I had a realization yesterday while listening to my Integrative Nutrition lecture. I had a completely blond moment (no, I’m not actually blond…at all), in which I realized how the word “integrative” applies to this program and to a healthy lifestyle in general.
in·te·gra·tive play_w2(“I0176900”) (nt-grtv) (source)
My epiphany: integrative nutrition means that one has the freedom to choose whatever dietary theory they want, whenever they want. If I want to follow the daily cycles of Ayurveda, while eating a paleo breakfast, a vegan lunch and fasting through dinner, I can do it! It’s the integration that keeps our bodies guessing and the variety of foods that we choose that keep our bodies nourished and satisfied.
The Integrative Nutrition program encourages its students to experiment with different dietary theories and ways of eating. I have just now gotten used to trying new diet things. In the past, experimenting with my diet has been a major source of stress. I felt like, in this crazy world, my diet was all that I had control over and experimenting, which I equated to relinquishing control, was not my style. I wasn’t comfortable eating new, different foods: what if they didn’t work for me?
In my learning, there have been a few diets/lifestyles that have stuck with me. I wanted to share what aspects of each that I’ve incorporated into my own diet.
The Primal Blueprint
The Primal diet promotes eating foods our paleolithic ancestors in the manner in which they might have eaten them (large meals followed by periods of fasting).
All of the foods that I eat fall under this lifestyle: vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, fish, nuts and eggs. I don’t necessarily eat in the same manner as a caveman, but I do try to eat the same food as he might have eaten.
One thing that Macrobiotics promotes is eating seasonal, local foods– or at least eating food that can be found in the climate where you live. Andrea Beaman, author, health counselor and chef, gave a great example of this in one of her IIN talks. If I’m not mistake, she explained how an Inuit living in Alaska would benefit much more from eating a diet high in protein and fat, than a diet of mangos and coconut. His body would thrive on the food available to him in Alaska. If, however, he moved to Jamaica, he would need to change his eating behavior: he would be less healthy (according to macrobiotics) eating a ton of heavy protein and fat, without taking advantage of the tropical fruits available in that climate.
I still eat coconut and fruits that are not found in Massachusetts, because they are delicious and nutritious. However, I eat tend to eat less mangoes and papayas and more apples and blueberries, which are found in abundance in the northeast.
The Raw Diet
The raw, or living food diet, is exactly what it sounds like: one eats only raw foods that have been prepared under 118 degrees F. Raw foodists believe that cooking vegetables depletes them of valuable enzymes that aid our digestion and promote longevity.
I don’t really like cooked vegetables, so many of the raw food recipes appeal to me. Another aspect of this diet that I’ve tried to adopt is supplementing my diet with Superfoods, such as cacao, goji berries and spirulina.
Ayurveda is another one of those ancient ways of living that focuses on finding balance. Ayurveda is very much based on cycles found in nature, including a daily cycle, called Dincharya, and the cycle of the seasons.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been keeping the daily routine of Ayurveda in mind. Those who practice Ayurveda eat three meals a day with no snacks. According to the daily cycles, the best time to eat is between 10am and 2pm: this is when the digestion is the best. Thus, lunch is the largest meal of the day. Breakfast is meant to hold you over until lunch, and dinner is a small supplemental meal that is meant to hold you over until bed.
In summary, it’s taken me a lot of experimenting and playing around with different ways of eating to find something that I’m completely comfortable with and that works for me. Plus, it’s much more fun to have the freedom to eat however you want whenever you want than to follow a strict diet. I’ve found that the more freedom I give myself, the more likely I am to stick with something for the long haul.
With what different dietary theories do you identify? Are you the type who experiments with their diet often?