I haven’t always been a research nerd.
In 2003 I quit college and “moved” to Hawaii. I say “moved” because my possessions fit into one backpack.
My decision to leave college and hitchhike around Big Island landed me at one of the most amazing communities in the world. Pangaia was a raw food community and permaculture farm, home to thousands of cultivated species of fruit trees, gardens, ponds, goats, cows, and plenty of cane grass.
After three years of living off the land and eating a raw food version of the paleo diet (yes, that’s a thing) I felt AMAZING. And, armed with this totally out there, off-grid experience and my new amazing feeling I left Hawaii and came back to the mainland. I was bound and determined to share all the information on how to eat and live.
People thought I was a total nutcase.
My desire to validate my newfound information—essentially, to prove I was right—was what led me to pursue the study of nutrition.
Yes, there were other factors, for sure. But, by and large, I wanted to back my butter vs. canola oil recommendations to skeptical friends and family. I wanted to be the expert rather than the dreadlocked, hitchhiking hippie (who I definitely was).
So, in 2010 I completed the Nutritional Therapy Association’s NTP program. And I loved it.
I fell in love with studying because it proved my staunch beliefs wrong.
I got to glimpse the complexity of the science that makes us human, and see that it is an ever-changing, never-ending exploration. The study of the body and its processes is an absolute wonderland. And this overshadowed my aspirations of becoming a trendy nutrition guru.
I began my small nutrition practice the year I finished the NTP program. But, more than seeing clients, I studied.
My passion for learning led me to make observations about how we use and interact with information. It’s time to approach information in a new way.
These observations have now formed the third tenet of Paradigm of Practice.
The information that helps us make decisions, as practitioner and patient, deserves attention. There are ways to improve our ability to gather and apply information. If we collectively take the time to approach information in a new way we become better practitioners and more confident patients. We’re able to join together to create an informed, communicative team.
- Promote open source information and information sharing. Working solo is important for self-education. But proprietary information, supplement formulas, or research work is severely limiting our ability to learn and grow our medical knowledge. That hurts us all. I realize this point is controversial. Many companies and even some individuals make their livelihood from protected knowledge. I propose that we abandon this mentality and truly live by ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’
- Work toward accessibility for all people. This point includes cost and terminology, meaning that people need to be able to financially access healthcare but also understand it. It’s above my pay grade to analyze the politics of healthcare or health insurance. But I know we have all witnessed the financial desperation of those in a health crisis. Crowdfunding should be for support of a new creative product or aspiration, not cancer treatment.
Additionally, the information we receive, from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to prescription side effects must be communicated in a way that a large majority can understand and easily implement. An (unintentional) veil of assumptions and medical language separates practitioners and patients. Yes, it’s important that scientists share a common language so we can easily communicate. But it’s also important that patients understand important details that affect their health.
Citation is radically important.
- Practice information tracking. I’m excited to go deeper with this particular point in future blogs, but short story: citation is radically important. Information tracking takes our collective knowledge from the realm of trend and commonly accepted practices into a broader context of accuracy. Why do you use a certain food/supplement/drug/manipulation? Make sure you know why and make sure you know where that information came from. Equally important—citation gives credit where credit is due.
- Finally, closely scrutinize trend. Medicine works in trend just like fashion. Whether you’re a practitioner or a patient, aim for a foundation based approach backed by due diligence. Where did the info come from and how is it applicable to me? Just because a diet or drug is popular doesn’t mean its accurate or applicable.