Why "The Mindful Nutrivore"?
A “Mindful Nutrivore” focuses on the nutrient-density of their food choices, while subverting dietary dogma. As our basic biochemistry hasn’t changed for tens of thousands of years, the dietary philosophy of the nutrivore is rather simple – just eat real food! A nutrivore looks beyond the conventions of “paleo” or “vegan” in order to seek out optimal nutrition; which in turn, supports normal function and cellular health. Furthermore, there is no one size fits all approach within the real-food framework, meaning that we can optimize our diets based upon what is best for our unique bio-individuality.
When it comes to our diets, the calories-in/calories-out model of diet and nutrition are no longer relevant. We now understand that it’s the quality of those calories that contribute to our overall health. This stresses the importance of eating local, organic, pesticide-free foods whenever possible to support the ecology of our bodies, our microbiome, and the environment. For these reasons, a nutrivore rejects nutrient-devoid processed foods, while choosing instead to seek out foods that are most nutrient-dense. Our bodies function on nutrients, plain and simple – deprive the body of them, and we begin to experience physiological breakdown (symptoms).
In the midst of the processed-foods era, we find ourselves looking to our ancestors for clues as to how to properly fuel our bodies. For example, it is well documented and researched that hunter gatherers had access to a much broader diversity of plants, obtained up to 10 times the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of certain nutrients, and were virtually free of modern disease like autoimmunity and heart disease. While we no longer live in hunter-gatherer societies, we must learn to find new ways to seek the most nutrient-dense foods in our urban industrial landscape. Through the use of therapeutic diets, lifestyle changes, and functional lab testing, we can learn to replicate ancestral practices, “biohack” our bodies, and perform at 100%. The ancestral hunter-gatherer becomes the modern day nutrient-seeker.
Mindfulness requires that we take an active role in our health, increasing our awareness of even the most subtle effects of our dietary choices. By listening and responding to signals from our bodies, we can learn to attend to those needs with diet and lifestyle changes, making careful adjustments as we go. In this sense, we stop living life on auto-pilot, and begin to take control of our health. Health is a lifelong commitment – so you might as well get to know you body!
What Does An FDN Practitioner Do?
You can think of FDN practitioners as “health detectives” that uncover root causes of dysfunction in the body. Rather than simply chasing symptoms in and endless cycle of trial and error, an FDN-P will help you to understand why those symptoms are happening in the first place. While an FDN-P is assigned to your “case”, he/she will work tirelessly, spending hours of research to connect the dots between your lab work, health timeline, and symptom history.
FDN-Ps use functional lab work to identify healing opportunities. In doing so, we aim to restore the body to normal function with without having to “diagnose” or “treat”. Ultimately, the goal of the FDN-P is to guide their clients through customized diet and lifestyle programs so that they may learn to remain healthy for a lifetime.
I've Tried Everything...Can FDN Really Help Me?
Your body is designed to perform at 100%, and the functional approach helps to get your body firing on all cylinders. Whether you’re experiencing fatigue, depression, or unexplained weight gain, the functional approach maintains that your your symptoms are not the problem, they are the result of the problem. Unfortunately, many of us spend years stuck in a cycle of trial and error in an attempt to alleviate those symptoms. Rather than wasting energy suppressing symptoms, the functional approach aims to “reverse engineer” the root cause of hidden stress in body.
Can You Work With Me Across State Lines?
Yes. In fact, many of my clients are across state lines! The growing field of “telemedicine” allows clients the flexibility to schedule consultations online, and to communicate from any location in the U.S. This makes working with an FDN-P the most convenient method of health coaching available.
Labs kits can be shipped to your address, and conducted in the privacy of your own home. Kits come included with pre-paid mailers which can be dropped off at your local UPS or FedEx location. Turn around times for lab work varies from 1-5 weeks depending on the lab.
After all lab results have been reviewed during your Results & Recommendations Session, discounted supplements can be ordered through The Mindful Nutrivore and shipped to you at regular intervals.
Can’t I Resolve My Symptoms By Eating A Clean Organic Diet?
Many people come to FDN-Ps as a last resort. They have “tried everything” including every fad diet, healing modality, or exercise regiment and have hit a wall. What they don’t understand is that they are often dealing with several levels of dysfunction in the body, and these complications remain hidden from view. Whether it be hormone imbalances, mitochondrial issues, or gut infections, symptom-free living is simply not possibly until these issues are identified and properly managed.
This is not to dismiss the role of nutrition in a healing protocol, but rather to illustrate that it is only one part of larger holistic picture.
What If I Slip With My Dietary Recommendations?
Although none of us are perfect, and we’re all prone to slip once in a while, it helps to begin your health journey with a visual of what your life would look like if you were symptom-free. In this sense, we set our focus on what we stand to gain in terms of our wellness, rather than what we believe we are “giving up”. This might mean being more productive at work, spending more quality time with loved ones, or simply having more energy throughout the day.
That being said, the more we slip, the more we delay our healing, and the further we distance ourselves from our life goals.
We start with gluten, dairy, and sugar as these foods are the most inflammatory foods in the diet. As we know that inflammation in the body drives the disease process, some clients are able to completely resolve their symptoms with these simple dietary changes. Some clients will need to remove additional foods in order to see healing benefits – these might includes grains, nightshades, coffee, and more. Elimination diets are not a life sentence, and many people are able to successfully reintroduce grass-fed dairy, and even some grains.
It can often be helpful to start with a list of healthy foods that you love to eat. This list might include, blueberries, beets, or kale. Whatever the case, you can enjoy these foods in abundance! There are great substitutes our there for the foods that you feel you may be missing. For example, I recommend organic full fat coconut milk (canned) from Trader Joe’s, or Steve’s Coconut Ice Cream as an occasional treat.
It is important to note that after several weeks of removing gluten, dairy, and sugar, our bodies become more sensitive as our immune system gets a chance to calm down – in many cases, for the first time in our lives! As a result, accidental exposures throws our system into an inflammatory storm. While these flare-ups are never fun, it also shows us the power of elimination diets. By giving our bodies a reset, we become more sensitive and in-tune to our own signals. It’s as though your body is saying “HELL NO! Get this toxic stuff out of my system!” For this reason, many people choose to remove these “offending” foods for a lifetime, especially after they begin to experience dramatic symptom improvement.
Will Insurance Cover My Lab work?
In most cases, functional lab assessments are considered alternative medicine, and are not covered under insurance. As a health consultant, I don’t provide insurance billing services of any kind, though you may request statements from The Mindful Nutrivore which may be submitted to your insurance carrier for reimbursement. In many cases, lab fees can be payed for up front with a Health Savings Account (HSA). In fact, I have paid for many of my own lab fees this way.
Some clients have successfully submitted statements for reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses, especially when submitting to a Health Savings Account. If neither is possible, The Mindful Nutrivore’s practitioner fees and the lab fees are usually tax deductible if you itemize health care costs. Check with your tax specialist to be certain.
It should be noted that practitioners who sign insurance company contracts often discover that they can’t deliver optimum care. Instead, care is rationed. Patients must be dismissed before they are fully healed. Many necessary services aren’t even covered, especially in the area of prevention, nutrition and functional lab testing. Limiting care is profitable for the insurance company, but it ultimately compromises the patient’s well-being.
Your health is your most valuable possession. You are worth being healthy. I urge you not let the costs of functional care get in the way of healing and living your best life.
Can I Stop Taking My Medication?
NO. While you are certainly welcome to discuss the possibility of weening off your medication with your doctor, I am not legally authorized to advise you to stop taking prescription medications. More importantly, discontinuing medications without the approval of a licensed medical professional can be detrimental to you health.
As your FDN-P, my role is to provide you with alternative adjunct therapies which may serve as a bridge between you and your doctor. More and more, doctors are relying on functional health practitioners to guide their patients through complex diet and lifestyle alongside their own conventional treatments. This is a growing trend that will continue into the future.
As a “health detective”, my goal is not to “diagnose” or “treat” any specific disease, but rather to investigate why you are experiencing symptoms in the first place. For example, while the traditional model might capital-D “Diagnose” you with IBS, I would pose the question, “What is causing the IBS and preventing this person from healing?” The therapeutic goal here would not be to suppress symptoms with medications, but to look for sources of hidden stress. In this case, inflammatory foods, gut infections, dysbiosis, SIBO, and low HCL may all be contributing factors.
And while your doctor may offer medications that provide temporary relief, a functional health coach may suggest ways in which the gut lining, stomach acid, and microbiome may be restored with natural protocols. Here, the doctor and functional practitioner work in a symbiotic relationship to help the patient/client achieve their health goals.
When Will I Start Seeing Results?
In a sense, the process of healing is very much like steering a massive ocean liner. While correcting your course by one or two degrees may not seem to alter your position all that much, three months later you find yourself in friendly un-charted waters! For example, a commitment to removing added sugars from the diet can result in profound long-term changes that may include: weight loss, lowered inflammation, improved blood sugar regulation, hormonal balance, and better cognitive performance. It must be emphasized that while diet and lifestyle changes are much more subtle than taking prescription drugs, their combined effects are long-term, and restorative. It is a very a much a tortoise (functional approach) vs. the hare (conventional approach) analogy.
Working with an FDN-P is a work-in = work-out scenario. The more dedicated you are to your health and heeding the advice of your health coach, the more positive outcomes you are likely to see. This is what sets apart the functional approach from the traditional medical model. YOU become an active participant in your own health, rather than a passive subject that takes a pill and continues eating cupcakes. Nobody will ever care more about your own health than you. While your FDN-P is there to help guide you through the lifestyle changes, you are the captain of the ship. Or stated another way…your FDN-P is Obi-Wan Kenobi, and you are the young Jedi!
Results are highly individual, and may depend on 1) the length of time the you’ve been experiencing chronic stress, and 2) to what degree the underlying stress has been present. For example, one client dealing with migraines and allergies may see the complete removal of their symptoms with strict avoidance of gluten, while another client with longstanding autoimmune issues may not see the same results with simple dietary changes alone. In the latter scenario, putting an autoimmune disease into remission could take a year or more of peeling back the layers of hidden stress.
Working with an FDN-P does not guarantee results; however, there are reasonable expectations that symptoms will resolve as you begin to untangle the web of root causes contributing to your symptoms.
What Is AIP?
AIP, or the Autoimmune Protocol, is an anti-inflammatory gut-healing diet and lifestyle protocol for those dealing with autoimmune diseases. In contrast with other diets, AIP is more of a process or template than it is a “diet” as it also recognizes the importance of exercise, rest, and stress reduction in the healing process. Furthermore, certain foods can often be successfully reintroduced after a strict elimination phase – going AIP is not a life sentence!
While many foods are strictly forbidden during the elimination phase of the diet, it’s much easier to emphasize the nutrient-dense foods that can be enjoyed! These include: pasture raised animal proteins, grass-fed beef, organ meats, wild-caught fish, seafood (clams, oysters), bone broth, fermented foods, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and tallow.
Inflammatory foods forbidden during the elimination phase include: all grains, gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, alcohol, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, etc.) nuts, and seeds/seed-based spices.
The most recent research in the functional medicine field establishes the relationship between gut health and autoimmunity. According to the groundbreaking work of Alessia Fasano, three things must be present in order to develop an autoimmune disease: genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger, and intestinal permeability (leaky gut). The powerful implication here is that we have the ability to slow down or even reverse autoimmunity by removing environmental triggers (food sensitivities, hidden gut infections) and by “sealing off” the gut barrier.
The mucosal lining of our gut is extremely delicate – only one cell thick! Over time, inflammatory foods, alcohol, and even stress all contribute to to the breakdown of the gut barrier. This sets off an inflammatory fire as undigested food particles and toxins begin leaking through the bloodstream, setting the stage for autoimmunity. Eliminating offending foods and supporting gut health with fermented foods, probiotics, and bone broth helps to reseal the gut and slow down the autoimmune process.
I recommend that all of my clients dealing with autoimmunity try the Autoimmune Protocol for at least 30 days before continuing an investigation with lab work. If you aren’t seeing results within 2-3 months of following AIP, it doesn’t mean that the protocol isn’t working; rather, it’s a sign that you are likely dealing with hidden stressors in the body. In this case, its best to work with an FDN-P to help uncover the root cause of your symptoms.
For more information on AIP diet and lifestyle, visit: www.autoimmunewellness.com