means there are a lot of factors to leverage. To fine tune and tweak.
It may not be the only tool to solve all challenges for everyone. But can you squeeze the potential on your quest to achieving your goals?
– Accessibility. I think this is overlooked in accounting for ‘nutrition’s’ popularity as a modality. Even if something has great impact as a solution, if it’s just not accessible, practical, logistical and applicable in the real world then it just won’t be that popular.
Nutrition is such a vast topic with so many nuances, factors and variables to it. This means that there is always something that we can change, tweak and fine-tune about it. There are always options and ultimately these are predominantly fairly simple, easy and quick steps to apply.
Of course it can be complex and all steps will require some effort and attention – but we fundamentally can all adjust our approach to food and go through a process of finding what works best for us.
You don’t specifically need to have studied or researched nutrition or have many gadgets to be able to try something different.
On the contrary – we have countless people coming to us who have studied all the different diets and nutritional science – yet they have been unable to find something that works for themselves as an individual.
At it’s core, nutrition is based on very simple principles.
– That brings us to another consideration in that this is a ‘Dynamic Process’. In our experience at the Functional Health Clinic, this has rarely been embraced to it’s full potential.
If there truly were a one-size-fits-all diet for us all and the conventional prescriptive and dogmatic approach of this is ‘healthy’ and this is ‘unhealthy’ – then on one hand that would be much simpler and would solve many challenges.
However, given that this is fundamentally erroneous, what we can do to really squeeze the potential out of nutrition is to engage in the process.
Unless you prefer looking for a needle in a haystack, where the needle doesn’t even exist! I urge you to acknowledge the reality that identifying what nourishes you as an individual human being is simply one of the skills to master throughout our lifetime.
It’s not something we get a qualification for and then have ‘aced’ it.
The resources (foods) exist and the feedback mechanism (our body) is in place. We have all we need to move and progress our approach to nutrition towards our own individual needs.
Identify what works for you and do it more.
Identify what doesn’t work for you and do it less.
Monitor as you go!
Yet – it’s often perceived that this one strategy of what we eat will be the ‘cure’ for all scenarios.
Putting it on the Pedestal like this will typically lead to the downfall. There’ll likely be the frustration of trying ‘everything’ within the realm of nutrition to solve the health challenges, with little success and progress. This can be because the focus is solely on something that really isn’t the crux or driver of the dysfunction.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable to have focussed on nutrition – it just means that it may not have the capacity to deliver results proportional to the level of time, effort and energy you have put in.
In some ways, having infatuated with it as an authority on health and elevating it above other options, will have been quite a distraction. A distraction from being able to consider different causes, strategies, assessments and questions to ask.
What if the driver or cause of the health challenge is structural or physical, which no amount of nutritional tweaks will significantly impact? What if it is related to a behaviour, a routine, or an environmental or toxic exposure?
Why would we put expectations on Nutrition to solve this?
But we see this time and time again, throughout the industry and people’s experiences.
At the Functional Health Clinic we prefer to ground the modality of Nutrition. Acknowledge the benefits and drawbacks. The advantages alongside it’s disadvantages.
This creates focus. A flow. Its efficient and calm. Graceful. Unwavering in embracing the support and solving the challenges along the way
One-Size-Fits-All. This is almost a guaranteed scenario if there is already an imbalanced perception of the role and capacity of nutrition as described above.
All considerations of the individual are out the window. This diet will fix this and that diet will fix that. In an attempt for black or white answers, t he focus is purely on the external make-up of a particular diet.
Unfortunately this doesn’t work. Even a basic understanding of some physics and statistical principles teach us this and humble us if necessary!
So why is the Nutrition industry, its training and programs full of the many guises of a one-size-fits-all? Most likely because it appears simpler and can be more conveniently packaged.
Each and every diet can also be backed up by some research and theories too. This is usually because there is validity to how they can work. The information provided to demonstrate why a particular diet works is indeed valid and true.
They will work for some people.
It’s not really the ‘what’ is in the diet and defines whether it is going to be effective. It’s also about the why and the how.
But the potential benefits of a particular diet are just half the story.
It’s the other part. The acknowledgement of the disadvantages and limitations of the diet. Who it doesn’t work for. The reasons why it doesn’t always work. How to identify whether the steps would be appropriate for an individual. How to tweak it towards your own needs. How to integrate it for the best possible outcomes and results.
This is the guidance, advice, research, references and information that is often left out.
Consider that the absolute diet that works best for any one person, is likely a mix and combination of the strategies and mechanisms and approaches that exist.
They just aren’t so neatly packaged.
Success comes from identifying which valuable steps you can pluck from the different resources out there and apply them in your life.
Raise an eyebrow, query and put a question mark next time you come across the dogmatic nutritional claims and statements. Whenever there is a level of judgement of right/wrong, should/shouldn’t etc – pause and consider whether you have true informed choice and a balance of information, before you make your decision.
Don’t be fooled into thinking and perceiving that this is more complicated, time consuming or costly. We’ve worked with too many people who have learnt this the hard way, over decades and (tens of) thousands of pounds/dollars later!
If you understand these principles, you’ll see the simplicity and congruence of what you’re able to do with your approach to individualising nutrition.
Here’s a brief overview of the focus and approach we have at the Functional Health Clinic. Whichever the modality or strategy we are applying, whether that is Nutrition, Bodywork, Movement or Functional Medicine, we like to be fully aware of both the potential advantages and disadvantages. The reasons for it being a valuable tool towards success and the reasons why it could even present challenges.
Grounded and Balanced Information
If you have only one side of the information on a given topic or step, then it’s imbalanced. A skew. Ultimately this creates an opinion and judgement as to whether it is right or wrong or good or bad. All this really does is increase the risk of not attaining the goal.
Where ‘health’ is concerned (and any other area of life) – it’s a pretty quick way of being a ball in a pinball machine, chaotically bouncing from step to step, opinion to opinion, progress and failure, ups and downs etc. It’s rarely that effective and is very inefficient.
So – here we have a high value on coaching with informed choice and a balance of information.
This creates a more grounded approach and position for all the decision making and process of solving chronic health challenges and enhancing vitality.
Attending to the Why and How before focussing too much on the What will help with this.
It’s also an achievable and quite simple step for anyone to take, whether you are working with a coach or not.
You definitely don’t need to be an ‘expert’ or researcher studying the topic for years to ensure you have a more grounded, calmer, focussed and progressive approach to health. And in this case, Nutrition.
Mostly, all that is required is an appreciation and even a basic ‘scratch of the surface’ to create a greater and more balanced perception of the topic or situation.
You may even be surprised that some of the things you believed could ‘do no harm, could only work, were a cure-all’ – may actually create the opposite outcome! The infatuation will find a way of being humbled.
Furthermore – could some of the things defined as ‘never going to work, bad-for-you, wrong, unhealthy’, actually be able to help? Ruled out as bad, yet full of potential and ready to help you progress.
Simplicity before Complexity
Ok – let’s keep this very simple. In all realms of human health and function there is the capacity to delve deeper. Embrace the complexity of it all. And yes absolutely, as appropriate, investigate further and ask all the questions necessary to fully empower that area.
Afterall – if we are disempowered in an area, we simply haven’t asked enough of the congruent questions yet.
In the meantime – embrace simple principles and apply simple steps
Build from there.
Step-Wise and Process Driven
Let’s keep this simple too. In some ways we have two choices of approach.
Firstly (not my favourite) – a chaotic, random, one-size-fits-all, hit-and-hope, all-or-nothing, imbalanced, ungrounded hope that we find the miracle cure as we pinball around the guessing game of what will work!!
We’re really selling that one aren’t we?
Or – we acknowledge that we just don’t have the crystal ball, cannot see into the future and cannot predict the outcomes and responses of the steps we put in place.
In this situation we really have one choice if we want to learn and master our individuality and what it is that will help us achieve our health goals.
We can chose to take it step by step. Engage in a process, where each step you take will create feedback and enable you to understand your needs and solutions one piece of the puzzle at a time.
In this way you cannot avoid progress.
You’ll find out what works. You’ll find out what doesn’t.
Just like any other approach you could otherwise take. Yet, when going through this process you’ll actually progress, instead of going round in circles, or spiralling away from your goals.
Going round in circles – is pure congestion. Stagnation. And it still takes all of your resources, time, energy, education and money.
Spiralling away from your goals – well that’s an impressive ability to actually create a deficit from all this effort. We’ve all done that before too!
So – why not add a purposeful direction and vector to that investment?
Why not embrace the cyclic nature of the process. Turn the circles into spirals. Learn from each step and action. Appreciate the feedback and response. Adjust, fine-tune and create something new. Create a direction. Spiral towards your goals.
Individuality and Assessment
We prefer to avoid mystery and build mastery. Avoid guessing and start assessing. Reduce confusion and promote clarity.
It’s quite staggering how much of the health ‘space’ is filled with many, many solutions and strategies.
But – the value of these steps can only really be measured in each individual context.
There’s no shortage of steps you could take, so how do you choose what to prioritise and focus on?
Or simply begin to assess. There are numerous ways to assess our needs and there’s always more we can find out.
That’s what ensures an approach to nutrition can be supported by insight and always dynamic as you solve challenge after challenge.
There’s no one diet for everyone. Stay focussed on your individuality.
Integrate your Nutrition
You’ll rarely get caught-out if you are grounded in your approach to Nutrition. If you can acknowledge that Nutrition may have a powerful role for you in achieving your health goals – But there may also be some additional modalities and areas that could be just as or even more impactful.
In essence can you squeeze the value out of ‘Nutrition’, then move on and integrate?
Don’t just ask questions, run assessments and apply steps for nutrition.
There’s no medal for following a diet. It’s irrelevant in comparison to effectively moving towards your health goals.
What else could be a driver? What other pieces of the puzzle have you not considered and put in place?
As humans, we are Psychological, Physical and Physiological beings. They are all connected.
Even describing these as three factors doesn’t do their integration justice. What if your symptom or health challenge is linked to something that nutrition won’t be able to significantly influence?
Open up to the possibilities and you’ll become highly efficient and a true expert in your own Individual Nutrition.
Let us know if we can help with your health goals and approach to Nutrition.