In our most recent edition of True Natural Health (TNH), we printed a case study of a family who switched to a vegan diet. As most people would expect, this dietary change resolved digestive issues including small digestive discomforts and oesophageal reflux symptoms. As a person who adopts a holistic view of health, I was pleased (although not surprised) to learn that this family had noticed much broader reaching effects of their dietary change.

They felt happier.

Multiple little health niggles and discomforts were gone.

Siblings fought less.

Family cohesiveness and communication improved.

The most striking part of this case study for me was that this family had implemented what I see as a ‘health game-changer’ for them. Through working in health for more than two decades I have been an avid listener of people’s health stories. In my experience, true health game changers do not come along often for people. Over the years, I have noticed some common threads in these transformative moments of people’s health stories.

  1. Simplicity

For a dietary or lifestyle activity to significantly shift your health, you need to be able to do it. Repeatedly. For decades. The key to health is not doing one incredibly complicated thing once, the key is consistent health practice. Therefore, simplicity is key.

This may feel like too obvious a statement to make, however, there is a multibillion-dollar health industry out there incentivised to make you think that achieving health is so complicated that you need to spend vast amounts of money ‘solving’ this complex problem. Even when we know better, it can be easy to occasionally get swept up in the hype. This is why The Natural Health Society of Australia adopts a principles-based approach to health. A simple, referable set of ideas that helps keep you on the right health track.

When I studied nutrition one of my lecturers lived by the incredibly simple “Did it live?” rule for eating. This question essentially asks if the food you are eating can be found in nature, did my green salad topped with nuts and seeds live? Yes! Did that bag of Twisties live? No!

Now, this rule isn’t perfect and is particularly problematic from a vegan perspective. However, I do think this rule works as a guide to help people stick to ‘real’ food that our bodies and digestive systems have evolved with. Because of this rule’s simplicity, 20 years after learning it, I can teach it to my children. Hopefully, they will be able to use it as a part of a lifelong toolkit of how to make nutritional choices. After all, there are plenty of marketers out there selling ‘health’ foods that don’t pass the “Did it live?” rule…(protein bar anyone???)

 

  1. Motivation

In our TNH case story, the mother of the family experienced an acute reaction after eating too much steak. Her body was filled with pain, and her chest pain was so severe she thought she was going to die.

Our health director, Roger French, also talks about a significant health experience of getting blood poisoning at a young age being a significant motivator for what has become a life-long commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Others I’ve spoken with haven’t had such a dramatic motivator:

I’ve seen people tweak their diet and lifestyle to lose weight for an event like a wedding and never turn back.

I’ve seen people find friendships in a health-conscious community that has sustained life-long commitments to healthy living (Our President, Elizabeth French, and Vice President, Margaret Stepniewski are stellar examples of this!)

Sometimes we need to nurture our internal motivation. A simple one-pager that captures diet, energy, sleep, mood, and exercise  can be a powerful feedback tool to help you clarify which health activities lead to big benefits for you.

 

  1. A true health game-changer will positively impact multiple areas of your health and life.

Do you think that our case study mum thought switching to a vegan diet for digestive health would improve her family’s communication? Possibly, but she was most likely thinking about her acute digestive pain and how a plant-based diet might help soothe this.

My favourite meditation teacher encourages people to look outside their meditation practice for the improvements that meditation provides. In other words, you don’t always need to focus on the ‘health practice’ to find the benefits. Sometimes you are better off noting how the rest of your life runs when you commit to a healthful activity.

Everyone will tell you that regular aerobic exercise will improve your cardiovascular health, most people will acknowledge that this activity will also help you manage stress. The person seeking a true health game-changer will understand that these improvements in cardiovascular and nervous system health are a key step to becoming a happier and kinder person. This is holistic health and it is a true game-changer.

 

Rebecca Smith

NHSA Manager and Co-editor