I had a rather unexpected conversation last night. By all rights it should not have been unexpected and I should have been prepared with a response, but I was not. The conversation was the first (of many, no doubt) where someone asked what I thought of the Paleo Diet. I was caught off-guard and so concerned with not offending or insulting her, that I did not give a very clear or concise answer. I did a disservice to both of us, and I plan to correct this today.
In order to clearly explain my nutrition coaching philosophy, I will breakdown each of the three elements: variation and moderation, mindful eating, and “seed to table”.
The first, most important aspect of my nutrition coaching philosophy is that I do not support ANY fad diet. The American Dietetics Association defines “food fads” as:
“unreasonable or exaggerated beliefs that eating (or not eating) specific foods, nutrient supplements or combinations of certain foods may cure disease, convey special health benefits or offer quick weight loss.” Press Release 1/17/2007
What I do support is a varied and moderate diet. There is significant scientific research to back up the claim that a varied and moderate diet is the key to good health. I cannot, in good conscience, support an individual in following a diet plan that I know is unhealthy and not possible to be sustained over a lifetime. I also have a personal bias against fad diets because I have witnessed, firsthand, the unhealthy nutritional habits that become ingrained
Secondly, I support mindful eating. Through the process of mindful eating, the individual learns to listen to and interpret the ques of their body. By being present in the process of eating, individuals are able to consume what their body needs and no more. This technique allows individuals to determine for themselves what makes their body feel and function the best, as well as curb over and under-eating.
And lastly, I support connecting as fully as possible to the source of whole, healthy foods. My approach is one of “from seed to table.” I work to inspire people, even those with
incredibly limited space, to grow their own food. I also support people in learning how to preserve their own food and to prepare meals from scratch. In this vein, it is my mission to help individuals understand that it is much more cost-effective to buy and grow individual ingredients to prepare food, rather than to buy processed and packaged foods.
My response to the question, “Do you do the Paleo Diet?” should have been:
No. I work with individuals who are working toward a nutritional lifestyle that consists of a varied and moderate diet. My clients strive to be more mindful in their eating habits and are learning to connect more fully to a wide spectrum of nutritious foods.