Nutritional counseling is a wide subject that takes into account the various nutritional aspects of a diet, including eating habits and the effect of each food on the health. It can be used for maintaining the general well-being of a healthy human being as well as to aid the remedial effects of medicines in case of patients.
It is a common misconception that dietary counseling is required only when you are affected by or recovering from a particular ailment. It can be used to analyze and improve one's diet for general well-being. The main goals of nutritional counseling are:
- Spreading awareness about the importance of a healthy diet
- Enhancing the body's efficiency by boosting energy levels
- Improving the immune system
- Detoxifying and re-vitalizing the entire body
- Reducing risks of diseases and ailments
There exists various therapies and philosophies of dietary counseling. Here is some information about the popular philosophies behind this kind of counseling:
The Ayurveda philosophy considers food as an essential form of medicine, and hence, recommends highly specific foods, and cooking methods as per the individual's requirement. It also emphasizes on the incorporation of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, and spiced nutrition in a complete meal. According to Ayurveda, there are three basic doshas or elements in the body which are kapha, pitta, and vata. Vata symbolizes dry, cold, and light qualities, pitta corresponds to the fire and water elements, and symbolizes hot sharp and oily qualities, whereas kapha symbolizes heavy, cold, and damp qualities.
Ayurveda emphasizes on the importance of inclusion of shad rasa or six tastes in the diet, which are salty, sour, pungent, bitter, sweet, and astringent. Ayurveda believes that a balanced diet can help to counteract the imbalance of the doshas or any other ailments and to restore health. People who have a dominance of vata often have a tendency towards gas and constipation. Hence, they are advised to eat warm and primarily cooked foods. They should avoid frozen foods, excess of raw foods, and other foodstuffs which are difficult to digest and increase intestinal gas.
People who predominantly have the pitta element, have tendency towards hyperacidity and inflammatory disorders, and hence, should avoid greasy, spicy, and fermented foods. They should also avoid acidic fruits. Lastly, people who have kapha as the dominant element, are advised to have a diet low in carbohydrates. They are also advised to avoid dairy products, alcohol, poor quality oils, and excessive sweets.
Clinical Nutrition emphasizes on the nutritional value of every edible item, and suggests nutritional supplements for maintaining health and avoiding deficiencies. People who believe in naturopathy, believe that food influences physical as well as emotional aspects of your body. There also exists food allergy counseling in which the diet of a patient is analyzed to find out which substances he/she is allergic to, and then a diet is specifically designed to avoid the allergic reactions.
Oriental and Macrobiotic Nutrition
Oriental Nutrition is a concept based on ancient Chinese medicinal practices. This philosophy is based on the basic principle of yin and yang, which means cooler and warmer respectively. The oriental philosophy emphasizes the balance of both yin and yang, and recommends a diet based on the health, personality, and surroundings of every individual. The macrobiotic nutrition, just like the oriental philosophy, follows the basic principles of yin and yang. It also suggests selection and cooking methods based on the lines of macrobiotic principles. It emphasizes on the importance of a healthy diet, exercising, and an overall healthy lifestyle.
The Western dietary counseling goes into the analysis of chemical components of food, and evaluates its nutritional breakdown accordingly. It recommends standard minimum nutritional requirements and encourages people to make better food choices to fulfill the daily energy requirements. Western dietary counseling also warns about the risks of chemically treated, refined, and preserved food. It recommends changes in the eating habits for a better lifestyle.