You likely have moments where, despite your training, you feel like you still don’t know enough to help people feel better, especially if they have complex symptoms or diagnoses.
If this is true for you, you’re not alone. I work with thousands of practitioners around the globe—coaches, doctors, nurses, dietitians and more—and you may be surprised to learn that they feel the same. It’s human! And it’s part of the challenges we face when we want to bring our A-game to the therapeutic relationship.
Let’s face it, new studies are coming out all the time.
There are differing opinions about healthcare everywhere you look (or listen).
People are showing up with diagnoses you’ve never heard of, and they seem to know more about it than you ever could.
How are you ever going to keep up, and finally feel confident that you know enough to be the expert people are looking for?
If you’re trying to accumulate encyclopedic knowledge (studying for hours before each client, reading every study and article you can find) it really is a losing battle.
The bad news is that if this is your standard operating procedure, you’re doing it all wrong.
The good news is that you don’t have to know everything.
I promise. You don’t. (And honestly, you can’t! I’ve worked with thousands of clients and assure you that information does not equal capable clinical intervention.)
You don’t have to know the right supplements for 700 different symptoms, or the right diet for each of the thousands of diagnoses your clients might show up with.
In fact, it’s impossible to know the right answer for anyone before you actually see them.
In fact, each detail, whether it comes from study evidence regarding a condition someone has, or the personal evidence you’ve helped her gather from her life, history and patterns, is true but partial.
Yes, it’s true. AND there’s more to consider (because each piece of the truth is partial).
Let’s look at a few examples of this true but partial perspective, so you can put it to work for you…
A practitioner I mentor came to me with this question:
My client has Diabetes, is extremely overweight, has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and his liver enzymes were extremely elevated when last checked. What do you think about suggesting Epsom salt baths to support detox?
Yes, Epsom salt baths are generally great to support detox…
AND your client is 67 years old and not stable on his feet. Plus, he lives alone. A bath might actually be dangerous!
Another student asked me this:
A client of mine is experiencing severe constipation. Would you recommend the herb cascara sagrada?
Yes, cascara sagrada has been shown to alleviate constipation for some…
AND we want to check all the upstream issues before coming in with an herbal stimulant laxative.
The list of questions to get to the root cause of constipation goes on and on, and while we want to provide some immediate relief for our clients, laxative herbs would not be my first choice.
We want to figure out why the symptom is happening, not just manage symptoms.
This makes every recommendation we make true, but partial.
And this functional thinking almost always leads us back to Yes, AND.
Let’s look at some other scenarios…
Is coffee full of antioxidants?
Yes…AND, if your client is a slow detoxifier, she won’t be able to handle the caffeine and that antioxidant rich substance may do more harm than good.
Is coconut oil good for heart health?
Yes…AND, if someone has trouble digesting medium chain fatty acids (which can happen, even with those easy-to-digest fats if there are particular gut issues), bringing in a food that gets a gold star for this or that condition in controlled studies, may not always be your best bet.
Looking through a functional lens means looking at the terrain in which the dis-ease is occurring.Use a #functional lens to look at the terrain where the disease is occurring. Click To Tweet
This means looking at every aspect of an individual’s body, life, and circumstances to see what’s really going on.
Each piece of information you gather is true…AND when you look at the rest of the picture you can truly work towards root cause resolution.
It may sound impossible to gather all of the information you need, but I assure you it’s not.
You just need a few tools, some question-asking skills, and a good dose of patience (because working functionally means getting to the truth, which doesn’t always happen quickly).
Each bit of information—that’s true but partial on its own—now becomes part of a greater whole. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
When you start to capture (and bucket) details, you can begin to see what’s really going on, and the next steps of care for your client become more clear.
When you use functional systems like the Functional Nutrition Matrix, you’ll see that you really do know enough to make the difference you want to make.
Using the matrix helped me shift out of confusion and into centered direction. I used to get confused trying to make sense of all my clients’ symptoms. After plotting them in the matrix I have a clearer direction of how to best support my clients. It’s a powerful tool!
~Amber Robertson, FNLP, CHHC
Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Functional Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.