Tag Archives: Disease

What’s missing from the Paleo diet? (and EVERY popular diet, for that matter!)

Paleo explained in a graphic

Why do so many people, including ‘experts’ hate on the Paleo diet?  From people like Christina Warinner in her viral TedX speech (excellent rebuttal here from Robb Wolf to the chop-shop speech given by Warriner at TedX) to poorly researched books like “Paleo fantasy” by Marlene Zuk (Incredible rebuttal to Zuk’s idiotic book here by Mark Sisson).  Heck, even major news outlets like US News run an absolutely abhorrent yearly piece ranking the best and worst diets for our health each year.  The paleo diet comes in DEAD LAST every year, ranked way lower than SLIM FAST (click here to read a fantastic rebuttal to the drivel that US News puts out about diets every year)!  That’s just laughable.  And even more laughable is that the ‘experts’ who rank these diets are the very nutritionists and dietitians who are supposedly advising America to better health through diet.  Yikes…

Look at the graphic above.  The paleo diet is all about eating REAL, FRESH, UNPROCESSED, PERISHABLE, NUTRIENT-DENSE foods.  How this diet is ranked behind some of the other diets like Slimfast on that US News list is absolutely beyond me!

The Paleo diet has its short-comings, which I’ll get to shortly, but I want to be clear about my stance on it:  I have eaten paleo/primal on and off (mostly on) for about 4 years now.  I have intimate experience with this diet, and have helped many of my friends and family adopt some version of the paleo diet into their lives with incredible results.

What led me to the paleo diet?  


I was in my mid-thirties and suffering from what many other people my age suffer from: slowing metabolism, weight gain, constant exhaustion (which fueled a hefty caffeine addiction), frequent sinus infections, joint pains, allergies galore (which led to a dependency on Afrin, breathe right strips, nasonex, and insert 50 other commonly used nasal allergy sprays), mood swings, food cravings (read SUGAR), and a nasty case of GERD (Gastro-Esophegeal Reflux “Disease” – think heartburn on steroids…like you feel as if you’re having a heart attack).

I had been to a nutritionist.  She joked that my cholesterol was so low that I was either dead or in the best shape on earth.  Well, I was neither.  In fact, I would argue that I was closer to death and, had I continued taking her advice and my gastroenterologist’s advice, I would have had a very bad health outcome by now.  They told me that I should eat lots of heart healthy grains, avoid all acidic foods like coffee, tea, tomatoes, alcohol, and citrus fruits, and to take acid blockers like Prevacid and Prilosec.  Following their advice gave me temporary respite from the GERD, but the minute I stopped taking the Prevacid, it came back with a vengeance even though I continued to eat the diet they recommended for me.  So, what gives??  Was I supposed to just take these pills for the rest of my life to feel like I’m not being stabbed in the chest after every meal?  Big Pharma sure wants me to think so…

My health issues not only remained, but significantly worsened until 2009 when I had heard of the Paleo diet.  At first I brushed it off as idiocy just based on its name (which doesn’t do it any justice, imo).  But after hearing a few of my crossfit brethren rave about it I decided to do some research.  I ended up buying Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution” and I read it cover to cover within 4 days (I’m a slow reader).  It’s a really easy read, very entertaining and very informative.  I highly recommend this book as a starting point to learn about the paleo diet and how it can help you reverse chronic illness, lose weight, and regain energy.  Based on this book, I gave paleo a try.  I then discovered other amazing paleo resources like Mark’s Daily Apple and Everyday Paleo.

The results:

  • Weight: I lost 27 pounds of excess fat within about 4-6 months.  Without counting calories.  I ate to my heart’s content in each meal.
  • GERD: Completely eliminated, and did so without the use of antacids, and I ate citrus, cooked tomatoes, and drank tea to my heart’s content (all supposed “no-no’s” when you have GERD)
  • Allergies: Almost completely eliminated.  And by implementing the diet, I figured out that Dairy was one of the main culprits of allergies and inflammation for me.  GOT MILK?  NOT.
  • Chronic Fatigue: The diet didn’t fully end the fatigue but helped it enough that I no longer needed coffee and caffeine (which led me to the discovery that I had sensitivities to coffee and caffeine).
  • Frequent sinus infections: Frequency was greatly reduced, and my immune function improved.  Apparently grains and dairy were 2 major culprits of low immunity and inflammation for me (as well as millions of people who don’t realize it).
  • Blood lipid profile: Unfortunately, I didn’t have a blood test done before I started eating paleo, so I have nothing to compare my results to, but a recent blood lipid profile showed absolutely no issues with my cholesterol, and showed excellent ratios b/w HDL:TC, HDL:TRIG, and low triglycerides.  This is despite me regularly eating organic uncured nitrate free bacon, and pastured organic eggs constantly (no, not egg whites…FULL eggs with the yellow, which is the most nutritious part of the egg!  It drives me crazy to see people ordering egg-white omelets at a restaurant thinking they are doing something good for their health!).
  • Joint Pain: Reduced…although not fully (I have a major sports injury in my left knee that involved a permanent metal plate and screws). 
  • Fitness: My endurance improved, my strength improved, and I was easily able to do rigorous crossfit or muay thai workouts.  The low carb diet worked just fine for me.
  • Food cravings: This was the one area that I was not able to conquer with paleo alone.

Now, how can a diet that is capable of results like mine be so adamantly panned by the talking heads out there?  You see, I am a walking, living, breathing testimonial for the paleo diet.  And I am not the only one.  Click here to see just ONE resource for thousands of testimonials like mine.  To my readers that have experience with the paleo diet (good or bad) I would love to read about your story in the comments section below!

Aside from the thousands of testimonials and case studies, and despite what its detractors say, The Paleo diet does have sound science behind it as well (just scroll to the bottom of the page I just linked to and see the 8 randomized control studies on the paleo diet).

But the title of this article is “What’s missing from the paleo diet?”…so I’m sure you weren’t expecting to read a love-fest about it!  Despite it’s proven superiority to the standard American debacle…err…diet, the paleo diet does fall short in one area.  But, in fairness, so does just about EVERY single diet out there including vegetarianism, veganism, Ornish and Essylstyn’s plant-based diets, etc:


The concept of bio-chemical individuality


Have you ever noticed that one person will thrive on a specific diet, while another person will see no change and yet another person’s health will worsen with the same diet?  Why is that?  I have met people who have tried the paleo diet and gained weight!  I have personally met vegans who have eaten that way for 20 years and they look and feel amazing.  Then I’ve spoken to other vegans who report terrible, life-threatening experiences with veganism (from malnutrition).  How can that be?

The answer is this: There is no one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter diet out there.  Every single one of us is, metabolically speaking,  as individual on the inside as we are in our outward appearance.  Every single one of us has unique genetic nutrient needs, deficiencies, abundances, metabolic rates, stress levels, and genetic ability to cope with internal and external stressors.  So, a diet that makes one person feel incredible because it happens to offer the perfect nutrition for his or her situation might be exactly the opposite of what another person needs to thrive.  


Truly, one man’s food is another man’s poison.


This is not a new concept.  It’s just a vastly under-reported and under-appreciated one.  The understanding of bio-chemical individuality started with the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist who set out to travel the world and to study native cultures that remained untouched by western nutritional concepts or industrialization.  What he found was astounding.  In these cultures, he observed that:

  1.  They had almost NO incidence of the diseases that plague westerners today such as cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, etc.
  2. They had very little obesity.
  3. Their bodies were lean and strong, like Olympic athletes, despite the fact that they didn’t train like them.
  4. Most importantly, they all consumed vastly different diets based on the geographically available foods in their area.

 The last point, #4, is extremely important.  Eskimos evolved over thousands of years in Alaska eating whale and seal blubber, caribou, and kelp.  They ate lots of animal flesh and saturated fat and very little in the way of vegetation simply because that was what was available to them.  Evolution (natural selection) allowed for the Eskimos who adapted well to a diet such as this to thrive and procreate, whilst Eskimos who failed to adapt and thrive on this diet simply died out.  Click here to read a fascinating piece in discovery magazine about the paradox of the Eskimo diet.

By contrast, Aboriginal cultures that lived in a vastly different geography and climate thrived on insects, beetles, grubs, berries, kangaroo, and wallaby.  They also ate much more vegetation and fruits than the Eskimos, yet they also thrived until western civilization introduced them to McDonald’s 😉 .

mcdonaldsThe Swiss people thrived for many years on whole rye bread, large quantities of high fat cream cheese, cream, and raw goat’s milk, some wine, and small amounts of meat.  They enjoyed robust health even in glacial winters on a diet that is vastly different from the other cultures.

The African Masai thrived for thousands of years on a diet that consisted of wild meat, milk, and blood extracted from cattle!  They exhibited extraordinary physical and mental development.

Now, ask yourself this question: After adapting over thousands of years to these geographically and climate-dictated diets, what would the health outcomes be if we were to switch diets among them?  For instance, what if we had the Aboriginals eat the Eskimo diet and the Eskimos eat the Aboriginal diet?  Again, these are people who have evolved and adapted to a specific way of eating over thousands of years.  This is one of those times in your life were you just need to apply some logic and the correct conclusion will come to you.  We can see what the switch over to a western diet is doing to them: making them very sick!

Other pioneers in the concept of biochemical individuality and eating according to your genetic predispositions are Dr. George Watson who wrote “Nutrition and your mind”, Dr. William Kelly, Rudolf Wiley, PhD and author of “Biobalance”, and of course, the man who put these ideas together and created what is now called “Metabolic Typing, William Wolcott (author of “The Metabolic Typing Diet”, a must-read for anyone interested in this stuff).  MT book

Metabolic Typing


OK.  So now we understand that adaptation and natural selection over thousands of years has made us all genetically predisposed to thrive via eating a certain way.  So, all we have to do to eat right for ourselves is trace back our lineage as far back as we can go…maybe back to our great grandparents and mimic what they ate, right?  Not so fast!  I wish it were that easy, but our ability to transport ourselves from one geography and climate to many other vastly different geographies and climates started back way further than you or I can possibly trace our lineage.  And once humans were able to travel by horse, boat, car, and plane, things got a little wacky.  People from different cultures and background started mixing with other very different cultures and backgrounds.  For me personally, I know that my mother had ties in Egypt, Morocco, and Israel, while my father had ties in France and Poland…and who knows where their lineage traces back to?  So, how should I eat?  Should I try to mimic an ancient middle eastern diet, or a traditional old school east European diet?  Or neither?  Or a little of both?  We have become such mutts at this point, that it’s really a pointless exercise that will leave you more frustrated than satisfied.  

Enter Metabolic Typing,  an assessment developed and refined over the last 30+ years by William Wolcott and which answers these questions.  It may sound unbelievable, but with a relatively short online assessment of your physical traits, metabolic traits, and psychological/neurotransmitter traits, Wolcott found a way to accurately uncover your individual metabolic type.  Wolcott’s work was based on the following principle: 

When you eat the wrong foods, the wrong macro-nutrient ratios (protein:carbs:fat), and the wrong micro-nutrient ratios (think nutrients, supplements) for your specific metabolism, that leads to imbalances in the body, and metabolic dysfunction.  You become less efficient at metabolizing protein, fat, and carbs.  This leads to all sorts of sub-clinical health problems, like the chronic symptoms I described myself as having above (fatigue, headaches, indigestion, hypoglycemia, constipation, rashes/hives, and pain/inflammation, and malnutrition).  If intervention by eating for your individual metabolism is not achieved, these conditions eventually manifest as chronic degenerative conditions such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, colitis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, or auto-immune conditions.  


Or to put it in plain English, eating the wrong way for your metabolic type will make you sick, and eating correctly for your metabolic type brings balance and optimal function back to your body!  Think of metabolic typing as a highly individualized paleo diet based on your specific physical, metabolic, and psychological needs.  Why do I say that?  Because metabolic typing has many similarities to paleo eating.  Regardless of what the assessment tells you that your metabolic type is, Metabolic Typing diets: 

  • Shun processed foods and promote eating only fresh, organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, pasture raised, nutrient-dense, perishable foods.  
  • Shun all added sugars and artificial sweeteners. 
  • Advise to consume only raw, organic, grass-fed dairy products (similar to primal)
  • Advise you to eat only sprouted nuts, seeds, and legumes when possible (similar to primal)

There is one major difference in metabolic typing diets and paleo, and that is that it allows for some organic sprouted ancient grain consumption IF your body does well while eating them, although it warns not to overdo it. After all, if you are someone who can eat clean, sprouted grains without incidence (no weight gain, no negative changes in blood lipids or levels of inflammatory markers, and no digestive or inflammatory symptoms), then why shouldn’t you eat grains in a limited fashion?  Simply because humans didn’t consume grains prior to 10,000 years ago?  Again that is a very cookie cutter approach to an individualized diet plan.  And, as someone who wants to help make the world a healthier place, I am personally more concerned with doing what is right for my clients and not trying to stuff them into a specific diet plan that works for me but may not be ideal for them.

Always think: what is the goal, here?  The paleo diet is a wonderful, fantastic diet that has helped me and many people I know tremendously.  But to follow it so rigidly without acknowledging that everyone is different is a mistake.  Some people might do very well on more carbs than others.  Some people might do well with much less meat than others.  Some people, like myself, have a metabolic type that thrives when we eat 70% fat and protein in each meal, with only 30% of our meal consisting of carbs derived from non-starchy vegetables.  Others might get deathly ill following my metabolic type diet.  Do you see where I am going here?  This is the reason you see one person thrive on a diet, another person feel no change, and a third person actually get sicker on that same diet.

But don’t let this change your opinion on the paleo diet being a terrific diet!  Again, in fairness to paleo, every other diet out there misses the mark on this as well! 

By the way, back to my food cravings:  once I tweaked the macro and micro-nutrient ratios of my paleo diet to my metabolic type, I was finally able to rid myself of the intense sugar cravings that plagued me for years!  This is because once I tweaked my diet to reflect the correct macro and micro-nutrient ratios that are best suited to my body, my body started getting the exact nutrition that it needs for energy.  So, I feel less sugar cravings, and I only get them when I eat a meal that had out of balance macro-nutrients (i.e. too many carbs and not enough fat/protein).  

Metabolic typing has been an amazing journey of self-discovery for me.  It taught me how listen to my body after my meals and how to adjust my macro-nutrient ratios accordingly.  It taught me how to become an expert at ME!

Watch this short, 8-minute video that does a great job of explaining the concept of Metabolic Typing: 


In my practice, I approach diet in 2 ways: 


  1. Find out how to eat right for your Metabolic Type: I recommend that every client do the metabolic typing assessment to find their individual metabolic type.  The assessment is the most complete dietary program I have ever seen.  It includes a wealth of reading material and a very educational and entertaining video series that teaches them exactly how to eat, shop, and cook for their specific metabolic type.  It also teaches you very easy ways to break down your ideal macro-nutrient intake (protein:fat:carbs) for each meal without needing to use food scales or portion control.  
  2. Find out what foods cause inflammation in your body: I also recommend that every client has a food sensitivity panel done to assess what foods and food additives are problematic for them and cause inflammation in their bodies.  They then remove the reactive foods from the metabolic typing diet to decrease the stress on their bodies.  


The Metabolic typing assessment is done online by following this link.  The test costs $189 and, in my opinion, is worth EVERY penny.  Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with the Metabolic Typing test and I have no financial connection to them.  I make nothing from your $189.  

Of course, dietary changes are just one part of getting healthy.  Aside from Metabolic Typing, I use functional lab testing to help clients uncover as many hidden internal stressors on their body as possible.  A diet that is not right for your metabolic type is only one of them.   I teach them how to assess and optimize adrenal function, hormonal balance, digestion, immune function, neurotransmitter balance, and how to reduce or eliminate emotional and environmental exposure to stress.  It is this holistic approach that has healed me more than any diet alone can do and it has improved the health of thousands of people as well.  

I hope that you found this article informative, and I hope that you take the first step of your journey and do a metabolic typing assessment online.  Please let me know if you do in the comments section below!  Thanks for reading!


Rick Gold, Functional Wellness, FDN Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.

Website: www.GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Book a consult: http://www.snapappointments.com/listing/38C

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GoldFunctionalWellness

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

Email: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com


Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.


Meet Candice – she’s just like you and me!


“FDN (Functional Diagnostic Nutrition) empowers you to dramatically improve your health through functional lab work and effective natural healing strategies.”

– Rick Gold, Certified FDN Practitioner & GFW President & Founder

As a nation, we are sicker than ever.  The statistics are sobering:

Keep in mind that all of the statistics cited above only keep track of the diagnosed cases.  There are many people that have gone undiagnosed in every bucket above.  So, the health problems we are facing today as a society are far greater than even these sobering statistics show.  

So how did we get here? 

Well, there is no doubt that genetics play a role.  But if you know anything about epigenetics, you understand that it is  environment and lifestyle that are the largest determining factors of our overall health.

Meet Candice, a perfect representation of your typical 30-40 year old American woman.  She is a wife and mom to 2 kids.

In the subsequent story below, I am going to link to information that shows how Candice’s lifestyle and the way Candice was dealing with her health issues contributed to and even caused serious sub-clinical malfunctions in her body that led to all of the symptoms that she was feeling by the time she became my client.

Candice presented the following main health complaints:

  • Always feeling tired, wiped out.
  • Trouble waking up in the morning and getting to sleep at night.
  • Trouble staying asleep at night.
  • Needs coffee at several times a day to keep going.
  • She was carrying extra weight that she could not get rid of.
  • Sugar and salt cravings.
  • Frequent colds, sinus, and yeast infections.
  • Stressed out, anxiety, depression.
  • Acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea.
  • Random skin rashes/hives.
  • Allergies.
  • Frequent headaches.

Frankly, these complaints aren’t very different from what most of us feel on any given day.  These are considered common ailments, and there are a boatload of over the counter medications that help to alleviate the discomfort associated with them.

Candice was no stranger to them either.  She regularly took painkillers for her headaches and sleeping aids to help her sleep.  She took antacids to battle her acid reflux.  Perhaps her doctor never informed her that natural methods are safer and more effective for the treatment of acid reflux than antacids.   She took a common OTC allergy medication to help manage her allergies.  She took a popular anti-depressant and anti-anxiety prescription for her anxiety and depression.  Perhaps her doctors never told her that all of the drugs she takes regularly very likely will create a huge toxic load on her liver and could lead to serious complications down the line.

Because she has 2 young children, she rarely got a full night of restful sleep which causes serious inflammation and stress on her body, and can lead to adrenal fatigue.  She also was under a tremendous amount of stress from her job and financial difficulties, not to mention enduring several deaths in her family which put a huge burden on her adrenal glands and also leads to adrenal fatigue.

Candice is a very busy woman, and she rarely took time to address her own health and stress levels through consistent moderate exercise and brief daily meditation.  She was burning the candle at both ends.

To relieve her stress, Candice started drinking wine regularly and drank heavily on the weekends when she and her husband went out with friends, which unfortunately put even more stress on her adrenal glands and further exacerbated her symptoms.

Her daily morning regimen includes using chemical laden soap, shampoo, shaving cream, anti-antiperspirants, make-up, lotion, and perfumes, all which contain chemicals and metals in them that are known endocrine disruptors, and add to the toxic burden on her liver as well as general stress on her adrenal glands.

Unfortunately, the chemical assault on Candice’s liver and adrenal glands doesn’t stop there; she regularly uses similarly chemical-laden household cleaning products, drinks from plastic water bottles, colors her hair with chemical dyes, and uses chemical-laden sunscreen that actually may increase her risk of cancer.

Because of how busy she is, Candice regularly eats out at restaurants, where she unfortunately does not really know what ingredients are being added to her food.  They also cook their food in artery clogging oxidized vegetable oils that cause inflammation in her body.

Because of a lack of understanding the dangers involved with eating non-organic foods, the benefits of eating organic food, and her financial difficulties, Candice rarely buys and eats organic food, which increases the toxic load on her body further, and promotes malnutrition.

Candice’s use of antacids reduced her stomach acid, which impairs her body’s ability to digest and assimilate the food that she eats and further results in malnutrition.

Over the last several years, Candice has been to several doctors for her various ailments.  In some cases, she was given prescription strength drugs to help alleviate the discomfort associated with them which did temporarily help alleviate her symptoms, but unfortunately also increased the toxic burden on her body.  Her blood tests, however, came back unremarkable, and she was consistently sent on her way under the impression that she was healthy, and that she was just under a lot of stress and needed to get better sleep.

This, of course, is true…but it’s not the whole truth…

After running several functional labs on Candice, I identified several sub-clinical malfunctions and imbalances in her body that were likely the causes of most of her symptoms:

  • She had stage 2 adrenal fatigue, low DHEA, and other hormonal imbalances.
  • We found that she was having trouble digesting and absorbing proteins, and thus was malnourished (even though she had extra weight).
  • She had low melatonin levels which can explain the trouble she is having with her sleep habits and circadian rhythms.
  • She had elevated lipid peroxides, which, put simply, means that her body was aging before its time, and putting her at increased risk for diseases like cancer.
  • Candice’s thyroid was not functioning properly (hypothyroidism), likely a result of the adrenal stress she was under.
  • She had multiple food sensitivities (including gluten, dairy, and other seemingly innocuous foods like iceberg lettuce!), which caused heightened immune activity, general inflammation, and increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
  • Candice had elevated urinary bile acid sulfates, a key marker that indicates possible liver congestion.
  • She had heavy metal toxicity.

Through the use of functional lab work, we identified an enormous amount of healing opportunities for Candice.

So why didn’t her doctors find this stuff?  Simple: Most doctors don’t run the type of labs that I run on clients.  They run labs that are geared towards diagnosing disease…and they are in the business of diagnosing and treating disease through the use of prescription drugs, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

The labs that I run are geared towards finding sub-clinical malfunctions in the body, meaning malfunctions that are not diseases.  These are the type of malfunctions that, if left to proliferate, can and will lead to disease eventually.

For instance, a doctor will diagnose you with NAFLD (non-alcohol fatty liver disease).  That is a disease of the liver.  But he/she isn’t necessarily concerned with testing for urinary bile acids, because elevated UBAS does not mean you have liver disease.  It is a potential precursor for that.  So, only practitioners who work in the field of prevention would be interested in that marker.

Back to Candice: Through the use of potent, proven, and effective natural protocols, she is well on her way to building her overall health back.

The protocols include recommendations for intense lifestyle changes in Diet, Rest, Exercise, Stress reduction (mental/emotional and hidden internal), and targeted Supplementation.  I had Candice take a Metabolic Typing Assessment to find out the best type of diet for her specific metabolic type.  We used top-notch services that created a very tailored and specific meal plan for her that excluded the laundry list of foods which she was reactive to.  I gave her recommendations on how to optimize her sleep habits, balance her hormones, nurse her adrenal glands back to health, and to detoxify her body.  At FDN, we like to call it the D.R.E.S.S. for health success program.  You can read more about how I work on my FAQ page.

I taught Candice how to become less reliant on modern medicine to take care of her health, and how to become an active every-day participant in her health.  The lab testing and the natural protocols that I taught her empowered her to not only take charge of her own health, but the health of her entire family.

Candice is currently regaining energy and vitality, and has a new-found knowledge, interest, and a passion for taking care of her own emotional and physical well-being.  Here is the bottom line:

When we employ a holistic view of the body, recognizing that all parts of the body are inter-connected and inter-dependent on one another for proper function, and work to positively affect the underlying causes of the symptoms that people feel through natural protocols, the clients’ symptoms usually subside or are eliminated completely.  It’s really that simple.

I hope that this article helped to inspire you to do the same as Candice: Take charge of your health!  Don’t accept the current medical model, which is to sit back and wait for serious conditions or diseases to strike and then pray that modern medicine will save you!

You hold the keys to vibrant health, and those keys are the lifestyle choices that you make each and every moment of each and every day of your life.  Every lifestyle choice that you make either degrades your health or improves it.  There is no in-between.   

Now I’d like to hear from you.  Do you suffer from any of the symptoms that Candice did?  Have you been to the doctor and were told that ‘everything looks normal’ even though you are certain that something feels ‘off’?  Have you had any experiences with working with a holistic practitioner that runs the type of labs that I run?

Thanks for reading!

Rick Gold

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Rick Gold, Functional Wellness, FDN Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.

Website: www.GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Book a consult: http://www.snapappointments.com/listing/38C

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GoldFunctionalWellness

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

Email: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

The role of psychology in our food choices.


Why do we do what we do, eat what we eat, say what we say, and think what we think? What drives our behavior?  What is the ultimate determining factor of success, health, and happiness?

Several years back, I attended a Tony Robbins “unleash the power within” seminar. It was a powerful experience that delved into human nature and the core answers to those questions. It is the answers to those questions and, perhaps more importantly, our use of the knowledge gleaned from those answers, that ultimately gives us the wisdom to change our destiny.

In the seminar I learned that there are 2 things that drive human behavior at all times:

1) Seeking pleasure
2) Avoidance of pain

That’s it. It’s that simple. And one or both of those can be used to understand our motivations behind literally everything that we do, think, or say. Further, seeking pleasure and avoidance of pain are what have shaped literally every single decision of our lives and ultimately are responsible for how our lives look today.  Are you currently a happy or depressed person?  Fat or skinny?  Healthy or unhealthy?  Rich, poor, or just getting by?  Do you self-sabotage your financial situation, career, health goals, or relationships?  If you trace your steps backwards, you can attribute each one of these outcomes to one or several choices you have made that put you in your current position, and those choices were driven by your either seeking pleasure, avoidance of pain, or both simultaneously.

When we act selflessly, are we really acting selflessly?  Is that even possible?  I say no, it is not.

When we sacrifice for others, our motivations for doing so can ALWAYS ultimately be traced back to 2 things: 1) Sacrificing for others makes us feel good about ourselves, or 2) The pain of feeling like a bad person when we don’t sacrifice for others is too unbearable.

Let’s take giving charity as an example – when we donate to a charity, we are doing a wonderful thing by helping other people in need.  But why do we do it?  If it made you feel absolutely horrible about yourself and you believed that giving charity makes you a bad person, would you still give charity?  Probably not.  The reason why people give charity is because it makes them feel good to do it.  We believe that helping others makes us a good person and that gives us pleasure.  For some people it also makes them feel important and invaluable to others which gives them pleasure.  Others give to charity for the obvious tax breaks they receive for giving.  For some, the thought of not helping people in need while they have the means to do so goes against what they believe makes them a good person.  If that is a core belief for them, then not giving charity will cause great emotional pain.  

So, how can we apply this knowledge to make our lives better and to live a happier existence?  If we can understand what motivates our behaviors, we can begin to change them.

I believe that when it comes to our health, we focus way too much on seeking short-term pleasure, and not enough on avoiding long-term pain.

We regularly indulge in foods like alcohol, iced cream, cookies, cake, soda, candy, gluten, popcorn, GMOs, breaded foods fried in vegetable oils, and synthetic food additives.  We do this because, let’s face it, they are freaking delicious and it gives us tremendous short-term pleasure to eat them.  There is also a significant emotional attachment associated with these foods.  They remind us of our childhood, our parents, cultural traditions, etc.  Eating them brings us back to the good old days of our childhood and makes us feel good emotionally, if only for a fleeting time.  It is that intense short-term pleasure that drives us to eat foods that are literally slowly killing us!

But what if we were able to change our focus with regards to these foods?  What if we train ourselves to focus more on the long-term pain associated with regular consumption of these foods instead of focusing on the short-term, fleeting pleasure we get from eating them?  We would have to use a method that can bring all of the potentially intense future pain that is associated with eating these foods and bring it into the present moment.  And we need to make that pain feel palpable and intense enough so that it is far greater than the short-term pleasure that our brains are looking forward to by ingesting these foods in the moment.

One way to do this is by using the “Dickens Process” (another Tony Robbins exercise.  I thank my close friend Erik Nissani, an emerging life coach, for reminding me about this powerful technique a few weeks back).  If we envision ourselves in the future and imagine what our lives will be like 5, 10, 20, and 30 years from now if we keep regularly eating these foods, we might be able to force a paradigm shift in our relationship to the food choices available to us.

Here is how to use the Dickens Process for dietary choices: each time you feel like you are about to reach for foods that you know are bad for you, ask yourself the following series of questions:

  • If I keep eating this way 5 years into the future: Will I be fat or thin?  What will that do for my self-confidence? How will I feel about myself?  Good or bad?  Will I be happier, or sad?  What kind of example will I be setting for my children?
  • If I keep eating this way 10 years into the future: Will I become one of the many Americans that have type 2 diabetes, having to inject myself with insulin before each meal?  How would that make me feel?  Will I start to develop other conditions or diseases related to unhealthy eating such as heart disease, fatty liver disease, or even cancer?  How will I feel when my doctor orders me to take a boatload of prescription drugs like statins, or drugs to lower blood pressure, or for arthritis for the remainder of my life?  What will the side effects of these drugs do to me?
  • If I keep eating this way 20 years into the future: Will I be younger or older than my true age?  Will I be able to play actively with my kids?  Will I be able to exercise or go on vacations and enjoy myself given all of the complications of the diseases and conditions associated with regularly eating these foods for years?  Will I be happy or sad?  Will I have regret if I am diagnosed with a horrible illness that I probably could have prevented by not eating these foods?
  • If I keep eating this way 30 years into the future: Will I have significantly shortened my life as a result of caving into the short-term pleasure associated with eating these foods?  Will I live to see my grandchildren?  Will I die of a painful disease like cancer?

No one wants to become sick.  No one wants heart disease or cancer.  The problem is that when we are healthy, we don’t think about the possibility of getting sick.  We just like to enjoy ourselves and not think about that stuff.  We only think about disease once it is too late…after we have been diagnosed with something terrible.  I am not saying that I believe we should live our lives in fear!  I am simply saying that we should not live a life of ignorance.  Regularly eating foods that are bad for your health will eventually cause your downfall.

If we are able to consistently focus on the long-term pain rather than the short-term pleasure that is associated with regularly eating these foods, I think the decision of whether to put that morsel into our mouth or not becomes an easy one.

Furthermore, we can make this exercise infinitely more powerful if we can find different ways to gain intense short-term pleasure, other than eating that food.  Here are some ideas:

  • Find a way to celebrate small victories.  Each time you choose to avoid eating food that is bad for your health, pat yourself on the back.  Imagine how that choice is contributing to your long-term health.  Get creative!
  • Think of the positive example that you are setting for your children.  Childhood obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are skyrocketing!  By your refusal to eat that bad food, you are leading the way for your children and teaching them how to build and maintain their own health!  We all focus so much of our attention on teaching our children manners, or the importance of school and getting good grades.  But when it comes to nutrition and disease prevention, Americans fall way short on educating their children.  With each decision not to eat the bad foods, you literally help shape the future health of your child!
  • Picture yourself as an example of vibrant health 5, 10, 20, and 30 years into your future as a result of minding your health now by using a preventative mindset in your dietary choices.

Psychology is an important part of why we reach for the foods that we eat.  The more I learn, the more I understand that without understanding and changing the psychological motivations behind our food choices, the chances for the success of any healthy eating plan are slim.  We need to change our relationship with food.  One place to start is to focus on the pleasure-pain principle.

I hope that this gives everyone who reads it something to think about, and I welcome comments in the section provided below.  Thanks for reading!  

Rick Gold

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.
Website: www.GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Book a consult: http://www.snapappointments.com/listing/38C

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GoldFunctionalWellness

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

e: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

What is “Functional Wellness”?

As many of you know, I am Functional Wellness Practitioner.  But what is functional wellness, anyway?

Functional Wellness is a natural, holistic, preventative “self” care model that seeks to detect and eliminate the underlying bodily malfunctions that lead to symptoms.  It is living a lifestyle that focuses on prevention of disease rather than treating disease that has already taken hold.  

What is “health” or “wellness” anyway?  How do you define it?  Is it simply the absence of disease? Is it simply being alive and able to function?

Below are the basic tenets of Functional Wellness:

  • Do not attempt to diagnose or treat disease.  That is simply not what functional wellness is about.
  • View the body holistically.  Our bodies are complex organisms with many different regulating systems that are interconnected with each other and dependent on each other for proper function.
  • “Healthy” means 100% function in a living being at the cellular level and living in a state of homeostasis.  In other words, a truly healthy individual would exhibit the following attributes:
    • Absence of disease (obviously).
    • Hormones are in perfect balance.
    • Eats a perfect diet and has no weight issues.
    • Has boundless energy, is extremely active and gets plenty of relaxation and play in the sun each day.
    • Liver is working at peak function while detoxifying the body.
    • Digestive system is at peak functionality.  No heartburn, gas, bloating, belly aches, constipation, diarrhea, reflux, GERD, Crohn’s.
    • No joint pain, inflammation or headaches and no need to take pills other than supplements for preventative measures.
    • Strong immune system.  Rarely gets sick and, when sick usually beats it very quickly.
    • Rarely if ever gets depressed other than every now and then while dealing with situational depression (i.e. death of a family member of other serious life event).
    • Excellent muscle tone and strength.
    • No sexual dysfunction or infertility.
  • The vast majority of us are not healthy! 
    • Most of us go through life experiencing a myriad of nagging symptoms every day but we are taught by our current healthcare system that these are just normal aspects of being alive, and we should take pharmaceutical prescription and over-the-counter drugs to alleviate the discomfort caused by them. 
    • everyday living exposes us to toxins, chemicals, radiation, pesticides, food sensitivities, bacteria, parasites, lack of sleep, and stress that throws the equilibrium of our bodies out of whack and causes hidden malfunctions to occur.
  • Our bodies “speak” to us every day.  We need to listen!
    • Symptoms are the language that our bodies use to tell us that something is malfunctioning inside of us. 
    • Not listening to our bodies or simply “masking” the symptoms with pain-killers, antacids, sleeping pills, statins, blood-pressure lowering medications or other drugs is a dangerous game.  Masking a symptom does not make it go away and it sets the stage for disease to occur in the body. 
    • Headaches are not caused by a “lack of ibuprofen”, depression is not caused by a “lack of Prozac”, and acid reflux is not caused by a “lack of antacid”.
  • Seek to uncover the root cause(s) of symptoms, and to bring the body back into balance naturally.
    • Through functional lab work, we uncover imbalances and malfunctions or “healing opportunities” in the body, and we use natural protocols to help fix those imbalances.
    • Cells don’t need to be told their job.  If we give the cells in our body what they need to return to normal function they will do so and the body will return to health. 
    • Eliminate the underlying malfunction and eliminate the symptoms associated with it.

If we examine how our current healthcare system works in stages, it would look something like this:

  • Stage 1 – Healthy (see description above)
  • Stage 2 – Mild symptoms appear but are either ignored or we reach for over-the-counter products to alleviate them.
  • Stage 3 – Symptoms worsen.  Over-the-counter drugs no longer adequately address the problem.  A trip to the doctor’s office yields stronger, prescription drugs which serve to alleviate the symptoms but usually doesn’t address the cause(s).  Perhaps the Doctor at this point draws blood to do a basic panel.  Usually, the Doctor comes back telling the patient that “everything looks normal”.
  • Stage 4 – Since the symptoms were masked by the prescription drugs and the underlying cause(s) remains, symptoms either worsen over time or manifest into new and possibly much scarier symptoms.  This prompts another trip to the doctor and perhaps several specialists.  At this point there is likelihood that the Doctor diagnoses the patient with some sort of disease (cancer, cvd, diabetes, gout, MS, crohn’s, Inflammatory bowel disease etc.).  These are treated with more prescription drugs, surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, NONE of which actually work to correct the underlying cause of why the disease occurred in the first place.

We all know what likely comes after stage 4 so let’s not be morbid about it!

It’s unfortunate that most people don’t think about their health until disease occurs, because most of the diseases that plague us today are actually preventable!  Living by the tenets of Functional Wellness requires a paradigm shift.  Focus on your health while you are in stages 1 or 2 and the chances are much greater that you will live a long, healthy, and happy life that is free of disease!

To live a lifestyle that prevents disease from occurring, we must address ALL areas of daily life:

  1. Diet
  2. Rest
  3. Exercise
  4. Stress reduction (mental/emotional AND hidden internal stress)
  5. Supplementation

 In the next installment, I’ll go into greater depth on tips for living a preventative lifestyle with regards to the D in D.R.E.S.S. (Diet).  

Thanks for reading!

– Rick

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness Practitioner

Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

e: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com


Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.