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What is Holistic Nutrition and How Can it Help You?

Holistic nutrition means looking at the whole picture, rather than solely focusing on what someone eats. This practice not only takes one’s diet into account, but it brings other factors like hydration, sleep, stress levels, movement, self-care, and so much more into view. I like to think of it as a full-picture approach to someone's health and wellness. 

As a board-certified Registered Dietitian with a graduate degree in nutrition and my private nutrition counseling practice, Eat Healthy with Chelsea, I work with my clients on providing lifestyle and nutrition education to make sure that person feels his/her best.

When I think about ways to help people feel the best they’ve felt in years, their diet is only one piece of the puzzle. For example, if someone is not getting enough quality sleep or his/her stress levels are high, cortisol levels spike, which can lead to increased cravings and an increased likelihood of choosing processed foods, which tend to be higher in sugar and/or salt. This is just one example of why looking at every piece of the puzzle is essential for holistic health.

The best way to create new habits is by pairing the new habit you want to create with another habit that you already have. For example, the very first goal I set with every client is to stay hydrated throughout the day. To do this, I always recommend having a cup of water first thing in the morning…yes, that means before your coffee!

A woman drinking water after a run.

There are a few steps we can take to build this habit. The first step is to fill up the cup of water the night before. Maybe turning off the lights in the kitchen before going to your bedroom for the night can be a reminder that you must fill that cup of water. The second step is to place the cup of water somewhere that you know you’ll remember to drink it.

If the nightstand doesn’t do the trick and you still forget to drink it in the morning, you can try leaving it by your feet so that there’s no way to avoid it. If you don’t want to risk a spill, try leaving the cup of water by your toothbrush or coffee machine. The third and final step is to actually drink that cup of water!

Starting the day with water has a multitude of benefits, the biggest one being that we rehydrate our bodies after (hopefully) 8 hours of sleep where we become dehydrated. Having that first cup of water promotes digestion and helps get things moving in the morning…if you know what I mean.

If drinking water feels monotonous to you, there are many ways to work around this. For example, if you don’t like room-temperature water, try adding ice. And if you don’t like cold water, try room-temperature water. If you find it boring to drink out of a cup, try using a water bottle with a straw, or another vehicle that you like more.

And if you just don’t enjoy the taste of water, try adding any of the flavors that True Lemon has to offer. This is a great way to make sure you’re staying hydrated, while actually enjoying it with one of True Lemon’s zero-calorie, non-GMO flavors that you can find in a grocery store near you.

After creating the habit of starting the day with water, the goal is that you will then feel empowered to stay hydrated throughout the day by regularly taking water breaks. When coming up with nutrition plans for my clients, it’s important to remember that everyone will be different. Holistic nutrition is not a one size fits all approach. Therefore my recommendations and course of action as a holistic nutritionist vary depending on each person’s diet and lifestyle, health issues, current habits, and goals they are looking to achieve. 

As a general rule of thumb, there are numerous topics I make sure to cover with every client. This ensures that they are getting a well-rounded assessment of what they have going on and recommendations with ways to form new habits moving forward. One person might need to spend more time on creating new sleep habits, while someone else might need to focus more on emotional eating and exercise.

There are many misconceptions in the world of nutrition. That is the reason why I often find myself working with clients on unlearning many of the “rules” they’ve been taught for so long about food and nutrition. Unlearning that no food is inherently “good” or “bad” is the most common rule that many of my clients believe. By describing food with descriptive words like crunchy, salty, sweet, rich, etc. - instead of “good” or “bad” - they are learning that food is just food and has no moral value.

One’s mindset around food, nutrition, and wellness in general is often what needs to be focused on when it comes to unlearning these rules. Many people believe that there is a perfect way to live a healthy lifestyle and if you mess one thing up, that’s it, you’ve completely failed. This just is not the case!

The secret that I share with every client is that there is no such thing as perfect eating. Again, everyone is different! If you feel like you messed one thing up with your nutrition and that leads to a spiral of binge eating the ice cream or cookies - it’s time to assess your relationship with food. Instead of letting one thing lead to a spiral, try thinking of each time you eat as a new opportunity to nourish your body, no matter what you ate for the previous meal or snack. 

Overall, the holistic approach means incorporating one’s mind, body, and habits when looking at lifestyle modifications. It’s not a one size fits all approach by any means nor is it an overnight process. Creating healthy habits and finding a routine that works for you long term is a journey, but one that is extremely rewarding!

Chelsea Golub, MS, RDN

Written by

Chelsea Golub is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is located in Manhattan and is the owner and founder of Eat Healthy with Chelsea, a virtual nutrition counseling private practice. After struggling with her own relationship with food for years, she decided to dedicate her practice to helping men and women understand that nutrition doesn't have to feel so complicated or overwhelming. Since opening her practice two years ago, she has helped numerous people heal their relationships with food, stop dieting and feel the best they've felt in years. She teaches her clients how to listen to their bodies, understand emotional eating/cravings, build balanced meals and snacks, focus on habits that contribute to living an overall balanced/healthy lifestyle and so much more. For more information or to chat with Chelsea, visit her website to schedule your free discovery call today.

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