I started my practice, The Functional RD, LLC, for the sole purpose of providing exquisite education and information for those who are maneuvering their way through the functional medicine realm, specifically in regards to food sensitivities and incorporating nutritionally-dense foods into their diet. I started my journey with functional medicine in October 2014, and I have had periods of immense highs and lows during the entire process. While I believe that functional medicine is the way of the future, I know first-hand that it can be a challenging journey.
One of my favorite quotes that I frequently see floating around the internet is “It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be worth it” and I could not agree more. Though it is extremely difficult to make ENTIRE lifestyle changes, it is incredibly worth it once you are on the other side.
Typically food is chewed, digested, and passed with no further thought on our part whatsoever (there is a lot more to it that that.. but for the sake of time let's keep it simple!) In those of us with food sensitivities, however, some foods can cause a break down the tight junctions that line our gut. This breakdown causes what is known as a *leaky gut*, where the proteins from these offending foods are able to slip through the (no-longer) tight junctions and cause an immune response. This has been linked to a myriad of physical and emotional issues such as fatigue, IBS, IBD, migraines, ADHD, arthritis and several other issues (1). Think about your gut being the FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE & is really where you immune system takes shape. We want a strong gut lining at all cost, and eliminating the foods that weaken the gut lining is the first step to promote optimal health. For a *much* more detailed description on digestion and leaky gut syndrome, check out The Paleo Mom's brilliant blog -- my favorite long-winded blogger ever.
Where to Begin?
The Eiffel Tower was not built in a day, and nor will optimal health. The important thing is to start somewhere. The best way to make these ideal lifestyle changes is to take manageable, bite-sized pieces that are easily swallowed (pun totally intended). The first place I like to start with is obviously diet and food sensitivities because this is the part that has the most initial impact.
I like to start with the basics – food labels. Unfortunately, there are multiple (10-100’s) of words that can be used on a food label that can cause a mess of confusion when shopping for groceries. Most especially you must be very careful when buying something dubbed “gluten-free.” Just because something is “gluten-free” does not mean that it is good for you or something you are not sensitive to. That is where lab-tests (such as the Genova Array 4 or Array 10) come into play to give us an idea of what EXACTLY you are sensitive to. I take that information to give you a full breakdown of all the names on a food label that you need to look out for.
I also want to make sure that you are prepared to hit the grocery store with a vengeance (and not lose half your day or your mind in the process). Together, we talk through your favorite foods and prepare a grocery list that is coordinated with your preferences and sensitivities in mind.
Finally, living your life is a must and dining out is likely a part of that. Whether it’s a treat, convenience, or you’re traveling, it is likely that there is some point in your life where you are REQUIRED to eat outside of your own kitchen. That’s OK. We will talk through all of the things that you can do to be as successful as possible and not ruin all of your amazing progress.
The most important part of this process is start taking matters into your own hands and become your own chef in the name of health! I mean this literally, you need to start cooking for yourself! This is likely the most intimidating part for most people who don’t like to cook or who believe they are not good at it. Where do you even start in the kitchen? Again, baby steps are going to eventually have your running. We will talk about all your favorite foods and utilize your personalized shopping list to create the recipe outline of your dreams.
Of course, perfection is never expected. There will be stumbles along the journey and we can use that as a learning tool. None of us are perfect. But why do we fall? --- anyone? (hint:batman). In summary, in order to be successful in the long run you must visualize yourself at your optimal health and attack! Also, we fall so that we can learn to get back up!
Mor (Gaby)Gaby, Alan R., MD. Nutritional Medicine. Alan R. Gaby, M.D., 01/2011. VitalBook file.The citation provided is a guideline.