I am just finishing up my first course in holistic nutrition, Orthomolecular Nutrition. Orthomolecular nutrition/medicine is by definition "a form of complementary and alternative medicine which aims to prevent and treat disease with substances which are natural to the body. Prescriptions typically focus on providing nutrients, either through dietary supplements or modified diets which provide proper nutrition and eliminate deleterious substances such as allergens, refined foods, sugar and transfats." And although I find the concept of orthomolecular nutrition and medicine intriging, the book has been a little less than exciting to read.
Finally with only 50 pages or so to go, I ran across some information that I felt like sharing. The chapter is called "How to Find Out If Your Diet Is Normal". The title alone was enough to peak my interest. I always want to know if I am 'normal'. So in order to test your perception of your current health and well-being the author poses some simple questions:
1. Do you have enough energy to do what you want to do or are you suffering from fatigue? Are you tired too much of the time, especially when it is not appropriate to be tired? For instance, other books I have read on related subjects point out that a person should not feel tired around 3pm like many individuals do. I myself have suffered from a mid-afternoon slump in the past. This is often when people go looking for a quick pick-me-up like coffee, sugar, or soda.
2. Is your mood fairly stable, with swings into depression or cheerfulness appropriate to events around you? Would such swings be considered appropriate by other people in similar circumstances?
3. Do you feel well? Or do you have symptoms which indicate you are suffering from any disease? If this is the case you should consult your doctor to try to clear it up. If you do not have any known condition, you should then determine whether you are suffering from one of the many forms of malnutrition, from a defect arising from poor diet, or from a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
The book goes on to discuss what to do if you determine that you "are not well". Since the book is very specific regarding dosage and supplementation recommendations should not be taken out of the context, I will summarize the steps to wellness, but recommend that you consult an expert in this area or research the subject yourself to determine which and how much of a vitamin to add.
1. Eliminate all junk foods from your diet, especially all sugars and foods that you might be allergic to. In many cases an individual either has an idea that a certain food or food group makes them feel bad. One common place to start is dairy since many people are allergic. Try eliminating dairy from your diet and monitor your energy level and mood. If you feel better you may have found a solution, if not try another food like wheat, etc.
2. Add vitamin C to your diet.
3. Add a good B-complex tablet or one of the stress tablets to your diet.
4. For the rest of your life keep reviewing both your diet and the supplements you are taking because requirements change with age, sickness and degree of stress. Pay attention to how you feel and what makes you feel good or bad, energetic or sluggish. According to the book it is necessary to maintain a continual adjustment between your needs and the foods you eat.
5. If you are still not well, you probably have a more serious problem and should consult a specialist.
Having a better understanding of how diet plays such a critical role in not only weight and appearance, but mood and energy level offers even more motivation to stick to a healthy whole foods regimen. I think back to my early twenties when I lived on a sugar and caffeine roller coaster. I remember feeling exhausted in the afternoon and how I would scrounge for sugar only to suffer from a greater dip in enthusiasm when that had worn off. I truly did not feel well most days.
Today, I am much more aware of how I feel after too much sugar, caffeine or just too much food at one meal. This knowledge and awareness of my own body helps me stay on track a bit easier. And, although I know the major downfalls in diet for myself, I may be adding some vitamin C and B complex just to see if a higher level of energy is in my future.
The moral of the story...pay attention to how you feel and ask yourself if you are feeling well every once in a while.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.