Who knows more about Nutrition?
(You or your doctor)
How do you respond when your doctor says that what you eat doesn’t matter (for your Hashimoto’s, Crohn’s, PCOS, chronic Lyme, PASC or long haul, or any other chronic pain or condition)?
That’s right. You say NOTHING!
It’s not our job to convince, educate, or even believe them on this particular matter (as opposed to other concerns that fall within their area of expertise).
And it’s not their job (unless they’re the rare combination of nutrition expert and medical doc) to be intimately familiar with a set of tools not in their toolbox.
On average, doctors receive about 19 hours of nutrition training
To put this into perspective, that’s about 19 out of the estimated 46,000 hours of study required to obtain a medical degree.
“Today, most medical schools in the United States teach less than 25 hours of nutrition over four years. The fact that less than 20 percent of medical schools have a single required course in nutrition, it’s a scandal. It’s outrageous. It’s obscene.” – Dr. David Eisenberg, adjunct associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Fortunately, more doctors are aware of the impacts of food on the body. Yet few know how to talk to you about it, guide you through change, or be your advocate. So they answer with what they either believe or believe they have time to effect (with their restrictions on both their time and their clinical understanding of making dietary changes). If we expect anything different, that’s on us. I’m not here to rally against the doctors or change the medical curriculum. I believe in specialists, not generalists. And, in this case, that specialist is you.
You only need to specialize in you
If we are to safely make dietary changes, it’ll require more than can be crammed into 19 hours of academic (vs. clinical) study. It’s more than a handout, a blog post, or a 30-minute YouTube video. Sound and sustainable dietary changes deserve careful consideration on a case-by-case basis. It necessitates a physiological and psychological understanding of the body and brain, along with compassionate care surrounding issues of access to food and safety, personal and ancestral relationships with foods, and trauma-informed care (because, let’s face it, many of us are reckoning that we have pretty f’d up relationships with food, let alone “diet!”).
If we allow ourselves to take a step back, to shake the idea that some diet or dietary theory is going to deliver the quick-fix that solves all our woes, and focus instead on tuning in to our body’s patterns and responses, then we become the partner and the specialist that we’re seeking. You become the expert in you. I become the expert in me. We stop looking for validation and approval outside of ourselves and, instead, acknowledge what our signs and symptoms are trying to tell us.
You likely know more about nutrition than your doctor does
You likely know more about nutrition than your doctor does, and that’s OK. You don’t need to look for their approval to TAKE care!
Whether you’re pumping your fist in the air and screaming “YES,” or dubiously shaking your head “NO,” I want to take a moment and recognize that this road is not easy (or well understood). Unresolved signs and symptoms can leave you or someone you love standing at the edges of medical know-how, with the disappointing realization that medical intervention alone is just not enough. And tuning in can be hard work. Yet it’s the most empowering and revolutionary work we can do.
There’s a fine line between listening and obsessing
Listening to our body’s responses requires a pause. What’s consequential? What’s inconsequential? What requires immediate action? And where is more time needed to separate the problem from the solution?
Listening to your body is the work of becoming intuitive. Of silencing the many voices that want to crowd our mind and point to the answer. It’s a creative pursuit that requires honing the muscles of curiosity and trust. Curiosity about yourself. Trust in yourself and your innate healing powers (even when they need a helping hand from a change, an elimination, an addition, or a guide).
A horse whisperer needs to spend time with the animal, learn their body language, senses, and instinctual behaviors. A bee whisperer (or beekeeper) is often curious and fascinated by interconnectedness. A baby whisperer approaches their job with keen observation and respect for the individuality of the small being they are looking to support. If you have a “green thumb” (which I do not), you know how to test and read the messages of the soil and the leaves, and respond accordingly. And if you have chronic and unresolved signs and symptoms, your body is calling you to become its whisperer – to hear its proclamations and reply in kind and in care.
Note: I am still accepting applications for my small Case Study Groups.