Mary Kathryn Bass and Leslie Needleman recently shared some of their favorite haunts for healthy eats. Picking the right place is step one, but once you’ve arrived at a restaurant or market, how do you ensure what you order is actually good for you? Never fear, our wellness expert, Dr. Kate Naumes, ND is here to help. Here’s what she has to say about eating for your specific needs.
So you just walked in to that healthy new restaurant/juice bar/locally-sourced-what-have-you everyone’s been talking about. You comment to your dining companion how fortunate we are to have these establishments popping up here in Dallas! Since, everything is local, organic, freshly made (or at least not processed), it must all be good for you, right?
If you’re not a 20 year old in perfect health, the answer may be more nuanced that you might think. Why? Because the very same foods travel through our very different bodies in unique ways due to our specific hormonal and metabolic makeups. So yes, as a general guideline for eating healthy, I wholeheartedly agree with author Michael Pollen’s memorable quote “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” But if you have have a disease, are having pregnancy related difficulties, have diabetes, are overweight, or if your body is out of balance and you have a health problem trying to solve it on your own with the aid of the latest diet trend may not have the intended effect that you desire.
Consider these three scenarios:
- “Francine” has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), irregular menstrual cycles, and is overweight (a lot like a pre-diabetic in fact). Even though she does cardio like crazy, any regularly eaten sugar can be problematic (even ‘healthy sugars’ like sweet potato or a veggie-loaded detoxifying juice). As Francine walks by Company Cafe on her way home from work, a great choice for her would be their Seasonal Salad with Salmon. Containing wild-caught salmon, organic greens, cucumbers, pickled onions, blueberries, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and homemade candied pecans with house vinaigrette (skip the cranberries though), this xenoestrogen-free lean protein and fiber focused meal eaten regularly supports weight loss and hormonal balance in women like Francine. Why? Researchers find that at least one-half of women with PCOS are obese. And whether one is obese or not, women with PCOS are likely to have insulin resistance. So, reducing the degree of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia with weight loss via an appropriate diet can have a drastic effect on women with a hormonal/metabolic makeup like Francine’s.
- Svelte “Dana” has endometriosis and a family history of breast cancer. She’s wondering if there are specific things she can do nutritionally to reduce her risk of breast cancer later in life. She may not know that specific estrogen metabolites (breakdown end-products) may actually initiate and promote hormone-related cancers. Her biochemical individuality determines which of these estrogen metabolites predominates (ask your doctor about lab tests to investigate this). Nutritional choices that help modify Dana’s estrogen ratios and potentially decrease her risk of breast cancer abound at The Gem. Unlike Francine, sweet potatoes and cold-pressed organic veggie juices are a great choice for Dana on a regular basis. There Dana can pick up a bowl of lentil soup with a large bowl of steamed kale for lunch and a mid-afternoon snack consisting of their Emerald City smoothie (celery, spinach, basil, ginger, apple, lemon, cucumber). Notably, eating this meal choice regularly would not be ideal for a woman like Francine who needs to lose 50 pounds.
- “Caitlin” is a busy mom with Celiac disease trying to optimize her health in preparation for having another baby. As a mom on the go, Caitlin finds it’s too easy to skip meals (which can really hamper her fertility). So when she’s running late, she makes sure to eat regularly by dropping by the newly opened Origin, where well balanced gluten-free meals-to-go are readily available. Caitlin picks up two No Pasta Pastas with (free range) chicken breast and sides of Broccoli Crunch and Roasted Beets for the family. (You can read more of my thoughts the importance of a supportive diet while trying to conceive here.)
Eating healthy…paleo diets…raw food…juicing…veganism, there’s so many different ideas floating around these days, and many of them have something to offer to specific women, but, as demonstrated in the case studies above, there is no one-size-fit-alls food plan. As I said, the very same foods travel through our very different bodies in unique ways due to our specific hormonal and metabolic makeups. Whether you’re an exhausted new mom, on the cusp of menopause, or fretting over your abnormal PAP, different situations call for different nutritional approaches.
Dr. Kate Naumes, ND runs a Holistic Wellness practice just off the Katy trail. She helps women in their childbearing years look and feel better then they knew was possible. Learn more at naumesnd.com.