Embrace your individuality

I have always been mad about biology. From the moment in Lower Remove classroom when I opened my first Biology text book under the watchful eye of Sister Prudence (who instructed us not to look, yet, at page 24 where all the books naturally fell open) I was hooked.

But my studies have always been accompanied by a little voice saying, ‘I’m sure my body doesn’t work quite like that’ – and with good reason. I have one of the worst behaved bodies on the planet. Cancer at 33, a lifetime of weight problems, endometriosis, migraine, eczema… I won’t go on. My physiology has been very difficult to manage despite a lifelong interest in being healthy. For example, I piled on two-and-a-half stone when I became a nutritionist and started to follow the (un)conventional health eating advice. Go figure.

The difference between what’s ‘supposed’ to happen and what really happens has been my biggest fascination. If I have learned nothing else in life, I’ve learned that wellbeing is a personal pursuit.

Long term readers will know how thrilled I was to find a ‘dissident’ answer to my weight problem back in 2012. I lost 3 stone in total and, even more importantly, I have kept it all off. To do so I had to fly in the face of conventional advice.

It was tempting to think I had found the answer to life, the universe and everything. For me, that was almost true. The nutritional changes that led to my weight loss also helped with other long-standing health niggles and, according to the latest cancer theories, will likely shield me from my nemesis too.

(When you find the right solution, it’s amazing how many things sort themselves out ‘by coincidence’.)

Like a lot of self-help gurus I published my findings; The Dissident Diet was in the Amazon bestsellers list for much of 2014 and has gathered over forty five-star reviews. It really started to feel like ‘THE ANSWER’.

The diet that worked for me worked for most of my clients – but not all of them. I became increasingly fascinated with those people: the ones whose bodies didn’t work like mine, the mechanisms that made the difference. It reinforced what I already knew: each one of us is a complex biological system designed by nature to be unique (genetics) and further programmed by our increasingly complex environment to express those genes in a variety of ways depending on diet and lifestyle choices (epigenetics). Sadly, that means that no single self-help publication or diet book can contain all the answers to an individual’s needs except, perhaps, the author’s. It’s always personal.

For a long time I have wanted to get a handle on the way this works. Our extant medical paradigm, based on aggregated randomised trial data, is not sophisticated enough to cope with the needs of individuals. We tell ourselves it’s too costly to target treatment to individuals while, at the same time, watching the costs of continuing to treat en masse rise to bankrupting proportions. It’s frustrating, to say the least, to keep banging my head against a brick wall and saying ‘not like this’ when the answer to how it should be done is beyond the resources (though not the imagination) of a lone nutritionist.

So I was delighted when I learned that CNELM offer a Master of Science degree in Personalised Nutrition. Yes, personalised! It’s all about developing protocols for individuals. The syllabus is the stuff of my dreams, and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the problem of finding healthy answers for individuals alongside a community of like-minded seekers. The aim of CNELM is “to steer the integration of nutritional therapy and personalised nutrition to being a widely accessible and accepted healthcare option within mainstream and complementary healthcare”. That makes us highly compatible!

I hope to share what I learn in the blog (I have yet to work out exactly how I can tailor posts about personalised nutrition to an audience of 3000 people but I’ll do my best) and, of course, with my clients. I hope you’ll join me in recognising the uniqueness of your healthcare needs.

I hope to inspire you to take the time to build the habits that honour your need for food and sleep and work and rest and relaxation and exercise and stimulation and self-care.

I hope to call you away from the things you know are harming you and pull you towards the things your intuition is telling you to do.

I hope to show you that it’s almost always best to give your body a chance to repair itself before you resort to drugs or surgery.

I hope to persuade you to evaluate any form of health intervention in the light of your own personal experience and prospects – and to ask for the evidence to back it up.

I hope to help you shop and cook and eat the best food of your life – and to make the most of every single day that you have left on the planet.

I hope to encourage you to listen to yourself rather than follow the herd.

Are you ready to embrace your individuality?

Come with me.

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