What is the value of working with a holistic nutritionist when dealing with an autoimmune disease? This is a valid question and one that deserves an explanation, especially since the field of holistic nutrition is relatively new in the health and wellness world.
What is Holistic Nutrition?
First, let’s address what holistic nutrition actually is. This is an approach to wellness that considers the whole body and it’s relationship to food. We know that autoimmune conditions affect our immune system, but research is indicating that mood, digestion, fatigue, and multiple other symptoms come into play with autoimmunity, which impact quality of life (Almeida, Almeida, & Vasconcelos, 2016; Feldon et al., 2017; Uysal & Ayhan, 2016). Holistic nutrition is all about getting to the root cause of your symptoms and disease, so that we can figure out what got you here and how to move forward.
We search for the root cause by placing emphasis on getting to know your health history and personal experience with your autoimmune disease and any other issues/conditions that you’re currently experiencing. No one knows your body or your experience better than you and that’s why we take the time to understand your perspective because in the end, you are your most important health advocate.
The Benefits of Working with a Nutritionist
People choose to work with holistic nutritionists for a variety of reasons, a common one being the lack of support offered by mainstream medicine for symptoms relating to autoimmunity (i.e. fatigue, nausea, indigestion, depression, anxiety, hormonal changes, etc.). Conventional medicine doesn’t always have time to address other symptoms or help us navigate life with chronic illness. This system wasn’t designed to handle the myriad of health issues that can arise with autoimmunity. In addition to this lack of support, there is a general gap in knowledge regarding nutrition when you go for your autoimmune specialist appointment. This is where holistic nutrition comes in.
Holistic Nutritionists are trained to understand the science of how food works in the body and how to use food to support our bodies’ own ability to thrive, even when in a diseased state. We can work with your current treatment plans to support you to feel better. Nutrition can work in tandem with your current medications so that you reach your optimal potential. We incorporate a variety of food, supplements, and lifestyle recommendations to provide you with a personalized plan that helps you achieve your health goals.
Can’t I Just ‘Google’ a Nutrition Plan?
Sure, you can learn about nutrition through Google or buy a book on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet or Plant-based Diet. But, the truth is that every body is unique. No two autoimmune diseases developed out of the exact same circumstances and your nutrition plan should reflect this. I have spent years and thousands of dollars trying the latest food trends in autoimmunity and my journey has taught me that my experience is unique. While certain nutrition plans have worked better for me than others, I had to learn to listen to my body and make changes based on what it was telling me. I couldn’t read this in a book, I had to learn to draw on all of my experiences, intuition, and education to figure out the root causes of my issues. This is a continuous learning journey and working with a holistic nutritionist provides you will the tools you need to continue this journey as an empowered advocate of your own healthcare.
If you’re interested in learning more about how holistic nutrition could support you on your healing journey, book in for a free discovery call where we can discuss your unique experience and figure out if we’re a good fit!
Read below for answers to the most frequently asked questions about working with a holistic nutritionist:
- Is a holistic nutritionist a dietician?
- No. A Dietician is a regulated profession requiring a 4-5 year university degree in dietetics. A holistic nutritionist is often trained in an intensive 1-year program at a private post-secondary institute. Dieticians are trained to work in hospital settings, while holistic nutritionists work predominantly in the private sector. I received training from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver, BC, which provided me with a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition and the designation of CNP (Certified Nutritional Practitioner). We take several courses relating to the science of how food works in the body, while viewing the body as a whole (see here for list of courses). Holistic nutrition is not a regulated profession, but nutritionists can join professional organizations that have strict standards of practice and education requirements. I’m part of the IONC (International Organization of Nutrition Consultants) and can therefore use the designation of RNCP (Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner) and ROHP (Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner).
- Are your services covered under extended healthcare benefits?
- It depends. Since it’s a new profession, not all benefit plans provide coverage. It’s best to check with your plan ahead of time to ask if holistic nutrition is covered, which is separate from coverage for a Registered Dietician. Greenshield and Manulife are more likely to provide coverage.
- What does a nutrition session look like?
- In the first intake appointment, we spend an hour going over your complete health history, lifestyle, and current dietary preferences to understand your experience, main concerns, and health goals. Prior to this first visit, you will fill out a series of forms relating to your health history and dietary patterns to help me understand the root cause of your symptoms. After this first session, I will take all of this information and create your personalized nutrition + lifestyle plan, complete with a 7-day meal plan + recipes. We go over this plan in an additional 1-hour appointment (virtually via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or phone call). We will then follow-up with 45 minute sessions to further refine the plan and troubleshoot any issues that come up along the way.
- Will I need to change my dietary habits completely?
- We will develop a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle and goals. If there are deal-breakers for you (i.e. keeping your morning coffee), we can work around it and work with your body to reach your health goals. It often takes a lot of time and space to begin to change our relationship with food. As you learn more about nutrition through our sessions together, you might be surprised at how your dietary preferences shift gently.
- Will I have to eat boring food?
- No! Healthy and nutritious food does not have to be boring. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen experimenting with delicious recipes for you so that you can take the guess work out of cooking by using the included meal-plans + recipes.
- Is there evidence for using nutrition to manage an autoimmune disease?
- Yes! Although infrequent, the research continues to grow. It’s difficult to study nutrition from a scientific perspective due to the synergistic nature of food within the body. Despite this, research is starting to piece the puzzle together. I use my scientific background from my years working through a PhD to make sure I stay up-to-date on the latest findings, so that you don’t have to!
- I’m on medication. Can I still use food to feel better?
- Yes! Absolutely! I was on medication for years and food was a way to help me feel my best. Medications often come with a lot of side effects. Holistic nutrition can help to offset these side effects and help you to feel your best. Holistic nutrition and mainstream medicine don’t have to be at odds with each other. It’s works best when we can incorporate the benefits of both worlds!
- How can I work with you?
- I work with clients 1:1 through a 4-month program. Everything is personalized to you and your experience. You get access to meal plans, recipes, gut-healing protocols, detox support, and functional testing to access your current state of health. If you’er ready to jump in, apply to work with me here!