Holistic Nutrition Goes Beyond Physical Fitness
The key to a healthy lifestyle is more than eating clean and training dirty
Melanie Walsh, Sports Editor
In today’s world, people are used to getting information at the touch of a button. Now more than ever, we live in a fast-paced society and therefore we want it all, and we want it now. When it comes to getting in shape and moving towards a healthier lifestyle people often look for quick results and become discouraged when they don’t come in. Training as a holistic nutritionist, Alana Coote is studying physical literacy and pursuing a degree in health and physical education while she uncovers some of the answers to help people stay on track and meet their fitness goals.
A holistic nutritionist differs from a regular nutritionist in that they look at the individual as a whole while realizing that each person is unique and what works for one person might not work for the other. “It’s not just nutrition that makes people healthy, it’s lifestyle, it’s their psychological well-being, it’s their spiritual well-being and we take all of those into consideration,” says Coote.
Our mental state is very important to our overall health as our emotions affect our physical well-being. Holistic nutrition takes this all into account whereas a personal trainer tends to solely look at the physical aspect.
Coote chose to get involved in holistic nutrition after looking at nutrition as a whole and seeing some flaws in the system. Notably, the Canadian Food Guide which has been known to alter information to increase sales of meat and dairy, not to promote health for Canadians. She notes that holistic nutrition is not just about your diet or a “one size fits all” mentality.
Looking at movement as a whole rather than a large umbrella of exercise has helped Coote focus in on some key factors to living a healthier lifestyle. “People focus too much, they think they need to go to the gym for an hour, do a certain workout and don’t incorporate movement into their daily life.” People may go to the gym for an hour and have a killer workout however the rest of the 23 hours in their day aren’t supporting that.
“People are more likely to stick with being active if they are doing something they enjoy,” says Coote. “Movement doesn’t have to be an hour in the gym. It could be gardening or playing with your kid. If you look at movement as you would nutrition, just because you’re eating the same things everyday, although that may be healthy, you’re not getting everything you need in that meal. The same goes for working out, doing the same things every day isn’t going to improve your overall health.”
To take a holistic approach to your own nutrition, Coote notes that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The last thing you want is to become worn out or injured early on and discourage yourself from going further down the path. Small maintainable changes like going for a short walk, taking up a sport you love or instead of going out to eat with a friend, do a physical activity. The more you enjoy what you are doing, and having a variety of activities to keep you stimulated the more you’ll do it and soon enough it will become habit.
The same goes for changes in your diet. Coote recommends adding in a green smoothie to your breakfast meal, initially if you start with lots of fruit and add more and more greens as you go you’ll really be able to stomach the flavours and enjoy the nutritional benefits. “I think people focus too much on what they can’t have, and restrict their diet and end up binging,” says Coote. “What I found helps is adding in the good things.”
Some of Coote’s favourite healthy swaps include kombucha instead of soda, green smoothies instead of skipping breakfast and getting outdoors instead of hitting the gym.