Eric Bakker N.D.June 14, 2022

I'm not here to debate what you should eat, but here are three principles I feel are important if you are interested in improving health and wellbeing with diet and nutrition.

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Eric’s 3 Basic Principles

These are the three basic principles Id often explain to patients who came to see me with a chronic health problem. In most cases, it is possible to improve your health. Improvements can range from a mild to a full resolution of all symptoms. I’ve found that these three basic principles apply in most cases. That is, if you expect a significant recovery from any health problem.

1. It Takes Time To Develop Healthy Habits 

You don’t decide on your future; you decide on your habits. And your habits will decide your future for you. Make it a habit of mixing and socialising with the ‘right food crowd’ rather than those who are more likely to lead you down the path of poor or sloppy eating habits. Like take away foods, fried chicken, soda drinks. Understand that some friends may not be even remotely interested in your new diet and lifestyle. Some may even feel uncomfortable about your newly gained healthy habits. You may feel tempted to go back into drinking too much alcohol or other similar addictive behaviours.

The Wrong Food Crowd

The ‘wrong food crowd’ are likely to influence your nutritional behaviours or attitudes to your detriment, luring you back into fries, burgers, chocolate, snacks, candy, soda drinks and other highly processed foods and drinks. The wrong food crowd is more likely to consume hardly any fruit, minimal vegetables. They’ll likely consume plenty of alcohol and caffeinated drinks too and not drink much water.

Don’t keep bad friends to avoid damage to your life. Good friends will support and encourage your healthy diet and behaviours. The bad ones won’t, and would prefer you to partake in their crappy ways of eating and living. It supports what they do, but it doesn’t support your health. If you don’t create your own diet and lifestyle plan, you’ll fall into somebody else’s plan. And they won’t have much planned for you. Don’t fall for the wrong crowd.

The wrong crowd has poor lifestyle habits that seem to accompany the poor dietary habits. They’ll stay up late, go to bed whenever and may be involved in other risky behaviours. These behaviours can include driving after consuming too much alcohol, drug taking and more. Not the best and most positive influence around you.

Read Basic Healthy Lifestyle Habits.

New healthy habits replace the old ones. Those who eat a diet that may include a lot of refined foods can easily, over time, move into a more intermediate healthy diet. This way of eating can include more raw vegetables, fruits, and vegetable juices. I find it takes anywhere from 6 months up to two years to improve your gut function and overall health. After this period, you’ll find that your newly gained health habits will be more or less second nature.

But why, why does it take this long for your gut to improve?

Because there are different healthy concepts to learn over a long period, and it is best to make these changes slowly over time so that these habits become more fixed and ingrained. This will ensure that the newly gained healthy habits will stay there for life. Habits adopted overnight can also go back to how they used to be overnight. I’m not a believer in rapid, overnight changes in any diet and lifestyle plan.

Your gut is very much like a garden. It takes time and patience to cultivate. You’ll invariably find some people will have cared for and loved their “gut garden” for many years. And it shows. Once a neglected garden has transformed into a thing of beauty, it is only about routine maintenance to keep it that way.

It takes time – to learn how to shop, select, prepare and cook your fresh foods. Shopping and selecting fresh foods is something you learn. You’ll need to find the suppliers and work out their best foods and their availability throughout the year. Do you like Mediterranean eating like I do? Then find an importer or seller of these goods. Have you tried your farmer’s markets for fresh foods? The fruit and vegetables stall holders often have contacts for you in sourcing high quality poultry, fish, or grass fed beef or lamb. When you live on a processed food diet, you don’t care where your food comes from, how your food is prepared and cooked, and whether the food has any nutritional quality or value.

It takes time – for your digestion to improve. As your gut improves in function and health, you could eat a larger amount of raw foods, as your gut will tolerate it more. Those who have already adopted healthy eating habits some time ago are more involved with what they eat. They will have fine-tuned their diet over time and know what suits them and what doesn’t. They will have worked out the foods that make them feel at their best, and likewise, have figured out what foods and drinks make them feel like crap and avoid them.

It takes time – for your bowel function to improve. Those who have adopted good eating habits have a better digestion and more balanced bowel flora. Virtually no gas or bloating, and a flat stomach. Their digestive systems can tolerate a higher level of natural foods than those who have been eating a more refined food diet, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

People with a strong and healthy gut find it easier to “say no” with daily temptations of snacks and junk food. Those with poor gut function find it harder over time to work out the foods that aggravate them, as their gut function steadily declines, so does their tolerability to many foods, as well as an increase in symptoms like bloating, farting, nausea, irritable bowel, etc. Unfortunately, a prescription for antibiotics may be the solution after visiting the GP. These are the “problem” patients that naturopaths don’t like to see on their doorstep. They are therefore “bounced” from one healthcare professional to another. Any experienced natural therapist will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Those who have excellent kidney, liver and gallbladder function are the people who invariably have developed better eating habits. I’ve found this particularly so with older people with great gut health.

Their bowels work well and are more regular than those who have very “hit and miss” diets, which many have in today’s times. In my experience, most people who came to our clinic with health problems needed to improve how and what they eat. Their bowel and bladder habits improved over time as well, along with their health, and it surprised many! Is your bowel habit not satisfactory? Then start today!


2. Listen To Your Body 

Become more intuitive, if any food, beverage or supplement recommendation makes you feel unwell, then discontinue it. If something makes you feel good when you eat or drink it, then maintain it in your diet, but be careful of consuming too much, like alcohol. Become more attuned to what you eat and your bathroom habits, and try to never let yourself become constipated. If your gut is problematic a lot, like bloating, gas or irregular bowel motions, is there something you consume that could be the cause? Ease off a little on the exercise and your work.

If you feel tired, you will be more able to perform at your best soon, once you feel really well again. Do you rest when your body tells you, or do you keep going? Maybe you do too much, expect too much and want too much from yourself or others? Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. It will throw all kinds of symptoms your way to get your attention.


3. Don’t Be Slack!

Getting well and staying well takes time and commitment on your behalf. Yes, it takes time to buy fresh foods, and to prepare and cook them. Plenty of time. It’s important to remember that you are doing this for yourself, to look and feel great, and by being impatient by expecting results too quickly or giving up easily, it certainly won’t give you the results you really want.

It’s one of the most common reasons most don’t achieve their health and wellness goals. Procrastination, boredom, excuses and lack of commitment are some of the biggest reasons some don’t get well and stay that way. Is Uber Eats the answer, really?

I recommend you don’t become the person who always makes excuses for why they need to improve their diet and lifestyle. I’ve heard ALL the excuses: “my back is sore, I haven’t got the time”, “I’m way too busy with the kids”, “I’ve got no money”, “I’m not in shape”, “I’m too old”, “It sounds like too much work”, etc.

Engage positively with people you come into contact with and try to achieve something positive in your life regularly. Plan and stay inspired by mixing with the right friends. Take regular holidays and relax regularly, but balance this by working hard and smart when you are required to do so. Entrepreneurs are especially bad at chilling and relaxing, preferring to work, sleep and eat at all hours.

You’ll find that slackness eventually won’t be an issue, because your compliance invariably increases as your level of health increases. This is something I’ve noticed repeatedly in my clinic. There are several basic requirements that will take time and patience to integrate into your daily life, and these requirements are essential to move on to our intermediate and advanced nutrition plans.

Those who eat a basic diet have less compliance with sticking to their newly adopted diet. Those with more experience in choosing and eating the right foods don’t seem to have a problem here. Hence, those who are in a dietary transition stage need more motivation and encouragement. People who are more experienced with a healthy diet and lifestyle are more prone to stay on track because they have learned the benefits and advantages of staying on track.


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