Nutrition is complex. As humans, we have spent a great deal of time trying to put different aspects of nutrition into clean, simple boxes in an effort to help people understand these complexities. Unfortunately, this often means we are getting information that is just plain wrong for us. You are unique -just like everybody else and this means that you need to consider what nutrition is best for you…which is usually not the same for anyone else.
Here are 3 essential truths about nutrition and bio-individuality that you need to understand in order to find nutrition strategies that are most advantageous for you:
Truth #1: Nutrition is Personal
Nutrition is very very personal not just in terms of how we think about nutrition, but also about how food affects us. Food doesn’t feed everyone equally.
This statement seems pretty obvious and we know this, yet we tend to kind of abandon this wisdom to follow things like nutritional guidelines or someone’s weight loss plan or someone’s nutritional protocol for X, Y, or Z.
Food does not feed everyone equally because you and I are so biochemically diverse. Our gut microbiomes are all so different, our metabolisms are different, we have different genetic makeups, the list goes on. There are so many factors that make us very very unique and the way we deal with food and nutrition needs to reflect this truth.
You’ve heard statements like, “One person’s food is another man’s poison.” Or little rhymes like, “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean.” In our culture, we know these kinds of things have been around for centuries. Deep down we understand that we cannot eat the same things and expect the same results. Yet we do this all the time and it is amplified by social media.
I love this idea that food should be our medicine ~ “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” It’s a nice idea but what is medicine? Medicine is something that we use to treat some sort of specific disease. So for example, if your disease is dysfunction in the gut, then maybe eating a raw salad filled with the entire rainbow of colors isn’t what is needed to heal you.
You should be aware of the continuous messaging you are getting about food and ask how this applies to you on a very personal level.
Truth #2: Nutrition is Social
Nutrition is further complicated by social factors. I’m not just talking about going out and having a happy hour with your friends and regretting eating french fries and drinking 10 beers. I’m talking about the fact that food preferences are woven into our social and cultural identities.
It is so important that we are aware of how this influences us. At the moment, it is very “vogue” to talk about nutrition. Everything from what diet you are trying to the supplements being used to new health innovations are the talk of the town. The truth is, giving or taking advice to or from others does not always benefit either party.
Not only does your demographics determine the information you are surrounded by but your food preferences can also be a signal of your socioeconomic class. We all have different ideas of what tastes good and what is healthy which can lead to a lot of judgment from others and the medical industry at large.
Knowing that these nutritional biases exist can help us see nutrition clearly and make more educated choices for ourselves.
Truth #3: Nutrition is Complex
Food is not black and white. Food does not merely represent one thing…such as carbs or macros or nutrient levels or other labels. You need to be more aware and mindful of putting your food into these strict categories.
Food represents information. It is a signal that influences and interacts with multiple complex biologic pathways within your body. Every time you eat it becomes a complex situation for your body to sort the good from the bad and makes sense of it all.
The effects of food on these complex biologic pathways within are what controls your weight, your mood, your energy, and ultimately your health. Once you accept that this is a process, you can better understand how to manipulate that process in a positive way without falling into the social traps that we have built for ourselves and others.
By recognizing the beautiful and complex relationship between food and your body you can create the right learning opportunities to reveal a world of useful strategies for you as an individual.
Which truth resonates most with you? If you have any questions about the topics covered here or about discovering what nutritional strategies are best for you, please feel free to reach out.
-Dr. Jerome Craig