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The Journey to Intuitive Eating: When Diets are Clinically Necessary

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Diets are a pillar of healthcare. As of late, we are seeing a stigma starting to surround diets, being brought forward from anti diet-culture proponents, and this has far reaching implications in a clinical sense. 

The definition of a diet is simply a particular dietary pattern of an individual. Everyone has a diet. And sometimes, these diets need to be modified via macronutrient, macronutrients and caloric modulation for medical reasons. 

Where Anti-Diet Culture has it Wrong 

Anti-diet culture focuses on intuitive eating, and not restricting calories or certain food in favor of weight loss. We are absolutely in resonance with this, long term. However, the emphasis put on intuitive eating is damaging and misses the mark in a few fundamental ways. 

  1. It creates shame around going on a diet, which can be necessary for medical reasons. 

  2. It assumes people are connected to their bodies, and that the average person knows what it feels like to be in alignment with themselves. Intuitive eating requires an awareness and an undoing of conditioning and patterns- both physiological and emotional in nature. If intuitive eating, was in-fact intuitive, we would not see chronic disease in the numbers that we do. 

  3. It negates the fact that dietary patterns such as vegan, gluten free, and anti-inflammatory are diets and not “lifestyles” 

  4. It assumes that dietary restrictions are life long, when in fact therapeutic diets are in fact a natural segway into a more intuitive approach 

Diet From a Holistic Perspective

Diet, in the realm of holism is only a fraction of the larger picture. It is a tool to alter physiology, contributing to re-balanced biology that is stuck in a dis-eased state. 

Adjustments of macros, calories or the nutrient profile is meant to reset metabolic pathways, and with the help of other practices and tools, work on a cellular level to “un-do” the disease process. 

Therapeutic diets need to be individualized. The individualistic approach should be used when determining the appropriate diet. Within the context of each diet there is room for personalizing protocols which a qualified practitioner will take into account when formalizing protcols. In order to effectively choose and personalize a dietary protocol, it’s necessary to take a complete health history, and assess personality and the environmental landscape. 

Although diets should be individualized, there are a few basic principles that are universal 

  • Whole foods based

  • Nutrient dense

  • Be satiating 

Is There One Best Diet? 

Following the principle of holism in conjunction with epigenetics and individuality, there is not. In order to put together an effective dietary strategy we need to look at genetics, SNPs, stress levels, the microbiome, digestive as well environment. 

The goal of a diet is to reset physiology, un-do dis-ease and eventually segway into a more natural, intuitive approach. A diet is meant to be short term and allow our clients to remember what it feels like to feel good. It serves to help clients get in touch with their bodies and have a positive relationship with food, so going forward they can adopt dietary principles that are cohesive with their lifestyle. 

There are many therapeutic diets, but the top 5 typically seen in nutrition and naturopathic practices are: 

  • Keto

  • The Elimination Diet 

  • Paleo

  • Plant-based (vegan and vegetarian)

  • Intermittent fasting 

As we mentioned, determining what diet best suits your client is an investigation into their history and goals, but within each diet there are several components to consider such as: 

  • Possible nutrient deficiencies

  • Appropriate length 

  • Ideal populations 

  • Variations within each diet 

  • Contraindications

  • Clinical applications 

As practitioners, our responsibility is to guide our clients in the most appropriate direction and adequately explain our chosen protocols. 

Education is a pillar in successful client outcomes, the why and the how are equally important. 

Just like two clients presenting with diabetes will get two different protocols, when we recommend a diet, such as keto, the individual plans should also be different. 

Our newest course, Clinical Application for Therapeutic Diets covers everything you need to know to choose the strategy best suited for each of your clients and build effective protocols. 

We are nutritionally agnostic at Fiore Health. We believe in the research, and our clinical results. We present to you the pros and cons of each diet, the contraindications, considerations and provide you with all the research. 

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Author: Lisa Kowalyk Co-Founder, Fiore Health

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