Miriam Jacobson is a New York-based RD. She told us a little bit about her private practice, Every Body Bliss, her focus on functional medicine (FM), and nutrition tech!
Why and how did you decide to become a dietitian?
There wasn’t one pivotal moment when I knew that I want to be a dietitian, but a combination of my interest in food and nutrition and my desire to help individuals overcome challenges. When I was younger, my dad unexpectedly passed away and my mom became very sick within the same 2 weeks. At 13, I was forced to take care of myself and as well as most teenagers would probably be able to do – I kept myself alive and fed (oh, but the bad food I ate!). In college I began working out, practicing yoga and cooking better food for myself and realized the enormous impact that nourishing my body and mind had on the way I felt. This combined with my ability to geek out over biochemistry and physiology is when I realized I had found a career that could not only help me help others, but that would continuously evolve and change with the science and social need.
Can you tell us about your career to date?
After completing my undergraduate degree, I was accepted to NSLIJ’s dietetic internship, where I rotated throughout hospitals across Long Island. My supervised practice highlighted my desire to work with patients before they were admitted to acute care. I always wanted to help people feel better and felt like inpatient counseling wasn’t the right place to truly impact people’s habits and conditions in their normal lives. My ultimate goal was to work in private practice, but I didn’t feel like I had the skills or know-how to begin. Soon after my internship, I transitioned to a nutritionist position at WIC in the South Bronx, which was incredibly challenging. Even though I saw families more often (every 1 – 3 months), it still wasn’t enough contact to help people evolve or change. These populations need so much help, I just wasn’t sure if I was the right person to deliver.
My mentor encouraged me to pursue a degree in functional medicine, where I could learn to help people resolve root cause issues and find sustainable solutions for chronic health conditions. I jumped at the opportunity and returned to school to earn my Masters in integrative health and functional medicine at the University of Bridgeport. At the same time I began working as a functional medicine nutritionist for Food Coach NYC, which was incredibly rewarding – and for the first time in my life I felt like I had found the right position. I love my patients and saw dramatic results and resolution in their health issues. I am currently transitioning from Food Coach to establishing my own nutrition micro-practice (coming soon Los Angeles!). I’m excited to see where this new road leads!
Tell us about functional medicine (FM) – what does that mean?
Functional medicine looks at why patients are experiencing health imbalances. The entire body is interconnected and works as a system, so by finding root cause problems we can resolve multiple health issues at once. Modern medicine often uses diagnostic labels to categorize diseases and medicate – but medication can mask symptoms and lead to subsequent imbalances. The best approach would be to identify and resolve the underlying problem. For example, if you sit on a tack, the best solution is to remove it rather than taking ibuprofen to numb the pain. While acute care is essential and life saving, there’s a better answer for resolving chronic health conditions.
I love practicing functional nutrition because every patient that walks through my door has their own unique health journey, and functional medicine has taught me how to truly individualize this care and optimize the health of my patients. Whether the problem is an inflammatory diet, metabolic or nutritional imbalances, toxic exposure or a broken emotional or behavioral response, we can use functional medicine to create the most effective plan that works for them.
Why should dietitians get involved in FM?
FM is an incredible tool to be able to share with patients – people are fed up feeling sick, visiting their doctors and coming home without an answer. If we map our health on a spectrum, most of us lay in the middle: while many are not overtly sick, neither are we in perfect health. We need a better way to individualize this approach and learn to not only prevent disease but also optimize the health of our society.
Taking health to the next level through diet, metabolic testing to assess nutritional (and genetic) imbalances are the first steps to helping individuals restore their health. There are then the emotional, behavioral and spiritual aspects of the functional medicine paradigm that are also an essential part of health and healing. As we are all on our own health journey, we all have different needs. Having all these tools allows us as practitioners to help clients create dramatic changes to their health, which transcends to different aspects of their lives such as improving their relationships and pursuing personal passions.
How can FM help our clients?
People are confused about their health – as I mentioned before they do not feel well and are unsatisfied with their physicians’ responses. The next step is either the rabbit hole of the internet or seeking alternative medicine that has more promising results. Functional medicine offers a holistic and integrative yet scientific approach that takes the guesswork out of treatment. This helps to meet our society’s growing health needs and helps individuals not only find relief but also feel light, graceful and free in their bodies and minds.
How do you think technology is changing the way dietitians are practicing care?
Technology is changing the practitioner-patient relationship. Patients are curious about their health and how food affects their bodies. They need the support in between appointments – whether it is because they’re confused or need help with emotional or logistical aspects. Most of life’s challenges don’t happen in my office – rather when patients are living life at home, while traveling or on vacation, or when they are exposed to social pressure. Therefore the questions and concerns that percolate in between appointments are best addressed at the time that they happen – otherwise we often forget and move on until the same question comes up again. Using tele-medicine software we can overcome this hurdle, help patients in real time and create sustainable behavior changes. This is the transformation of medical and dietetics care – it is an exciting time to be practicing!
Why are you excited about using Healthie?
Healthie is a pioneer in this evolution – it is providing an incredible service for RDs. It takes the logistical headache out of starting a practice and gives dietitians an incredible tool kit so that we can spend time doing what we love and do best –help our patients. I have yet to see such a comprehensive and quality service provided in this marketplace.
I’m also excited to see Healthie grow and evolve – the team is incredibly receptive to feedback and it’s clear that they are constantly working to improve their platform and take it to the next level. I only see good things and success ahead – and I’m excited to be a part of this evolution of care!
Here are some FM Resources for RDs who want to get involved!
Free lectures and resources:
Structured programs that teach functional medicine
- http://www.replenishpdx.com/ –
Our thanks to Miriam for telling us all about functional medicine and nutrition today! Welcome to the Healthie community! You can find Miriam on Every Body Bliss’s website.