What Exactly Is Holistic Nutrition, and Will It Work for You?

holistic nutrition
Half Baked Harvest

Have you ever heard the phrase “holistic nutrition” tossed around? The term refers to a type of wellness that’s focused on a whole-life approach to being healthy—and there’s a new type of nutritionist championing it as well.

“Most simply stated, holistic nutrition is healing with whole foods,” says Kristin Wartman, a certified holistic nutrition educator. (sorry, Twinkies and potato chips don’t count!) But it’s more than just that—the concept has expanded to include a new way of life, bridging “ancient wisdom with modern knowledge,” and recognizing the spiritual, mental, and physical components of health. The National Association of Nutrition Professionals sums it up: "One's health is an expression of the complex interplay between the physical and chemical, mental and emotional, as well as spiritual and environmental aspects of one's life and being.

It’s time to see how a few small changes can make a big impact on your overall health.

A Food Plan Tailored to You

Instead of experts taking a one-size-fits-all approach to your health, a holistic nutritionist can craft a specific overall plan based on your likes and lifestyle (allergies, too). Plus, you won’t just go home with a prescription—you’ll have guidance from start to finish. “It’s like having a food trainer instead of a personal trainer—your personal food coach to give you a gentle butt-kicking,” says Joy McCarthy, a certified holistic nutritionist, founder of Joyous Health, and author of Joyous Detox.

Increased Energy and Focus

I cut out processed foods and did a Whole 30 last year and because of this that I am a firm believer that eating whole foods makes our bodies run better and gives us more energy (FYI: I’m not a morning person, and I was up at 6:30 a.m. every day ready to go). But why do our bodies crave clean eating? “[Foods that are]…not altered, stripped, or refined in any way…our bodies know how to break them down and utilize them for maximum energy and potential,” says Wartman.

Improved Mood

Although keeping your body healthy is a necessity, so is finding a mental and spiritual calm, especially with all the stresses we deal with on a daily basis. “Because so many ailments are linked to emotional stresses, like anger or worry, by improving the diet, you can improve the mood,” says Mandy Nott, a naturopath in Canberra, Australia. “This, in turn, helps people to cope and even master problems that come their way—making them happier and more able to live well,” she says.

Disease Prevention Within Reach

Did you know that an estimated 80% of Type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented if you alter your nutrition and exercise regimen? If you need more evidence that healthy eating can prevent disease, then look to those who eat the Mediterranean diet (plant-based food with little red meat). This type of nutritious meal plan can prevent a second heart attack by up to 70%. “The body’s immune system and ability to repair itself is linked to nutrition, and by improving what you eat, you can encourage greater healing, as well as keep ailments from developing,” Nott says.

Holistic Nutrition: A Way of Life

Holistic nutrition is more than a diet—it’s a way of life. Anyone who has gone on a “diet” knows that it works for a little while, but it's not sustainable. “A holistic nutritionist teaches you a holistic model of health by providing not only dietary guidance but lifestyle suggestions too,” says McCarthy. (Plus, you’ll never have to consult a food pyramid again.)

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