Why Nutrition is the New Religion!

I have been in the health industry for almost 20 years now and it never ceases to amaze, confound, inspire and frustrate me all at the same time. It is a relatively new science and the goal posts are always changing. What was ‘truth’ 5 years ago is maybe wrong today and by next week it will change again. No wonder people are so confused, I am too and I have been studying this stuff FOREVER.

With books, social media, the internet and bloggers the nutrition and wellness movement is now colossal! I could spend (and maybe I do) hours every day between the internet and scientific research papers trying to get my head around it all and to stay one step ahead or maybe just abreast with what is happening in the ‘wellness movement’

Much of the information that is out there has been around for a long time, it is simple information and its truths probably will never change. Then there is a lot of info that is constantly evolving, in a state of flux like never before and it feels like a tornado of health advice that can just sweep you away, sometimes to places you didn’t really want to go……

I got to thinking the other night while struggling to fall asleep because I had eaten too many raw cacao nibs (silly me!) that the whole wellness/nutrition movement has become its own ‘spirituality or religion’. There are so many different factions and beliefs, all claiming to be right and have research to back them up….many are sympathetic to each other and have a kind of a flow on of theory and then there are the completely opposite beliefs as well.

I do not doubt what anyone is saying, I am just finding it overwhelming to take it all in and know which way is up…. So I have decided to chart some untracked territory and have redefined many nutritional beliefs into their proper spiritual categories so that we can all understand them a little bit better.

I am in no way trying to belittle any nutritional idea nor am I trying to challenge anyone’s religious or spiritual beliefs….. I am just trying to have a little bit of fun with a serious topic!

Which religion are you?

Paleo, Primal, Vegan, Vegetarian, Lacto-ovo, Fruitarian, Raw food, Eliminate some food or food group diet, Intermittent faster, Plant based eater, Omnivore, Fast food worshipper, Whole foodist or anything in between.

The different factions of food belief/ eating styles are much like all the different religions of today. Everyone has complete faith in what they believe in and there are a few key books, websites and experts in each eating philosophy much like each religion has their Bible, testament, Koran, sacred documents, priests or high advisors and sacred buildings.

Each nutrition ‘faith’ also argues about why theirs is correct and how other ‘faiths’ are leading you astray… … some of the biggest wars in the history of the world have been over religion, belief and faith… in Nutrition these days it is starting to feel the same… you can read the books of each faith and completely believe everything they say ( I am not saying anyone is right or wrong, let’s just say I am a multi faith Nutritionist) … the funny thing is they may all fight for a long time and never come to a consensus, maybe there isn’t one ‘truth’ ….. Sound familiar……

If you distil the religions down to the core of what they are trying to teach, you come up with many similar values such as …kindness, faith, morals and meaning to one’s life. Isn’t this what all the nutrition faiths are doing as well? They are each giving us a ‘code’ to live by and a community or family to belong to.

In the end, if we tease out the main points everyone is trying to make there is a similarity, a cross over that is probably the most important part of nutrition philosophy

1. Eating the majority of food as fruit and vegetables

2. eating as close to nature as possible

3. no refined sugars and foods

4. drink enough water

5. exercise as often as possible

6. get adequate sleep and sunshine

7. eat adequate protein ( it’s your religious choice if you do this via the animal kingdom or the plant based variety) etc…….

Imagine if we could do that… how healthy we would all be! If I am not mistaken everyone in the nutrition faiths preaches those ideals…… just as all religions try to teach us good rules to live by and a higher power to believe in…. maybe we could make it more simple than it is, to make peace with each other no matter their food ‘belief’. So next time someone starts blogging, talking, tweeting or shouting about what they did or didn't eat, remember it all comes down to some basic truths.

I have also included a few definitions in case you need some clarity!

Detoxification diets are the modern version of going to confession

We live in such a fast paced world, it’s hard to be perfect all the time and let’s get real it’s fun having a few drinks, eating chocolate or pastries now and then. Never fear we now have detox diets to undo all the damage we have ‘accidentally done’. You can choose to do a 3, 7 or 21 day detox to repent for your sins of food, wine and lifestyle. You can choose from just going off alcohol for a month to eating only fruits and vegetables or go hard core and just have lemon juice and water. This enables each ‘toxer’ to decide how sinful they have been and pick an appropriate diet to atone for their evils of the flesh.

Be warned the more ‘sinful’ you have been the more the first few days you will hurt, the Gods of health will make you pay with headaches, lethargy, crankiness and cravings for your wrong doings and once you can pick your head up off the pillow and start feeling better on day 4 you will promise yourself to never ‘sin’ again with sugar or wine or (insert sinful addiction here)! It’s a cathartic process and you potentially will feel a lot better for it, you just need to find a way to not go down the path of wrongdoing again.

Competition of Devoutness

It’s almost become a competition for how healthy we can be, like we are competing for who can be more devout to the health Gods. We are each trying to obtain ‘immortal status’ like the Greek Gods, sitting on top of Mount Olympus drinking our ambrosia which of course is really a Kale smoothie with goji berries, coconut water, chia seeds and raw cacao!

Gluten Free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free, anything free = Pilgrimage -a period of abstinence from a food or group of foods that may be causing you ill health. Elimination diets are considered to be a PILGRIMAGE to find oneself and their ‘true faith’ of what works for their body. At times it can be a hard and testing road with temptations around many a corner, but in the end when you make it to Mecca, the Chalice Well, the Vatican or wherever is your most HOLY place, then you will find your peace as your body will find its healthy balance!

Sugar = Satan (or any other such baddy in a different religion)

Wheat = Original Sin

Coconut oil, water, milk and cream = the redeemed one, once considered evil but has changed their ways(due to scientific research) and is now the new born Super Food.

Quinoa and Chia Seeds – Pagan Gods that are now considered Saints – a staple food in many traditional cultures that have now taken on CULT status in the West.

Agave, date sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar and any other sugar that’s not Satan itself = False Prophet - True these are not processed white sugar BUT they are still a form of sugar but can be used without the need for guilt and shame.

Super foods = Saints - each person picks a few of their favourite super foods and worships (blogs and talks) them like they are the “holy grail’ or one of the patron saints that will watch over us if we pray to them and eat them on a daily basis, preferably in our morning smoothie!

Kale = Zeus - Considered the King of the superfoods, Kale is a green leafy vegetable that has been around a long time but in the last few years has reached cult status. If you want to be HIP you must eat Kale at least once a day. The more Kale you eat the healthier (more devout or holy you are considered to be) in fact we should probably move Kale to the Saint Status without an investigation into his miracles…..but for now I will just leave him as King of the Gods and Goddesses.