Motivated by her own struggles, Registered Dietician Nutritionist Whitney Stuart found her overwhelming passion for nutrition through diagnosis’ of celiac, GERD, delayed gastric emptying, and multiple food allergies during her senior year of high school. After receiving multiple prescriptions with negative side-effects, undergoing exploratory surgeries, experiencing over-confident doctors, nutritional deficiencies, six recurring stress fractures, and two emergency hospital admits, Whitney became a champion of her own health and made it her mission to share healthy solutions with others. Led to Whole30 as a result of her own dietary journey, Whitney shared with Model Meals her valuable knowledge about blood sugar and diabetes with Whole30, and just how important a support system is to health. Read on to find out why, for Whitney, “good health takes a village.”
Share a little about your background and what got you interested in Whole30 and then becoming a coach.
My prolonged and unknown battle with Celiac and food allergies led me to Whole30. By the time I was correctly diagnosed, I was deficient in many nutrients and stress-fracturing most bones in my should-be young and healthy body. Although I had removed the foods that I was allergic to, I still wasn’t focusing on nutrient-rich alternative options to heal my body again. I was hyper focused on labels that said “allergen-free”, meaning my sweet tooth was raging and my energy levels were constantly on a rollercoaster. I found Mel Jouwan’s blog and felt like I was home. Once I started my first Whole30, I realized that I wasn’t just physically healing my body, but that unhealthy emotional relationships with foods were unveiling too. Translation: The grief from my father’s death in 1999 had been drowned in too many binge-y bowls of buttery popcorn and caramel ice cream sundaes. Three Whole30 rounds later (along with a really good therapist, two degrees, an incredible husband, supportive gym, and community group), I found a really good stride. Y’all; good health takes a village.
My passion for the healing power of nutrition continued and after I finished my Bachelor’s of Science in Pre-Med & Physiology, I continued onto study Clinical Nutrition for my Master’s degree. The experience education combo gives me an edge!
Now, I do maybe 1 Whole30 a year, if I feel like I’m slipping. But, I have found a blissful Food Freedom that includes SWYPO foods like paleo waffles, tortillas, hummus and gelato. Plus, I no longer have vitamin deficiencies, my energy levels are stable, my anxiety is low, and I run a quick 5K with strong muscles and bones. I believe in embracing a unique diet that works for me, and me alone. No, I don’t Whole30 all the time.
You shared with us that you are a diabetic educator as well as hold a Masters in Clinical Nutrition. Tell us more!
I currently split my work week in between my own private practice, focusing on preventative health through holistic nutrition counseling, and an endocrinology clinic where I provide support for type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetics. I focus on nutrition education, medication regimens (and oftentimes reducing the load) and insulin adjustment, insulin pump starts and continuous glucose monitor use. I really enjoy both settings; I work with a group of modern and innovative doctors who desire to use the latest, most efficient technology to minimize the burden of disease and prevent it! I’ve been blessed to attend so many conferences, workshops and seminars this year to continually learn; my favorite!
Just how important is blood sugar and what role does Whole30 help in regulating/improving that?
Blood sugar regulation is everything. I intentionally chose to pursue working more closely with an endocrinology group because I have seen how critical glycemic control is and it’s multifactorial effect on the body. Your eyes, your kidneys, your nerves, your weight, your mood and overall metabolic function can only improve when our blood sugar is in check. The best part about this? You have the power to make a change. You have the power to control how your optimal your blood sugar is directly through what you choose to consume. I love putting my patients in control of their own health.
What advice can you share about Whole30 for those that may be diabetic or wanting to improve their health through a Whole30 lifestyle?
I have coached Type I and Type II diabetics through the Whole30 and seen them both benefit from decreased need of mealtime insulin, along with improved insulin sensitivity and a lessened medication burden for my Type II diabetics. Not only does the reset instill great habits for balanced meals and stable blood sugar, but it usually results in fat loss which makes the body even less insulin resistant. Win-win!
When working with your own coaching clients, what changes do you suggest right away to help with diabetes/blood sugar?
Eliminate concentrated sweets. This included dried fruit, fruit juice, and in food freedom: milk, alcohol, soda and syrups of any kind. Not only are these loaded in carbohydrates, but they are small and do not fill up enough of the stomach to make you feel the least bit full or satiated. Especially, liquid!
Eat more voluminous meals comprised of whole foods that take up more space in your stomach. This doesn’t mean more calories; just more volume! This will move you toward health and away from the feeling of deprivation which comes from the standard, packaged, concentrated, and heavily processed American diet.
Share with us how becoming a Whole30 coach has changed or influenced your own Whole30 journey?
I really love how the Whole30 community has given me access to some incredible like-minded and brilliant girl-boss entrepreneurs who have the same mission; eat real food, embrace change, thrive and spread the joy! Our Whole30 Summit this summer gave me so much hope for fellow holistic practitioners and today’s healthcare system.
Whole30 has also given me a partner, Andrea, and the Whole30 Dallas Duo, which has become this incredible community where I’m able to encourage others and be 100% transparent about my passions.
You mentioned that assessing your emotional relationship with food helped you find longevity within your own Whole30 journey. Does that play a part in how you coach?
Absolutely! During my first Whole30, I just looked at the process as objective, evidence-based and regimented. As I began to struggle, I was really confused as to why the process seemed hard even though, physically, I was doing all the right things. Once I began to listen to and accept my emotions, instead of suffocate them, I saw a huge difference. It was embarrassing to accept that my relationship with food was more than physical need. I struggle with stress binge-eating as a dietitian. But, I found strength in my struggle once I was willing to admit that 1) food can be emotional 2) food is inappropriately used as comfort 3) I had resources and a community to improve that
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with the Model Meals/Whole30 community?
Please reach out if you need help in your health journey. Whole30 is a great place to start, but I really enjoy the aftermath; helping you flourish in your Food Freedom. This is where my private practice is focused; on the unique path for you and your health. You can reach out to me on whitnessnutrition.com or @whitnessnutrition