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Ditch the X for Y Paradigm: A Tip from a Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner - Blog Image

Ditch the X for Y Paradigm: A Tip from a Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2018-04-17

As a Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner, I’m often explaining to people—clients, students, doctors—what Functional Nutrition really is.

The reason it can be so difficult to explain is that Functional Nutrition operates in an entirely different paradigm than conventional medicine.

And what I’ve learned over the past decade, teaching thousands of practitioners, is that even holistic modalities like naturopathic medicine, herbal medicine and many forms of health coaching are still operating in the old paradigm.

Now, take a deep breath and let me explain what I mean…

What’s exciting about this (yes, exciting!) is that if you practice holistically, and you want to ramp up your success with your clients, learning to practice functionally, and to understand the Functional Paradigm could be just the thing you need.

So much of the Western world lives in what I call the “X for Y Paradigm.” In this view of illness, the doctor knows best. He always has a prescription for whatever ails you, and the prescription is always determined by the diagnosis he gives you.

I call this the “X for Y Paradigm,” because for X diagnosis, you get Y prescription.

It’s a linear way of thinking.

Now, I’d like to invite you to play with me for a minute here so that I can illustrate the shift that will accelerate your successes. Please imagine a city, possibly like the city you live in now. This city operates in this X for Y Paradigm. Let’s call this city the City of Cure.

City of Cure

In the City of Cure, the doctor’s job is to name what ails you (X), and to prescribe its cure (Y), meaning the goal of the doctor is to return the patient to the exact state he was in before he contracted X. The same level of comfort, the same abilities to perform all the same activities, the same lifestyle and habits, and the same level of wisdom and awareness.

This works for most people in the City of Cure—about 80% to be exact—so the majority of the population is well and happy. But every once in awhile—maybe about 20% of the time—someone in the City of Cure finds themselves in a situation that goes against the very foundation upon which the city was built.

For some, the X for Y Paradigm fails

Sarah is one such person for whom the X for Y Paradigm failed. She had symptoms that pointed to a diagnosis of X, but the prescription Y did not return her to her pre-X state.

In fact, Y made her symptoms worse and even induced some new symptoms. The doctors re-diagnosed her, and gave her a new prescription, but that didn’t work either. She saw specialist after specialist, who did test after test, and there still was no cure.

The City of Cure had nothing more to offer Sarah, and she didn’t know where to turn since she was still suffering.

Then one day, her friend Arthur suggested she visit a neighboring town called Heal. Sarah had never left the City of Cure, and she was both skeptical and afraid, but she trusted her friend Arthur, so together, the two of them drove past the city limits of Cure, down a short stretch of highway, and took the exit labeled “Heal.”


Once inside the boundaries of Heal, Arthur seemed filled with confidence. His eyes began to sparkle, and he smiled wider than Sarah had ever seen him smile.

“What happened to you?” Sarah asked Arthur.

“In Cure,” he said, “my abilities are hampered. People don’t necessarily see the possibilities that my work offers. But here, in Heal, I can be your guide. Here you can call me Art.”

Art proceeded to show Sarah around the town of Heal. He showed her that instead of diagnoses, people here are asked to collaborate with their practitioners—to tell their stories, to describe what they’d like their healthy lives to look like and identify what’s important to them, and to pay careful attention to their daily lives. This helps them develop a new relationship with themselves that allows for a transformation of their current state.

“Once you bring all this information about yourself to your practitioner,” Art said, “she does an assessment, and can give you recommendations that are appropriate for you and your unique body. Then it’s your turn again, making changes in your life and paying close attention—through tracking the changes you feel. This process continues for as long as you need as you journey forward.”

At this last sentence, Sarah let out a sigh of relief, and her shoulders came down from around her ears for the first time in years. Finally, someone was hearing and understanding her and not thinking that they had the miracle cure (she had lost hope in those.)

Art smiled and nodded in acknowledgment of Sarah’s shift. “But you must know,” Art continued, “that the goal of the practitioners here in Heal is not to return you to the state and the life you had before you felt all your symptoms.”

The Functional Paradigm

Sarah scowled a bit, revealing her disturbance and surprise. “Why not? What good is the work the practitioners do if it doesn’t return me to my previous state?”

“That,” Art said, “is actually the biggest gift we give you here in Heal.”

“The practitioners here help you grow beyond where you were before. They guide you in your transformation from ill and disempowered to healthy and heroic. With their guidance, you become your own hero, and you take your power back from your illness and from all the doctors you were looking to save you in Cure.”

Sarah looked at Art with glassy eyes. “Wow,” she said softly. “Where do I find the magicians of this town who can do that for me?”

“You’ve already found one,” said Art, taking a step towards Sarah. “But we’re not magicians. We’re practitioners of both the science and the art of Functional Nutrition.”

Related Blog Posts:

What’s Functional and what’s not Part 1
The 80/20 rule for nutrition practitioners
Functional nutrition matrix
Functional Nutrition Tip –The power of STORY

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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