My Path to Becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
When I started Tasty Yummies, I was never inclined to create a journal of my own personal health journey, so I often refrain from getting super personal with my healing protocols and health challenges. I have consciously avoided flooding these pages with every discovery in my own ever-evolving health and dietary challenges or with every personal plan of action. Without any certification or credentials I often found myself feeling restricted from sharing too much of the self-initiated research I was doing, as I am hyper-aware of the barrage of claims made by bloggers without credible research or science to back it up. Mostly, I have always wanted Tasty Yummies to simply be a safe space to celebrate delicious, nourishing real food, and hopefully, a place to provide inspiration to empower others to take control of their health and to be open to discovering new foods themselves, whatever their restrictions or personal path may be. I have always sought to create a place to share my personal stories when appropriate and to cultivate a virtual connection among a supportive community of open-minded souls.
The fact remains however, that this website and my recipes wouldn’t exist without the many challenges I have experienced in my ongoing journey towards healing. Hidden within my own personal struggles emerged the desire to share, share, share! While none of my issues, in my mind, should be classified as “severe” or life threatening and while I don’t have epic before and after photos from an intense and acute health transformation, I would certainly still consider many of my health struggles to be chronic and some still unresolved. I am quite literally learning right along side many of you.
As a child I dealt with a weakened immune system, allergies and asthma, migraines and troubled digestion. As life moved on, I discovered a severe gluten intolerance, and have now been gluten-free over 10 years – while this major dietary adjustment has certainly helped with some of these symptoms, I continued to suffer. In the early years of my adult life, even after going gluten-free, I struggled with weight gain and acne, chronic sinus infections, lack of energy and so much more, further adjusting of my diet has tackled much of this, but last year I was also diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune form of kidney disease. Consequently in the process of treating the kidney disease I also discovered through the help of my naturopathic doctor, that I was struggling with what we believe to be leaky gut, likely from the months of pharmaceuticals prescribed to me for the kidney disease. While I am still smack in the middle of this ongoing work to get my kidney disease in remission and my body to a point where I can feel good each and every day, I continue to share the recipes I am creating in my own kitchen, often part of my own healing path, in hopes that they may inspire some of you, within your own individual health journey, to feel less overwhelmed as you reconfigure your diets.
Why I want to Know More.
As a result of my own individual research and constant trials with nutrution, diet and supplementation, through my lens of seeing food as medicine and knowing that real food heals, I have come to the understanding that we are all bio-chemical individuals and there is no one protocol, diet or plan for all of us, there can’t be, we are all such beautiful and unique beings. I myself have always refrained from labeling my diet or pushing myself and this blog towards one specific label, as I find this to be ever-evolving process and for me, labeling my diet is not something I have ever felt called to. As with most everything in my life, my intuition instead constantly leads me towards balance and simplicity and learning to listen to my body’s innate cues, rather than adopting a static list of firm Do’s and Don’ts. I have found myself on a path of constant independent learning, research and exploration to find what works for me and through my search to help myself, I have oftentimes found I am able to help others as well, something I have learned I truly love and now feel called to do even more.
I have come to realize that in sharing my recipes, through instructing yoga, hosting retreats and teaching cooking demos, these are all amazing ways I am able share my passions and hopefully empower others to take control of their own health and their well being. But, I have been feeling that when it concerns food and our health, that I wanted to make an even bigger impact, I want to be able to host cooking demos and speak with conviction and credibility about how we can deal with chronic comprised digestion, blood sugar regulation issues and I want to share the precise scientific reasons why certain ingredients are making an appearance in my recipes. I want to be able to better respond to folks seeking to make recipes fat free and explain to them in a concise way, why it is so important to include healthy fat in our diet and the list really just goes on and on. Finally, I have met so many incredible, yet desperate people over the years looking for answers, I have many family members and friends that struggle with their health daily and I want to help however I can, anyone who comes to me inquiring. I want to crush these old, antiquated myths surrounding eating and our diets and reveal the truth about food and it’s healing powers.
All of this lead me to the Nutritional Therapy Association.
Why the Nutritional Therapy Association?:
What drew me to The Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Program with NTA, was their whole food based nutritional paradigm with a holistic approach for addressing health and wellness. The program is based on a whole food, foundational approach to nutrition, much like I have adopted within my own life. With a strong focus on ancestral and traditional foods, the NTA isn’t promoting an agenda or a labeled diet, the NTA believes that each person is biologically individual and has within them an innate intelligence. I especially love that the NTA approaches nutrition from an investigative approach, encouraging critical thinking and ongoing research so that we can fully recognize, evaluate, understand then improve.
The NTP program also offers a system of evaluative measurements that help identify nutritional weaknesses in the body. The Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire combined with the Functional Evaluation and lingual-neuro testing gives powerful tools to assess a client’s biochemical individuality. These techniques allow a practitioner to make personalized diet, nutritional and lifestyle recommendations that will promote health and wellness.
The Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Program is a distance learning program, which runs over the course of nine months, with three in-person intensive workshop weekends, which I will be attending in Los Angeles. (Their workshop locations vary by semester and year.)
On a monthly basis I will be sharing my personal experiences in the program, here on Tasty Yummies, for those that are interested in following along. I encourage you to ask questions in the comments, and I will get to them as soon as possible.
It’s been quite an intense first month of study, entering the program a couple weeks late and coming off a busy previous month of travel and events, it’s been a challenge to get caught up. With working for myself and keeping much more than 40 hours a week in various commitments, I am still learning to shift my perspective around “free time” and rework my schedule to include nearly 20 hours of school work a week. I have found myself reading more books than what I ever thought could be possible and I have read in some of the strangest places. From a boat to Catalina Island, to a hotel lobby at Disneyland, while my family was off watching the fireworks – I have found ways to insert my school work to my daily life and I have to be honest and say that I am really surprising myself that way. From what I understand the first few modules of the program are the most intense, as we are laying the ground work and building the foundation of which the rest of our learning rests on. With a lot of reading, video and audio lectures, essays and quizzes, I have certainly had my hands full this month, but it’s been such a joy to be deeply submerged in content that I am so intrigued and personally affected by. I have found myself looking at my own health and the food I create in whole new ways and I am happy to know that much of what I was doing intuitively actually came with purpose.
Month 1 Recap:
Module 1 Basics of Nutrition
Module 2 The Client Consultation Process
Module 3 Anatomy and Physiology
Module 4 Digestion and Elimination
Module I am Currently Studying:
Module 5 Blood Sugar Regulation
These are all some really big topics and I have been hardcore nerding out on the content, I have also been finding myself adjusting my own diet and eating habits as I acquire a deeper understanding of macro and micro nutrients and especially as we really investigated and spoke at length about digestion. I have seen marked improvement in my own health over these past few weeks, so I am excited for more of this, as the program continues.
Favorite Book(s): (it’s a tie this first month)
This book serves as a refined and streamlined form of guiding to help you have a productive conversation with patients/clients about behavior change. Using powerful tools of communication to activate the patient’s own motivation for change and adherence to the recommended treatment, you are given simple, proven and positive steps and tools to implement Motivational Interviewing as a style of communication. It provides effective methods for honing intuitive skills for effortlessly creating a more patient/client-centered practice and cultivating an environment conducive to change. What I most loved about this book is that beyond the skills I learned for potential future clients, I also found I acquired many great tips and tools for communication, conversation and listening even on a basic level, for practical every day use.
This book really opened my eyes to the epidemic of antacid use in our country right now. This book discusses at length how stomach acid is often diagnosed as being in excess, especially in patient’s experiencing G.E.R.D., acid reflux and indigestion. For many medical doctors the response is to then treat the patients as such, with a barrage of various antacids, simply treating the symptoms with a bandaid, (rather than treating the underlying cause) and seeking to limit the amount of acid being produced, long term. However, in most cases it is actually the opposite that is true, stomach acid is more often than not insufficient, to a detrimental level. This underproduction of stomach acid is often the cause of many illnesses and dysfunctions throughout the digestion system and the rest of the body. The pH of our stomach is the starting point and spring board for many of the functional processes within our digestion, so without the proper acid we aren’t releasing the appropriate enzymes, hormones and even bile, which all contribute to proper breakdown of food and consequently proper absorption of nutrients to the rest of the body. Low stomach acid production can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies, poor digestion, allergies, depression, asthma, ulcers, cancer, gallbladder issues, autoimmune disorders and more. This book was eye-opening, slightly scary and very motivating to me, especially personally knowing so many people that struggle with these very issues.
Biggest Lesson: It is crucial that our bodies be in a parasympathetic state (rest and digest) in order for our digestion to properly function. After a stressful few weeks I found myself dealing with some digestive woes, gas and bloating, stomach aches – though nothing had really changed in my diet. I, of course, as I always do, began investigating every single thing I was consuming but I was missing the fact that I simply needed to relax when I was eating. The only major change at the time of this occurrence was the profound level of stress I was under and the fact that I was dealing with high levels of anxiety, something not common to my daily life. Our digestion begins in our brains and if we don’t allow ourselves to be in a restful, neutral state, our digestion can dysfunction and this dysfunction can come at any level of the digestion. Since learning this, these past two weeks I have been taking extra time as I sit down at every meal, taking a few deep cleansing breaths before I start to chow down and finding a moment of gratitude for the food I am about to eat. On a more physical level I have also been slowing down the actual eating, I am giving myself the space to adequately chew my food (a minimum of 20 times for each bite) and set my fork down between bites. After just a few days with these practices, my digestion returned to a more normal state.
Biggest Struggle: Truly understanding how our bodies function on a chemical level. Basically things like chemical bonds, cells, ionic bonds, mitochondria, electron transport chains, etc. This kind of intense science talk is quite hard for me to grasp and digest (pun intended). I find it hard to follow along and for the content to really stick with me. I, of course, understand why this foundational knowledge is important for us to know and understand, but it doesn’t change that I personally have a very hard time grasping this type of content. The struggle is real you guys, I am not a science nerd. Hopefully this will change.
As part of my scholarship with the Nutritional Therapy Association, I will be sharing my personal experiences of the NTP program with you here on Tasty Yummies each month. All of the content, words, ideas and opinions are my own.