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What is Functional Nutrition?

What is Functional Nutrition?

What is Functional Nutrition?

What is Functional Nutrition?

You are unique.

You have your own genetic makeup, health history, and lifestyle.

Your nutrition plan should be unique to your individual body, too!

But, what is functional nutrition, exactly?

Great question! Let’s get into what functional nutrition is, how it’s different, and how I use it to help you restore wellness, find balance in your body through hormonal balance, prevent disease, help you optimize fertility (if that’s a goal!), and just feel damn good in your body!

Hormones + Functional Nutrition

Hormones affect everything. They affect your fertility, your mood, energy levels, weight, and happiness.

Using nutrition and lifestyle adjustments to balance your hormones will help you:

  • get rid of problem skin
  • easily maintain your ideal weight
  • eliminate foggy brain
  • increase sex drive
  • get rid of menstrual cramps, pain, clotting, and PMS
  • stop breast tenderness
  • feel happy in your body and in front of the mirror
  • stop mood swings
  • fix hormone conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, PCOS, and low progesterone
  • get rid of food cravings
  • have more energy during the day
  • sleep better at night

Functional Nutrition vs Conventional Nutrition

Functional nutrition practitioners aren’t in place to diagnose, prescribe for, or treat their clients for specific conditions. Instead, my role is to look at all health problems holistically, educate my clients about the ways their behavior is impeding their optimal health, and offer suggestions for improvement. I also tell clients I use food as therapy 😃.

Here are a few ways in which functional nutrition is different from conventional practices:

Functional Nutrition is Personal

Personalization is the main difference between functional and conventional nutrition.

Functional nutrition focuses on the patient instead of just on the problem. It is a personalized method of optimizing your health based on your individual genetics, lab values, lifestyle, and more. There are no generic meal plans or handouts, because each individual person is different!

Functional Nutrition Uses Food as Medicine

A whole real food diet rich in high quality fats & oils, clean proteins, tons of veggies, unprocessed grains and starchy root vegetables, and a variety of colorful fruits is always a great foundation. However, some patients require more targeted interventions with specific foods and / or high-quality supplements in order to treat the underlying cause of their health issues.

Functional nutrition honors the fact that food is not only fuel for your body, but also an extremely useful tool to help us address the underlying cause of your condition.

Functional Nutrition Is Not Just About Food

While functional nutrition honors the powerful nature of wholesome food, it also respects that there is more to health than what you eat.

For instance, a functional medicine practitioner may ask you about your stress levels, sleeping habits, activity level, relationships, and overall environment. Not only do these factors play a huge role in your overall health, but they also have a bidirectional effect on your nutrition. Additionally, your sleep habits and stress levels all affect how nutrition is digested and absorbed in the body. As a functional medicine practitioner, I’m able to talk to you about stress management and why it makes a difference. Not only that, but I may recommend various foods or nutritional supplements to help your body cope with the added stress, as well.

Embrace Your Uniqueness

With functional nutrition, I embrace your uniqueness and use it to tailor your individualized nutrition recommendations. I use personalized lab testing, functional food as medicine, and lifestyle interventions to further your healing process. I work closely with you to find a nutrition plan that is realistic for your lifestyle, while also reducing unwanted symptoms and restoring balance in the body.

The Functional Nutrition Process

An Initial Hormone Health Assessment is where we start. This is where I will learn about your health history, symptoms, lifestyle, dietary habits, labs, supplements, medications, and more to uncover the root causes of imbalance and figure out what we can do to improve the situation.

From there, I’ve broken it down into a 7-step process:

Step 1: Let’s Get Started

When you schedule the initial consultation, you will be asked to complete a new client intake form. These are vital in helping me fully understand your unique case. Be honest about where you’re at right now and then we can more accurately get you to where you want to be.

Step 2: Your Appointment

Depending on your appointment preference, we will either meet by phone, FaceTime, or Skype.

We start by going through the intake forms so that I can ask questions, and make sure I understand everything about your current and past health history, menstrual cycle health, your lifestyle, current food intake, digestion, energy levels, sleeping habits, stress level, and all medications, supplements and herbs you’re currently taking. I want to know what you’ve tried before, things that have worked for you and what hasn’t.

After I’ve done my background work and gathered the necessary information, I will share with you the initial steps that you can take right away to to start shifting things for the better. We will talk about food, lifestyle, environment, stress, movement and more.

I will recommend any additional laboratory tests that I think will be important to assess health biomarkers and give us more information about your unique situation.

There is no need for you to take detailed notes during the appointment. I will send you a recap of everything that we discuss as part of your customized treatment plan. I’d rather you just be present and take it all in.

Remember that this is a process. I am always willing to meet you where you’re at, so the more honest you are about what you’re ready and willing to do, or not do, the better you will sustain the changes we create together.

Step 3: Your Customized Plan

After our initial consultation, I will email your customized treatment plan detailing the action steps we discussed. This will include what foods to eat, foods to avoid, lifestyle modifications to incorporate and factors to stay away from, how to meal plan, grocery shop and eat out at restaurants; and a personalized supplement protocol (via online portal which gives you access to practitioner-grade supplements). You will also have access to all my amazing recipes, meal ideas, snack ideas, shopping lists and more.

Read through it as many times as you need, print it out, hang it on the fridge, whatever will be most helpful for your success.

Step 4: It’s Go Time

You’ll begin putting all those action steps into play and reaping the amazing benefits. I will ask you to keep a food journal during this time as a way to track not only your food intake, but how you’re feeling, your mood, your digestion, any challenges you’re struggling with and reflections on the process.

No judgement here, just a really great way for you to keep tabs on your daily experiences and progress!

Step 5: Check up

Our first follow up consultation will be scheduled 2-3 weeks after the initial consultation.

Follow up consultations give us the opportunity to check in, troubleshoot areas you’re still struggling with, adjust what’s not working, talk about improvements & changes, and of course address any questions or concerns you have! This is also where we will go over any new lab work results and tweak your plan based on these. I will look over your food journal and provide targeted feedback about things that look awesome and areas that need improvement. We’ll review the supplements you’re taking and make sure no changes are necessary here.

And lastly, I will provide any additional handouts or other necessary resources for your continued success and active participation.

Step 6: Ongoing Support

Ongoing follow up consultations from here are scheduled 1-2 times per month until we get you to a place where you feel BETTER than when we first met, the changes you’ve made now feel routine, your nagging symptoms are gone, and you feel comfortable and in control of your health journey. Soak it up, you put in a lot of energy to get yourself here!

Step 7: Keep Going

Continued support from here is up to you – most clients prefer a check in at least every 6-8 weeks because even with our best intentions, life happens. Things shift. Change shows up. And all the hard work we’ve done to feel amazing starts to slip and a downward spiral can easily happen. This is where I come in. We regroup, figure out what’s not working, and create solutions to get you back on track and feeling good again in no time. Or maybe you don’t fall back into old patterns, and you just want an ongoing accountability support system to keep you moving forward. Follow up consults are great for that too.

The five main principles of following a functional nutrition plan

1. Fill Up on Essential Nutrients

The components of your food make up the building blocks of your entire body. Nutrients like vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, probiotics, complex carbohydrates, and more are vital for keeping your body healthy. By nourishing it with what it needs each day, you are setting your system up for a state of health.

2. Avoid Toxic Growing Conditions

In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to understand precisely what is in your food. Factory farmed animal products, GMO crops, and pesticide-laced produce are all filling your digestive system with substances humans weren’t exposed to even 80 years ago, and the impacts on your health can be extreme. Take care to source your food from places you can trust to ensure that each bite contains exactly what you expect and nothing more.

3. Stick with Quality Foods

Just as the quality of gas in your car makes a difference in how well it drives, the components within your food dictate how well your body will run. Filling up on heavily processed junk food will prevent you from taking in all the nutrients you need, potentially compromising your system.

4. Prioritize Gut Health

Hippocrates told us that health begins and ends in the gut, and eating the world’s most nutritious diet won’t do you any good if your digestive system isn’t prepared to process it. Over 80 percent of your immune system is located in the gut, and without it functioning correctly you are at risk for infections, inflammation, auto-immune diseases and hormone imbalances – most of which will be misdiagnosed as other conditions.

Tending to your gut requires that you keep it healthy with beneficial bacteria and prevent pathogens and undigested food from causing problems. Make sure you know the signs of leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and other conditions so that you can tell when something has fallen out of place.

5. Tend to Your Microbiome

Healthy digestion doesn’t happen without a robust supply of beneficial microbes in your stomach and intestines. In fact, the human gut contains ten times more bacteria than all cells that make up your body.

These bacteria are collectively called a microbiome, and they are responsible for a myriad of health processes that affect your immune system, body weight composition, mental health, memory formation, and risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes. Ensuring you eat foods filled with probiotics ensures your microbial levels stay high, which keeps your immune system working as it should.

How you benefit from our work together

Through our work together:

  • You know what you should eat!
  • You know how to meal plan.
  • You know how to save time in the kitchen.
  • You’re able to overcome food cravings and addictions.
  • You’re able to identify food sensitivities and trigger foods that don’t make you feel good.
  • You learn what you can substitute for your favorite, not-so-good-for-you comfort foods.
  • You know what to buy at the grocery store, and what to look for on ingredient labels.
  • You know what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and how to make sure you’re prepared for all your meals.
  • You know what snack options are good ones, and which ones will send your blood sugar flying and your energy crashing 2 hours later.
  • You know what should be in your pantry and fridge so you’re never again left saying “There’s nothing for me to eat!”
  • You discover simple and super delicious recipes and methods of food prep and cooking techniques to make your kitchen a place you actually like spending time in.

In a nutshell

1. Functional nutrition practitioners look at your entire body and lifestyle to address an issue, instead of just treating the problem.

2. Functional nutrition uses food as medicine and therapy.

3. Functional nutrition is PERSONALIZED to you, your lifestyle, and your goals. It’s a practice that suits every body and can be used to treat everything from problem skin to menopause, and everything in between.

Let’s Connect!

I want to hear from you – leave me a comment below and we can continue the conversation!

Have you worked with a functional nutrition practitioner?

If yes, I’d love to hear your success story!

If you’re still on the fence about how and why I can help you, I’d love to chat it out! Find a time that works for you, and let’s get a date on the calendar!

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