Functional nutrition goes beyond the conventional way of calorie counting, macronutrient tracking, portion restriction, or My Plate standards. There is no one-size-fits-all approach because everyone is unique! Functional nutrition is patient-centered, meaning it is a method that focuses on the patient as a whole, rather than the symptom or condition at hand. While conventional nutrition may offer generic diet tips directed at treating a symptom, a functional nutritionist will assess for any underlying imbalances, sensitivities, or deficiencies that may be contributing to the symptoms in the first place. A customized functional nutrition and lifestyle protocol will aim to address these root-cause imbalances.
While there are fundamental components to a generally “healthy” diet (such as an abundance of fruits and vegetables and minimally processed foods), there are certain nutrients that may be particularly therapeutic for each individual. Depending on your unique genetics, symptoms, and lifestyle habits, a functional nutritionist will help to identify those healing nutrients and teach you how to optimize them in the diet. This is also true for foods that could be potentially detrimental to an individual’s health. After all, food is information to our bodies – it can either promote health or stimulate harm.
While optimizing nutritional status is the primary focus, functional nutrition recognizes that food is not the only contributing factor to health. A functional nutritionist may dig deeper to address lifestyle components such as sleep, stress, physical activity, and environmental exposures because all of these factors play a role in the bigger picture of overall health.
Also noteworthy is the emphasis on sustainability. The goal of a functional nutrition plan is to create awareness and provide guidance towards choices that help you feel your best. Finding a plan that works for you often involves trial and error or re-assessment. A functional nutritionist will help you overcome challenges and find alternatives to aspects that aren’t working well. That way, you have a health-promoting plan that is sustainable long-term!