Updated: May 19
What is holistic nutrition? Doesn't it just involve eating super healthy? And a nutritionist is the same as a dietitian, right? Here are answers to questions you've probably had - and maybe a few you hadn't thought of yet!
1. I won't just tell you to eat your veggies.
Of course, it's still important to get your greens, but if eating well was as easy as that, I wouldn't have a job!
As my title suggests, I do focus a lot on food - but there is no one-size-fits-all healthy diet, despite what some Instagram influencers would have you believe. Instead, we need to dig deep and figure out a) what works best for you in general and b) what works best for you right now. This is where holistic nutrition shines, because we can use food for therapeutic purposes like decreasing menstrual cramps, moving periods from irregular to regular, or even improving egg quality and the chances of getting pregnant.
And while diet is important, I also use sustainable lifestyle changes and, if needed, natural supplements to help support you on your hormone balance journey. Because I have additional training and experience, I can also take a look at your recent lab tests and make recommendations from a holistic perspective (so I can shed some light on why you were told your hormones are"normal" when you know you're not feeling your best).
On top of that - I've walked this road myself during my transition from dealing with chronic, undiagnosed hormonal imbalances to helping other people take charge of their well-being the way I did, and that means I know first-hand some of the roadblocks you may face. I help you troubleshoot the obstacles to wellness that may crop up by designing a protocol uniquely for you, and because I have a history of disordered eating, I strive to help you create a healthy relationship with food even if you're changing your diet for therapeutic reasons.
2. I help you find true solutions, not band-aid fixes.
Holistic nutrition, at its heart, is about analyzing the body as a whole and getting to the root cause of issues so we can get you feeling better for good. In my case, I dig deep into hormonal issues to help you tackle them head-on and implement changes that will carry over for long after we stop working together.
But because of that - it's not a quick fix, and while you could absolutely notice changes in the first month we work together, the transformation doesn't happen overnight. And with hormones especially, they're so interconnected that it's much better to shift each one gradually and see how the rest adjust first. Addressing the root cause of long-standing health issues is a project that sometimes requires patience, but it's also an undertaking that can have benefits months and years down the line.
This is why I've created appointment packages that let us check in every couple of weeks (or sooner if you need it!) to keep you motivated and excited as you reach each new step on your way to feeling your best.
3. I specialize - but hormones are about so much more than just having a period.
To clarify, there is so much we can do with hormone balance for menstrual cycle woes - but they're really just the tip of the iceberg. Hormone balance is important the entire rest of the month, too. My focus is on enhancing fertility, helping relieve PMS, and correcting other hormonal imbalances such as PCOS, fibroids, and endometriosis. This can include dealing with issues such as:
-cyclical depression or anxiety
-intense mood swings
-bloating and water retention
-encouraging ovulation each month
-shifting from irregular to regular periods
-promoting healthy egg development
-increasing progesterone levels
-ensuring adequate prenatal nutrients
-helping with blood sugar balance
-decreasing male hair growth
-encouraging healthy weight loss, if needed
-re-balancing estrogen and progesterone
-decreasing pelvic and abdominal pain
-using diet as a preventative measure
-re-balancing estrogen and progesterone
-decreasing inflammation and pain
-using diet as a preventative measure
4. I'm not a dietitian or a health coach.
Real talk: I think that dietitians and health coaches are great - but none of us do the same job, and it's important to know exactly what each of us does so you can see the person who can best meet your needs.
These professionals all have similar educations (typically a four-year university degree along with an internship) and are more aligned with doctors and the medical system than holistic nutritionists are. Dietitians may work in hospitals, schools, doctors' offices, or private practice, and (in Canada, where I live) they are required to follow Canada's Food Guide, which gives them structure but also some limitations. Dietitians also tend to specialize, which allows you to find someone who has an in-depth knowledge of your area of interest.
In my opinion, a dietitian is a great person to see if you're looking to learn how to build a healthy plate, are dealing with a disease, or if having your sessions covered by your insurance provider is an absolute must. But if you're looking for a more individualized approach than what's in the food guide or you're struggling with health issues that aren't fully addressed by the traditional medical system (hint: that's the case for many of the hormonal issues I mentioned above!), a holistic nutritionist may be better suited to help you.
These are professionals who have different types of education (generally about 9 months of training, although some have more) and whose number one job is to keep you accountable and help you stay on track to reach your goals. They focus on general wellness and tend to have a more limited scope than both dietitians and holistic nutritionists, so they're also often more affordable but may not be covered by insurance.
A health coach might be the perfect person for you if you're just working on the basics or you're looking for someone who can offer more accountability (such as daily rather than weekly or monthly check-ins) than the other professionals typically offer. But if you're looking to dig deeper or address a complex issue such as PCOS, you may benefit more from seeing a holistic nutritionist.
Note: many health coaches have completed formal training, but because it's not a regulated title, there may also be folks who use it without the education to back it up. I would always recommend verifying someone's credentials before you work with them - someone with adequate training will be excited to tell you about it anyway!
This is a group of professionals who have also different types of education (generally between 1 and 4 years) and who are often more aligned with alternative medicine (think naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and Chinese medicine doctors). Nutritionists focus primarily on addressing the root causes of various health issues and they tend to specialize, which allows you to find a practitioner who focuses mainly on the issue you'd like to address.
In my (definitely biased) opinion, a nutritionist is a great person to see if you're looking to find a long-term solution to your health issues, especially if you feel unsupported by the traditional medical route (which is often the case with the hormonal imbalances I've described). They're also great if you're looking for a completely individualized approach that's tailored specifically for you.
However, a nutritionist is likely not the best person to see if you're only interested in traditional medical approaches or if you can't see at least a little wiggle room when it comes to changing your diet and lifestyle habits. And some, but not all, are covered by insurance, depending on your provider and the qualifications of the nutritionist you hire.
Note: many nutritionists have completed formal training, but because it's not a regulated title, there may also be folks who use it without the education to back it up. I would always recommend verifying someone's credentials before you work with them - someone with adequate training will be excited to tell you about it anyway! (I always am).
5. The real magic happens because you put in the work.
This is actually my favourite thing about being a holistic nutritionist, but it can also be one of the trickiest.
And that's because I'm here to provide the guidance and expertise to help you figure out how to make sustainable changes to transform your hormone health, but it's your actions that actually make those changes possible. That certainly doesn't mean you're on your own - we're in this together! - but it does mean that it requires at least a little bit of commitment and effort on your end.
If you only have five minutes a day? That's okay. We can start there, and actually, I'm a big fan of baby steps. But the key to success when it comes to achieving the hormone balance you want is consistently showing up for those five minutes (at least most of the time).
If you've tried and failed in the past, I don't think you should take it as a sign that you can't or shouldn't try again. Your lack of success was probably caused by a lot of factors, such as having generic advice that wasn't designed with you in mind or not knowing how to troubleshoot potential roadblocks when you reached them. And change - genuine, gradual, long-term change - is hard, and it's okay if you weren't ready for it then.
But to me, the fact that this change comes from you is the most empowering piece of being a holistic nutritionist. I love being able to put the potential for hormone health back in someone's hands - to teach them how to decode what their body's telling them and find the energy to live life to the fullest. I love having the opportunity to help someone realize they aren't stuck with uncomfortable period symptoms they were told were normal, and to teach them that while stress is an inevitable part of life, we can take the necessary steps to make sure it doesn't consume us.
I believe in it because I've lived it. I've gone from chronic exhaustion to significantly better energy, from constant abdominal pain to being able to enjoy food again, from horrible brain fog and awful PMS to greater mental clarity and the knowledge that I can continue to improve. Discovering holistic nutrition changed my life in so many ways, and I'm so excited that I now get to share it with you - it just might change yours too.
Still have questions? That's what a hormone check-in is for! It's a totally free, thirty-minute virtual conversation with me where we chat more about what you're struggling with and what you're looking for. And whether we decide to explore working together or not, at the end of it you'll be more prepared to get started on your journey to living your best life.
Head over to my Packages page or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your free hormone check-in!