What is a Naturopathic Diet?

naturopathic nutrition gives women the freedom with their health
Ali Holden

by Ali Holden

Naturopathy, or Naturopathic medicine, is simply NATURE-CURE and is a system of self-healing practices classed as ‘natural’, including diet.

When we come across the word ‘diet’, it often has connotations with losing weight or being a short-lived fad; however, in terms of the Naturopathic Diet, we are talking about the kinds of food that we habitually eat to be as close to ‘natural’ in this modern world as we possibly can.

There are also so many ways we could go off on a tangent to discuss different therapeutic approaches within the Naturopathic Diet. You may have come across food combining, intermittent fasting etc.. essentially, the Naturopathic way of eating is about eating whole food, as local, as seasonal and as organic/wild as possible…but what does all that actually MEAN?

In a nutshell, WHOLE food means exactly that. It has nothing extracted from it nor added, and it is minimally processed. It is just as Nature intended…for example, wholegrain brown rice compared with white rice. These tend to be single ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts, legumes etc., although we can learn to combine them and/or cook them to create our meals, and they will still be regarded as whole foods.

LOCAL food is grown or reared in the vicinity where we live, rather than having to travel thousands of miles, whether by plane, ship, train or truck…often a combination of these! Let’s consider how we feel after a long-haul flight…who wants to eat jet-lagged fruit & veg…enough said!

Foods from other countries sometimes need to meet quarantine regulations, undergo fumigation and may be kept in temperature-regulated conditions such as cold storage for lengthy periods of time.

SEASONAL food concerning plants, refers to the times of year they naturally grow and are harvested. Every season comes a variety of fruits and vegetables that flourish in the different conditions each season provides.

Many people today will not remember when buying strawberries at Christmas was impossible because they were ‘out of season’! These days, buying most fruits & vegetables all year round is POSSIBLE. If we wandered down the produce aisles of the supermarkets, we would be hard-pressed to know which season we were in! 

Local fruit and veg taste so wonderfully different when grown in their natural seasons and minimise the time it takes for the fresh produce to get from the ground or the tree to our plate. By eating foods grown in the same season we consume them, we automatically remove the need for some of the processes mentioned above, therefore preserving the nutritional value of the food.

In general, it is more natural to eat more root vegetables and those grown underground in the Autumn and Winter, compared with leafier vegs and salads grown above ground in the Spring and Summer. We also benefit from warmer, cooked foods in the colder, darker months, with more raw and cold foods in the warmer, lighter times.

Foraging for wild plants and herbs comes, of course, into all categories!

ORGANIC food may be better labelled ‘natural’ and all the other foods labelled ‘chemical’ or unnatural! The exception to this would be animal farming, where truly ‘natural’ would only refer to wild animals & fish living in their natural environment.

According to Guy Watson, founder of Riverford, organic always means…

  • No artificial pesticides or fertilisers
  • Exceptional standards of animal welfare (better than free range!)
  • No genetically modified (GM) ingredients or animal feeds
  • No routine use of antibiotics
  • Free from artificial preservatives and colours

Organic farming is rigorously controlled. Organic farmers are permitted just 15 pesticides, all derived from natural ingredients such as garlic and clove oil, and only used in very restricted circumstances.

When it comes to organic animals:

  • They are truly free to roam, with continuous daytime access to clean organic pastures.
  • They have more space than any other system, indoors and out.
  • They enjoy a rich natural diet.
  • They live in smaller groups, reducing stress.
  • They must not routinely be given antibiotics.
  • Are safe from mutilation. Organic hens are never de-beaked – common even in free-range systems – and organic pigs never have their teeth or tails cut.

Consequently, we can see quite clearly that by eating as whole, local, seasonal & organic/wild as possible, we are optimising the nutritional value of the foods we are eating…as well as reducing the number of chemicals such as pesticides, fertilisers, antibiotic residues etc. that find their way onto our plates.

What can we do with this knowledge?

It’s all very well knowing WHAT a Naturopathic Diet is, but WHY we would want to eat this way, along with HOW to implement it are two vital parts of the whole story! At The Nutritional Healing Foundation, we focus hugely on all three areas of virtually everything we teach…the WHAT, the WHY & the HOW. Our clients need to understand why we prescribe the advice in their unique, evolving treatment plans and how to carry it out easily. Starting out on our individual nutritional healing journeys may seem daunting, but we always emphasise that it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

As with everything, eating the naturopathic way requires making a start…beginning to understand it, learning how and where to shop & source our foods and how to prepare them into delicious, fresh and healthy meals. Every journey starts with the first step, and then we can progress at our own pace, without any stress…just pure benefits and enjoyment!

Let’s get a little practical…

The following list contains some of the foodstuffs we want to reduce with a view to cutting out, on our transition to a Naturopathic diet:

‘Non-clean’ meat & fish (by which we are referring to non-organic/not free-range/unnaturally fed), all processed food, which covers a multitude, such as refined grains (white grains), table salt, artificial sweeteners, as well as refined sugars, ‘damaged’ fats, such as vegetable oils…ENOUGH!!! Let’s focus on the delicious, scrumptious foods we ENJOY eating, which contribute to building health & happiness:

  1. We can fill our boots with vegetables; root veg, leafy green veg and also sea vegetables.
  2. Fresh fruits and dried fruits.
  3. Nuts & Seeds.
  4. Pulses & Legumes.
  5. Beans.
  6. Wild fish (the smaller fish, the better, as not as toxic as the bigger fish such as tuna).
  7. ‘Clean’ meats.
  8. Herbs & Spices.
  9. Fermented soya, such as Tempeh.
  10. Eggs.

The above are not exhaustive lists, but give us an idea of what we may want to head towards.

So, what does a Naturopathic Diet look like in our daily lives? 

Breakfast choices: 

  • Seasonal green smoothie 
  • Sprouted grain bread toast with nut butter
  • Overnight oats with soaked dried fruits & seeds
  • Porridge
  • Poached eggs on rye sourdough
  • Homemade granola

Lunch choices: 

  • Variety of salads with delicious dressings and fermented veggies, alongside fermented soya such as tempeh, or sardines/mackerel, or baked jacket potato with toppings such as hummus, guacamole or spicy butter beans
  • Blended or chunky soups, such as leek & potato, carrot & red lentil, mixed vegetable, spicy butternut squash…the list is endless!

Evening Meal choices: 

  • Mixed vegetable and cashew nut stir-fry with buckwheat noodles
  • Rice pasta with ratatouille (tomato, onion, courgette and aubergine) sauce 
  • Mixed bean chilli with wholegrain brown rice
  • Cauliflower & chickpea curry with quinoa
  • Slow-cooked chicken & root vegetable casserole

Snack choices:

  • Fruit
  • Re-hydrated dried fruits
  • Vegetable crudites with dips such as hummus
  • Homemade baked goodies such as oat bars

What else is there to learn about the Naturopathic diet?

As with many subjects, this whole area of the ‘Naturopathic Diet’ could expand to become quite a huge topic of discussion! We could learn how to, quite literally, eat ‘A Naturopathic Diet on a plate’…however, there are other factors which may influence our ability to digest our food as optimally as possible. Just as we are breaking natural laws when we eat unseasonally, the same applies to:

  1. Eating after dark. If we were living a completely natural life, we would be preparing for sleep after sundown, not digesting a big meal!
  2. When multi-tasking, eating whilst on the computer or watching T.V. or walking down the street, again we are going against a natural life.

There are many extra considerations in order to benefit adequately from the Naturopathic Diet!

Any Tom, Dick or Harry (Or Ali, Elaine & Lesley!) can write out a diet plan, but within our courses we learn the whole ART of prescribing a way of eating. We want our clients to be able to transition to a Naturopathic Diet with knowledge and ease; understanding the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW, going at their pace. Nothing needs to be perfect, so the journey can be traversed without guilt nor based purely on will-power… ideally a DELICIOUS, HAPPY & incredibly HEALTHY path to a Naturopathic Diet!

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is renowned for saying:

‘LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE & LET MEDICINE BE THY FOOD’…we totally AGREE!

What is a Naturopathic Diet?

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