2014 is the beginning of my fourth year in private practice. Yay, me! I’ve discovered so much from the wonderful women who entrust me with their health concerns. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that making, and sticking to, dietary changes is incredibly difficult for most of us and especially difficult for women who feel vulnerable due to the hormonal disruptions associated with perimenopause. It seems that food, once a source of great comfort, becomes our enemy.
Recently I was diagnosed with a rare genetic rheumatic arthritis and a dietary restriction was advised. In spite of my training as a Registered Dietitian, this diet challenged me, severely. I needed the support of a community of fellow sufferers, daily pep talks, and tons of cooking, shopping, and food preparation advice. I could not have made the changes alone, and most days I still struggle to adhere to the diet.
I think of my clients, and I know my own experience is a validation of my working theory that dietary changes require ongoing support. Heck, if dietary changes were easy, there wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar diet industry. Even with the motivation of a pain-free body, I still find it a challenge to resist the foods that can send my body into a reactive tizzy.
It makes no sense for me to advise women on dietary changes and then abandon them to the misinformation and unhealthy advice in the media, on the internet, and from well meaning friends and family. I want my clients to rediscover their vitality and to rejuvenate their lives, to live freely and happily without pain, sleeplessness, fatigue, or feeling terrible about their bodies. I want to see success in all my Nutrigals.
During the perimenopausal years, not all women suffer from sleepless nights, hot flushes, mood swings, stubborn weight gain, or early waking insomnia, but many do. If you are one of these women, you may have talked to your doctor and been dismissed with a pat on the head or with a packet of birth control pills. Many doctors erroneously believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that perimenopausal symptoms are caused by a deficiency of estrogen, when in fact the converse appears to be the case. See: http://cemcor.ubc.ca/help_yourself/articles/perimenopause_ovarys_grand_finale In light of this misconception, many doctors prescribe estrogen, which exacerbates perimenopausal symptoms. Perimenopause is a time when a woman’s diet affects not only her current hormonal condition but affects also her future skeletal health, it needs to be taken seriously.
Sure, perimenopause ends, eventually, and menopause occurs, but there is no need to suffer through perimenopause (which can last ten years or more) alone or without relief. I look forward to an epoch when MDs are enlightened as to the benefits of bio-identical hormone treatment and in the meantime, I continue to help women control their hormones through dietary changes.
What I’ve realized over the last three years is that the women who most successfully and effectively incorporate my recommendations are women who keep in touch with me after their initial set of sessions. Some of these women join my Nutrigal Pal groups, some phone, or email for advice, and some come back in for further counselling. The ongoing support and feedback has a lasting positive effect. Symptoms disappear, weight is lost, and smiles return. A new study confirms this.
I don’t expect perfection from my clients. In fact, I expect imperfection. We’re human; I don’t consider it a failure or a weakness to binge or to lapse on our diets. And I wonder if the reason I didn’t hear again from some clients is that they feared I would judge them or scold them. The biggest regret of my first years in practice is not reaching out more to women who fell silent under my care. But I seek to rectify that now. I am scouring my records for women who may still need my on-going support and advice.
Nutrition is so simple, and yet so complex. We are inundated by a choice of foods, vitamins, herbs, supplements, and diets. My job is to help my clients navigate the endless ocean of options. Together we assess our priorities and the most cost-effective method of achieving symptom relief. Having a Registered Dietitian at your disposal, to help with decisions, also saves a great deal of frustration and expense.
In my fourth year, I have changed how I structure my interactions and also my fees so that clients can be assured of lasting relief from symptoms and more long term health, no matter how long it takes. Instead of a package of 6 or 8 sessions, I now offer clients ongoing support. This new structure consists of my customary assessment sessions but a slower and more thorough unrolling of the dietary change recommendations. Working with my clients in this approach, I develop with them a new relationship with food. After the initial changes are in place, we continue to meet, either in groups or one on one, and we stay in touch by phone or email. With this model, my clients are assured of my ongoing support while dietary changes become permanent in their lives.
When clients achieve relief from symptoms and a return of their regular energy and zest for life their friends and relatives notice. Over the years, I’ve received many referrals this way. In other words, my happy long-term clients are an effective form of advertising. This steady stream of clients allows me to concentrate on staying abreast of the latest research about nutrition, diet, and hormone health. Happy, successful clients are the best way for me to build my practice, and I am committed to them for 2014 and beyond.
Getting to know like-minded practitioners and business owners over the first few years of my practice has been amazing. Together we share a wealth of experience and information with our clients through combined workshops, presentations, and other offerings. I look forward to sharing with my clients many exciting events in the coming year.
If you would like to know more about me, and how I can work for you in your life, please let me know by filling in this [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"] and I will be in touch as soon as possible.