Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Functional Nutrition?
Functional nutrition is a practice born out of evidence-based research that focuses on how diet and lifestyle affects you on a cellular level. What you eat and how you live your life affects how your cells behave. This cellular behavior, in turn, affects how you feel both physically and emotionally. Put simply, you are what you eat, yes, but that is highly dependent on what your body is able to absorb and put to work. I use a D.R.E.S.S. approach, focusing on Diet, Rest, Exercise, Stress Reduction and Supplementation to address the unique needs of each client. Good health is about so much more than simply skipping dessert and hitting the gym. In fact, I don't think you should skip (the right) dessert! And hitting the gym when you're exhausted is on my list of "bad ideas" too. My work focuses on getting to the root cause of your issues through careful questioning, investigation and functional lab testing when warranted.
2. What can I expect to gain from working with you? Can you cure my (diabetes, Hashimoto’s, Chronic Fatigue, Rheumatoid Arthritis…)?
If you follow the guidelines outlined for you, your body will naturally respond to your efforts. I am not a medical doctor and I don’t diagnose or treat diseases per se. But I can help you optimize your health by addressing how your current diet and lifestyle practices are contributing to and exacerbating your symptoms. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a good example of how diet and lifestyle can make a difference in a disease's progression. You may have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's and prescribed medication but you still feel crummy. Your lab numbers appear normal and your complaints are dismissed but you know you don't feel right. Is there a known cure for Hashimoto's? Not currently. Is there a way to better manage it, perhaps even put it into remission, so that the inflammatory effects of it are not causing you to feel anxious or depressed, experience debilitating fatigue, gain weight or lose hair? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! We are going for optimal health here. Your optimal health. You want to feel better. My goal is to get you to a place where you do feel better, where you are not your disease but where you can work within its parameters so you can get on with experiencing life fully and joyfully.
3. How does this work?
In the initial two-part intake session, we dive into your history and develop a timeline of your health. You’ll be asked to fill out a detailed intake form before our first appointment and to also bring in copies of any recent lab work that you might have. We'll spend about an hour where I'll ask a lot of questions and you'll have time to ask me questions as well. In the second session, I'll ask more clarifying questions where gaps might exist and we'll begin to discuss a preliminary Action Plan for you to consider. Within a few days after that second session, you’ll receive a written Action Plan with specific recommendations. These recommendations typically cover the areas of Diet, Rest, Exercise, Stress Reduction, and Supplementation. Each person is different so each plan will look a bit different, especially as we move more deeply into your program and see how your body is responding. For many people, making a simple diet change will yield amazing results, especially if you have an unknown food sensitivity. For others, uncovering hidden stressors (infections or pathogens) is the key to being able to move forward to greater health. Sometimes taking an honest appraisal of the quality and quantity of your sleep and extent of stress in your life is going to be a game changer. Stress, for example, is highly inflammatory. Stress increases your need for cortisol, and chronic stress keeps your body in a state of hyper alertness and chronic inflammation. We need to honestly address and confront those stressors and come up with a plan to reduce them. The two-part intake lays the groundwork. Implementation and follow-up sessions are the heart of our work together.
4. What does an individual session look like? How can we spend an hour talking about this stuff?
Each client has slightly different needs. Some struggle with making dietary changes like eliminating gluten or cooking meals their family will eat. Others may hit a plateau with their symptoms and find nothing changes for a while. Sometimes, as a person heals, one symptom leaves but a new one appears. That’s all part of the process. I find that the stress reduction/management piece is often one of the biggest hurdles for people (along with diet change). Many people find that getting a handle on stress is also the most liberating part of going through this process. Sometimes all it takes are minor adjustments here and there; others may decide to make major life changes to confront the stress in their lives. I walk through that with you. You're not alone.
5. Can’t I just take a pill?
No pill or supplement can take the place of eating a healthy diet or getting restful sleep. Yes, you may very well need medications from your medical doctor. I’m always happy to talk with your physician or anyone on your healthcare team to collaborate on ensuring the best outcomes for you. I do find that clients are often very low in key nutrients so bringing in professional grade supplements can help jumpstart the body’s own reserves. But a pill or a supplement alone isn't going to cut it.
6. What’s the deal with inflammation?
Particularly for people with autoimmune diseases, the body is essentially “on fire”. The inflammatory process is a result of the autoimmune response. Inflammation alone can cause its own damage to different tissues and cells in your body. This damage can lead to additional symptoms and potentially more disease processes as time passes. Many people are surprised to find that inflammation is at the core of most disease processes. Headaches, joint pain, depression, even cancer...all have inflammation as part of their story. Our goal is to tame down that destructive fire and replace it with your own passionate fire to do what it takes to be healthy. You ultimately want to be able to direct your energy to the people and the experiences that bring you joy. Getting healthier will help provide you with the resilience and energy to be able to do that.
7. Should I join a gym?
Perhaps, but while everyone needs plenty of movement, not everyone will benefit from simply joining a gym. The best exercise is the one that you will do! I am a strong advocate of rebounding (jumping on a mini trampoline) because it is gentle on the joints, is convenient, and it is one of the few exercises that stimulates your lymphatic system. Walking, yoga and tai chi are also excellent forms of exercise that are gentle on an overtaxed body. Gyms can be great for some people. Consistent exercise is what we're aiming for; the intensity of that exercise will look different for each person.
8. How long will this take?
Most people who commit to making dietary and lifestyle changes will start seeing changes almost immediately. And making those changes might mean that initially you'll feel both better and worse.
If you're used to a diet of fast food and no breakfast, for example, you're going to be both pleasantly surprised with how much better you feel and perhaps frustrated with your food cravings. The food cravings are your body's way of trying to get you back to your imbalanced state that it is accustomed to. There are ways to deal with the cravings and we can work through those.
In general, I encourage clients to commit to 3 months (appointments every other week) with a monthly follow up appointment as needed. This is a ballpark recommendation. Some clients find that coming in every week is more helpful, initially, to keep them on track. Others thrive on the every other week schedule as it gives them time to put what they learn into practice. Experience has shown me that a minimum of 6 visits with regular follow up is what makes the difference in whether a client is serious about committing to long-term change or not and whether that change happens and sticks. And often, there is quite a bit of "unraveling" to do to get to the bottom of what is causing distress. This is a "peeling back the layers of an onion" process. What you need to keep in mind is that these health challenges didn't happen overnight and it's unrealistic to put pressure on yourself to magically transform in 30 days. As time moves on, briefer appointments may be all that are needed to check in and stay on track. Appointments are available in the office or by phone. There is no reason to miss because of time constraints; often people who are already going to many other doctor-related appointments, are tired, or are strapped for time, find phone consultations a relief.
9. What do you mean "peeling back the layers of an onion"?
Health issues show up in layers. What we often find is that once an obvious issue is resolved (anxiety, knee pain, headaches), others seem to magically appear out of nowhere (skin rashes, nausea, hot flashes). Where were these problems before? Are we just making things worse, trading one bad symptom for another? No, not at all. When one health issue is resolved then others may surface, partially because they can. Perhaps a skin condition worsens temporarily because our bodies are detoxifying. Hormones are responding to the changes in our bodies and they're trying to balance themselves out. What we eat, what we clean our house with, what cosmetics and lotions we apply to our bodies can all affect our estrogen levels, for example. You need to be ready and able to respond to that. Your body needs the grace to be able to go through the ugly and the messy to get back into balance. Don't jump ship in the middle of the messy! Big mistake! You want to see it through to the other side, and that can take time. For people with serious health challenges like autoimmune conditions, root cause change can take a year or more. For everyone, change needs to be permanent. Nourish and Replenish isn't about quick fixes or "30 days to a new you." Can quick starts and 30 challenges be helpful? Sure they can. But, not in isolation, Not if you want long-term change for your core health challenges. That's why I'd rather see someone who's not ready to go cold turkey with eliminating gluten, for example, take committed baby steps instead. Forward momentum is the key. Knowing why you want better health and moving towards that, setbacks and all, is the key to lasting change.
10. How much will this cost? Costs vary according to duration of program and whether or not you will need functional lab work done. Some traditional labs may be required and these can be obtained through your medical doctor. Functional lab fees vary.
11. What about supplements?
While getting most of your nutrition from a nutrient dense diet is the goal, many clients are so nutritionally depleted that they need supplementation, even for a short duration, for optimal healing. I will make recommendations and give you access to my dispensary. Supplementation is an optional but important part of improving your health outcomes. My goal is to educate you about how professional grade supplements may help you and why I may recommend particular supplements for your unique issues, so that you can make a better informed decision about their role in optimizing your health.