Most conversations about taking good care of your body include an emphasis on the food you eat. At the IAWP, we know that our nutrition is a significant foundational part of our wellness practice. Healthy eating is crucial if we want to feel and look the best we possibly can.
Part of our philosophy is the idea that wellness is a holistic practice. We’ve created a system we call Wellness 360, which focuses on every aspect of our lives that contribute to our wellness. Each thing in that wheel we call an element and each element is an important piece of creating wellness in your life. Food is one of the elements in the Wellness 360 wheel.
Healthy Eating & Wellness 360 Food
Talking about the element of Food is important when it comes to wellness for many reasons. First, of course, is that nutrition is one of the hottest topics when it comes to being healthy.
What we eat impacts how we look, how we feel, and how we do a lot of things. It’s also one of the most confusing and ever-changing elements. But it shouldn’t be that hard. When you use the Wellness 360 wheel, Food becomes an element that is more simple than you think.
There are several aspects that make up the element of Wellness 360 Food.
These include things like:
- The specific types of foods that we put into our mouths.
- The amount and quality of the food.
- How we eat that food, such as in a hurry or at a peaceful, slow pace.
- Noticing whether the food gives us energy or makes us feel tired.
- Checking in to see whether the food feels nourishing.
- Paying attention to whether or not the food makes us feel good after eating it.
Healthy Eating Considerations
Our world today is filled with an overwhelming number of things to consider when it comes to food. Everywhere you turn, there’s some new nutrition book, diet expert, or food guru telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat.
You might find yourself wondering who to listen to and what to believe. Should you avoid genetically modified (GMO) foods or do they really matter? Are fats harmful or should you eat more of them? Are vegetables more nutritious when they’re juiced or whole? Should you eat your veggies and fruits raw or cooked? You could spend an entire lifetime wandering through the metaphorical aisles of all the food philosophies out there.
Thankfully, our philosophy of the element of Wellness 360 Food is more simple and profound than just following a set of rules laid out by an expert. It isn’t about diets, counting calories, or depriving ourselves. It’s about finding a path of healthy eating that nourishes you and gives you energy. There are many ways of eating that can be healthy for the human body. It all comes down to finding what actually works for your body and for your lifestyle.
Healthy Eating is as Unique as You Are
Every person on the planet has specific biochemistry, environment, and lifestyle. When combined, we are each quite unique. That means that each diet and nutrition plan out there isn’t good for every person. The food you eat needs to be as unique as you are.
At the IAWP, we support the idea that each person has individual needs and we teach biochemical individuality in our Wellness Coach training. We know that a diet that works for one person might not work for another. There are many factors that influence which foods are best for you as an individual. It’s important to remember this as you venture down the path of finding your own unique healthy eating lifestyle.
Your Body is a Laboratory
When you’re trying to discover the foods that work best for your body, you can think of your body as a laboratory. This is also a helpful concept to use when you’re helping clients determine which healthy eating paths they should take.
Luckily, our bodies are constantly giving us responses to the foods we eat. We can think from an experiment perspective, listening to the signals our bodies are giving us and then adjust our food choices accordingly.
You can recognize these signals by noticing these things in your body:
- Symptoms. Perhaps your tummy feels a bit gassy or you feel the burn of acid after eating.
- Cravings. Maybe you’ve been really craving red meat out of the blue or you just know that a piece of fruit is what you need at that moment.
- Energy levels. After eating, do you feel exhausted? Or maybe the food you ate was perfect for your needs, so suddenly you feel a rush of energy.
Each one of these signals can give us clues about whether what we’re eating is pushing our bodies out of balance or if it was the right food for our needs. They tell us what we should do next in discovering our unique nutritional path toward healthy eating.
Healthy Eating Rules
If you spend any time paying attention to food experts, you’ll notice that there are always a lot of rules. There are rules about what you should be eating and rules about what you should never eat. Experts don’t always agree, either.
These rules are also always changing, leaving us feeling more confused than before. For example, in recent decades food experts were pushing the idea of eating low fat. Now they’ve realized that advice wasn’t healthy and now we’re being told to eat fats again.
When it comes to working with clients, giving them rules may or may not be very helpful. Often, they just need to take the first step toward focusing more on healthy eating. They might just need a little support in understanding what healthy food is at its most basic level.
Helping clients get acquainted with eating whole foods is the best first step on their path toward wellness. There are always special considerations when it comes to health challenges and concerns, as well as goals and circumstances.
Whatever your own nutritional path has become, it’s best to first support clients to get to the first stage of eating a higher quality diet. Advanced eating ideas can be useful conversations in the future, but for now, keep it simple and reduce the overwhelm that is common in the nutrition world.
How to Balance the Food Element
Wellness is a journey of always seeking as much balance as you can achieve in your life. As a Wellness Coach, you get to help others find the strategies that will help them find balanced wellness.
Food is an important aspect to focus on when seeking wellness balance. So how to do you balance the Food element of the Wellness 360 wheel?
Here are a few ideas to help you get started in finding the balance for your Food element.
1. Let go of rules for a day.
If you’ve spent years in “diet” mode, you might not even remember what it feels like to tune into your body instead of obsessing over charts. When you let go of the rules, what happens? What does your body crave and what is your mind telling you that you “should” eat?
2. Experiment with new foods.
Sometimes the foods we’ve been telling ourselves is best for our body isn’t the whole picture. Branch out and try something new. You might find yourself opening up to a whole new way of viewing your nutrition and healthy eating path.
3. Do a Wellness 360 check.
Take a look at the Wellness 360 wheel and think about how other elements in the wheel might be impacting what you’re eating. Is stress in other parts of your life causing you to feel cravings for unhealthy foods? Do you find that you are emotionally eating or undereating? What other things do you need to take care of so you can eat with more intention and balance again?
4. Keep a food journal.
This can be simple and non-scientific. Just briefly write down what you ate, how it made you feel, and any cravings you might have had. After a while, you’ll be able to notice a pattern and make some changes based on what you see.
IAWP Student Feature
IAWP Certified Wellness Coach Danielle Luipersbeck recommends logging your food choices to keep you mindful and on track. “Many times we eat mindlessly during the day while doing other activities. We don’t even realize when we’ve consumed calories and we end up stepping on the scale wondering where it all went wrong. You may find through your logs that late night snacking is your biggest challenge. When you understand your trigger areas, you can better address one behavior at a time.” Danielle teaches her Wellness Coaching clients to be mindful about food using Wellness 360 to help guide them.
Healthy Eating Practice for Life
The journey toward healthy eating isn’t a simple overnight experience. Part of tuning into your body is the understanding that you’ll need to make changes throughout your lifetime. What works now may not be what your body needs in the future. The practice of balancing your Food element is a lifelong process.
Begin to see your body as your friend and to work collaboratively with it to achieve the wellness you deserve. When working with clients, it’s transformative to help them learn to tune in, listen, and adjust as needed.
Are you ready to help others transform their relationships with food? Learn more about becoming an IAWP Holistic Health & Wellness Coach by clicking here.