What is food? We eat it every day, but did you know that food comes in multiple forms? It can be both edible and non-edible. PMIR caught up with 2012 PAINWeek Presenter and Holistic Health Coach, Rachel Volk, of MetroWest Health in Massachusetts to discuss food and how it relates to chronic pain.
Rachel became interested in diet and nutrition during her early teen years. After working in the high-stakes world of corporate sales, Rachel decided to pursue her passion. She began a new and fulfilling career path by attending The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. It was there that Rachel learned about the concept of edible and non-edible foods.
According to Rachel, there are two types of foods. Secondary foods – she calls them “food foods” – are the ones you ingest: e.g. grains, vegetables, fruits, proteins, water, oils. Rachel proposes that there is also a larger primary set of foods. These are the non-edible foods, comprising of our interpersonal relationships, spirituality, career, and physical activity. Just as your plate needs to contain the right proportions of essential nutrients, these food groups need to be balanced appropriately in order to achieve wellness and aid in the process of overcoming chronic pain.
Rachel explains the four different “courses” or stages necessary to achieve this balance.
First Course – The first step to wellness is making time for rest. The body needs and feeds off of sleep. According to Rachel, we should all be in bed by 10pm. In such a busy and driven society, it is easy to let time be ignored, but you are feeding your body with rest.
Second Course – Once we maintain a good sleep habit, we need to focus on the food we are putting into our bodies. Rachel reminds us that a majority of the food in our common supermarkets is often overly processed and nutritionally void. Of course, they taste good, but they can significantly affect our physical, mental, emotional states, as well as our stress levels. “When it comes to chronic pain and inflammation in the body, your body will
tell you when you are living out of balance and need to support your system better,” says Rachel. It can be hard to juggle our dietary needs with our fast-paced lifestyles, but a balanced and healthy diet can put stress levels and physical manifestations of pain on the shelf.
Third Course – Rachel suggests a number of quick tips to consider when picking edible foods:
- Try to eat organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables
- When possible, steer clear from long term shelved, processed, or canned foods and go for fresh
- Load up on fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, whole grains, and legumes
- Limit intake of coffee and stimulants, dairy, and meats
- Restrict sugar and processed carbs, which put stress on the body and the adrenal glands
Rachel states that it is easier to add foods into your diet, as opposed to depriving your body of a food it is used to. Remember, small adjustments are the key to maximized outcomes.
Fourth Course: Rachel brings up two final points for a successful chronic pain patient diet.
- The patient has to be proactive and accountable for their health care.
- Words are powerful and can lead to powerful actions. Every patient must be empowered from the beginning, and our job as professionals and clinicians is to help patients rediscover that power.
Our discussion with Rachel about food and nutrition reminds us that maintaining balance in all aspects of our lives is part of achieving overall wellness and pain relief. To learn more about Rachel Volk and MetroWest Health you can go to www.metrowesthealth.com or call 508-630-9966 for a audio visual interactive experience. PMIR supports incorporating all disciplines of nutrition in their patients’ lives as part of a chronic pain treatment plan. We look forward to bringing you more exciting news about treating chronic pain and the different options available to you while attending PAINWeek 2012 continues!