- What Does A Health Coach Do?
- Discuss What Foods You Eat With Your Health Coach
- Health Coaches Are Aware That We Know Our Bodies Better Than Anyone
- A Classic Example Of This Is Celiac Disease
- This Is Not A Criticism Of The Medical Profession
- A Non-Judgmental Chat Can Really Give You Insight And Comfort
- Many Health Coaches Experience Their Own Health & Lifestyle Issues.
- Another Approach Is Needed & Health Coaches Can help
- A Health Coach Can Help you Overcome Weight-Related Issues
- There’s Commercial Interest At Play Here…And It’s Legal!
- As It Turns Out, Low-Fat Diets Are Not Necessarily The Best
- In Fact, Sugar Is What We Should Really Have Less Of
- High Fructose Corn Syrup Is the Enemy In Disguise
- How to Work Out How Much Sugar You Are Consuming Daily.
- There Just Has to Be A Better Way
- In An Ideal World, We Wouldn’t Need Health Coaches
- We Can Head Off Some Of These Major Health Problems
- Let’s achieve this in the very early stages by looking at food…how and what we eat? Slowly replacing processed foods with whole foods, which means foods that are in their natural state.
- Let’s Shift Or Way Of Thinking
- In Conclusion
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Hello again my midlife friend
In this post, I want to discuss a subject I have become very passionate about after recovering from cancer, and the subsequent life-changing information I have learned as a result.
These are observations and some recommendations that hopefully may resonate with you. Kinda like my other posts discussing mindset, anxiety, intentional living, etc.
It’s all about things that I have, or am still experiencing in my midlife years…and maybe you are too.
If you have been reading a few of my posts, you’ll probably be aware that I’m training to be a Health Coach with IIN – Institute For Integrative Nutrition.
The reason for this decision came about when, following my kidney cancer, I consulted with a health coach. I wanted to explore a better way to approach my diet and lifestyle.
I was so impressed with the information and insight I received, that I felt inspired to help others. In particular women in their midlife years like me.
BTW…if after reading this post you feel that becoming a Health Coach is something you would love to do, contact IIN to find out more info.
What Does A Health Coach Do?
Health coaching is not to be confused with a nutritionist, life coach, fitness coach, psychologist, or dietician. Although there is a little bit of cross-over included.
So why a health coach?
What we don’t often consider is how much our food choices can affect other aspects of our lives. Like digestive problems, bloating, gas, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia among others.
Choosing what and when we eat is often linked to other imbalances in our personal lives…like comfort eating if we’re upset, or reaching for sugary foods to make us feel good when we’re anxious.
Trouble is, these choices can cause more problems than they solve.
Like messing with our immune system, weight gain, plus a host of other issues affecting our overall wellbeing. It’s just not something we consider until it’s explained to us. This is what happened in my case.
Health coaching mainly involves listening to clients talk about their issues, such as:
“I’m always tired and don’t know why”
“I’ve developed an allergy recently”
“I’ve started to feel depressed and I’m eating junk food to feel better”
“I have bloating and gas”
Discuss What Foods You Eat With Your Health Coach
They would discuss the different foods you’re eating and explore why you choose those particular foods
Make suggestions about what you could change to help you feel better, and encourage you to talk about what has happened in your life recently that may be prompting your food choices.
Maybe exploring what could be causing your recent bout of depression, and look at what could possibly be changed to resolve the issue.
It’s all very low-key, totally non-confrontational, and non-judgmental…like friends having a heart-to-heart chat about ‘stuff’.
It certainly won’t involve you being put on any restrictive diet, or told to follow any specific exercise regimen.
It also doesn’t involve you having judgment passed about aspects of your life that may not be bringing you joy at present. Although a health coach will certainly encourage you to explore these.
Health Coaches Are Aware That We Know Our Bodies Better Than Anyone
Health coaching is based on the premise that we all know our bodies better than anyone else. WE KNOW when something isn’t right. As women, we are especially good at this.
We listen to our ‘gut’ (pardon the pun). We are intuitive, and unlike many men (sadly), we choose to acknowledge and take notice of that inner voice.
Humans are all totally different from one another. What may cause an issue for me, be it food, stress level, hormones, etc may not cause any problems for you.
This is referred to as being Bio-Individual. This also means that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to resolving a person’s mental, physical, or dietary problems.
This is definitely the case with foods.
We all react differently to food. For example, my husband loves chili and can eat it without any side effects. On the other hand, I will spend the next 2 days on the ‘throne’ if I so much as look at it!
So technically, there shouldn’t be ‘one medication fits all’ for medical complaints either. And yet, look at the overuse of antibiotics given for just about everything.
This has resulted in an antibiotic resistance situation where the bugs are becoming immune to the antibiotics so they no longer work…in many cases leaving us at the mercy of the little blighters!
Sometimes it’s difficult to articulate this to a physician as they have a pre-conceived idea of what the problem may be already…and they’re not always correct even though we expect them to be. They’re only human – not miracle workers!
Also, to be fair…many physicians would rather NOT give out scripts for antibiotics unless really warranted, because they’re acutely aware of the growing resistance problem.
But we patients/consumers expect to leave their office with something…we really can be our own worst enemy sometimes!
However, if your issue is food-related or manifesting due to some imbalance in some other aspect of your life, it’s unlikely to be discussed.
Your affliction may very well be due to what you’re eating, why you’re eating certain things, and whether there is a reason you’re not digesting correctly.
A Classic Example Of This Is Celiac Disease
If you suffer from this disease, you probably experience symptoms that are so varied that it’s often misdiagnosed.
This is an auto-immune disease and can be a direct result of eating certain foods, and serious gut and thyroid issues preventing the food from being correctly digested.
As a result, it’s possible for you to become malnourished.
You can also suffer from a host of symptoms and debilitating afflictions that don’t appear to be related. Celiacs can be shuffled from pillar to post trying to get someone to connect the dots and finally get a diagnosis.
Thankfully, things are changing and this disease is being better diagnosed…but it took a long time.
You can tell the doctor how you’re feeling but guaranteed he/she won’t ask about your home life. They won’t spend time letting you talk, and get out what may be the fundamental issues behind your problems.
You may be overeating, depressed, sleeping badly, no energy, or have digestive issues. Sadly you won’t be given much time to discuss these or numerous other problems that you know aren’t right with you.
This Is Not A Criticism Of The Medical Profession
Physicians are usually so incredibly busy that they have limited time to spend with you.
Many will be the first to admit that they’re not taught in medical training that what foods we eat or don’t eat, can either cause or solve many problems.
They naturally observe our bodies in a different way…a clinical way, and look to medications or even surgery to treat the problem. But this doesn’t always get to the root cause.
…and please don’t misunderstand
No ethical health coach would ever try to take the place of your doctor by behaving like they have all the answers. Or suggesting that you don’t need to consult your physician.
Quite the opposite in fact.
Particularly if after chatting with you, it appears that there is something more serious going on with your physical or mental health, your health coach will be the first one to refer you on.
A Non-Judgmental Chat Can Really Give You Insight And Comfort
Discussing things with a health coach may give you some new insights into yourself and how you feel emotionally. They can suggest some changes in your eating habits to improve your nutrition and help lift your mood.
Plus, they can encourage you to evaluate what issues may be causing an imbalance in other aspects of your life, and this can be supercritical to improving your well-being.
Just talking and getting some things out with a person who isn’t judging you in any way is very cathartic. Someone who has the time to listen to you and can help you come to your own conclusions.
This can lead to YOU recognizing where your problems may lie and allow YOU to diagnose your own issues. You’ll be surprised how this can happen…it happened to me.
Interestingly, I found that being assisted to reach my own realization about my issues was more powerful than just being ‘told’ by someone else.
Many Health Coaches Experience Their Own Health & Lifestyle Issues.
It’s a misconception that health coaches are a picture of amazing physical and mental health. Many are experiencing some health or personal issues themselves that they are still working on…and this is a good thing.
That’s often the reason they became coaches, directly as a result of experiencing the benefits of healthy changes in their own lives.
So you’ll be chatting with someone who truly ‘gets’ where you’re coming from. You won’t be trying to explain yourself to a person who may not understand how or why you’re looking to make changes to your foods or lifestyle.
They’ve already been there and bought the T-shirt, so to speak!…and that’s a comforting feeling.
The health coach can prompt you with certain questions to enable you to think about things differently. They can also share suggestions for gradual dietary or other changes that you may choose to adopt…and why those changes may be beneficial.
Note: these will only ever be suggestions.
It will be up to you to decide to take responsibility for your health and choose to implement changes to help heal yourself. Remember, you know your body and your life better than anyone else…and the health coach understands this.
By the way…you don’t have to visit a health coach in person.
All types of coaching are online now, particularly as we’re all stuck in different places around the world. Thanks to the wonderful world of video platforms like Zoom.
Another Approach Is Needed & Health Coaches Can help
As a population, our health is declining every year!
Whilst there’s a time and place for medications, they aren’t always the solution. Most medications are man-made. They have chemicals in them.
Granted, they may ease the symptoms, but they can also mask the underlying issue. This could possibly be addressed with a better diet and better nutrition, correcting a lack of certain vitamins and minerals.
A New Approach Is Certainly Worth A Try…Don’t You Think?
For the sake of this discussion, I want to leave aside the devastation being wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has completely shifted the goal-posts this year for the whole world’s health concerns.
Nothing could have prepared us for this.
But in normal times prior to 2020, America and other 1st world countries are nations with rising chronic diseases and so much of this is directly related to our diet.
We’re seeing unprecedented cases of serious illnesses striking people at younger ages than ever before.
– Diabetes in children
– Cardiovascular disease
– Early-onset type 2 diabetes in adults AND children
– Increasing cases of stroke
– Increasing cases of hyperactivity in children
– Issues related to digestion and auto-immune disorders in both adults AND kids
– Growing cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia
– Increasingly serious levels of obesity in both adults AND children
And the list goes on and on!
A Health Coach Can Help you Overcome Weight-Related Issues
Don’t beat yourself up for being overweight. In many cases, it isn’t necessarily your fault. There are other contributing factors besides just overeating.
Yes, many people do overeat. But contrary to what society wants to say and think, it’s very often caused by too much unhealthy crap added to our processed foods.
This is coupled with an increasingly high level of stress in our daily lives that we often try to resolve by eating…which is extremely common. Health coaches help you talk through these issues in a non-judgmental way.
Food was my ‘drug of choice’ to deal with anxiety and stress.
Couple this with an addiction to sugar that the food industry WANTS US TO HAVE!. Sugar releases dopamine in the brain, a feel-good sensation akin to an addiction to nicotine or alcohol. It can be very difficult to overcome.
It took me some time to ‘kick’ the sugar habit…and I’m still not completely out of rehab!
There’s Commercial Interest At Play Here…And It’s Legal!
Let’s set the stage…
There was a backlash some years ago to how much fat we were all supposedly consuming in processed foods. Suddenly fat became the ‘bad guy’ (trans fats, saturated fats – definitely NOT good for us).
As a result, the food industry took note and had to change its way of producing its goods in order to be seen to be doing the right thing by consumers.
So, to look like they were heeding the public’s worry about fat consumption, they took out the fats, (some of them), but they still had to make the food tasty and appealing so guess what?…they started adding sugar…lots of it!
As It Turns Out, Low-Fat Diets Are Not Necessarily The Best
It’s all about which fats we consume. There are some fats our bodies really benefit from such as Olive oil, avocados, flaxseed oil, and sunflower oil. There are other good fats that we need in for our bodies to function such as essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6.
These are ‘essential’ because we can’t survive without them, and our bodies can’t manufacture them.
They have to be supplied via our food – namely oily fish like Atlantic mackerel, salmon, sardines, tinned light tuna, walnuts, and flaxseeds) or good quality supplements of Omega 3 Fish Oil.
Trans fats and saturated fats are not good for us even though they’re in so much of our food. Check out the label on a jar or can of processed food next time you’re at the grocery store and see them on the label.
Also, look at the ingredients you can’t even pronounce or they are represented by a number or abbreviation. If you need Google just to find out what they are (sadly, most of us don’t bother) then that can’t be a good thing.
In Fact, Sugar Is What We Should Really Have Less Of
Depending on what the food is for, do you think it needs sugar in it?…probably not. Even naturally sweet food items have ‘added sugar’ like corn syrup…why? To make us want more of it of course because sugar is addictive!
Yes, sadly it’s true. And if this wasn’t enough, sugar also messes with our appetite hormones causing havoc!
Now it’s known through copious amounts of research into diabetes and cardiovascular disease, that sugar is worse for us than fat…particularly corn syrup.
High Fructose Corn Syrup Is the Enemy In Disguise
Scarily, this stuff is used in so many processed foods these days. It’s metabolized by our liver and enters our bloodstream almost immediately. This causes blood sugar to rise, triggering the body to release insulin to normalize our blood sugar levels.
Continuous insulin spikes needed to deal with consuming corn syrup regularly may lead to insulin resistance. Chanced are, this will lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and possibly type 2 diabetes.
Processed table sugar (sucrose) is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. These two are processed differently in our bodies. Unlike glucose, fructose is almost entirely metabolized by the liver.
If we consume too much fructose the liver can’t process it fast enough, so instead, it’s converted into a key component of triglycerides…a high level of this in the blood is a key risk factor for heart disease.
The condition ‘fatty liver’ is said to affect 70+ million people in the US.
How to Work Out How Much Sugar You Are Consuming Daily.
The average American consumes over 18 teaspoons or 75gms of sugar per day
When you check the labels on foods, be aware that 4gms of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon. So if you divide the serving amount by 4, it will show you how many teaspoons of sugar you will be consuming.
If you divide the total amount you will get a very nasty shock! So if you’re in the habit of eating/drinking the full container rather than the serving size, guess what…you’re consuming an enormous amount of sugar!
The most sugar an adult should consume for weight control and optimal health per day is no more than 6-9 teaspoons per day (not counting natural sugar from fresh fruits and veggies) This is recommended by the WHO and American Heart Association (AHA)
There Just Has to Be A Better Way
Even the medical profession is very aware of this and profoundly worried. They can see the cost of medical care and the demand for it increasing every year. But their hands are tied.
They can only work within their scope and specific expertise. That usually means dealing with the issues once the patient has presented to them with the chronic illness. Then it’s up to medication or worse still, surgical procedures to resolve the issues.
Suffice it to say that we have been duped by the processed food industry, and health-wise we’re paying an extremely high price for it. So much so, that the healthcare system can’t keep up with it.
We’re all getting sicker while the drug companies and processed food industries are getting richer!.
As a direct result of the things we are inadvertently eating…and make no mistake, in far too many cases it IS as a direct result, the cost of healthcare will continue to rise and rise.
It’s already reaching the point where many people are terrified of getting sick because they literally can’t afford the care.
But we do have a choice. Whilst I’m obviously no fan of the processed food and big pharma industries, it’s up to us to choose whether we fall into the trap, or whether we make the move away from this way of living. Much of our retisence probably comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is going on.
In An Ideal World, We Wouldn’t Need Health Coaches
But alas, the world isn’t ideal. There’s a great saying:
“If you can’t pronounce it, or it has a barcode on it, it’s probably not good for you”
There’s mounting evidence that the way we eat is slowly killing us. For example: what’s in our processed foods, how much sugar we consume, the level of pesticides on our vegetables.
You are probably unaware that there are the hormones added to our livestock feed, and arsenic fed to commercially-raised chickens to stop them from getting parasites. It’s all causing our ever-increasing chronic illnesses because our bodies are not designed to metabolize these things!
In an ideal world, maybe the way we would have eaten 100 years ago, we would easily be able to buy genuinely certified organic veggies, grass-fed meat, and pasture-raised chicken.
We wouldn’t need to mistrust our processed foods or be duped by the commercial food and drug industries. But the world isn’t ideal. So do what you can to be informed and make decisions accordingly.
Seek out organic wherever possible.
We Can Head Off Some Of These Major Health Problems
Let’s achieve this in the very early stages by looking at food…how and what we eat? Slowly replacing processed foods with whole foods, which means foods that are in their natural state.
This includes replacing white rice with brown because white rice is milled so much it’s lost the ‘germ’, bran, and husk rendering it nutritionally very low. Basmati rice (both brown and white) is the best for you.
Also, white flour used in white bread is bleached using Chlorine, so maybe limit your white bread consumption…just a thought. Cornbread is worth a try, as is pumpkin or sweet potato bread.
Let’s Shift Or Way Of Thinking
BTW…I’m not saying give up your favorite foods forever. I still indulge occasionally…ok, maybe a little more than occasionally. My defense is ‘I’m only human’
Instead, maybe shift your thinking to having the hamburger and fries or pizza as a treat, in amongst eating healthily and staying away from processed sugar-filled food and sodas as much as possible.
Removing processed sugar from your diet is a great start.
Using healthy fats that your body needs and choosing not to eat, or at least reducing anything containing trans fats, saturated fats, and corn syrup.
Eat fresh, whole foods as much as possible. Your body will notice the difference.
Don’t you think we need to start thinking differently about what we consume? I know this sounds like a rant, but we only have one life and personally, I want to live as long and healthy a life as possible, don’t you?
Consulting with a health coach was incredibly beneficial for me and not just related to food.
I was encouraged to evaluate other aspects of my life causing concern, and this resulted in me making some life-changing decisions.
As a result, I lost 66lbs, changed my diet to mainly plant-based foods, drink more water and a lot less coffee (still an addict!), and decided, along with my husband to ditch our stressful 9-5 lifestyle and become Digital Nomads.
The last one is a little radical I know (not for everyone)…but the others are definitely worth it when your doctor tells you “you’ve probably added an extra 8-10 years to your life”
…can’t beat that!
Hopefully, you can see how consulting a health coach may be beneficial for you too.
Please drop me a line in the comments…I’d love to hear your thoughts.