BLOGS Ask the Pharmacist Ask the Pharmacist – Food is Medicinal Fuel

It’s JANUARY! The first month of the year, the month of resolutions and promises, is full of determined optimists. One favorite after the holiday tradition is jumping on the dieting freighter and looking forward to stepping off on the shores of ecstatic island in your skinny jeans. But as you read the titles of the latest fad diet at the grocery checkout line, the water becomes murky. Which diet is going to work for you?

The Paleo Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, The Sugar Impact Diet, The Atkins Diet, The Wild Diet, no fat, low fat, no carb, ketogenic, intermittent fasting and hundreds more diets are but a few choices. One thing is for sure, it is not a calories in-calories out, exercise more kind of world anymore. As soon as the next diet solution is out, another is debunked and the truth is…the right diet is the one that works for you. Sean Croxtan, a health advocate and founder of Underground Wellness (check out 348 Podcasts!) mantra is “Just Eat Real Food”. Even if you are not interested in weight loss, this is your opportunity to learn how food affects your health, because ultimately, food is a drug that nourishes your body.

Unless you have a disease like celiac or other intestinal issues or allergies that prevent you from eating certain foods like gluten or dairy, pick a type of nutrient dense nutrition program and follow it. Look for authors and researchers who have done the work and have outcomes data to prove the legitimacy of their claims. From there you will ride the wellness tide from sickly to healthy and decide to dive in a little deeper to reach vitality.

After choosing which nutrition lifestyle to follow, like the Paleo Mom, the Hormone Reset Diet, Whole 30 or Dr. Hyman’s Food 101, begin by purging your kitchen pantry and refrigerator. Choose to stock foods that are close to their natural state, mostly organically grown phytonutrient rich vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, wild caught fish, lean meats from free range animals without added hormones, and healthy oils such as olive oil and coconut oil that are free of excessive processing. Eat a variety of foods and notice how your body responds to them. Set yourself up for success by planning ahead, preparing nutritious meals and always having a healthy choice with you for times you are tempted to grab fast food because you are hungry. The healthier your choices, the sooner you will banish cravings.

The secret to sustainable weight loss and long term healthy eating habits is beginning in the manner that fits your personality. Some will need to take baby steps and slowly wean off processed junk, sugary drinks and empty calories, while others will jump right on board an elimination diet. An elimination diet removes the most common allergenic and intolerant foods for a period of time, and then adds them back one at a time to determine your level of sensitivity. Taking out grains (including corn), dairy, sugar, alcohol, soy, peanuts (not tree nuts), and sometimes eggs is a start. If you accept this challenge, you will forever change your perception of the power of food.

If you are ready to decide to eat to live and not diet, and to choose foods that nourish your body, your next step may be to try a detoxification regimen. Once again, choose your path wisely as it is important to support your liver and digestion during the process so that you have a clear path to rid your body of toxins. As always, be sure to clear it with your health care provider if you have a chronic illness.

A discussion about food choices must include a mention of how to make a decision not to eat that sweet treat so lovingly offered by well- meaning friends and relatives. So much of our social life revolves around gathering at a table of plenty while we enjoy conversation. Check out the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and be amazed at the research and articles about why we keep eating foods that are detrimental to our wellbeing. Willpower is usually not enough to keep you on track if you have just begun a new lifestyle change. Think of yourself as a puppy and choose to keep yourself away from temptation until you are trained. Engage others while you learn a new way to use food as medicine, allow them to see your success and invite them to join you.

Deidre (Dee) Kohley, Rph, works at Watkins Pharmacy, is a graduate of Ferris University and has lived all her life in Muskegon. She continues to find ways to reach women who genuinely want to get well or live an optimal life. Dee loves digging into research to find new ways to help people. She is married and has seven children and nine grandchildren who keep her busy. She loves the beach and spending time outside enjoying the seasons. You can contact her by going to her website or

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