Why Diets Don’t Work: Unpacking the Importance of Real Food

Shahna Sarpi

In a world where diets and quick fixes dominate the health and wellness industry, it’s important to take a step back and reevaluate our approach to food. In this thought-provoking conversation with Shahna Sarpi, a qualified nutritionist and empowerment coach, we delve into the importance of understanding the impact of food on our bodies and how to establish new nutritional foundations. 

Shahna’s personal health journey led her to study nutritional medicine and heal her relationship with food, and she is now passionate about sharing her insights with others. Together, we explore why diets don’t work, the benefits of eating real food, and the key ingredients for a nourished life.

Unpacking the Failure of Diets

Diets have long been a popular approach to weight loss and health improvement, but they often fall short of their promises. Shahna highlights two key reasons why diets don’t work: their lack of sustainability and their failure to provide education. Diets typically have an all-or-nothing approach, requiring strict adherence to a set of rules or guidelines. This approach is not conducive to long-term behaviour change, as it can lead to feelings of deprivation and ultimately result in a return to old habits. 

Additionally, diets often focus on what to eat and what to avoid without providing the necessary education on why certain foods are beneficial or detrimental to our health. This lack of understanding can make it difficult to make informed choices and establish new nutritional foundations.

The Power of Real Food

Shahna emphasises the importance of eating real food as a foundation for health and wellness. Real food refers to fresh produce, good quality meats, poultry, seafood, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. These foods are rich in nutrients and provide the body with the information it needs to thrive. By focusing on real food, we can simplify our approach to nutrition and ensure that we are nourishing our bodies with the right balance of macronutrients and micronutrients. 

Shahna encourages individuals to read ingredient labels and choose products that contain recognisable, real food ingredients. This simple shift can have a profound impact on our overall health and wellbeing.

Navigating Dairy and Gluten

Dairy and gluten are two common sources of inflammation and digestive issues for many individuals. While some people can tolerate these foods without any issues, others may benefit from reducing their consumption. Shahna advises individuals to listen to their bodies and be curious about how certain foods make them feel. If dairy or gluten causes discomfort or other symptoms, it may be worth exploring alternatives or reducing their intake. 

However, it’s important to note that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Quality also plays a role in the impact of these foods on our health. Choosing organic or pasture-raised dairy products and opting for whole grains can make a difference in the overall nutritional value and potential inflammatory effects.

Identifying and Addressing Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural process in the body, but excessive inflammation can lead to a range of health issues. Shana suggests paying attention to symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, headaches, digestive issues, and hormonal imbalances, as these can be signs of inflammation. By becoming more body-aware and tuning into how certain foods and lifestyle factors affect us, we can identify potential sources of inflammation. 

Stress is also a significant contributor to inflammation, so managing stress levels through practices like mindfulness, exercise, and self-care is crucial. Regular blood tests and other diagnostic tools can provide further insights into inflammation levels and guide personalised approaches to reducing inflammation.

Future Outlook

The power of real food cannot be underestimated when it comes to our health and well-being. By prioritising real, whole foods and making small, sustainable changes to our diet and lifestyle, we can establish a strong foundation for optimal health. It’s essential to listen to our bodies, be curious about how different foods make us feel, and make informed choices based on our individual needs and preferences. 

By focusing on the basics of nutrition and embracing a self-love approach to health, we can enhance our quality of life and prevent future health issues. As the awareness around the importance of real food grows, we can expect to see a shift towards a more holistic and sustainable approach to health and wellness.

If you’re looking to dive in further, Shahna offers her six-week program, “The Real Food Way,” as a resource for those looking to make positive changes in their relationship with food.


Megan Zischke
Megan Zischke
Passionate Life Coach, Founder of The Wholistic Collective, and Host of The Wholistic Life Podcast. As the visionary behind The Wholistic Collective, Megan cultivates a thriving community through the Wholistic Health Directory, emphasising unity and shared growth.

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