Backed by Science: Jami Ackerman, Burick Center Nutritionist
Whether you want to diagnose a food intolerance or change your diet, you need to call in the pros.
You’re committed to the gym. You get your yearly physical. You head to the dermatologist for a skin check at least once a year. You visit the dentist at least twice a year. Chances are there’s one important appointment you’re not slotting into your schedule – seeing a nutritionist.
A nutritionist helps to keep your digestive system and body running smoothly, all the while making sure you’re consuming the proper nutrients and helping you tailor an eating plan that works best for you.
To help you on your quest for health harmony, we’ve sat down with The Burick Center’s very own nutritionist, Jami Ackerman, to learn a little more about her experience working in nutrition, as well as how her game-changing role can play in your wellness journey.
So, tell us first a little bit about what a Nutritionist actually does?
For me, I like to take the functional approach to nutrition. Our service is very patient centered, meaning we listen closely and take all aspects of their life into consideration. We look at patient history, lab values, family’s past medical history and current lifestyle. All of these factors play into the nutritional plan created for them.
One of the biggest tools we can have is a food log, which I know can sound intimidating! But this is an important tool to help us get to the root of the problem and help in the best way possible. We also take into consideration the sleep habits, their stress level, the environment and if they are exposed to toxins. We also look at the spiritual aspect, as it plays a role into who they are. This helps us find the root cause of what’s happening with them.
As a functional nutritionist, if we can address that root cause (think of it as a tree), then these branches will be healthy. This is the perspective we take. As a nutritionist, we are trying to meet the nutritional goals of the patient in a manner that is welcoming and provides them with the tools to make them the healthiest version of themselves.
One of the Different philosophies from a functional standpoint is that health isn’t always in a disease-free state. We can be the healthiest version of ourselves and still have a disease. We are embracing health throughout the stages, and not just in a disease-free state.
Who can benefit from nutrition counseling?
Anyone! In today’s age, when you think about the agricultural state we are in and the foods we are eating – not all of them are the healthiest. Even the “healthy” foods are still toxic. The wheat bread may not be a natural, good, healthy wheat bread, even though it says wheat. Even though we are eating these foods, it can still leave our body nutritionally depleted. So, I truly believe any person can benefit from a seeing a nutritionist. Just one exposure with a nutritionist to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies if beneficial!
What got you interested in nutrition?
I have always been one that thought we can heal our bodies. When my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, I became exposed to information around cancer and health at a much younger age. As a result, I clung to the motto you are what you eat. This propelled me forward to delve into what it is to feed you body in the most effective manner and just stave off disease.
Can you tell me more about your career in nutrition?
I worked in the clinical setting for years – I would see patients throughout the hospital and the ICU. From there, I did some outpatient education, and this is where I fell in love with education! That patient connection where you really get to follow them, listen to their life story, and learn about them was so rewarding to me! This was the most valuable experience I’d ever had. I also taught classes for awhile for diabetes and worked with gestational mothers. After years in a professional setting, I decided to go back to school and complete my Masters in Applied Nutrition, with a focus in Sports.
What is your personal approach to nutrition and do you have any particular philosophies or protocols that you see as points of differentiation with your approach to nutrition?
Really great question! Everyone has their own style when it comes to nutrition, I really pull from the perspective of functional nutrition in that the patient is at the center. Our rule is to be a guide. We are there to serve and foster in their journey to provide education and ideas to become the best version of themselves.
I believe we can be healthy no matter where we are in the spectrum of our lives. Whether with or without a disease. I like to take the positive approach, try not to focus on if I’m seeing someone with a disease or not. At the end of the day, we are all just working towards optimal health.
Can you walk us through how a typical counseling session would work?
I embrace this tool called the timeline. It’s exactly what it sounds like! When I sit down with clients, I love to hear their stories from birth until now. It may seem silly but it’s such a great way to help the client be a part of the consultation where they’re providing this information and then showing it to them. There are a lot of aha moments uncovered! Patients are able to look back and see those triggers, which compels them to go in certain way.
I then look at labs, which are important but not the tell-all. Then we sit down and talk a lot about food. I want to know everything! What is the pattern, how much do you eat, any foods you don’t want to give up, etc. A lot of times people think when they see a dietician, they have to give up their favorite foods, but it isn’t about that at all. It’s about working your lifestyle into everything.
We talk about what their goals are. Their goals aren’t maybe what the doctors or nutritionist goals are based on the diagnosis I can see in front of me. We talk about where they want to be and then develop a plan from there. I really love the idea of just letting the patient make the goal and then supporting it.
Then hopefully we can do a follow up, because that’s where the magic really happens! I love to watch that transition and growth and walk with them.
We are like cheerleaders, and I want to be there to cheer them on and celebrate their success!
Anything else you want to share about nutrition counseling?
One of things I see a lot or something that patients don’t realize, is that the reason they may feel tired, overweight, bloated, or have brain fog is that they may actually just be nutritionally deficient in something.
As nutritionists, if we can address that, getting to that root cause, you can see a vast improvement. The nice thing about being at the Burick Center, if it’s not a nutritional deficiency, there are other modalities here that can help. This center feeds well into itself in making the patient and environment where they can have their entire self treated – whether through nutrition, IV, lymphatic drainage, etc. It’s a gem, you don’t find that everywhere!
One-on-one nutrition counseling for the following conditions:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes
- Gastrointestinal conditions
- Heart Health
- Weight management
- Healthy aging and general wellness
- Food allergies and sensitives
Wellness Packages are available and recommended for those who desire a program with on-going support and structure. Individuals must be 18 or older to receive any impactful therapies.