January 17, 2024

Lately I've been reflecting on the many "influencers" in the nutrition and herbal space. They guide people to change their diets, have opinions on which herbs to buy/try, and alter peoples' supplement regimens.

It's very easy to believe people who are visible in this way, because they're entertaining. And beautiful. And they sound like they know what they're talking about. A personal story can go a long way when it comes to convincing people to do something.

I imagine that many of them do have personal experience with the practices and supplements they promote. They have bodies. They eat food and take supplements and do things to take better care of themselves. They can speak authoritatively on what has and has not helped in their own lives.

The difference between a professional practitioner and some of these folks has to do with our ability to educate and guide from a place that's deeper and wider than our own experiences.

As an undergrad, I made the decision to drink one (1) can of Mountain Dew in an ill-fated attempt to stay up longer to cram for an exam.

What actually happened: I became jittery, my mind began racing in an extremely uncomfortable way, and I barely slept for several days. Caffeine and I don't get along well. At all. It's been more than 20 years and I still remember the experience viscerally.

However, I very rarely tell my clients to avoid caffeine.

I understand that I am on one far end of the spectrum of caffeine responses, and that most people are much closer to the middle. I base my recommendations on the medical literature and my understanding of physiology, combined with careful listening to a person's history and circumstances, combined with several decades of experience.

I'm writing this not to set up an opposition with those who are doing influencer work. Change happens in many ways, and that is one of them.

Instead, this is a call to remember that:

  1.  Your training and your experience matter. They are valuable, and your work is valuable.
  2. Because of your training and experience, you can work on a deeper and wider level than people who are doing other types of change work. Not everyone needs deeper and wider work, but many people do. You're here to serve those folks. Look for them.

Take care,

Camille

About Camille Freeman, DCN, RH (she/her)

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and nutritionist specializing in fertility and menstrual health. I run the Monday Mentoring community of practice and also offer continuing education programs for practicing herbalists and nutritionists (Check out this year's Deep Dive!). I'm also a former professor with the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I taught physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating for 17 years. 

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