Happy #RegisteredDietitianNutritionistDay! (Wow, that’s a mouth full!)
Anyway, allow me to introduce myself! I’m Nicole! I am an RDN with a focus in Integrative and Functional Medicine. Since today is RDN Day, I figure quickly sharing my story of the road I took to find my niche in functional nutrition seems appropriate.
To make a long story short……
After working at hospitals for quite a few years, I felt that each day I was growing farther and farther away from why I got into the nutrition field in the first place. Instead of talking to people about REAL FOOD, I spent my days calculating calories, adjusting tube feeding rates, recommending sugar-free protein supplements, and counseling diabetics that their Diet Cokes, skim milk, and Cheerios are are part of a sensible diet plan– you know, the Standard American Diet (SAD)!
It really wasn’t until I found myself in my mid-20’s with no energy, constant fatigue, poor memory, severe anxiety, irregular periods, and excess weight that I decided to dig deeper into what was going on.
At the time, I had the trifecta of poor health going on– too much stress, too much exercise, and not enough food. I had been educated while in school to become an RD that “calories in, calories out” was going to get me the perfect physique, all calories are created equally, optimal health is a numbers game. My solution to getting in shape for my upcoming wedding was training for the Houston Marathon and following a strict plant-based vegan diet. This only lasted so long until I hit a wall. My weight didn’t change much, so more exercise and stricter dieting it was! I literally had no energy to do anything– it was amazing I was able to work out so much.
I finally saw my doctor who introduced me to a more functional medicine approach to healing. Healing through food. FOOD! I’m a dietitian and couldn’t treat myself through food. Isn’t that my job?! Her solution involved micronutrient testing through SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. in addition to other functional blood tests. Aside from having numerous nutritional deficiencies, which came to a surprise to me being that my JOB is to eat healthy and I thought I was doing just that, but I also discovered that I had an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is pretty common among women and can be exacerbated by stress, too much exercise, and poor diet– everything I had going on. Couple that with over-eating on foods that are common foods involved in autoimmune conditions (i.e. gluten, soy, etc.).
She taught me all about how much the TYPES of foods we eat, and not just the calories, affect our immune system and how everything in our body is all interconnected and synergistic. Thankfully, through diet changes I’ve been able to manage my autoimmune condition. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it made me realize how much the conventional medical world separates itself from food quality because we have learned to focus so much on food quantity. It actually IS okay to eat real, full-fat grass-fed butter instead of imitation reduced-fat margarine and rice cakes. Eating 1200 calories of crap is still CRAP.
After changing my diet to a more ancestral way of eating (you know, eating how people have been eating for thousands of years– REAL FOOD, which includes meat, veggies, starches, etc.), reducing my exercise, sleeping more, and making time for myself, I’ve NEVER FELT BETTER both physically and mentally! Because of this, I’ve taken my experience and have made it my life’s mission to help others and truly treat people with food.
So, that’s my story in a nut shell! If you feel stuck, it’s never too late to change!