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Nourishing Ourselves In A Modern World 

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We are bombarded by messages telling us what to eat to stay healthy and happy, and never has the message been more confusing. Doctors and health care workers recommend diets that may be: low in carbohydrates; high in carbohydrates; meat-based; vegetarian; raw; juiced; Mediterranean-based; or locally grown. People bounce between trends and often revert back to their default ways of eating, if only because they are disappointed that the results they attain do not equal those that were promised.

Joshua Rosenthal has been working in the field of nutrition for over 25 years. He believes there is no one right way of eating that is best for every single person. In 1992, he founded the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan as a way to help people navigate the maze of alternatives, and to help people discover the foods and lifestyle choices that create the greatest feelings of health and well-being—on an individual basis.

The institute offers a yearlong professional training program with classes meeting one weekend per month. The student body is comprised of health professionals, including doctors, chiropractors, nurses, social workers, and massage therapists who wish to add a nutrition element to their existing practice, as well as other professionals seeking career change.

Holly Anne Shelowitz, a 2000 graduate, owned and operated a photography business in Manhattan for 16 years before she came to the institute. After graduating she changed her life: She relocated to Kingston and opened her practice, Nourishing Wisdom. Today, Shelowitz prides herself on helping to make lasting changes in her clients’ lives.

Her client base is predominantly made up of women who say they want to feel better and learn how to be healthier. They come to Shelowitz with complaints of low energy, uncontrollable cravings for sugary sweets, stomachaches, fatigue, and headaches. She works with them on a six-month program and says they often see results right away. Through eating balanced meals at least three times a day filled with whole grains, healthy fats, good quality protein, and lots of dark, leafy greens, they claim to sleep more restfully, feel less cranky, and have more energy overall. Again and again. Shelowitz’s clients tell her, “I can’t believe I didn’t know this.”

Students are encouraged to experiment with their diets and to record their responses to change. Rosenthal states, “This approach is not about acquiring more self-discipline or willpower. It’s about personally discovering what nourishes you, what feeds you, and ultimately what makes your life extraordinary.” Each day begins with written morning intentions, and each day ends with reflections on what they consumed: how many whole grains and vegetables were eaten, how much protein, how many fruits, and how the student felt that day in terms of mood, energy, digestion, and cravings. Food-mood journaling encourages us to look for links between what we consume and how we feel immediately after eating and a few hours later.

Students study over 100 dietary theories spanning traditional wisdom and modern science, including: Ayerveda, macrobiotics, Chinese medicine, the USDA pyramid, the glycemic index, The Zone, the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet, and raw foods, as well as concepts such as seasonal eating and the yin-yang qualities of food. Guest speakers reflect a range of modalities, and include Andrew Weil, Sally Fallon, Deepak Chopra, Iyanla Vanzant, and “Wildman” Steve Brill. Rosenthal personally subscribes to what he calls the 90-10 diet, meaning that 90 percent of the time he eats healthy foods and 10 percent of the time he eats whatever his heart desires.

Rosenthal advises people to “cook as if their life depends on it—because it does.” He hopes that through paying close attention to how we feel in response to the foods we put in our bodies and the thoughts we put in our minds we may have the antidote to what he calls the current health care crises of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. As Rosenthal writes in his book, Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health & Happiness, “Better food equals better health. It’s really that simple.”

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