Functional Nutrition seeks to give you living nourishment for optimal wellness, supporting you on a cellular level from the ground up.
When you’re motivated to improve your health, what practitioner is best to guide your eating habits? Should you contact a dietitian, a health coach, or a functional nutritionist? That depends on the question you’re asking.
A Dietitian Diagnoses and Treats What is Wrong
Suppose you are concerned about your weight. A dietitian will identify whether you are simply overweight, or whether you are actually obese. She may even classify you as insulin resistant or pre-diabetic. She will then prescribe a diet aimed at correcting that condition. A dietitian’s program will most likely work for you in the short term. It is what we call an “end-stage” approach.
A Health Coach Assesses How You Can Treat Your Condition
A health coach will take on more of a mentor role, and will discuss options that fit your lifestyle. He may present you with several possible diet plans and will work with your to craft the one that harmonizes best with your individual needs. He may also suggest exercise and stress management plans, for a more whole approach to wellness. You may engage in several fitness challenges with other program participants and have classes on implementing new lifestyle strategies.
A Functional Nutritionist Asks Why You Are Having Trouble
She will look for root imbalances. Are you gaining weight because of eating habits, stress, hormone imbalances, lack of activity, disease, or food sensitivities? Her goal is not to treat the weight itself, but to bring your body back into homeostasis (stability) so that your weight will normalize within your ideal range. She is not diagnosing or even “treating a condition.” She is looking at the “terrain” of your body. Her aim is to work with dysfunction on a cellular level to support optimal wellness before you reach the end-stage condition.
A Comparison of Conventional Nutrition and Functional Nutrition
The conventional nutritionist works within the framework of:
- A diet plan based on symptoms
- The low-fat, low calorie approach
- Emphasis on food quantities
- Less meat, sugar, fat, and sodium
- Inclusion of some processed and fortified foods
- Increased exercise to burn more calories
The functional nutritionist’s paradigm includes:
- Your relationships to food and other individuals
- The roles of stress, sleep, and exercise in your life
- Emphasis on quality of food
- More nutrient-dense options in your menu
- Suggested testing for nutrient sufficiency and genetic tendencies
- A bio-individual approach based on personal need
Your Story Matters to a Functional Nutritionist
Before your appointment, your functional nutritionist will ask for a health history and a food journal. She will then assess all of your symptoms – everything from dry skin and brittle nails to burping and bloating after meals. She’ll want to know whether you have headaches when you skip a meal, and whether you crave greasy, fatty, or sweet foods matters. Don’t be embarrassed to share if you poop “rocks,” “snakes,” or “pudding.” She will even be interested in the times you feel anxious, spacey, or depressed. In her book, all the body systems are interconnected, and she is looking at you as a whole person.
What Happens During Your Office Visit
After reviewing a graph she has printed based on your symptoms, she will ask to check a few reflex points, look at your pupils, or take a saliva pH. She may ask you to put some nutrients in your mouth, or take a standing blood pressure. Using clinical tests developed by doctors before labs tests were widely available, she may take your pulse or put a blood pressure cuff around your calf. Finally, she will counsel with you about your openness to dietary changes and supplement recommendations. Then, she will develop a personalized plan for you to follow that ensures life-giving nourishment.
How Functional Nutrition Helped Me
When I was just 33, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. At the time, nutrition science and epigenetics were largely undeveloped. The doctor said it was probably my genes. So, I would just have to take medication for the rest of my life. I wasn’t happy over that verdict of what I should do. Why was my health deteriorating at such an early age?
My search led to my becoming certified as a functional nutritionist. Along the way, I gained tools to stabilize my blood sugars and support my adrenal health. Also, I learned of my body’s own tendency to be deficient in B vitamins and my need for extra Vitamin D, based on my geographical location. Encouraged to develop my own recipes, I enjoyed an abundance of healing foods without deprivation. At last, I had the thrill of watching weight and my blood lipids normalize! Now, I no longer have Metabolic Syndrome!
The real difference was that the functional approach provided true healing from the bottom up. But the conventional approach was only like a band-aid.
Would you like to see this change in your life? Let’s talk about how I can help you!