The Role of Postmodern Nutrition in Shaping Our Health Destiny
Ellen White, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, IIN Guest Editorial Contributor
What is postmodern nutrition?
Nutrition is an ever-evolving field. And the premise behind postmodern nutrition, with a foundation in health coaching, is in its strongest position now to help support and potentially redirect our country’s (and the globe’s) health destiny. Postmodern nutrition focuses on two key messages: bio-individuality and intuition-based wellness, both especially timely. These core concepts shift the focus away from the doctor’s office and onto the individual. They help people cultivate a greater self-awareness of their health and go deeper into engaging in preventive care as a way to stay healthy, treat diet-related illnesses, and ultimately control their destiny.
Postmodern nutrition closely aligns with DIY healthcareand is right on par with the world’s focus on replacing conventional practices with new DIY behavior. So what does this mean exactly? It’s becoming our own doctor first and having a deep understanding of how the food we eat is intimately connected to the health of every system in our body, how our gut health impacts our immunity, and how to make the connection between one bodily system and another to determine if what we’re feeling demands acute medical attention or if we’re able to monitor and shift our diet and lifestyle behaviors to feel better.
Self-doctoring is actually not that new; it was the main source of medicine in indigenous cultures. In earlier times, people lived in harmony with nature and ate mostly local and seasonal foods; disease was correlated as being an inherent “disconnect” from nature. Cures were aimed at discovering the source of disconnection in order to restore healing, and both ailment and cure were seen as internal and individual.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to reexamine our belief systems and behaviors – and not just our physical and social ones. This pandemic has put a spotlight on the fractured health systems we’ve relied on to keep us well, yet so much of the population is at risk of becoming critically ill from COVID-19 because they have at least one chronic condition.
As a result, it is molding a new society that will move toward greater self-autonomy and self-direction as the new potential sources of power and knowledge. We are learning that we have to figure out how to do it ourselves in many areas of our lives, including generating enough income, maintaining our physical and emotional well-being, socializing safely, dating virtually, eating well, and basically living DIY-style to not only survive but thrive.
As we collectively aim to find our footing in this new turbulent climate, we create an opportunity to learn more about who we are and who we’ve been, ultimately leading to who we want to become and where we’re going on a multidimensional health and personal level. It’s also a powerful way to discover our unique health vulnerabilities and protect ourselves from future viruses that may come our way.
Paving the way for self-health and postmodern nutrition in a postmodern world
Because we can no longer go to the doctor’s office as we did before, we need to find alternate paths for many of our basic health issues. Going to the doctor is no longer a given nor is it a simple or safe excursion. This new environment has forced us to determine what is essential as it relates to our health. If you wouldn’t seek medical help for something you’re experiencing because your fear of being exposed to COVID-19 is worse than what you’re experiencing, then perhaps medical help was never needed.
In essence, the central goal is not to swear off access to medical care, but instead empower individuals to develop skills and resources for monitoring and treating their own health. Our restricted access to healthcare – or fear of taking advantage of such access – is pushing us toward that goal.
Postmodern nutritionrecognizes that each person has unique sensitivities and specific needs. This is bio-individuality, which says everyone has their own system – and what works for one person may not work for another. It instills an inner-knowing process surrounding health.
Our bodies tell us what it needs and when it needs it as well as what it doesn’t and when it doesn’t. Imagine how different this world would be if we could simply listen to this inner knowledge. Taking simple action based on this information could prevent many lifestyle and diet-related illnesses.
Feeling bloated, for example, sends a signal that an ingredient heeds paying attention to. Self-directing through an elimination diet in this case can identify sensitive foods from the get go before they further inflame the body and increase susceptibility to illness down the road.
Most health issues begin with dietary cues. Therefore, intuitive eating, another important element, helps individuals recognize how food affects them in real time. Our bodies give us signals, and individualized DIY healthcare places a big emphasis on noticing and addressing these signs.
Food and diet also differ for each person based on factors like age, lifestyle, body constitution, season, genetics, metabolic activity, mood, and ancestry – not to mention daily stress and emotions! Additionally, digestion and metabolic activity are personal markers indicating how one person differs from another – for example, how one processes carbohydrates, protein, and dairy.
This individualized approach contradicts the current one-size-fits-all method promoted in the multi-billion-dollar diet industry that says “do this and lose 10 pounds in one week.” Mainstream dieting boasts this broad approach to losing weight, and ultimately fails. Generalized statements, such as “dairy and carbs are bad,” confuse the public, igniting a mass yo-yo dieting society, where many complications are sure to follow.
Ultimately, figuring out how to address diet and lifestyle-related health conditions through a bio-individual and holistic approach is key, not just acutely in the short-term but to protect our health and our community’s health in the long-term.
How postmodern nutrition bridges the gap between nutrition and personal growth
The day-to-day issues in relationships, career, family, exercise, and home environment are huge influencers that determine the dietary and lifestyle choices people make. We can’t look at diet and lifestyle without looking at everything else that impacts our lives on a daily basis. Personal struggles that prevent us from making self-productive choices need to be explored and included as part of the conversation around our healing plan. Nobody knows this personal information better than us. Primary food, another core aspect of postmodern nutrition and health coaching, and how much we nourish it, impact our food and lifestyle behavior and ultimately our path toward or away from health.
We have a free, 24-hour sophisticated laboratory within each of us that supports us every day. It’s just a matter of being able to tune in, listen, and implement positive change. This new era of postmodern nutrition is setting us up for a game-changing time in our lives, and our individual destinies (and health) depend on it!
Ellen White is a 2015 IIN grad, freelance writer, and previous co-owner of a yogi dating site called Om Singles. She has written for several yoga and health-related publications, such as Yoga International, Rebelle Society, Elephant Journal, and Yogi Times, where she was an editor. Her interest in yoga, juicing, spirit strength, and creativity motivates her to stay inspired in today’s challenging world. Her hope is to share her emotions, passion, and struggle with others. She lives in Fort Lauderdale and loves the beach! She can be reached via email.