What is ‘Whole Health’ & How Can We Achieve It?
What is ‘whole-health’ and how can we achieve it?
Orla Hayes and I found each other when I responded to a ‘journo request’. I was delighted to discover her magazine ‘Natural Way’, a fast-growing online resource for consumers wanting to know more about products and treatments that can enhance a healthier lifestyle.
From beauty and health treatments to foods embracing natural ingredients, as well as chemical-free ways to clean the home, Natural Way Magazine keeps their growing readership informed.
Orla asked me to put on my Nutritional Chef’s hat and chat to her about my passion for ‘whole-health’ and of course, I jumped at the chance! Thanks Orla… and look out for my next piece for Natural Way on tips for how to cook in a ‘whole-health’ way.
What is whole health?
Whole health puts a whole person in the context of their whole life. Everything that makes up our unique experience of the world plays a part in our personal version of feeling healthy and well. Whole-health is a ‘holistic’ perspective on every aspect of our diet and lifestyle - from our purpose and meaning; what we want our health for; what, how and when we eat, sleep, move, rest, manage our stress; how we create a supportive home environment - to how connected we feel to our family, friends and community.
After decades of a demanding career in senior management in the health space, my own health began to crash from my mid-40s. By my mid-50s I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, facing repeated surgery and a lifetime of aggressive medication.
I returned to my roots as a health research psychologist and began looking for evidence-based natural approaches and alternatives to medication. I discovered a substantial literature showing how organic, real food, movement in nature, quality sleep, regular periods of rest, managing stress, cultivating supportive relationships and ‘detoxing’ our home environment are all pieces in the ‘lifestyle medicine’ jigsaw that can either make or break our health.
As I began to heal my own body with lifestyle medicine, I saw that with this experience I could help others reclaim their health – particularly women around midlife, where their body, mind and emotions go through huge and challenging transitions on every level.
So, I embarked on formal training in nutrition, lifestyle medicine and health coaching. I trained as a professional chef and wrote a book on how traditional, real food choices can heal people and planet… and the rest is history.
What would be your advice for someone wanting to live a whole-health life?
Clarity! Sit down and get really clear on what you want your health for? Create visual representations of what life would be like if you had the health you want and deserve.
This could be a health vision board, or a collection of artifacts (say, a pair of running or walking shoes) placed where you can see them every day. Then take an honest and holistic look at your lifestyle:
- What is supporting your health?
- What is undermining it?
- What needs to change?
- What small step will you commit to taking today, on your journey to health and wellness?
- How will you build on this?
- How will you celebrate your wins?
What would your number one tip be for people wanting to eat a more nutritious diet?
Variety! Whether you favour animal or plant-based foods, include as many varieties of colourful, organic, seasonal vegetables as possible. Each variety offers our body a nutrient-rich cocktail of vitamins, minerals, fibre (to support our gut flora) and important phytonutrients and antioxidants. Colourful food really is medicine.
What is your favourite food for nutrition?
Eggs! Eggs are one of the oldest foods of all and have always been prized in the mythologies, religions and cultural practices of the world. Hailed as one of Mother Nature’s perfect foods, they’re regarded as symbols of rebirth, renewal, new beginnings and fertility.
As a nutritional chef, eggs for me are the quintessential, traditional, nutrient-dense food and their culinary versatility is legend! I completely agree with acclaimed chef Michel Roux when he concludes:
“The egg is the simplest and most complete food, highly nutritious and versatile enough for the quickest of meals, or the smartest of dinner parties.”