Food & Nutrition Resources

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 17

Almost everyone has some self-control. It’s just a matter of where they’ve applied it. When the brain’s reward system is strongly activated, we lose self-control. That system is designed to override your self-control and keep you engaging in behaviors that enhance your chance of survival. Unfortunately, eating sugary cereals while watching television does not enhance your survival. It’s working against it.

We live in a time where most of the things triggering your reward system are actually harmful to you and lessen your lifespan and your health rather than improve it. We have to get this balance back by focusing on well-being. When you have well-being, willpower naturally comes more easily. So we’re going to focus on the activities that enhance focus and improve awareness and higher brain function, such as:

Willpower happens when you’re fully aware. Willpower happens when you’re able to make choices consistent with your highest desire. I want you to revisit the whole concept of desire and what you really want for yourself.

We live in a time where most of the things triggering your reward system are actually harmful to you and lessen your lifespan and your health rather than improve it.

Generally speaking, you’re choosing according to your desires. If your area of struggle involves food, then think about what’s happening when you experience the craving for food. Just pay attention to the feelings and observe them, and then begin to think about what you really want for yourself. You have to be aware in the moment to even make choices. Otherwise, it’s just too challenging.woman sitting writing in journal with awareness

So this week, we’re focusing on our awareness. We’re focusing on the experience of craving, the areas where we seem to lack willpower. But we’re also focusing on the areas where we do have willpower, the parts of our life where we’re always able to take care of things in a way that serves our best interests or the interests of our family.

Next week in the series we’ll dive even deeper into willpower, bringing you more insight into how you can apply it to your daily life.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 4

The bottom line is you eat what your brain tells you to eat. This means not what you, the deeper and greater you, actually wants for yourself. That you doesn’t decide what you eat. Your conditioned non-conscious brain tells you what to eat.

If you really wake up the deeper you and get serious about what you want, you can begin to change this. But for now, you’re eating as your non-conscious brain has trained you to eat. This started when you were an embryo and is based on genetics, hormones, and neurotransmitters that have developed as you matured.

Remember this: It’s not you, it’s your brain.

But guess what? You actually get to take charge of your brain. You can take over your brain and direct your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to be consistent with what you really want for yourself. We also emphasize this in our series on desire, willpower, and mindset. It’s very important that you have the right mindset and the right desire and that you’re very intentional about this.

Now more than ever, you must apply intentionality.

Intentionality and Eating

You or someone you know opens a bag of potato chips or cookies. Perhaps the chips are labeled something like “buffalo ranch maple bacon-flavored.” You think, “Disgusting. Who would ever want to eat something like that?” Then you taste one because your friend says, “You’ve just got to try this!”

And the next thing you know, the bag is empty. You ate the entire bag. You’re sitting there wondering, “How did I just do that? Why couldn’t I stop eating?”

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

This is true for so many different foods. I think everyone can relate to this example. I sure can. You need to understand that the non-conscious aspects of your brain took over.

Our rational, conscious brain thinks it’s in charge of our eating behavior, that we eat what we want and when we want, and that we can stop eating whenever we choose to. But we have so much less control than that.

Behind the decision-making processes of eating behavior are physiological forces in our brain and body that we’ve never even been aware of. Brain physiology involves hormones, neurotransmitters, and electricity. Your eating behavior is based on many different pathways in your brain that established when you were just developing. Your preferences were formed based on reward stimulation before you were at an age of choice.

Friends deciding what to eat.

If you choose to choose according to your desires, then you’re going to have to pay close attention to this blog series. The great news is, you will be able to choose to choose. You can get mastery over this. Leave behind all of the anxiety, shame, guilt, and powerlessness you have felt. You will be able to take charge.

Be patient with yourself and go one step at a time. Deepen your understanding. Practice visualizing your desires for your best health, and what that looks like. Experience this. I promise it’ll pay you back.  

Visit us at Health Shepherds, review our resources, and read our book Authentic Health. We look forward to you joining us on your journey to better living and authentic health.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 3

I want to reiterate one more time our three fundamental eating behaviors that apply to all nutritional approaches. These three pillars are necessary for any eating paradigm. If you violate these pillars, you ultimately will find that you have very little control over eating behavior and often struggle with your weight or chronic diseases.

I also want to remind you that not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy. Many people who have a heavier body-mass are applying the proper fundamental habits of health in their life. They feel good, and their health metrics look good. These individuals are not unhealthy. This is not about weight. This is about health. Good health supports a healthy weight for you. This is an individual issue based on genetics and long-term hormonal changes based on long-term environmental exposures.

In addition, I want to remind you that many people who aren’t classified as overweight are metabolically sick. They’re eating the foods that make us all sick. They may even be overeating them. However, the way their body regulates their weight via genetics and hormones keeps them at a leaner weight. But their biometrics tell the truth: they have insulin resistance, fatty livers, elevated blood pressures, and chronic inflammation. They don’t feel good. They also need to apply these three pillars.

Three Pillars:

1. Eliminate Nutritional Stressors

Throughout this series, you’ll learn why fast foods, junk foods, processed foods, foods that have been super concentrated in sugar, fat, salt, and other flavors are all causing us health issues. These foods directly trigger inflammation and disease in your body. This has been well established.

These foods only provide high levels of calories but contain minimal nutrients. These foods lack fiber and trigger your reward system in such a powerful way that you cannot stop eating them. You have no willpower when you consume these foods. These foods are the food equivalent of cigarettes. There’s no case to be made that they should be part of our diet.

Man at table eating eggs

When we eat them, we become addicted to them, and we become sick. They make us feel bad. The pleasure we feel from them is false. We have to reject them the same way a smoker has to quit smoking if they want to become well.

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

I know some think I’m dogmatic about it, but it’s just the truth. If you want to be healthy, these foods have no place in your diet.

But I also want to emphasize you can take your time getting there. Change is hard, and it takes time. Change happens according to strong desire. Just know that I’m not judging you or anyone else. This is a challenging problem and we have to be aware of what these foods are doing to us.

2. Balance Feeding and Fasting

We have many posts that explain what I mean by balancing feeding and fasting, so I’ll not go into it right now. Our bodies are designed to enter the fed state, but they are also designed to spend time in fasting states. This is a very important principle.

3. Mindfulness of Eating

You have to engage your higher mind and activate the one part of your brain that gives you some control over eating behavior. Your desire for energy and health has to be greater than the food preferences that you never chose.

This is a very important piece of the puzzle because once you’re exposed to the foods that trigger your reward system, you will not be able to control your behavior. That’s true for everyone, including me.

Broccollini and cheese and lemon

So you have to apply a mindful approach to nutrition. That means understanding what food is for you, being mindful about the sourcing, taking your time to eat, chewing your food thoroughly—preferably 25 times if possible—and enjoying what food is supposed to do for you.

In conclusion, eliminate nutritional stressors, balance feeding and fasting, and be mindful about eating. It really is that simple.

There is an uncomplicated and understandable truth about eating and health. We want to make it easy for you. Join us at Health Shepherds.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain: Part 2

Obesity rates have been rising in our country, and other industrialized nations, for the past several decades. It’s no secret that we eat more than we used to. In spite of reduced-fat foods, fad diets, and exercise crazes, we’ve increased our daily calorie intake by more than 400 calories per day since the 1980s. But why if we have all this knowledge of our overeating tendencies and the damage it does to our health, do we continue to succumb to this behavior?

The Problem

The standard approach to this problem is to suggest it’s primarily an issue of overeating and not enough exercising. As you know from our teachings on how our body weight is managed, there are more influences on our weight than these two variables.

If it were an issue of eating too much and not being physically active, the problem could be blamed on those who’d been gaining the weight.

It could be suggested that they just lack willpower and that they need to push away from the table.

Large English breakfast with eggs, sausage, baked beans, and potatoes

 

For decades, people have been confounded by this issue, and it’s caused many to feel bad about themselves. The confusion has resulted in the same solutions: reduced calorie diets and increased physical activity.

We’ve also offered all kinds of fad interventions, such as picking one particular food group as the primary cause of our issue. It was because we ate too much fat, and now it’s because we eat too much sugar. Some would have you believe it’s because we don’t eat enough whole grains, or whatever other macronutrient has become the sensation of the year.

But why if we have all this knowledge of our overeating tendencies and the damage it does to our health, do we continue to succumb to this behavior?

Pointing fingers at the people who struggle with this problem doesn’t help.

The Inquiry

These are the questions we should be asking:

  • Why do I eat so much food?
  • When certain foods make me sick, why do I still eat them?
  • Once I start eating, why can’t I stop?

The answer to these questions actually lies in how your central nervous system regulates eating behavior. It does it primarily through non-conscious mechanisms. You’ve always had far less control over your eating behavior than you thought.

The Solution

The good news is, once you know the truth, there’s a path out of this. There is a way of eating that restores normal appetite control, healthy weight, and health. I’m going to teach you the solution in this blog series. This is a fundamental, time-tested truth. It applies to all paradigms of eating. I’m not going to teach you that you have to eliminate one primary food group from your diet or suggest you go on a significant calorie-restricted diet on a consistent basis.

Light lunch with seared salmon and lime

I’m going to teach you that centering your diet around a particular category of foods will provide you with energy and health, begin to reverse many diseases, and naturally control your eating behaviors in a satisfying manner. You will no longer have to fight with yourself over food choices. These foods give you back control of your eating behavior.

I’m not going to teach you that you have to eliminate one primary food group from your diet or suggest you go on a significant calorie-restricted diet on a consistent basis.

The challenge will be accepting that these foods are the ones that you have to eat…

More on that next in our next post.

Are you interested in learning more about healthy eating? Read our Precision Nutrition documents and follow along on this important and informative blog series!

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 14

There’s a difference in the feeling of pleasure, or euphoria, versus the feeling of wellbeing.

When I talk about this, for the sake of this blog, I’m substantially simplifying these concepts.

For a more in-depth explanation, watch our video series and read our book, Authentic Health.

Pleasure vs. Wellbeing

You have a region in your brain known as the reward center. It’s supposed to orient our behaviors around activities that promote our survival, such as eating and reproduction. There are many different activities and substances that stimulate our reward system. When they do, we have strong feelings of motivation and energy (from a concurrent stress response). If we experience the culmination of the reward response, the result is a brief period of pleasure. It is described as a feeling of euphoria.

woman laughing feeling euphoric pleasure

This system works fine when the behaviors and substances that stimulate it are not unnaturally concentrated or experienced at a high frequency. This system directs us to behaviors that promote our survival. However, this system does not work well, nor is it adapted to, an environment in which the triggers are super-concentrated and readily available.

Because the system helps us survive, it is designed to override our higher mind, or conscious controlled behavior.

In addition, it overrides internal, non-conscious, regulatory functions that balance our behaviors.

If we experience the culmination of the reward response, the result is a brief period of pleasure. It is described as a feeling of euphoria.

When Pleasure Goes Bad

What’s an example? Binge-eating.

There are certain flavors in foods, such as sugar, fat, salt, and meaty flavors, or glutamate, that are powerful triggers of our reward system.

When we experience these flavors, our brain turns off conscious control of eating and overrides normal satiety function which causes us to binge eat. That’s because these flavors are associated with nutrients that helped us survive, but they were not always readily available to us.

Food manufacturers have taken advantage of this.

Now they make super-concentrated flavors in foods that have minimal fiber or nutrients in them. The American marketplace is manipulating your reward system and making you feel like it’s your fault that you can’t control yourself – when in actuality – it’s biology you can’t control.

This feeling is not sustainable, and it’s not real. For the moment, it feels good, but you quickly develop tolerance and soon you feel no pleasure at all. You just feel a little less bad when you binge eat, or smoke, or drink, or whatever it may be.

A giant spread of food including tacos and pizza and dip and chips provides pleasure

For the moment, it feels good, but you quickly develop tolerance and soon you feel no pleasure at all.

Awareness Rather than Blame

We blame ourselves for this, but we shouldn’t.

Yes, we’re making a choice, but we’re not really. Ultimately, we do have to make the choice to walk away altogether. If you’re susceptible to those specific triggers and you’re exposed, you will not be able to control your behavior.

Genetics play a part. Not everybody is susceptible to every one of those flavors, nor is everyone susceptible to nicotine, alcohol, or opiate addiction. But we’re all susceptible to some form of addiction, whether it be through entertainment, cell phones, video games, gambling, binge eating, drugs, alcohol, or many other things that trigger the reward system.

You have to understand what you’re dealing with.

Our reward system is meant to work in balance, over the course of time when we enjoy good food, and when we enjoy activities that promote our long-term survival. What we’re really supposed to experience afterward is a feeling of wellbeing. That’s a different area of the mind.

Woman in front of slot machines getting pleasure

I want you to think about what triggers your reward system.

What can’t you control when you’re exposed to it?

Willpower, while important, is not the primary way we control these responses. I describe this more thoroughly in the book, and in our other resources. I think this teaching is very effective and helpful.

We’re up against something we don’t understand, but that something understands us, and it’s taking advantage of the situation. It’s very important to wake up to this. In our next post, we’ll discuss how to cultivate wellbeing.


Health Shepherds is on a mission to deliver personalized and compassionate healthcare. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.

Eating Behaviors and the Brain Part 1

Frequently, when I’m seeing patients who have health issues that are strongly influenced by their eating behaviors, they will reflect how they just need more willpower so they can make the changes that will help them to be healthy. While it’s true that willpower is involved in any change, I think they’re misunderstanding how eating behaviors are actually regulated.

We overestimate how much conscious control we have over our eating behaviors. I want to help people to understand this issue, so I’m creating a series of blog posts. It’s that important. Because if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, then you can’t possibly make the changes you hope to.

Where Do Eating Behaviors Originate?

We tend to think that we choose our eating behaviors, that we choose according to our own preferences. However, our conscious control of eating actually has minimal influence over our eating behaviors. Our eating behaviors are largely determined by central nervous system signals involving our reward system and satiation control, as well as hormonal signaling influencing our energy balance.

Most people, when it comes to hunger and eating behavior do not know what they’re actually dealing with. These posts hope to answer that question and empower the readers to be able to take back control of their eating behavior. I find so many people addressing this area from a perspective of shame, self-doubt, and guilt. Additionally, they tend to view willpower as an issue of character, and if they can’t control their eating behaviors, then they must be deficient in their character.

Man with chips, soda, and burger

People who are dealing with chronic obesity and metabolic diseases feel very badly about themselves for how their eating behavior contributes to these diseases, but ultimately, they should not.

You can finally choose foods that nourish you, and support your good health, and give you energy.

Most of the influencers of eating behavior occurred before we were at an age of conscious choice. Therefore, our eating behaviors are based on conditioned patterns in our brain that are beyond the reach of conscious control. What we call our preferences are often eating habits that were established before we even knew how to form a preference. Our focus is for all of our preferences to become healthy.

Be Empowered to Make Changes

I hope this series will help many people who are confused by their current situation regarding eating and weight. This is meant to be encouraging, to help you feel better about yourself, and to give you the tools you need so you can finally choose according to your preferences. You can finally choose foods that nourish you, and support your good health, and give you energy. You can finally, forever, walk away from the foods that actually make you sick.

Healthy salads with mixed greens

Stick with this series and pay close attention to what we teach. There’s a lot of depth behind what I’m teaching, but I’m going to try and keep it simple. Everything I’m teaching is based on solid science and credible studies. I believe this will be enlightening for you and empowering.

Are you searching for a more integrated approach to healthcare? That’s what Health Shepherds delivers. If you have questions about a more personalized path to your wellbeing, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

I had a patient come in who is fairly healthy, but trying to lose weight and feel better. She has a few conditions that will improve with lifestyle modifications. In an effort to make positive changes, she recently attended a local structured dietary course that’s been funded partly by grant money. I’m a fan of this program and I consider it valuable to our community. It’s getting individuals involved in the conversation about chronic diseases and lifestyle. However, this individual is now struggling with the idea that a plant-based whole food diet is the best possible diet, and she feels guilty if she does not strictly follow this approach.

Now I know that those who are teaching the course understand that not everyone is able to completely adopt this diet. However, because of the way it is taught, the participants often believe that this is the best possible diet and that straying from it is a step backward in their nutritional approach. They are not really provided with all of the potential benefits that an omnivorous diet may provide. The omnivorous diet I am describing would definitely have a strong foundation of plant-based foods. But it would also include pasture-raised poultry, grass-fed beef, and especially foods such as pasture-raised eggs and wild-caught fish that are rich in essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids and good sources of protein.

Eggs and toast and salad omnivore diet

Diet, Conflict, and What to Eat

My patient was conflicted because she was having trouble adopting this diet for several reasons. One was the time it took to shop and prepare foods which is a skill she has not acquired yet. Two, she was not used to the textures and flavors associated with her new diet. Three, it wasn’t doing a good job of controlling her appetite at the time.

I believe that plant-based whole food diets when properly designed, help control appetite because of the fiber and nutrients contained in these foods. So I like plant-based whole food diets. They are a great option for many people. I have adjusted my own diet in that direction. However, based on my genetic profile and gut microbiome analysis, I don’t tolerate grains or legumes very well. I wish I did. I wish I could enjoy all the health benefits of properly prepared beans, but it’s just not a food that fits with my ancestry and genetic blueprint. So I have to focus my plant-based whole food diet on cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, mushrooms, tubers, and other varieties of vegetables.

She was very conflicted because she felt like this was the diet she needed to follow, but she was really having trouble, and it was affecting her overall feeling of wellbeing every day. It was causing her to excessively ruminate about eating. So we stopped and we looked at her specific issues and how we could help her succeed.

The Diet + Health Connection

She does not have, at this point, any evidence of diabetes or insulin resistance, so I don’t think that carbohydrate tolerance is an issue for her. My patient does need to lose a little weight and is at risk of metabolic syndrome in the future, but does not have it at this time. She would like to feel better and lose some weight, but we have time to help her adjust to an individualized approach to eating that will support her goals for her health.

Her past preferences were traditionally a meat and potato diet. She has historically eaten a lot of processed starches and prefers these foods. We examined food textures and flavors, and a way of incorporating more plant-based whole foods into her diet based on her specific tolerances, and her ability to prepare those foods in a way that is nutritious for her. We discussed the role that processed foods play in weight gain and chronic diseases. The importance of consuming nutrients for her to feel good and emphasis on the sources of her foods over the specific macronutrients, or whether the foods were plant or animal-based, was discussed.

Hand reaching for yellow and red peppers

Obstacles, Challenges, and Solutions

Now, one of her challenges is that she has difficulty chewing. She has issues with her jaw and teeth, and the increased need for chewing associated with her new diet was uncomfortable for her. I suggested continuing to increase her plant-based whole food consumption, but also adding a food based supplement to provide nutrients while reducing the volume of food she needs to eat. I like Dr. Cowan’s Garden Products. His team grows their own vegetables in nutrient-rich soil free of any additives or chemicals, properly cooks the ones that need to be cooked, and then reduces them to powders that retain the nutrients and some of the fiber from the original plants. There’s a whole variety of various plant-based powders, that when added to other foods, will give you the nutrient density of those plant-based foods, and a little bit of the fiber.

We were able to reduce her intake of kale by having her braise it and take kale powder. This eliminated her need to chew it. We were able to find similar solutions for other types of produce – it just required some creativity to find solutions. This was a relief to her, and she’s now a fan of these types of products.

Grilled salmon on top of fresh salad

Next, we examined her desire to eat animal-based foods. We discussed continuing to include these foods but focusing on reducing the portions she consumed, and perhaps, not having animal protein at every meal. We slowly tilted her diet towards wild-caught fish and pasture-raised eggs, and then showed her some ways of putting this together with plant-based whole foods plus some of Dr. Cowan’s powders. This set her up to prepare really delicious meals that would satisfy her, and also give her the nutrients she needs.

Open to Change

She became excited about this approach and felt it was something she could do in a sustainable manner. We had to help her get past some incorrect beliefs about food, such as eggs containing too much cholesterol. When I explained to her the nutrient density of the egg white and yolk, she was able to add eggs back to her diet and feel good about it.

We’re going to follow up and discuss her success and the next steps she should take to evolve her diet. She may end up on a plant-based whole food diet. It could be the best diet for her, and it could be something she could follow. But she didn’t need to get there right away. We just needed to get more plant-based whole foods into her diet for the nutrient value, and then find ways to source the other foods that are satisfying to her.

Ultimately, the first step this patient needed to take was to become mindful of eating and intentional about the sources of her food. Those are 2 of the 3 pillars of healthy eating we emphasize in our resources that apply to any healthy eating paradigm.

I would point to works like Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan M.D. and the works from organizations like the Weston-Price Foundation to better understand ancestral diets and the roles animal products can play in human health.

Fresh chicken fajitas

Doctor’s Summary

I’m a big believer that the best diet for you is a diet that is sustainable, pleasurable, and honors your ancestry and your genetics.

All diets that support good health have common elements and they’re well explained in my book, Authentic Health. They eliminate fake foods, processed foods, and added sugars. These diets restore a high-value relationship to food as a source of nutrients and life for you. They eliminate nutrient deficiencies, control hunger, and catalyze physical activity. These diets all balance feeding and fasting. They have the same principles.

Don’t get attached to one philosophy. Please see our Precision Nutrition document file, where there are ample documents with plenty of evidence-based studies that demonstrate these principles are effective and sustainable. Don’t let anybody convince you that you have to follow one specific diet.

Please visit us at Health Shepherds, review our resources, and let them sink into your mind and find the strategy that works for you. If you need more help with this, contact our office and schedule an appointment, or again, read the book, Authentic Health, or look at some of our additional materials.

Nutritional agnosticism is the philosophy that different people have different nutritional needs. Not only that, but that specific nutritional needs change from season to season and year to year. This makes sense when you consider the span of human ancestry and the development of our minds and bodies.

We should listen to our internal wisdom and let our bodies dictate the nourishment and diet we deliver it.

There is no one best diet for everybody all of the time. There are a few basic principles that undergird all healthy nutritional approaches, but otherwise, there are many different approaches that provide the health we are seeking. Everyone has innumerable variables that influence the best diet for them at any given time. However, despite the many variables, the process of identifying your best diet is not that hard. Your body will teach you if you are able to interpret the signals it provides you. We should listen to our internal wisdom and let our bodies dictate the nourishment and diet we deliver it.

Bowl of rice and Asian vegetables.

Precision Nutrition

You’ll notice if you review our nutritional resources on the Health Shepherds website, that we have a lot of documents produced by a company called Precision Nutrition. There’s a reason why we have so many of their resources. As a student of theirs, I have participated in their nutritional coaching classes, used their textbook, and employed their research.

I believe they are one of the most evidence-based nutritional institutes in existence today. Precision Nutrition considers the evidence without pre-existing biases. Their whole focus is on what approaches to nutrition help people become their healthiest selves.

They study concepts such as ketogenic diets, fasting approaches, portion control, genetics, gut microbiome, and energy balance. Precision Nutrition presents their data in an agnostic manner.

Their overall approach to reshaping individual nutrition habits for the purposes of maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most logical and well-articulated approaches. It’s very consistent with the core components of my specific teaching in which we look at the role of nutrition in the following ways:

  • Provides us with energy
  • Is comprehensive and eliminates nutritional deficiencies
  • Catalyzes physical activity
  • Supports healthy weight and healthy energy balance
  • Promotes stewardship of the planet, animals, and one another

Various types of healthy toasts with hummus cucumber avocado radishes

Individual Approach to Eating

I am a nutritional agnostic. I do not have an emotional attachment to any one method of eating. I’m only attached to what works best for each individual. I frequently stress that your approach must be individualized. It must take into account the individual variables that impact you—genetics, gut microbiome, personal finances, and access to resources. Your social environment and cultural and spiritual beliefs also must be taken into account.

All of these things impact your best nutritional approach, but your best nutritional approach will provide adequate nutrients and energy, support healthy weight, support overall health, and hopefully involve consideration of the environment, animals, and of your fellow human beings.

I stress certain aspects of nutrition, such as balancing feeding and fasting because I have witnessed how effective this is. But I can use whatever approach works, whether that’s a gradual reshaping of overall nutritional approach or a complete overhaul of someone’s dietary habits.

Healthy breakfast with orange juice and fruit

When you’re looking for evidence, studies, and analytical approaches to big topics, I recommend the Precision Nutrition documents. I believe that their research and conclusions are solid, and I agree with the vast majority of their teaching. When I am working with a client, I may have some occasional nuanced differences from the basic Precision Nutrition approach, but that primarily involves smaller details based on specific goals for that individual. Precision Nutrition focuses on effective population-based approaches and their approach is excellent. When it comes to individuals, we still have to customize their diet to their situation and goals.

Takeaway

I think it’s important that we remain agnostic about nutrition, and that we remain open and objective about what approach works best for us. So consider that as you review our materials, and as you experiment with different approaches to nutrition that allow you to enjoy eating while supporting your health and your healthiest weight.

If you’d like to know more about nutrition agnosticism, please contact us. There is a simple and understandable truth about eating and health. We want to make it easy for you. Join us at Health Shepherds.

Transforming Your Habits to Transform Your Health Part 10

External resistance refers to the forces outside of you that create challenges to your quest for your best health. External resistance can arise from your environment, your social and family support structures, as well as the modern marketplace of goods and services that attempts to sell you products that can keep you trapped in poor health. You must recognize these factors and the roles they play in your journey to authentic health.

Your Environment

Regarding your environment, this is an obvious point. If your issue is binge eating on junk food, then you have to make sure there is no junk food in your home, your car, or in your immediate workplace. You need to minimize your exposure to whatever habits sabotage your health.

There are a lot of tips and tricks for getting this done, but you cannot continue to expose yourself to the goods or services that are taking your health from you and expect to succeed on your quest for health. You must take control of your personal environment.

You’ll Need Support

Another form of resistance comes from the people with whom you spend your time. Friends and family can mean well, but they can often be negative influencers of change. Oftentimes, people will resist your change to improve your health. It’s not that they intentionally want you to be sick, it’s just that your change threatens them in some way.

When you undertake a worthy quest, such as the quest for your best health, you should hope that friends and family would come alongside and support you.

You have to keep this impersonal. This is about you and your decisions. It’s not about them. When you undertake a worthy quest, such as the quest for your best health, you should hope that friends and family would come alongside and support you. You need to surround yourself with people who speak good things into you, who speak confidence and courage and encouragement to you. You need to surround yourself with people who will help you succeed on your quest.

Man and woman embracing.

If some of your friends and family speak negatively about what you’re trying to do, whether that’s telling you that you cannot do it, or you shouldn’t do it, then you need to minimize your exposure to these suggestions. You have to redirect conversations, or just avoid conversations with them altogether. I know this can be challenging, and you don’t have to be rude about it, but ultimately this quest is too important to allow others to dissuade you from undertaking it. It’s very important to surround yourself with those who believe in you and speak positively to you.

The Role of the Marketplace

At this time, the general marketplace of goods and services will resist the change you’re trying to make. This resistance is because the current status quo is to sell forms of entertainment, drugs and alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and foods that trigger your reward system and keep you enslaved to the habits and behaviors that are making you sick. Many people are profiting from this.

We should all use our marketplace leverage to insist on goods and services that promote our health and the health of our children and our families and our communities.

Now it’s not true across the entire marketplace. There are many companies out there who are actively promoting goods and services in an ethical way that actually promote your good health. We should support them. Yes, their products are more expensive, but it’s because they’re actually healthy for us.

In the end, the marketplace is pragmatic. It will go where consumers demand that it goes. We should all use our marketplace leverage to insist on goods and services that promote our health and the health of our children and our families and our communities.

Status Quo

I’ll get off my soapbox and get back to the main topic, external resistance. The current status quo will strongly resist your change. Seductive advertising will pop up everywhere to try and keep you in your current habits. The current marketplace wants you to keep doing what you’re doing, and keep buying what they’re selling.

This quest has opposition, but it is worthy. So be prepared. Clean up your environment. Have it be supportive for you. Associate with those who support you. Understand the current marketplace and its role in forming your habits and creating your experience of health.

Family meal with healthy food.

Change How You Engage

You may have to change some ways that you engage with the current culture like turning off the television. You may have to turn off the computers and social media. Just unplug and find some protected space so that addictive foods, various drugs, alcohol, and addictive forms of entertainment aren’t placed in your consciousness all of the time, tempting you to go back to your old habits.

Once you have set yourself free from the habits that are stealing your health, you won’t have to be as ruthless about this. Once you have your freedom, you’ll see it for what it is, and it really won’t tempt you anymore. I am speaking the truth about this. Many people believe they can never be free from the habits that are making them sick. But I have seen this freedom claimed over and over again in my clinic.

Just unplug and find some protected space so that addictive foods, various drugs, alcohol, and addictive forms of entertainment aren’t placed in your consciousness all of the time, tempting you to go back to your old habits.

As we’ve learned, resistance is an active force. You have to be aware of it, and you have to be prepared for it. Overcoming internal and external resistance is part of what makes this quest worthy. You will be able to do it provided you have a true heart’s desire and commitment to the path of authentic health.

At Health Shepherds, we understand the importance and difficulties related to changing habits. If you have questions about how to get started on this path, contact us. You also can like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

If you follow my teaching, you know that I emphasize nutrients over calories. I want to reverse the way we think about food. Rather than focusing on primarily calories and macronutrients, I concentrate on the micronutrients and phytonutrients that allow our bodies to perform as they were designed. These nutrients help our bodies recover from the stress of living and optimize energy production. Without them, the calories do not do much for us. Because of this, today I want to cover the importance of fiber.

We do not get enough fiber in our diet. Our current minimum recommendation is woefully low because our bodies thrive when we consume a significant amount of this important nutrient.

The Bulk of the Matter

One of the most important components of food that provides innumerable benefits but often is neglected is fiber. If I have any regret from the nutritional chapter in my book, Authentic Health, it’s that I didn’t emphasize it as much as I wish I had. We do not get enough fiber in our diet. Our current minimum recommendation is woefully low because our bodies thrive when we consume a significant amount of this important nutrient.

Fiber is a very important component of our diet as it is a prebiotic, meaning it actually feeds the good bacteria in our gut. It forms bulk in our stool and improves bowel regularity and composition. It binds cholesterol in the gut and helps reduce cholesterol absorption. Fiber also contributes to satiation, the feeling of fullness when we eat, and therefore naturally controls appetite. It also slows down the absorption of sugars into our bloodstream and can help control blood sugars after a meal. It both nourishes and satisfies you.

Healthy meal full of fiber with carrots, broccoli, and noodles.

How Do I Increase My Fiber?

Fiber is found in most foods, but it’s most abundant in non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Fiber is also abundant in seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes. However, if you follow my teaching, you’ll know that I emphasize using only non-GMO properly prepared grains and legumes. While some individuals thrive on a whole food, plant-based diet rich in natural grains and legumes, others may have sensitivity to grains and legumes. The primary issue is the source and the preparation.

I recommend eating a lot of natural fiber through consumption of non-starchy vegetables, organic fruits (but watch total amount of fruit intake), and seeds and nuts. I also recommend limiting fruit, as it is higher in sugar.

Some individuals will benefit from using a daily fiber supplement. I personally use one for all of the benefits it provides me. I prefer fiber supplements that come from real food such as organic, high-quality psyllium husk, ground flaxseeds and chia seed, and other natural sources. These will usually contain insoluble fiber, prebiotics, and omega 3s that will nourish your gut and make digestive function easy for you. Once you get used to them, they easily become part of your daily routine.

Man taking fiber supplement.

There are a lot of different versions of fiber. Some will cause bloating and gas for you. In this case, you may need to switch to a different source. A lot of it has to do with the composition of your gut microbiome. But you can find the fibers that work best for you. They are the ones that aid in bowel regularity, promote satiety, and give you a sense of wellbeing.

How Much Fiber is Enough?

You need to get plenty of fiber in your diet if you want to succeed in maintaining a healthy weight. I recommend getting a minimum of 30 grams a day, but preferably 40 to 60 to optimize health. Because our distant ancestors ate a natural whole-food based diet, they likely consumed over 100 grams a day. Our modern foods have been stripped of the fiber that is so nourishing for us. The only way to get to get enough is to eat more produce and consume less processed foods.

Our modern foods have been stripped of the fiber that is so nourishing for us. The only way to get to get enough is to eat more produce and consume less processed foods.

You also want a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. On food labels, the amount is listed and is broken down into soluble and insoluble. So it’s easy to identify how much fiber is in a food you’re consuming. You also can find nutrition tables on multiple different apps or searching the internet. 

Insoluble fiber oatmeal with honey and pears.

My patients have consistently told me that one of the best pieces of advice they followed was to increase their fiber. They never regret honoring their body’s need for this vital nutrient.

Make sure you’re consuming enough fiber in your diet. It’s an important nutrient that maintains regularity and gives our bodies energy. If you have questions about how to eat more fiber or which fiber is best for you, contact us. Health Shepherds wants to see you on a journey to your most authentic health. A healthy diet is one of the best ways to succeed.