These days, there is so much information about health and wellness. In order to truly know what diet and lifestyle work for you, your body and your health, there’s one simple source to refer to - you. By listening to your body’s cues, you are essentially accessing bio-individuality. We partnered with Registered Dietician, Olivia Wagner (MS, RDN, LDN), to explain further and share some easy strategies on how to employ it into your own life.
What is Bio-Individuality
The term, bio-individuality, was developed by Joshua Rosenthal, founder, and director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York. Rosenthal says, “Bio-individuality means there is not a one-size-fits-all diet, each person is a unique individual with highly individualized nutritional requirements.” In bio-individuality, we recognize each individual body will differ in their nutritional needs as a result of their external and internal factors like the foods we eat, our emotional thoughts, lifestyle patterns, and our surrounding physical environment.
However, in a world hyped with noise from advertising and social media, it can be challenging to discern when to filter out what we experience on a personal level. Governing permission to listen to our physical body and bringing awareness to what makes us feel good and what doesn’t is a big part of identifying our own unique dietary needs. Not only does this include the foods we choose to eat, but also the way we approach eating from a physical and emotional standpoint. Trusting the messages our body sends us is a big part of bio-individuality.
How Bio-Individuality Affects Diet
Every system in the body can be impacted by what we eat. The health of our brain, digestive system, musculoskeletal system, skin, energy, mood, and sleep are just a few areas of health that can be impacted when we experience nutrition imbalances. Other symptoms may also be prevalent like acne, bloating, brain fog, changes in bowel movements, increased anxiety or pain. With awareness of these symptoms, consider taking a step back, reflecting on current lifestyle and diet choices and truly ask yourself some serious questions:
Am I sleeping enough?
Am I moving my body?
Do I have loving caring relationships?
Do I have a loving relationship with myself?
Am I nourishing my body through my food choices?
As you take inventory on these health pillars and become aware of less supported areas, exploring short term modifications can be of great starting point to more long-term solutions.
Take diet for instance. One of the easiest ways to make a shift in eating habits is by adopting a whole foods focus approach. Focusing on eating whole foods with lots of color and variety is a great place to start. Consider reducing intake of foods with ingredients you can’t recognize or pronounce, especially those high in refined sugar.
A standard elimination diet that involves temporary removal of beef, chocolate, coffee, corn, dairy, eggs, gluten, peanuts, pork, processed meats, shellfish, soda, soy and sugar (in some cases other nuts and seeds) may also be of support. For some individuals, a short-term elimination of 1 or 2 of these foods may be enough, while for others, a 6-12-week elimination of all of these foods may be of best support with a more formal reintroduction period to help identify whether or not any of the categories currently serve as a trigger.
If eliminating these foods, it’s best to work with a certified professional like a doctor or registered dietitian, but you can also consider the following factors that may suggest a food doesn't sit well with you:
Digestive discomforts such as acid reflux, bloating, gas and urgent bowel movements
Fatigue after eating
Headaches or migraines
Through this process of exploration, it is important to remember to be kind to yourself and your body while avoiding judgment. Give yourself some grace!
How to Tap into Your Own Bio-Individuality
There are many ways in which bio-individuality presents tools to identify what determines the diet that best fits you, the first step is simply tuning in and allowing yourself to draw awareness to your body - the journey begins from there. Remember, you are capable of harnessing your own bio-individuality to live life to the fullest so you and your health can shine their brightest.