Why the perfect diet and supplements alone won’t heal you

Your diet and supplements are fantastic tools to help you feel better, but those two alone won't heal you. We need to stop taking a reductionist approach. Here's why.
mental health nutritional therapy

Even the most perfect diet and supplements won’t heal you. That is not to say that those two tools are not worth pursuing – far from it! 

But the more I work with clients and the more I study this whole field of functional medicine, the more I understand that those two tools are not the be-all and end-all. 

Let's not take a reductionist approach - diet and supplements won't heal you

Whether you’re dealing with chronic mental health problems, fatigue, digestive symptoms, hormonal issues, autoimmunity, infections etc. You and we need to stop chasing the perfect diet and the perfect supplement regime. Those two alone just won’t do it. It’s a reductionist approach.

We can spend vast amounts of time, money and energy on foods, supplements and in some cases medication. And it’s easy to do with all the messages out there that certain vitamins or remedies will fix you. That a certain diet will suddenly take all of your symptoms away. You just need to follow it to the letter.

But it rarely works like that. Chronic health conditions didn’t arise because you were lacking a certain supplement or a certain nutrient. 

Again, I’m not saying to not work on your diet or to not incorporate helpful remedies. In my own journey of healing from depression, those two were very much an important part of the plan. Foods are literally the building blocks of your body. And supplements can help supply valuable nutrients that your body might be lacking in, or requiring more of. 

But in my own journey and when I’m supporting my clients, there are always a lot of other areas that need attention. 

This does not mean adding more and more and more protocols to your health journey, but rather simplifying the approach and not getting stressed out about minor details.

Consider the big picture of your health

Consider the sources of stress in your life

As one of my functional medicine mentors keeps saying, “you can’t outsupplement stress”.  Chronic (and acute) stress is something that most of us deal with. We’re hardwired to scan for danger and threats in our environments – evolutionary this makes sense. But in today’s world of constantly being switched on and available, we can find ourselves always being in this hyper-alert state.  We feel overwhelmed by all the things we need and feel we should be doing. We might be stressed because of a bad marriage, problems with our children, conflicts at work, caring for somebody else, deadlines, financial worries, health worries etc.  Perhaps your body is physically stressed, for example due to chronic inflammation or infection. Maybe there is trauma in your earlier years of life that is still affecting you today. Perhaps you’ve been living your life with the message of “the world is a dangerous place”. If that’s you, how could you move this perspective to “the world is a safe place”, at least just now and again?  In this case, diet and supplements won’t heal you. Those alone are not the answer to chronic stress.

Prioritise your sleep

If you’re dealing with any kind of chronic illness, focus on your sleep. If you are acutely stressed, prioritise it over other things such as social obligations, housework or events. 

If something is disrupting your normal sleep rhythm, really try and focus on what might improve it. Could you go to bed earlier? Or rather, how can you go to bed earlier? Very often the biggest reason why we aren’t getting enough sleep is because we go to bed too late.

Expose yourself to natural sunlight when you get up. Establish routines. Wear blue-light blocking glasses in the evening. There are lots of suggestions to help you improve the quality of your sleep out there. 

There are also certain tests you can have done that measure your cortisol awakening response, so looking at how much cortisol you release after waking in the morning. Ideally, it peaks first thing in the morning, giving you the energy you need to start your day. 

But again, don’t rely on finding the right supplement to help you fix sleep if it’s an issue for you. A supplement would most likely be more of a bandaid. How you live each day can be far more powerful than a certain type of remedy.

Move your body

We’re human beings and designed to move our bodies. We were never designed to be sedentary.

Now of course there are plenty of situations where exercise is simply not possible, for example due to injury or certain health conditions. But find what works for you. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or lift. Stand up and stretch now and again. Go for a walk. If you can, go swimming, cycling, running, dancing, rebounding or do weight lifting. Find what works for you and what you makes you feel better.

You can also use dry body brushing to help get your lymphatic system moving, or go to saunas to get sweaty. All these techniques help your detoxification processes, which in chronic illness is undoubtedly a good idea. Just don’t overdo it and know your limit. 

Bring more joy into your life

Surround yourself with people that make you feel better. Stay away from negative influences as best as you can. Nurture your relationships – it’s such an underestimated part of your health and wellbeing.

If you can, make more time for activities that are non-work related. What fills up your bucket? What is meaningful to you? What sparks a sense of joy in you? Or if that’s difficult right now, what used to create that spark for you? 

Treat yourself well

One of the biggest differences to mental health struggles can come when we improve our relationship to ourselves. Self-compassion is a topic very close to my heart. It’s something that has completely transformed my relationship to myself and has reduced anxiety in situations that would have previously made me extremely nervous. The way you process and handle your thoughts and emotions very much ties in with your physical health. So look at how you’re talking to yourself, how you handle your own thoughts and feelings. 

When we’re not feeling well, it’s so easy to want to find the one and quick fix solution. It’s such a tempting prospect, and very much advertised by many people out there wanting to make lots of money.

And if you’ve found a certain supplement or diet that works for you- then how wonderful! I have certainly found them for myself and help my clients with that too. 

But diet and supplements won’t heal you. You need more than that. Not in an overwhelming kind of way – but rather in a whole picture kind of way. 

Look at how you’re living your life. Look at your stress, your sleep, your joy factors, the way you treat yourself. That’s where a lot of ill health stems from. But it’s also where you can make changes for big improvements to your health and wellbeing. 

If you are interested to work on your physical and mental health with me and really dig deep into all these topics, simply get in touch here. We can figure out whether my approach suits your goals and needs.  

diet and supplements won't heal you

Welcome to the blog

I’m Claudia Smith and I help women get to better mental health naturally. Having overcome depression once myself, I am a qualified nutritionist, coach and practice functional medicine.

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