• Jasmine Blake Hollywood, MS, HHP

How Eating Patterns cause Chronic Disease: Diet Approaches

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

The Total Diet Approach of complete Elimination

Over the years of learning about how to heal chronic disease with food, my approach to nutrition has been in many areas, especially choosing the right kind of diet. While Brown (2016) discusses the Total Diet Approach as a diet option, from experience, I prefer the option of complete Elimination. [1]. The DASH Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and the Vegetarian Diet are considerable diet alternatives to eat for life longevity. [1]. However, I like to think realistically and use the information I have gathered from sitting in during nutrition consults before I consider diet options for individual clients.

Choosing Diet Options

What I've learned in choosing diet options for clients is that every client has a range of varying signs, symptoms, and conditions. Due to these reasons, diets as Brown lists, may not be doable for a small percentage of these people. [1]. Nonetheless, any diet option is a good option for the majority of the people in populations.

In the long run, choosing diet options is one part of the spectrum, while challenges in the field can be another.

In people who specifically experience pain, health complications, or acute disease, there may be specific biochemical issues going on within the body. These reasons could prevent this percentage from experiencing positive changes from particular diets. Therefore, I chose to follow the Elimination approach and Ween-Off technique to guide them better. The Elimination approach makes life seem more manageable for this specific type of population while they are still able to have the feeling of being successful.

Behavior Challenges to improving Chronic Disease Naturally

Some behavior challenges I have observed and personally experienced during consults are: eating attitudes, food acceptance, regulation of food intake, and eating context. [1]. These particular behaviors are otherwise known as the Eating Competence Model (ECM). [1]. All four of these behavioral areas exist within humans naturally, regardless of which diet options nutritionists choose from their assessments.

Besides, strategically trying to change these behaviors in clients makes the ECM more challenging for nutritionists. People who have constant urges and are desperate to eat certain foods almost always will feel famished. [1]. The feelings of urgency and desperation can be considered symptoms of food addiction. [1].

Conditions of the mind, such as food addictions or ECM behaviors, are recognized as psychological issues or can be regarded as behaviors that are attached by emotions. [1]. Behavior modification in psychology and nutrition is a huge challenge that nutritionists will continue to face while choosing appropriate diet options for clients.

Other Challenges Nutritionists Face

Another challenge nutritionists face is the ability to get conventional physicians who are involved with the same client to agree to a nutrition regime. Conventional physicians are physicians who practice western medicine and focus on one area of the body. While Alternative, Complimentary, or Functional physicians practice holistic and whole-body approach. Conventional physicians are well aware of individual disease states caused by poor eating habits, yet are reluctant to agree to nutritional and holistic approaches.

All Practitioners use Evidence-Based Studies

More than often, it is the case that conventional physicians skew holistic approaches by stating there is no clinical evidence behind our practices. These views are untrue and purely biased options. Brown (2016) lists in her book, that cancer, heart disease, and drug/alcohol-induced deaths all rank second place of the top killers of humans today. [1]. Across health spectra in conventional and alternative medicine alike, practitioners are all made aware of clinical evidence about food and disease through education of health statistics.

As well, in both areas of practice, practitioners have viewed plenty of studies that prove these diseases are reflective of the way we eat, and this will never change. [1]. Furthermore, these studies demonstrate what we are facing while treating the broader population. Plus, disease states such as cancer, heart disease, and alcoholism are directly related to obesity, making obesity the leading cause of disease conditions.[1].

The Abnormal is now Normal

The foundation of obesity is an excessive intake of food and lack of physical activity. [1]. Unfortunately, obesity is more common now than it has ever been before. Diseases are considered normal, and buttons popping off pants from being overweight is continually neglected. Even worse, in the United States obesity is more prevalent than in any other country in the world. [1].

Prevalence statistics in the U.S. accumulate to a whopping 83.6 million adults who have reported having Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), and as I stated before, heart disease is related to obesity. [1]. Other risk factors directly in line with obesity are increased cholesterol, low HDL, diabetes, elevated triglycerides, low food intake of fruits and vegetables, and high food intake of fats. [1]. These habits and conditions are just some of the smaller issues nutritionists are faced with when focusing on the whole-body approach of the client, but this is all normal right?

Bodily Systems are All One-System

According to the Institute of Functional Medicine (diagram of the Functional Medicine Tree), our organizing bodily systems are grouped into sections. [2]. These sections are either studied one-by-one as stated before using conventional medicine approaches or as a whole using functional medicine approaches. Each part is imperative for all the others to operate correctly. Therefore if one area is down, then the other sections are functioning at full capacity.

These sections are transport (cardiovascular and lymphatic), communication (endocrine, neuro, and signaling), energy (mitochondria), assimilation (digestion, absorption, and respiration), defense and repair (immunity), biotransformation (toxicity and detoxification), and structural integrity (musculoskeletal and subcellular membrane). [2]. These systems all depend on proper nutrition and continuous physical activity. [2]. When one of these systems is off due to inactivity or nutritional flaws (such as insufficient vitamin and mineral intake), the body reacts. One particular way it reacts is to preserve fat. The reason the body retains fat because it thinks if it does, it is protecting our bodies from starving or withering away. The more the collection of fat, the more obese we become.

Behavior Therapy is our Personalized Therapy

Lack of physical activity, an overabundance of food, and lack of nutrients cause obesity. Clinical imbalances caused by obesity, diseases, and systems failure can reduce lifespan. As well, when nutritionists are presented with these issues, they impair our ability to implement therapies effectively. One specific type of treatment that can be affected is the ability to utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Weight Management (CBTWM). [1]. CBTWM is a behavioral modification using the ECM and choosing proper diet options for clients. [1]. It includes eliminating certain foods and healing the gut as well.

By implementing these strategies, a client can reduce addiction symptoms and minimize ECM behaviors. [1]. The choice modification will ultimately help detach negative emotions associated with certain food types. Thus nutritionists can choose appropriate diet options while still focusing on Therapeutic Lifestyle Change and whole-body approach to achieve this. [1].


  1. Brown, J. E. (2016). Nutrition through the life cycle (6th Ed). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

  2. The Functional Medicine Tree. (2016). Institute for Functional Medicine. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1oGOcaEV_fEjQ7iY7_crLmgEDiFEKKxUK (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.