Provenance Book Club: The Archetype Diet

It’s a beautiful feeling to be seen for who you really are, beneath the facade that you may present to the world, or behind the insecurities that may color your self esteem. When someone sees the “real” you, you feel recognized for your strengths and compassion for your weaknesses. And when you’re seen, you feel more confident to show up in the world as your authentic self, freed from your own self-limiting beliefs, and a step closer to reaching your goals.

That’s how I felt, anyway, as I read Dana James’ new book The Archetype Diet. Despite the title, this is no ordinary diet book that promises to hold the secret to losing weight fast. Instead, James’ book is a much deeper dive into four archetypes of women she has identified from years as a nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, and cognitive behavioral therapist and hours of speaking with thousands of different women. These four archetypes will have different sources for their self-worth, which in turn influence their behavior around food, their hormones, and where their bodies tend to store fat.

The four archetypes, according to James:

  • The Nurturer is always there to care for others. She is kind and compassionate, but this can come at the expense of her own self-care.
  • The Wonder Woman bases her self-worth on her accomplishments. She is ambitious and driven, but her work often takes precedent over her diet.
  • The Femme Fatale is sensual, strong, and alluring but can become obsessed with her looks to the point that she develops an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • The Ethereal is spiritual and intuitive, but highly sensitive to her environment so she tends to eat to numb her reactions to the world.

Do you already have a sense of which archetype matches you best? James walks us through a simple quiz to help you determine your archetype. She then guides you through the ideal meal plan for your archetype.

There are no “good” or “bad” foods, but there are behaviors and foods that cause inflammation or more harm for certain types.

For example, all archetypes are recommended to avoid gluten and dairy for the first 4 weeks of the plan, but the Wonder Woman in particular needs to avoid these inflammatory foods which can add more cortisol (the stress hormone) to her system. Each meal plan is combined with recommendations for meditation, exercise, and supplements for each archetype.

But what makes these meal plans different is James’ recognition that simply following food guidelines without first understanding what the underlying bases of our self-worth are will not help us permanently change the habits that sabotage our goals.

James leads us through a few exercises which feel like a gentle therapy workshop, uncovering memories that may have shaped your overall vision of your self-worth from a young age, then guides you to reinterpret those memories from a kinder adult perspective, and to ultimately release them.

This kind of work can takes weeks, months and years to do, as many a therapist will tell you. But James’ book feels like the perfect addition to of a variety of wellness modalities that I’ve been fascinated with recently, including Human Design, manifestation through reparenting and unblocking, hypnotherapy, and breathwork. All can be effective in giving you permission to be your authentic self and to let go of the beliefs that limit you.

By combining nutrition, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy with the recognition of the different archetypes, James is onto something. With her straightforward, easy-to-follow approach, I know I can adopt some of the practices immediately, and others I can continue to delve into over the years to come, to show up and “do the work”. With The Archetype Diet, I feel a greater understanding of who I am and what tools I can use to step into my full potential.

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Caroll Lee - Founder of Provenance Meals

Caroll is an avid cook, mother of two, Board Certified Health Counselor and the founder of Provenance Meals.  Her passion in life is to feed people real food -- food that is raised, grown and prepared in traditional ways that are good for your health and good for the planet.  Caroll practices holistic nutrition, understanding that a healthy diet must be combined with other sources of nourishment—loving relationships, enjoyable physical activity, meaningful work and spiritual connectedness—to reach true health and happiness.