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Why I Chose to Become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

Learn how and why I became a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner in this blog post.

Salad with an egg on top

Despite the presence of the word “therapy” in "Nutritional Therapy Practitioner," NTPs are typically not trained counselors, social workers, or psychotherapists. The Nutritional Therapy field is a separate field from therapy. So, why would I choose to branch into a completely different field? The blog post will answer that question. 

My Roots

 I have long been interested in food and nutrition. When I was a child, one of the (many) things I wanted to be when I grew up was a chef. At the age of 12, I decided to take my health into my own hands and become a vegetarian. While this didn’t last through my high school years, it was an early sign that I was thinking deeply about health at a young age. 

This pattern has continued throughout my adulthood. When I became chronically ill several years ago with issues that seemed “mysterious” to conventional doctors, I took the “take my health into my own hands” thing to the next level and started searching high and low for solutions. 

One of the places I looked was food. We literally “are what we eat.” Our bodies are made out of the foods we consume on a day-to-day basis. So, I wondered, could nutrition be something that could help me get better? Over the years I cleaned up my diet more than ever and eventually enrolled in the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program to find out. 

The NTP Program

The NTP program is an almost year-long program that covers the topics of digestion, anatomy, nutrient-dense diets, making good choices at grocery stores, motivational interviewing, food preparation, an understanding of food quality, fatty acids, mineral balance, detoxification, hydration, sleep, stress, and movement, cardiovascular health, hormonal health, and more.

This program appealed to me not only because it was based on modern research, it was also inspired by ancestral diets. Ancestral diets include natural and minimally-processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, meat, and fermented foods. As someone who studied Religious Studies and Global Studies for my bachelor's degrees, went on an archaeological dig in college, has traveled to many places, and is trained as an Applied Shamanic Practitioner, it might not come as a surprise that I respect ancestral ways of living. 

Ancestral Diets & The Work of Weston A. Price

During my travels around the world including in Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, Central America, South America, and South and Southeast Asia, I had the opportunity to eat many foods from around the world and observe numerous different ways of life. I noticed that people who ate ancestral diets with locally grown foods seemed much healthier than Americans - more vibrant, relaxed, alive, and able-bodied. This is in contrast with Americans who tend to be stressed, fatigued, low in vitality, and in chronic pain. 

Therefore, it didn’t surprise me when I found the work of Weston A. Price. He was a dentist who set about traveling the world in the 1930s and 1940s to learn more about traditional diets and ways of life, in contrast to Western ones, and how they impacted dental health. He contributed immensely to the field of nutrition and medicine because not only did he find that nutrition had a huge part to play in dental health, but in all facets of health. 

He observed that people who adhered to local, traditional diets tended to have beautiful, straight teeth largely free of cavities, as well as well-formed overall bone structures, vitality, strength, and resilience. Those who had adopted Western diets had "defects" in their teeth, minds, faces, and bodies (his words, not mine!). Their teeth that were decaying and causing immense pain. 

The differences were staggering. Over and over again, in continent after continent, community after community, he found similar results. The findings were quite straightforward: those who adhered to traditional diets tended to be healthy, and those eating processed foods tended to be unhealthy.

In the picture below from Price's book "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration," you can compare people who were eating ancestral diets on the left with people eating Westernized diets on the right, including processed foods, sugars, etc. These photos are just a few of many that he took. A simple Google search will yield more.

Photo credit is from "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" by Weston A. Price.

Price’s contributions to the field of medicine, while little-known, are critically important and well-timed. He did his research at a time when the world was becoming increasingly Westernized, but when there were still many people living indigenous lifestyles. A researcher today, almost 100 years later, would be hard-pressed to find as many communities that have been untouched by modern life. 

Nutritional Therapy in Action

Thus, when I found the NTP program, I was overjoyed to see that part of the curriculum was inspired by Price’s work! The importance of ancestral diets not only makes intuitive sense but is backed up by Price's meticulous and detailed research. While I think it’s wonderful to live in a world where new studies about nutrition are being published all the time, I think there is a lot of sense in trusting in the intuitive wisdom and documented research. Our ancestors knew how to feed themselves and we have something to learn from them. 

Therefore, I enrolled in the NTP program. Within the first month, the program helped me identify something about my own health that I had no idea was driving some of my symptoms: sensitive blood sugar. Within just a few days of implementing changes to my diet to balance my blood sugar, many of my symptoms lifted dramatically. 

When I began applying little bits of nutrition information to my sessions with clients, I was amazed to see that people’s anxiety, irritability, and fatigue abated when they made simple changes like making sure to eat the breakfast they usually skipped, eating more protein, or consuming coffee with or after breakfast. 

It turned out that my hunch was true. Nutrition was a root cause of some of my own troubles, and it was certainly a root cause of many of my clients’ mental health struggles. Since I am on a mission to become a root cause practitioner, studying nutrition was an obvious choice for me. 

In a modern world where medicine has siloed knowledge into different disciplines, I believe we have lost a lot of wisdom. In ancient times, healers were not just doctors or mystics or advisors or herbalists or psychotherapists, they were all of the above. Ancient healers had the ability to work with the spirit world, heal bodies, heal relationships, heal psyches, and understand the natural world. This is the kind of healer I want to become. 

So while, to many, nutrition may seem like an “entirely different field” than psychotherapy, I beg to differ. Nutrition is an inextricable contributor to mental and emotional dis-ease, and it is high time we recognize that. Even if I am one of a few practitioners working in both worlds for now, I believe in a future where the manmade walls between body, mind, and spirit have been taken down, and where we treat our bodies as sacred vessels so that we can finally reap the benefits of optimal mental health. Not just cope without it.

Interested to learn about NTP sessions? Learn more here.


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