Working with Dr. Weiss on Nutrition
A.T. Still believed good nutrition and osteopathic treatments were all that was required to reverse illness and restore well-being and health. Our world is more complex today, and osteopathic medicine has changed dramatically since Still was teaching, but through my years of practice I have found that these two components are foundational for well-being and always improve or even result in a cure in many many patients.
What makes nutrition, good nutrition, however is still a mystery – even to most doctors and nutritionists. My experience and training is based on understanding that all aspects of each individual impact what they eat, why they eat and what is best for them. Because of this, I work with everyone differently – with very specific suggestions, with general advice, recipes, meal plans, or dietary protocols. I spend as much time as possible continuing to educate myself about research and dietary guidelines and theories because it is a constantly changing field of medicine.
When working with patients the first thing I ask them is to first get clear on why they are choosing to eat differently or start a new dietary plan. If they are dealing with low energy, suffering from health problems, likely their goal is vitality and health – not weight loss. If their joints are aching and cholesterol is going up due to being over weight, weight loss may be the priority. Being overweight can wreak havoc on the endocrine system, causing not only high cholesterol but insulin resistance and altered estrogen regulation. If a patient suffering from the consequences of an imbalanced endocrine system focuses on rapid weight loss, they will not necessarily be able to sustain their program and the consequences might be adrenal fatigue or depression.
My focus is to work with each patient to develop a nutrition plan that focuses on maintaining vitality, eliminating foods that cause health problems and creating a nutritional program that is sustainable. I do not to focus on weight loss programs, or a one size fits all spa approach to food. I recognize and respect the power of whole foods in healing but remember at all times that we must be moderate. The program that will work for you is individualized to suit your lifestyle, your financial situation, your likes and dislikes and your health needs.
Every one disagrees about almost everything when it comes to nutrition. However there are a few “common denominators” – concepts everyone agrees on:
- Eat whole foods – the less processing that your food undergoes the better.
- Eat plenty of vegetables
- Eat mindfully – pay attention to what you eat, pay attention while you are eating, eat only what your body needs.
With all patients my first prescription is an Osteopathic treatment. For many patients this is all they need. However, to sustain health I find that regardless of a patients primary concern, addressing food patterns and choices can improve health and prevent recurrence. Food changes can help resolve or lessen many symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, mood swings, body pain, depression, anxiety, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, rashes, weight gain, and more. Any one or more of these symptoms can be caused by food but there are different mechanisms that may be responsible. The food prescription may result in resolution of symptoms or it may be diagnostic.
Here are some of the mechanisims that cause symptoms. I’ll discuss these in more detail in the food blog (coming soon).
- Food Allergy
- Food Sensitivity
- Inflammatory or Autoimmune Conditions
- Emotional Eating
- Hormone imbalance
SERVICES AND FOOD PLANS
In developing a food prescription for my patients, I use a variety of resources depending on the situation. Often I find that a period of healing must happen before a clear food program can be established. Resources that are often used for healing food plans include GAPS, SCD, anti-candida diets and elimination diets. Once the body is able to absorb nutrients and the digestive and endocrine systems are functioning adequately, other goals such as improved energy, strength and weight loss can be addressed. The plans are not meant to be a quick fix and sometimes hard choices must be made. I never promise that you can eat whatever you want and never be hungry, or that you will lose 30 lbs in 30 days, or that you can look like a teenager. My hope is that you will learn to know your body, your limits and your needs and that you will make choices that are nurturing and create health. There are links in the resource section of this website if you would like to do more research on your own. You can also schedule an appointment specifically to focus on nutritional education and planning.
WHOLE FOOD OR SUPPLEMENTS?
In a perfect world no one would need supplements. We would all get everything we need for health from eating whole foods mindfully. The reality is that many of us are under stress all the time. Stress takes the form of too much work, too much food, eating unhealthy foods, poor sleep habits, unresolved emotional issues and on and on. Additionally most people can’t afford the time or cost of eating all organic, all locally grown, all home-cooked whole foods, all the time. The reality is that at times the nutritional value of our food is going to be less than perfect. Supplements can help but it is critical to remember that they are not a replacement for changes in our food and our life. Taking an antioxidant doesn’t counteract stress or oxidative processes, it simply helps a bit. Taking a multi-vitamin doesn’t mean we don’t need to eat vegetables, but it might help some. The truth is in most cases doctors, scientists, and nutritionists, just don’t know how much supplements help. We do know that no supplement is a 100% sure fire cure for anything. Having said that, I will often recommend supplement support, tailored to your needs, sometimes based on lab tests, other times based on symptoms or other information I have gathered. If changes in your life, changes in your food choices, and changes from your treatments aren’t enough, I would choose a supplement first, before a prescription medication. You may also be given a supplement or herbal support for a limited time period to support a part of your healing process.
Here are some websites with information about a few different healing dietary options. There really isn’t a one size fits all – you may need something today that changes with the seasons – the trick is to get informed and then listen……