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I am often surprised at how often clients tell me they had no idea that a nutritionist could help them with their autoimmune disease. They often tell me their provider said nutrition would make no difference with their autoimmune disease. As a result, I wanted to explain what makes a nutritionist specializing in autoimmune diseases different. 

Autoimmune Disease Nutritionist

An autoimmune disease nutritionist is a nutritionist who specializes in helping people with autoimmune conditions manage their symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes. They work with clients to identify potential food triggers, develop personalized meal plans, and provide support and education. They differ from a regular nutritionist because their background and education specialize in immunology and autoimmune disease. Most of their patients have autoimmune diseases, and they have taken additional certifications to help with autoimmune-specific diets. My practice is Nutrition for Autoimmunity, and around 90% of my patients have autoimmune diseases. I received my Master of Science in Nutrition, focusing on immunology, from NUNM. In addition, I am an AIP-certified coach practitioner. This certification gave me additional training on applying the AIP diet, the common problems, and hundreds of pages of information to provide to my patients. In addition, I have completed my board exams as a Certified Nutrition Specialist and am finishing up my 1000 hours of clinical experience this Fall. I also work at the University of Western State as a Course Facilitator for Immunology and Autoimmune Diseases courses. All of this training and experience with patients suffering from autoimmune diseases allow me to have a deep knowledge of how to help my patients in unique ways.

My Background

Another way that my background is unique is my family history. Most of my siblings and many of my relatives have autoimmune diseases. I have also had my struggles with autoimmunity over the years, which led me to want to help people like myself regain control over their lives through diet and lifestyle changes. Many of my patients come to me explaining that their providers told them that what they eat makes no difference in the progression of their autoimmune disease. Some have said that it is all in their heads, only to find out later that they were in the silent or reactive stage of their autoimmune disease. By working with my practice, patients learn how food affects them and how they can take control of their lives and feel amazing by working with someone specializing in autoimmune disease. 

What is Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune diseases are a group of conditions in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells. This can cause inflammation, pain, and damage to tissues and organs throughout the body. Over 100 known autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases I see in my practice include Hashimotos, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Psoriasis, Graves disease, Celiac, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, among others. An autoimmune disease can affect any body part, from the eyes to the hair. When a patient has one autoimmune disease, the likelihood of getting a second one increases to 25%

Although there is no cure for autoimmune diseases, there are treatments that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Diet and lifestyle changes are an essential part of managing many autoimmune disorders. When working with clients, when the recommended changes are made, many of my patients have at least a 40-60% reduction in symptoms, and some have total remission. 

An anti inflammatory nutritionist, like myself, can help you in the following ways:

Identify potential food triggers: Some foods can trigger inflammation in people with autoimmune diseases. I help you identify these foods and create a diet that avoids them. Regardless of what autoimmune disease you may be suffering from, most find that by eliminating particular foods, symptoms can be minimized considerably. 

Develop personalized meal plans: With the knowledge and background of understanding different autoimmune diseases, I help create meal plans tailored to your needs and preferences. They can also help you find recipes that are both delicious and nutritious.

Support and education: An autoimmune disease nutritionist can provide support and education about how diet and lifestyle changes can help manage your symptoms. I can also help you make changes to your lifestyle, such as getting regular exercise and managing stress.

If you have an autoimmune disease, working with an autoimmune disease nutritionist can be a valuable way to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Here are some of the specific things that an autoimmune disease nutritionist can do:

  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your medical history, current symptoms, lifestyle, and dietary habits.
  • Identify potential food triggers and create an elimination diet to help you pinpoint these triggers.
  • Develop a personalized meal plan tailored to your individual needs and preferences.
  • Guide how to read food labels and avoid hidden allergens.
  • Help you find AIP-friendly restaurants and grocery stores.
  • Provide support and education about the AIP diet and other dietary approaches for autoimmune conditions.
  • Work with you to make changes to your lifestyle, such as getting regular exercise and managing stress.

Typical diets that I find helpful for patients with autoimmune disease include the AIP diet, Mediterranean diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Paleo Diet, GAPS diet, Anti-inflammatory diet, Gluten-free diet, or simply eliminating 1-2 common food sensitivities. One of the advantages of working with a nutritionist with experience with autoimmune disease is knowing which kind of diet or removal of certain foods is most helpful, depending on your diagnosis. 

If you are considering working with an autoimmune disease nutritionist, finding someone qualified and experienced is essential. Look for a nutritionist who has specialized training in autoimmune conditions. An example is someone who is an AIP coach practitioner

Here are some questions to ask when interviewing potential autoimmune disease nutritionists:

  • What is your experience working with people with autoimmune conditions?
  • What is your approach to the AIP diet?
  • How will you help me identify my food triggers?
  • How will you develop a personalized meal plan for me?
  • What other dietary approaches do you recommend for autoimmune conditions?
  • How can you help me make changes to my lifestyle?
  • What is your educational background? Degree?

Working with an autoimmune disease nutritionist can be a valuable way to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you are considering trying the AIP diet or other dietary approaches for autoimmune conditions, working with a qualified and experienced professional is essential.

If you want more information about getting help with your autoimmune disease and how diet and lifestyle change can help you feel better, follow me on TikTok or Facebook, or feel free to schedule a free discovery call.  

Here is one of my favorite AIP Diet Recipes. Enjoy!

Breakfast Taco Bowl with Cassava Tortillas

  • 1 pound ground beef or chicken (I like beef because it fills me up longer)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro (spice)
  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 sweet potato diced

Directions:

  1. Brown the beef or chicken in a large skillet. While cooking, stir in ½ of the salt, 1 tsp of garlic powder, and all the cilantro spice. Once cooked well, remove the fat from the pan and place the meat aside.
  2. Using the same skillet, add the avocado oil and sweet potato—season with the remaining salt and garlic powder. Cook for 7-9 minutes or until soft. 

Cassava Tortillas

  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cream of tartar
  • ½-1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅔ cup warm water

Directions:

  1. Mix the cassava flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and garlic powder in a large bowl. 
  2. Add the oil into the flour mixture until crumbly.
  3. Add the warm water and kneed together until a dough forms. Depending on the desired texture, you can always add more flour or water.
  4. Use around 2 tbsp of the mixture and make it into a ball of dough
  5. Using a tortilla press, put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the dough and top, pushing the press together to create a flat tortilla
  6. Using a non-stick pan or skillet, cook each tortilla for 1-2 min per side

Take the Breakfast taco mixture and put it into a warm tortilla. Enjoy!

One-on-one nutrition counseling session focusing on autoimmune dietary strategies.

About Stephanie

Stephanie has earned the AIP Certified Coach Practitioner certificate, completed her internship at Elevate Health, clinical rotation at NUNM, then went onto open her own practice, Nutrition for Autoimmunity. She graduated from Portland State University and earned a master’s degree in Nutrition from National University of Natural Medicine.

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