Surprising Client “Tools” that Spark my Gratitude
November 21, 2017 | 12 Comments | SAFM Team
A key concept to share with your clients and patients is the healing power of gratitude. I have been amazed over the years to see the improvement in the physical body that can happen when people shift their perspective. When we choose to focus on what we appreciate (rather than what we dislike, resent, or fear), the benefits are many. Less stress, stronger immunity, improved metabolism, better sleep…. I could go on and on.
This opportunity applies to practitioners too! Ensconced in our functional medicine expertise and exemplary lifestyles and super-clean habits, we can lose our perspective. And potentially set our clients and patients up for failure.
With the Thanksgiving holiday at hand here in the US, it’s a perfect opportunity to share with you some tools for which I am grateful. Not the obvious ones, but the surprising ones. They are a good reminder for all of us to keep a broad perspective, to make use of a diverse toolbox (vs. a limited, overzealous one), and to be grateful for anything and everything that allows a patient to make progress toward greater wellness.
Check out my list below and then please do share your own ideas. What surprising things are you grateful for in supporting your patients and clients?
Sending you warmth and gratitude for letting me be a part of your professional journey!
With love and sincere gratitude,
Let’s start the list with the ones that might *really* surprise you. I am grateful for…
- Immuno-suppressant drugs. Yes. Sometimes we become so passionate about “natural healing” options that we lose our perspective on drugs that can be life-saving or provide critical triage relief (buying us critical time as functional medicine practitioners to help them explore/reverse root caues). These are drugs that can reduce or stop inflammation (and perhaps save a body part) while someone is working on changing their lifestyle. Absolutely they carry major risks with long-term use! But in dozens of my own clients, using these drugs for several months has had the dual benefit of (1) buying us time to further our investigation into the root causes of their autoimmune activation and (2) protecting their body from the further, temporary surge of inflammation that often results from addressing these roots (e.g. killing off a pathogenic overgrowth in order to balance gut microbes or getting rid of heavy metal toxins stored in the body). It’s also much easier to make healthier food choices (as we know: a critical piece of the puzzle) when you’re not in pain everyday or depressed about your pain (and self-medicating with junk food). I have helped several people put their autoimmune condition in remission, and these drugs were often a key, if temporary, part of the plan.
- McDonald’s Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad. I can practically see your mouth agape 🙂 “Why?!”, you ask. Because it’s the least offensive meal on the menu. And you have to work with what’s available. Your relatively new client who has been eating at fast food joints for lunch every day is NOT going to suddenly start packing an organic kale and wild salmon medley from home. It’s just not going to happen. We have to remember to meet our clients Where They Are. If they were eating chicken nuggets and fries beforehand, then this salad is a GIANT step in the right direction. Of course, we want to keep the journey moving to better and better choices. But if we make “getting well” too hard or too overwhelming initially, it’s likely that the client will simply quit. We have to remember not to judge the unique pathway that makes the most sense for each unique patient’s journey. Be open. Be resourceful.
- Frozen broccoli spears, pre-chopped stir-fry veggies, minced garlic in olive oil, prewashed green beans, ready-to-go rotisserie chicken, and microwave ovens. Yes, more sacrilege 🙂 Ditto the above! If you can get a client eating a SAD diet to prepare ANY kind of vegetable in their own home for a relaxed meal, you are winning! Of course, I explain that you can put the beans in a glass bowl and cover with a paper towel (vs. using a “microwaveable” bag). Of course, many clients are ready for and excited about more advanced nutrition and food prep. We just need a big toolbox to meet everyone where they are and recommend change at a pace they can handle.
- Conventional physicians. This is a topic that comes up often in the alternative or functional medicine world, and I am tired of hearing all types of practitioners throwing “conventional” physicians under the bus. I want to say explicitly that I am very grateful to live in an environment where if I need triage or emergency medicine or some sort of surgery, I trust I am going to receive exquisite care. I very much appreciate the physicians who support this critical community need in what is a very stressful and demanding medical system. We are on a mission to make medicine “good” for all (that is, expanding that definition to include more targeted support for chronic lifestyle diseases and those looking for support to optimize their wellness vs. manage a disease). Some of those conventional physicians are perhaps destined in the next few years to be the most highly skilled functional medicine practitioners among us! Along the way, we need to remember that all teammates are valuable and critically important… very intelligent and well-intentioned. What many of us are offering is a different skill set and a different focus. Diversity of perspective and training combined with mutual respect leads ultimately to the most competent and effective team. If you want respect, I highly recommend giving it.
- Zevia soda. Yes, I know; you don’t expect ANY kind of soda to make this list. But chronic soda drinkers can have an extremely difficult time “coming off” of soda…whether it’s Mt. Dew or Diet Coke. More so than any other foods besides cheese and wheat, I find that my clients have palpable chemical withdrawal from stopping soda. Either from the sugar or the artificial sweetener or a physical addiction to having the acidic the “clean mouth feel”. In my experience, however, going directly from daily soda to only “water and green tea” is largely a pipe dream. And yes, I am aware of the many things one an add to seltzer. For some, however, they need a slower rate of change; sustainable, new habits usually have to happen in steps. Of course, we will recommend eventually that no soda at all be a part of a client’s daily diet. But in the interim, moving to a stevia/erythritol-sweetened soda that contains citric acid instead of phosphoric acid may be a major breakthrough (yes, it comes in a bottle now). I have had two clients who resolved their migraines primarily by stopping mainstream diet soda.
- Television commercials. (Now, it’s really getting funny! 😛 ) Sometimes it’s hard to help clients to “see” their way to finding time to get any kind of exercise in their daily routine. Seven years ago, a client inspired me by emphatically sharing, “Look, my life is just too busy. The only time I would be willing to give up right now is TV commercials!” Well, he meant that as a joke (and thankfully, he didn’t have Tivo), but I took it as an opportunity! He started walking up and down the stairs in his home during each ~4 minute commercial break and doing some calisthenics during a few too. Across three hours of evening TV, that added up about 45 min. of exercise. A creative solution. A crazy idea for some but perfect for this man. Plus my sense of humor was great for building rapport. That client eventually referred to me more than a dozen others.
- Squatty Potty. Because having regular bowel movement IS a key part of wellness. And some people simply cannot relax well enough on the toilet to help facilitate a smooth, full evacuation. Many also find the whole idea both novel and comical (“Wow, I wish I had invented that!”). Plus, we will ALWAYS be more likely to sustain a healthy habit if it’s also fun.
- “The Vitamin Tower”. Taking targeted supplements consistently can be challenging for many. Years ago, I was amazed to learn how many people, by default, were choosing to open up all the bottles every day (often, multiple times). That doesn’t sound like fun, even to me. I should’ve bought stock in these a long time ago. For a while, this was my new client “giveaway” that I offered during our second session. It comes with extra lids, so taking a day’s or weekend’s supply with you on-the-go is easy.
- And I am so grateful for the easy availability of very high-quality supplements. A few of my favorites where a good solution is otherwise hard to come by include…
- Designs for Health’s “G.I. Revive” – the best product I have found for healing intestinal permeability and soothing the mucosal lining after significant dysbiosis. Reasonable-tasting powder; no pills.
- Pure Encapsulations “ADR” – multi-nutrient support for people with true adrenal exhaustion aka (note that a lot of people think they have this and are mistaken; rely on the data, not self-assessment). A combination of glandular extracts and adaptogens. Strong, so not applicable for many, but ideal for those with nearly “flat line” cortisol throughout the day.
- Metagenics UltraClear Renew – a protein medical food designed to help increase phase 2 detoxification specifically of heavy metals. The unique hops content is very effective at boosting enzymes with promote phase 2, especially glutathione synthesis. Again, very potent, so it needs to be ramped slowly and carefully, but it’s quite effective when used as part of a targeted detoxification plan for those who need it. I don’t recommend this for ongoing, daily intake.
- Terry Naturally Liver Fractions – finally, a heme iron supplement that is a food extract and yet also potent and includes high-quality B vitamins as well. Iron is already, naturally so poorly absorbed; it’s especially important to choose a well-absorbed formula. Plus, the vast majority of iron supplements are iron salt forms which promote significant constipation.
- Pure Encapsulations Systemic Enzymes – taken on an empty stomach, enzymes help to breakdown undesired substances in the body e.g. growths, cysts, scar tissue, excessive fibrinogen, inflammatory immune complexes. In particular, many of my clients with arthritis have had great results with this added to their regimen. If you take them too close to food, they are just going to help with digestion.