Holistic health needs to become the primary focus for optimal well-being. Holistic medicine and holistic health practitioners focus on the whole person and the interconnectedness of everything that is going on with that person.
Conventional health care will often focus on treating the symptoms of a problem, rather than the cause. This may only take in one part of the problem or totally miss the problem altogether.
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Nutrition is one important area of holistic health
The importance of consuming nutrient dense food has been well documented as essential to a healthy lifestyle. It is also becoming increasingly recognized as a crucial focus when it comes to healing the body.
There is no shortage of information on what to eat and when to eat, and there are certainly some polarizing views on the topic, which can make decisions confusing for the average consumer. I think it’s hugely important to eat a nourishing diet, high in essential vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, good fats, and all the rest!
However there is often an overloaded focus on diets or ways of eating with little attention given to the reasons why it may be difficult for you to make changes. Therefore, I believe that holistic health needs to be the focus, rather than constantly focusing on one aspect (i.e. nutrition).
I hear a lot of superficial advice around this such as “your health will suffer if you don’t” or “if you make changes you’ll have more energy”. These are well-meaning pieces of advice but they don’t often help a person to take action or create sustainable change.
You are probably aware that foods such as vegetables and fruits are crucial to a healthy nutrition intake but for some reason or another can find it difficult to put your knowledge into practice. It’s time to consider a holistic health model and start exploring some of the things that might be stopping you from making healthier nutrition choices.
Getting started with a holistic approach to health and wellbeing
A seemingly endless number of health-related products and services are available at our fingertips.
Each one has its own claims. Some tell us we’ll drop ‘X’ inches from our waist in six short weeks. Others state that we’ll gain an extra truckload of energy and look ten years younger. Marketing campaigns remind us of our insecurities or of our desire for a happier and healthier life.
It’s easy to get drawn in and believe that one product or service can be the answer to everything. Many of these products and services are ‘quick fix’ solutions. The reality is however that optimal health is a long-term thing.
It’s not something to be focused on for a few weeks and then forgotten about. It’s a lifestyle principle that requires consistent positive efforts day in and day out. Small, sustainable changes should be an important focus.
Holistic health principles
In order to determine what these changes are, certain principles need to be followed.
- We need to have knowledge, skills, and desire to succeed. Knowledge includes things like understanding healthy food choices. Skills include things like being able to cook or prepare healthy food.
- We need to understand and be able to implement planning and preparation. Action is what results from successfully planning and preparing for a healthy lifestyle.
- Barriers to success must be identified and a strategy should be put in place for when slip-ups occur.
- Support is needed from those around us and we must clearly understand our internal drivers in order to be successful.
- Health should always be personalized. We are all unique and will respond differently to food and exercise. However, the tendency can be to jump on board with whatever our friends are doing and hope it works for us too.
- Health should be approached in a holistic sense. We need to take a look at the relationships between its different parts. These include healthy eating, movement, stress, sleep, thoughts, and relationships.
- We need to be empowered to recognize and take action from signals that our body provides us with.
The 6 lanes of the Holistic Health Highway
My health philosophy, The Holistic Health Highway, encompasses six main areas of health. These six areas can be likened to a highway, where each lane represents a different lane on the highway.
These interdependent parts are completely interwoven and inseparable. What I mean by that, is that when you are out of balance in one area, it can have a significant knock-on effect on all the other areas. On the surface, this can make it hard to see where the root cause of the problem is coming from.
If we look at the highway analogy, it’s a similar situation. A car breaks down or crashes in one lane, and this slows down the smooth running of the traffic in one, two, or maybe even all the other lanes (if it’s a big crash!).
Similarly, if you’re lacking a little in the sleep department, it can affect your nutrition choices, increase stress levels a little, decrease your exercise performance, etc. And when you’re sleep-deprived to the extreme, each other area of health is likely to be affected on a greater level.
A closer look into each holistic wellness lane
Let’s take a closer look at each lane so that you can start to understand a bit about how they are interrelated and can profoundly affect one another.
Sometimes, you might have an “aha” moment where you realize one or more small adjustments that you could make in your life, in order to improve your overall health.
At other times, you might choose to enlist the help of a holistic health coach like me. I can help you to work through the layers of conditioning to really figure out where the root causes of your challenges are coming from. This enables you to get clear about the smallest action points that will make the biggest overall difference to your health.
(By the way, each chapter of my book, “Your Holistic Guide to Burning Fat for Good” covers a different lane of the Holistic Health Highway. You can purchase it on Amazon – kindle or paperback).
So as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, nutrition is important. I just think that an overloaded emphasis is placed on it sometimes, without consideration to the other areas that affect your nutrition choices.
Here I list the six lanes with an explanation of how they could impact your nutrition choices. The six lanes of the Holistic Health Highway are:
If you are not sleeping well it will be highly likely that your body will cry out for quick-fix solutions to help you feel better in the short term. These usually come in the form of highly processed carbohydrate/sugar-rich foods, caffeine, etc.
It is very difficult to ask you to change your nutrition habits if they are you sleeping well. This is mainly due to the hormonal disruptions that occur when you’re lacking in sleep.
Fix the sleep and the nutrition becomes a lot easier to tackle. Start by discovering some of the reasons why you can’t sleep and what to do about it. You also need to be aware of when you should choose sleep over exercise.
This one is closely related to point one because it is the reason that many people are unable to sleep well. Lack of sleep can increase stress and too much stress can result in a lack of sleep.
Both sleep and stress are crucial components of holistic health. Looking at stress reduction techniques is essential for many people. It is also important to understand which types of stress have adverse health effects so you can understand whether this needs to be a focus for you.
Healthy nutrition choices can follow. It will be much easier to focus on this area once you’re feeling rested and relaxed. Try this free, 4-day mindfulness discovery program as one small step you can take towards reducing the amount of stress in your life.
Sometimes long-held beliefs can hold you back from making positive nutrition choices and building healthy habits. For example, you might have the belief that you need to eat all the food on your plate because that’s what your mother has told you from a very young age.
Explore your beliefs and subsequent attitude towards food with a holistic health coach like me, NLP, or EFT practitioner. We can help you work out your personal ‘why’ for improving your health. This holistic health approach will help you identify the strong emotional drivers necessary for change.
Identify whether there are people in your life who are holding you back from making good choices. Perhaps your flatmates always order takeout pizza, which is really difficult to resist when the delicious aromas waft through the house. Or maybe your workplace offers a morning tea shout each day, which is full of cakes and pastries?
In these cases, you may benefit from developing strategies to work around these situations. Ask a professional if you need help.
I’ve put this one down at number 5, not because it’s less important. In my holistic weight loss book I write about it first AND I give it a pretty big “weighting” when it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals.
I put it at number 5 because, aside from nutrition, it’s probably the one you notice the media focusing on the most. Yet if you make some tiny tweaks in one or more of the other areas I’ve listed, you may find your exercise adherence habits fall into place more easily.
When you exercise, it’s highly likely that you’ll release some wonderful endorphins that will make you feel better. You may find that you WANT to fill your body with nutritious food as a result, thereby having a positive knock-on effect to the nutrition lane.
Try my free bodyweight workout download if you’re looking for a simple workout routine to get you started. You don’t need any equipment and there are only 7 exercises. You can choose the progression level that suits where you’re at in terms of strength.
It’s last, but you know it’s not the least. In fact, I do give it the “biggest” weighting in my sustainable weight loss book! But the purpose of this post was to show some ways that other areas of health can really impact your nutrition choices.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put any thought into what you eat. It just means that sometimes, when you make a simple tweak in another area, you may find that you have fewer challenges with nutrition.
If you think that nutrition is the major area you need to focus on right now, then try this FREE guide to crushing your sugar cravings. It’s an introduction to the Cut The Sugar Program, which takes a holistic look at where your cravings are coming from and guides you with simple steps to break free from sugar reliance.
Where to now?
Identify which of the above holistic health areas needs the most attention for you. First consider addressing the one that stands out for you, rather than first obsessing over what you ‘should’ be eating. The food side of things will more easily fall into place once these other areas are looking healthier.
For more holistic health and fitness articles, check out this blog category. You can also get the answers to all my most commonly asked holistic health questions (from healthy eating and exercise to weight loss, sleep, stress, and more).
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