By Heather Woodruff, CNP RNCP
Certified Nutritional Practitioner & Digestion Guru
Nutrition is a journey. This is something I say to almost every client I see or during each talk I give. As with most people, I had my own personal nutrition journey that began over five years ago. For years I suffered from a condition called Interstitial Cystitis which is an inflammatory condition of the bladder. After multiple appointments with an urologist resulting in numerous tests and two surgeries, I was told that it was just something I was going to have to learn to live with. The only diet components mentioned to me were to decrease my consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol which I found to provide no significant improvement.
Shortly afterwards, I began seeing a wonderful Naturopathic Doctor regarding some digestive issues I was having. She began to talk me through the concept of a whole foods diet and explained how a number of the foods I ate which I had presumed were healthy (cereal, flavoured yogurt, crackers, etc.) were actually quite processed and full of inflammatory chemical additives. She recommended the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon to me, and so began my journey. I slowly started transitioning to a whole foods diet one recipe at a time.
I was shocked to find that not only did my digestive issues resolve themselves, but my painful bladder symptoms substantially decreased as well! The whole foods diet rich in vegetables, fruits, quality proteins, whole grains and healthy fats seemed to put my whole body back into balance. There was no one magic supplement, medication or even superfood that drastically improved my health… it was turning nutrition into a lifestyle choice. See the full details of how I truly turned my digestion around in this FREE ebook: 6 Ways to Beat Bloating.
What is a whole foods diet?
A whole foods diet consists primarily of foods that, if you were so inclined, you could grow, raise, harvest or hunt yourself. By no means does this mean that everyone needs to be growing and hunting their own food, but it is a concept to have in mind when making optimal food choices. Foods in their whole, non-processed form come complete with all the components we need to digest them, absorb what we need and eliminate what we do not. Our bodies recognize these foods and easily know what to do with them.
Let’s take butter for an example. If I were so inclined I could get some milk from a local farm, churn it and make myself some butter. It may take me a really long time, but it is possible. Therefore, I feel comfortable buying local, grass fed butter. Margarine on the other hand involves a large amount of science. There is absolutely no way I could make margarine in my own kitchen, consequently, I choose not to purchase it.
How to get started?
My journey began with the goal of one new recipe made from scratch every week. At that time I was eating a lot of grocery store purchased granola bars. It said organic and all natural on the packaging so I had assumed it was healthy. Unfortunately they contained a high amount of sugar and a number of ingredients that I could not even pronounce. If you do not understand something on the label how can we expect our body to know what to do with it? So I learned how to make my own granola bars and continue, to this day, to make a new batch each week, tweaking the ingredients each time to suit my mood and the season.
Eventually, over time I started compiling whole food based recipes I loved and began making them throughout the week until they eventually crowded out most of my other less than optimal choices. This did not happen overnight; it took time, trial and error and determination. I learned to be patient with myself, as well as with my body while it healed.
The biggest gift I received from going through this process was empowerment; I learned that I could take my health into my own hands and have control over my wellbeing, and so can you!