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Part 3: What’s Functional and what’s not - Blog Image

Part 3: What’s Functional and what’s not

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2018-11-20

It’s my mission to bring you the TRUTH about practicing Functionally.

If more of us practice Functionally (for real, and not just in theory) we’ll change so many things…

  • More people will get well,

    instead of the chronically ill being stuck with “solutions” that just don’t work

  • You’ll have the confidence

    that —no matter how complex their symptoms or diagnoses are, and no matter your scope of practice

    you really do know enough

    to help the people you want to help

  • We’ll create a —a community of people to create better outcomes for practitioners and patients alike


    working together, in partnership

But in order to practice Functionally for real, you need to know what Functional means.


What’s Functional and what’s NOT? (Part 3!)

Part 3: What’s Functional and What’s NOT

There are 3 tenets of a Functional practice, and unless the programs you’re taking, processes you’re using, and people you’re following are using these 3 tenets, they just aren’t Functional.

Functional Tenet #1: Root Cause Resolution

Practicing Functionally means that we’re not chasing symptoms. (Read the rest of Part 1 HERE)

Functional Tenet #2: Systems and Tools

In order to practice tenet #1—to not just believe in the powers of root cause resolution, but to truly practice it—we need let go of seductive formulas and templates in favor of solid systems and tools. (Read the rest of Part 2 HERE)

Functional Tenet #3: Therapeutic Partnerships

In order to practice tenets #1 and #2—to use proven systems and tools to get to the root causes of your clients’ symptoms—you must do something else FIRST.

Before you bring out your tracking tools and Functional Nutrition Matrix, you need to establish a relationship with your client or patient that is going to allow you to see the connections between symptoms, find the roots, and work together in harmony toward resolution. You need to have rapport, and to practice Functional Empathy.

No tool in the world is going to give you the results you want unless you’ve first created a therapeutic partnership with the individual seeking your help. And hold on, I’m guessing this is something you think of as an “of course”, or “yeah, I got that”. Yet a therapeutic partnership isn’t just about connection. It’s about trust, hope, and the patient knowing that she’s no longer in the weeds alone.

Why is the therapeutic partnership so important?

Because your client isn’t going to tell you all the juicy details you need to fill out the Functional Nutrition Matrix unless she trusts you (and trusts that you can do something with the details she shares).

And she’s not going to fill out a Food/Mood/Poop Journal unless she sees the real benefits of taking the effort and knows you’re on her side. (Looking in the toilet and describing what’s in the bowl without understanding why? Not likely!)

She probably won’t follow many (or any!) of your recommendations unless she feels like you get her, understand what she wants, and are helping her to connect the dots and make clinical associations—associations like, when I stay up after 10pm working on my computer, I have increased sugar cravings the next day, or when I eat this breakfast vs. that one, I’m better able to concentrate at work throughout the morning.

The associations between nutrition, diet, and lifestyle modification are infinite when you’re not stuck in the weeds and you’re able to understand the biological reasons for those correlations. And the therapeutic partnership requires being able to not just make those interconnections, but explain them to each patient in a way that resonates and yields action.

So before you pull out your systems and tools to and start hunting for the root causes…

You must create a therapeutic partnership.

Again, I know this step seems obvious. Yet you’d be surprised how many practitioners are missing it. And you may be shocked that you’re one of them!

(Tip: The way you can catch yourself missing this step is if you find yourself researching a client’s symptoms or diagnosis, or creating a therapeutic plan with stages for intervention before you even meet her!)

Once you make this connection and gain an understanding of the factors that will inspire them to make change, you can then use the Functional Tools to deepen your therapeutic partnership and map the details that you uncover together.

If we go back to our example of the two women with IBS from the previous posts…

You may want to see them both have 2 solid bowel movements each day as an indicator that your recommendations are yielding results. Yet one woman is motivated by avoiding embarrassment of public accidents. The other wants desperately to be free of pain so she can play with her grandchildren and not spend the time doubled over. (These are their Inspiring Factors, and they’re your key to client compliance!)

What’s NOT Functional…

Creating identical treatment plans for both women, and stressing that they need to do the work so that they can have the outcome you want&mdashldecreased inflammatory markers, diminished pain, different elimination patterns.

What IS Functional…

Remembering that your clients are people with stories, and recognizing that each individual has specific hopes and dreams that she is longing to fulfill and that her illness is keeping her from.

You see, it’s not just her illness that’s the problem.

It’s what it prevents her from doing.

Once you connect to your client as a real person with real hopes, dreams, pains, and desires…

THEN you can bring out your Functional Nutrition Matrix and map her story, her symptoms, and your recommendations for moving her towards wellness.

Just imagine what this Matrix will look like when it contains all that information for the next person you’re ready to help.

The functional nutrition matrix by Andrea Nakayama

It’s not Functional Nutrition unless you’re creating a Therapeutic Partnership that recognizes the entirety of the person seeking your help.

[bctt tweet=”It’s not #FunctionalNutrition unless you’re creating a Therapeutic Partnership that recognizes the entirety of the person seeking your help.” username=”AndreaNakayama”]

And if you missed Part 1 or 2:

Functional Tenet #1: Root Cause Resolution

Functional Tenet #2: Systems and Tools

Remember, if the programs you’re taking, processes you’re using, and people you’re following are not using these 3 tenets, they just aren’t Functional.

We can change that.

Related Blog Posts:

Part 1: What’s Functional and what’s not
Part 2: What’s Functional and what’s not
The truth about compliance
The web of interconnections
The power of story
Functional Nutrition Matrix
Therapeutic Partnership

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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