Approaching the Natural [Book Review]

Recently I read the book Approaching the Natural: A Health Manifesto by Sid Garza-Hillman, the in-house nutritionist at the Mendocino Center for Living Well at the Stanford Inn. I kind of want to take a solo vacation there to decompress. Maybe next year during my hubby’s busy season… when it’s easier to leave the baby with someone else. I always have vacation to burn off at this time of year.

Approaching the Natural

I liked how the author is credited right on the cover: Nutritionist/Author/Philosopher/Parent.
Isn’t it cool that “parent” is so important it’s right there in his credentials?

Oh… and the geek in me loves that Biz Stone (Twitter co-founder) wrote the foreword!

This is a small book. Not only in length, but also physical size. I have puny hands, but here it is in my hand.

Approaching the Natural in my hand

Small enough you could carry it around with you if you wanted!

I really enjoyed the book, it’s very readable. The writing style is very personable and you feel like Sid is just giving you a reality-check on how to look at your life. See how personable it is? I now reference the author like he and I are old pals. (Hi Sid, how’s it going?!)

It’s hard to argue against a book that starts like this:

Approaching the Natural introduction

The first part of the book is “Approaching the Natural Body”, incorporating practices that improve your physical body through food, exercise and connecting with the earth. The second part is “Approaching the Natural Mind”, taking care of your thoughts, your social network and yourself as part of the world at large.

While the eating part does advocate a vegan diet, no matter what your thoughts are toward that I do feel there is positive information to take away from that. (I’m conflicted on the whole veganism issue, but I think that is fodder for another post… if I feel that it would be interesting to people or it’s something I need to get out of my brain!)

And while I enjoyed the first part… the second part really struck a chord with me because that’s such a fundamental part of how I define health. I always say that health is the optimal expression of your physical, mental and emotional health within the confines of the genetic hand you’ve got. And to quote a line directly from the book, apparently my friend Sid agrees with me:

Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other. From the book Approaching the Natural by Sid Garza-Hillman

Preach on!

He advocates the use of meditation to help you center your mind, but he presents it in such an approachable way that makes it seem like anyone could meditate.

Take one deep breath and then know that in that moment you were present and aware. From the book Approaching the Natural by Sid Garza-Hillman

I’m going to have to refrain from pulling quotes from this book too much, because I may end up quoting the entire second part on here! That wouldn’t be fair, Sid put forth the effort to write this book so I can’t just re-publish it all here.

Seriously, the book is very thought-provoking and I really enjoyed it. Even statements that I may not have agreed with were presented so I think about the subject and try to decide why I may or may not agree with them. If you get the chance, check it out. It’s selling on Amazon for $8.96 in print and $5.79 on Kindle.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.


  1. sounds like an interesting one! i am into health/wellness/organic books like this one sounds, but at the same time i also wonder why some people “need” to be so clean/meditate/etc whereas others seem to be able to eat mcdonalds and candy and not have chronic health issues (at least until later in life of course). i guess i feel like – why is my body so sensitive to the world and i try to eat pretty clean (most of the time), but those who eat fast food all day don’t seem to have ongoing problems? anyway, i guess i get mad that i have issues and they don’t, haha. does sound like a good read though, i’ll have to check it out.

    • I am right there with you… Why can some people eat “garbage” all the time and yet I seem to get sick from so many things? This unjust also applies to dental work… I brush and floss and still get cavities yet SOMEONE never flosses and then goes to the dentist to be told they’re all good. 🙂

    • Sid here…the question of ‘what is healthy’ comes up a bunch in my classes. Just because people can eat junk food and still move around does not mean they are thinking clearly, feeling good, and being happy. Also, the body will calibrate to what you do most of the time. People who are chronic junk food eaters are, in a sense, chronically sick and unhealthy (the bar is set way low all the time), whereas quite healthy people will periodically ‘get sick.’ I knew an alcoholic who claimed he never ‘got sick’ but his overall level of health was horrible. Check out the book if you can, though, because I address how to make steps by degrees toward greater health AND happiness…if you still have issues, you may want to take a step or two forward (whatever is manageable for you). Your body is most likely no more sensitive to the world than anyone else’s but simply reacts in its own way. Remember your body is doing the best it can given the tools it has to work with…Thanks for the comment!

      • In relationship to this… I just listened to an interview with Kris Carr and she talked about how some people think they have a “digestive problem” yet in reality, once they dig into it they have a “stress problem” or “anxiety problem” or some thing else in regard to their mental and emotional state that is manifesting in a physical way. I know I have massive stress issues… so perhaps some of my troubles just stem back to that. I do like that this book addresses both those typical physical things and the brain side of things.

        Thanks Sid!

  2. Definitely….I realized early on that I couldn’t write a true health book without giving equal voice to the mental and physical. Stress of any kind (emotional or physical) affects the body in much the same way, and definitely includes digestion. Our body’s natural stress response results in slowed digestion (and also affects the health of the digestive tract as a whole — the ‘beneficial’ bacteria).

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