Have you ever treated XXX Condition before?
I totally understand where this question comes from, because we all want to feel like we’re in the best possible hands with our health, and it’s comforting to think that we’re working with someone who is an expert in our particular disease.
Well if you have one of the very common autoimmune diseases or other chronic illness, chances are I have seen others with the same diagnosis in the past, and if you have one of the more obscure diagnoses, I may have seen someone else with that condition or I may not.
However, I work with the functional medicine model. The diagnosis is information about the symptoms you have, it doesn’t tell me anything about how YOU got there. Irrespective of whether I have seen 200 others with your illness or none, I am going to research the case from scratch, because I am not treating the disease, I am treating the person with the disease. Your specific case of this illness is unique to you and I have never treated you before, so I start fresh with each case.
What have your results been in the past with XXX condition?
This is a very similar question and answer to the one above. Results are really individual. Some people have seemingly miraculous results very quickly and others we are chipping away for a long period of time. I always have a positive expectation because I truly believe that everyone can get better and improve their health, but the extent of it depends on a few variables.
- How long you have been sick. If you have been building that brick wall for 30 years, then we can take it down brick by brick, but it’s going to take some time. And sometimes the tissue will be damaged past what can be easily repaired. Doesn’t mean you can’t significantly improve your health and quality of life, it just means we need to set realistic and achievable goals.
- How hard you work your program. If you are prepared to really give it your all, then your chances of getting a fantastic outcome are significantly greater than if you aren’t able to implement the changes that need to occur for your health to change. Change is hard, and changing your lifestyle is really hard, trust me, I know this first hand. (Read My Story >>) But if you have coeliac disease and just can’t quite resist the odd gluten-containing cupcake, then obviously this is a barrier to success.
- Your attitude. This one simple factor can actually be the thing that determines whether you get better or not, even if you follow the program to the letter. You cannot be healthy without a healthy mindset. This is not new age mumbo jumbo, there is a large amount of good quality medical research into the fact that what you think and how you feel, particularly stress, directly changes your immune system. So if you are approaching everything with the feeling of ‘This is SO hard and awful, it’s not fair that I can’t eat such and such while everybody else does’ etc, then you are going to have a much harder time healing than the person who approaches this journey happily, embracing the changes even though they are hard, because it’s an opportunity to take control of your body and your health and to get better! Read more about grieving gluten >>
How long is it going to take to get better?
For some people, it can be fast and dramatic. Cut out gluten or other food triggers and voila, 2-4 weeks later you’re a different person. I love those cases!! However as my patient population gets sicker and the cases more complex, I usually think the following is a realistic timeline.
6-12 weeks: The ship starts to turn. You start to see changes in a positive direction. Usually also backed up by labwork.
6 months: I aim for 50% at 6 months.
12 Months: Achieve your goal, depending on what the goal was.
2 years. Aiming for you to be healthy by this point, and hit ‘maintenance’.
Unfortunately I do not have a 4 week program, complete with meal replacement shakes, that will magically transform your health. I wish I did. I’d be writing this from my private island if that was the case.
The timeline I have outlined here is very general. Some people get better much more quickly than this, and some more slowly. We won’t know what to expect from you until we start working and see how your body responds. I think this diagram illustrates it pretty well.
How much is it all going to cost?
This is not an inexpensive undertaking. As well as my fees, you will need to buy food, and probably pay out of pocket for tests and supplements as well. I do try to use your primary care physician and utilise NHS testing as much as possible, but most of the time this is not a realistic option. Of course we can discuss how to stretch your pound, and how to prioritise spending. That being said, I also have the expectation that you will prioritise your health in your budget. If you have to choose between getting healthy and going on a vacation this year, converting your loft or upgrading your car, please choose your health!!
My friend and colleague wrote a great blog about this subject.
- You have a long waiting list, what can I do to get started in the meantime?
If you want to get started straight away, great!! You’ll be several steps forward then by the time we begin and we can get straight to your individual triggers.
- First, download my free e-book on the first steps to take.
- Then I recommend an elimination and reintroduction diet.
- If you do not have an autoimmune disease, then I recommend Whole30. They have a fantastic website with all the resources.
- If you have an autoimmune disease, then I recommend Autoimmune Paleo. Read Sarah Ballantyne’s book here.
- And see these resources for recipes and support.
- A Clean Plate—A recipe blog by Christina Feindel, featuring bright and fresh allergen-free recipes.
- Phoenix Helix—Eileen Laird shares some great AIP recipes on her blog, along with many round-ups. Look for her Weekly AIP Recipe Roundtable for some great inspiration!
- Alt-Ternative Autoimmune—Angie Alt has many great recipes on her site, and one of the best resources she offers are her AIP holiday meal plans.