The first question I always get asked is, “Why did you become a Functional Nutrition Counselor, and what exactly do you do?” The next most frequently-asked question inevitably is, “What do I need to eat to feel better?” I think the best way to answer both of those questions is to look to Andrea Nakayama, my professor, and Master Functional Medicine Nutritionist. She describes our jobs: “As a Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner, you work within your scope of practice. That scope is not to diagnose, prescribe or treat. Instead, your role is to:
- understand the whole person
- address the terrain within which those signs, symptoms, or diagnosis manifested
- educate the patient on why their health challenges arose and on how to take back control of their own health
- and to use your specific skill set to fill the GAP that exists between the physician and the patient.”
Understanding the GAP between the Doctor and Patient
The gap Andrea is referring to is an education gap and a communication gap. Typically, the doctor knows and speaks in medical terms. The patient knows how she feels, what she’s going through, and where she’d rather be (her goals). That’s her language. Doctor and patient speak different languages.
The language of the doctor is one of physiology and biochemistry and the interrelationships between the body’s systems. However, the language of the patient is one of managing their symptoms. The patient cares about getting through every day and navigating lifestyle changes as they create new habits.
Because of this language gap, there are misunderstandings, a lack of empathy, and decreased compliance.
In short, it halts the healing process.
A Functional Nutrition Counselor Bridges the Gap
In order to fill that gap, we need to speak the language of both parties in the therapeutic relationship. This is what a Functional Nutrition Counselor does. We bridge the gap.
When we speak both languages, each party has more success. This ability to bridge the gap has honestly been the best thing that I bring to assist my clients. It is one of the core proponents of the education I received at the Functional Nutrition Labs.
I am able to break down the science of the body. This means the patient can understand themselves and their need to change more comprehensively. (This, by the way, is the best way to initiate client compliance and help them dramatically improve their health.) Additionally, I also use clinical empathy to translate the needs of the patient into actionable steps. They are then able to move toward their goals. Meanwhile, we work in tandem with any therapeutic plan prescribed by their physician.
Functional Nutrition is the Future of Healthcare
The techniques in Functional Nutrition go beyond coaching. Because they’re not about dietary theory. Instead, it’s a nuanced way of thinking. It is rooted in comprehension of what it means to be human—to have a history and a culture and a body. All of it!
Functional Nutrition truly makes you practice functionally. It’s the most practical way to work because, simply, it works. I’ve seen this over and over in my own practice.
This is the future of healthcare. Not because it’s new or fancy, but because it meets the needs of the patient population. It fills a GAP that we’re experiencing in Functional Medicine. And because it makes sense.
Functional Nutrition is the answer to some of the problems in health and healthcare today. It’s a modality that works not just to support but to educate the patient. By understanding what’s going on in their body, they can make uniquely targeted diet and lifestyle modifications. This shifts the terrain and helps them to meet their goals.
I Love Practicing as a Functional Nutrition Counselor
In the short time I’ve been practicing as a Functional Nutrition Counselor, I’ve already seen remarkable results in several clients. David, my husband, of course, has been the biggest miracle. He’s been able to stop using 5 different drugs he was on. Even better, we’ve basically cured his neuropathy, his arthritis, his eczema, his constipation, his leaky gut and he’s been in remission for his cancer for 4 years. This all happened through using diet and lifestyle changes to achieve his results.
And he’s not the only one. Numerous clients are experiencing less pain, bloating, heartburn, skin issues, and brain fog, to name a few. This happened in a relatively short time by removing some of what I call the “worst offenders” in our current American diet. Then we add items back in to see what foods each individual is struggling with and what items they should permanently remove from their meal plans. I like to say I help people become scientists and their bodies are the most important lab experiment they will ever do.
I love what I do. Functional Nutrition has helped my family and many other clients I’ve worked with. I’m excited as I think of the future of medicine and how it’s going to look 10–20 years from now. Functional Doctors and Functional Nutrition Counselors are the future of medicine, and I’m so excited to be a part of that movement.