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You’ve probably heard rumblings about the term holistic nutrition before, but we’re guessing you might not really know what it means. We didn’t either, and our curiosity led us to a pro on the subject matter, and holistic nutritionist herself, Tara Curran. Curran, who is also the wellness director of Montauk’s ever-popular hot spot The Surf Lodge, was kind enough to give us the lowdown on this highly popular approach to health and wellness. And if her demeanor and beauty, inside and out, have anything to say for it, we’re listening.

The key to the holistic approach is not about focusing on just a diet, rather it’s about overall heath encompassing the mind, body, and soul. Curran, like many of us, was drawn to the holistic aspect after seeing positive results and finding balance through the total body approach. Below she has shared her top 10 tips pertaining to holistic nutrition and how to get on board with the lifestyle, one step at a time. 

It’s All About Tuning in to Your Body

Curran explains that your body can tell you everything you need to know, specifically what you are lacking and what you need more of. All you have to do is listen. A great tool for achieving this is through journaling. Writing down how you feel after meals, or jotting down a stream of consciousness (whatever comes to mind first thing in the morning), is how you can truly understand and appreciate what your body is trying to tell you.

Heal From the Inside Out

It’s really important to heal yourself from the inside out. When you’re beginning to feel run down or sick, rather than reaching for conventional medicine (like antibiotics, which can sometimes do more harm than good), try adding foods into your diet that can help re-energize you and boost your immunity naturally. Curran turns to a shot of apple cider vinegar to fix almost any ailment or a few drops of oil of oregano (a natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal) at the first sign of a sniffle. It can even be as simple as slowing down your daily pace or allowing yourself some extra sleep when you feel as though you need it.

Think Whole When It Comes to Foods

Holistic nutrition takes the approach of nurturing your body with foods foraged from nature. This entails filling your day with real fruits and veggies found at the farmer’s market, or in the produce aisle if that’s not an option. Curran encourages all of her clients to add leafy greens into their diet—something most of us are missing on a daily basis—and to turn to fruits and berries or seeds and nuts for snacking (i.e. anything pre-packaged is a no-no). Before eliminating anything from your diet, which can force you to fixate on the idea of depriving yourself, first focus on adding these healthy, natural foods to see how you feel. You might not miss the not-so-good for you staples you were once relying on if you’ve replaced them with healthy yet satisfying swaps.

Give Your Gut a Boost

Your health begins in your gut. In order for everything to fall into place (and for your overall bodily system to function properly), a lot of focus needs to be placed on your digestive organs. Curran suggests taking a daily probiotic, which is the number one supplement most people need to help boost and improve digestive health. Essentially, probiotics help build good bacteria in the stomach. Adding fermented foods and tons of leafy greens into your daily diet can also naturally help the body regulate and absorb nutrients, as well as eliminate toxins.

Make No Excuses, Exercise

Whether it’s taking daily walks, adding a yoga practice to your routine, or trying out a high-intensity fitness class, moving your body is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Not only is it essential for maintaining a healthy weight, but regular exercise boosts your endorphins, helps you rid your body of toxins (it’s called sweat), and helps eliminate anxiety and stress by clearing your mind. It’s also an allotted amount of time you can dedicate to yourself.

Be Mindful

Mindfulness is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to overall wellness. Though it sounds like an intimidating term, the meaning is simple: Start by paying closer attention to ingredients in your food and by familiarizing yourself with food and product labels. This is how you’ll know what you’re putting into your body, and you’ll begin to identify what you should avoid. Another key element of practicing mindfulness in terms of holistic nutrition is slowing down to listen to the body. What you’re feeling, seeing, hearing, or sensing will also help you reflect on what you can change or continue to do for the benefit of your own health and wellness.

Practice Balance

Figuring out what works best for your body, mind, and soul is a never-ending journey. Even if you think you’ve got it all figured out, your routine and diet should not be regimented to eating or doing the same thing every day. It’s extremely important to allow yourself to indulge or treat yourself in certain situations, make time for rest days between exercise or get an extra hour of sleep, which can rejuvenate and re-energize your body in the best way possible.

Get Serious About Self-Care

Self-care can be defined as something you do for you and only you. Oftentimes when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, it’s because you have forgotten to take time for yourself and your own well-being. Self-care can take the form of many manifestations including exercise, journaling, meditation, or simply just taking time out of a hectic day to be alone in your thoughts. Do what feels best for you, and do it often.

Watch What You’re Putting Into/Onto Your Body

Skin is the largest organ of the body and it absorbs everything. Just as you should start paying attention to which ingredients and products you put into your body (via food, supplements, and more), it’s just as important to know what your skin is being subjected to. Ingredients in your skincare, toothpaste, deodorant, and other bodily products can affect more than just your exterior—your skin. Especially for women, many products are classified as endocrine disrupters, which affect hormone levels and other natural bodily functions that undoubtedly impact your overall health.

Stick With the Season

Eating seasonally is so important when it comes to holistic nutrition. Shopping at your local farmer’s markets or looking for the seasonal signage in your grocery store will help you know that what you’re eating is fresh and in-season. Just as the weather changes, different types of foods are more plentiful and provide the appropriate nutrients, which naturally helps our bodies transition from warmer to colder months. It’s like clockwork.