September 26, 2023

74. How to Use Food as Medicine: 8 Foods to Include + 3 to Avoid to Optimize Your Health with Dietitian, Brigid Titgemeier

74. How to Use Food as Medicine: 8 Foods to Include + 3 to Avoid to Optimize Your Health with Dietitian, Brigid Titgemeier

Do you rely on that 3 p.m. cup of coffee to get you through the day? Feeling like you have to 
choose between your health and your success?

That’s exactly how I felt. I was functioning at such a high level, working nonstop, and relying on caffeine to get me through the busy day. 

I had been running on ‘E’ for too long, and I realized that it was time for a change - I could only keep up this high-functioning, low-energy facade for so long before I burnt out. 

On an influencer trip, I was talking to some girlfriends about the way I was feeling, which then transpired into conversations about health, wellness, and diet. My friend introduced me to her dietitian’s Instagram page, and I instantly knew - this is what I’ve been looking for.

Enter Brigid Titgemeier. When I saw Brigid was following me, I immediately followed her back, and she sent me the kindest DM letting me know she was here to help. 

This DM is where my wellness journey and healing began. 

Brigid Titgemeier is an Expert Functional Dietitian who is passionate about helping others reverse food-related conditions and optimize their health. She’s worked with some names I’m *sure* you know (ahem: Jenna Kutcher).

What you may not know is that Brigid became a dietitian because of her own struggle with Narcolepsy. 17 years ago, Brigid was experiencing extreme drowsiness along with about 30 catalepsies (‘mini’ seizures) per day. She ended up being diagnosed with Narcolepsy and was prescribed a brand-new medicine that she was told to blindly take. Brigid’s parents, feeling uncomfortable with giving their young daughter this new medication, took her to a holistic doctor who focused on making changes to her diet. 

Through analyzing her lab work, implementing an elimination/reintroduction diet, and a lot of perseverance, Brigid saw amazing results in her health, to the point that her catalepsies were gone, and her energy was basically back to normal.

Through this life-altering experience, Brigid realized how important food is to our overall health and performance. She puts it this way: “Health is the foundation of a great life. A lot of people normalize not having good health, and don’t realize how much easier, how much better, more vibrant and explosive life can be once you do prioritize your health”.

So. You still don’t know where to start. 

That’s okay, I didn’t either! I felt like I ate ‘generally healthy’ and I thought that Brigid was just going to tell me to ramp up my supplements. 

That was NOT the case.

While some supplements are beneficial and necessary after analyzing nutrient deficiency lab results, you can get almost all of what you need from whole foods. If you’re giving your cells high-quality nutrients, they are going to function at a higher level. 

So what are the good foods, you ask? Brigid has some answers for us. Here are some small adjustments you can make to jumpstart your health TODAY:

CUT OUT: Foods that increase inflammation. 

1. Oat milk - this was 100% the hardest thing for me to give up!

2. Granola

3. Oats (without balancing them with protein, fiber, or other nutrients)

4. Fruit juices

ADD IN: Foods that decrease inflammation (anti-inflammatory).

1. Extra virgin olive oil

2. Matcha

3. Wild salmon

4. Leafy greens

5. Blueberries

6. Broccoli

7. Broccoli sprouts

8. Avocados

Brigid introduced me to the idea that ‘food is the fuel for our health.’

That being said, optimal health doesn’t rely on simple swap-outs of food alone. Mindset is everything. This is probably the biggest shift that I have experienced. I now have the mindset that I am using food to fuel my body and my brain so that I can reach my full potential in life.

One of the things I found so fascinating in my own personal health journey is how food can totally alter our genetic expressions. Say diabetes runs in your family - while you can’t change your DNA (or get rid of the diabetes gene), you CAN change the genetic expression of your genes (what might trigger the diabetes).

This was a motivating factor for me. I want to show up every day for my family, my business, and for myself as my BEST SELF. And I’m telling you, you can too. 

You are not your past. It just takes putting small steps into practice each day, and remembering that you are doing this for your overall well-being and functionality. 

Tune in to today’s episode as we are chatting:

  • 3 foods that may be stopping you from hitting your goals.
  • The difference between normal and optimal labs.
  • How to increase emotional resiliency.
  • My personal journey to optimizing my health.

I want you to be living out your BEST and healthiest life. 

So, don’t give up, girl. If I can do it, you can do it! Give yourself the credit of knowing you are capable of optimizing your health.  

You've got this! 


Join Brigid’s Blood Sugar Reset Program Starting in November!

Check out more great resources on Brigid's Instagram and website

Interested in Brigid’s Coaching Programs? Check them out HERE

Follow along with the Life With Loverly podcast insta here & Brittany’s insta here.


Watch today's episode here! 


Brittany: Hi friends. Welcome to the Life with Loverly podcast. I'm Brittany, a wife, mom, and lifestyle entrepreneur here to help you discover your best daily style and encourage you to try new things when getting dressed each day, I took a tiny following on social media and turned it into a community of over 1 million amazing women, and I am so glad you're here. I'll be sharing my heart with you beyond the 15 seconds on Instagram. So we'll be diving into things like personal growth, friendships, motherhood, marriage, and of course the business of blogging. Really, this space is here to serve as your go-to resource to building a life you adore while sprinkling some kindness to others along the way. Grab an nice coffee and let's do life together. I'm Brittany, and this is The Life with Loverly podcast.

When it comes to your health, do you tell yourself things like, I don't have time, or I don't know where to start, or maybe you know, should just have one less cup of coffee in your day, but you just can't seem to actually make those things happen. I have so been there. A couple of years ago. I was telling myself that since I was still functioning and working at such a high level diet couldn't really be that important. So I just kept doing what I was doing and eating what I was eating. Thinking later will be better. Well, I could not have been more wrong. Enter Bridget Titgemeier. Bridget is a functional medicine practitioner and dietician that helps her clients go from fatigue and unhealth to stepping into the prime version of themself through healing with food. After working with Bridged, we've been optimizing my functional activity to increase my energy, eliminate brain fog, and become more present with my team and family.

And these are the things that matter most in life. So if you're ready to step into your best self for those around you, this episode with Bridged is here to give you the tangible tools and mindset changes that you need. In today's episode, we are covering Bridget's life-changing protocol after her narcolepsy diagnosis. Three top foods that you're most likely eating that are keeping you from hitting your goals. The difference between normal and optimal labs. How to increase our emotional resiliency and my personal journey to optimizing my health. Friend, once I realized the huge impact and difference bridged was making in my life, I knew I had to share her knowledge with you too. I can't wait to see you step into the best version of yourself after this episode. Here's my conversation with my dietician Bridged Titgemeier.

Hi Bridged, how are you?

Brigid: I'm great. I'm so excited to be here with you.

Brittany: I am so excited for just other people to get a little glimpse of what I have gotten since we've started working together over the past several months. I am so excited. I have questions for you. I'm excited to dive in a little bit deeper for our audience.

Brigid: Me too. I feel like so often in our appointments you're like, why doesn't everyone know this?

Brittany: And I leave those calls being like, I think if only people knew this a little bit more, they would definitely do it. Once you're educated, it's kind of like, wait a second, why would you not do this? Or why would you not want to be a little healthier in this way? So I think it's going to be great, but let's go into a little bit of your backstory. Tell me about the fatigue and diagnosis you experienced at 16 years old.

Brigid: That's what started my personal health journey. I started before I became a dietician as a patient on the patient side, just really struggling to get through every single day because I was falling asleep every second of every day in classes, it social events, movies in between our cross country repeats, I would just fall asleep in the grass in the two and a half minute break that we would get, and then someone would come and pick me back up to run the next. And I, at the same time was having about 30 mini seizures per day that were lasting about five seconds each. So my parents took me to the neurologist, they thought I had epilepsy and I actually ended up being diagnosed with narcolepsy, which is a neurological autoimmune condition that's also a sleep disorder. And the tired episodes are part of narcolepsy where it's very hard to control when you are awake or asleep.

And then I had the cataplexy that are the mini seizures that I used to have before I changed my diet and lifestyle. So the doctor, I was so young and the doctor pulls out his prescription pad and is like, okay, well here's your diagnosis and here's the prescription. This is the plan. You're going to take these medications for the rest of your life. It's only going to get worse as you age, so you'll just have to keep increasing your dose. You have the highest stage of narcolepsy that you can have. So that explains why you have the symptoms. And my parents who aren't physicians and they're not in medicine, they were like, isn't there anything else that we could do before we start her on this drug that's so new to the market that has no long-term safety studies when she's just a teenager? And the doctor very clearly was like, no, there's nothing else that you can do.

This is the only thing that we have as a treatment option. So my parents actually went against those recommendations and they sought out a functional medicine doctor, and I feel like now functional medicine is becoming more popular. At the time it wasn't called functional medicine. This was like, I don't know, 2004. And so this was a holistic medicine doctor who's now a functional doctor. She did a bunch of advanced testing on me, made specific recommendations around dietary changes. I did a full elimination diet as the first place that I started after I did a bunch of blood work. And it was about four weeks after drastically changing my diet. And also I never wanted to change my diet. I just kept saying to my parents, you aren't doctors. We need to listen to the doctors. You don't know what you're talking about. And they were like, no, this is what we're doing.

And my mom made all the food. And so I ate all the food since my mom was making it all and going to all these different grocery stores. And it was about four weeks in that I noticeably started to feel better where it became undeniable for me. I had to stop hating on it so much because I was like, oh, something seems like it's actually working and I'm so miserable in my life that I might need to lean into this a little bit more. So we went back to the doctor and told the neurologist about the improvements that I had made, and he just turned his back on us during the appointment and kept typing away this computer. And he was like, nutrition has nothing to do with this. There's no research to show that nutrition has anything to do with your condition. And then he referred me to an adult neurologist.

He was the only pediatric neurologist in the department at the time. So he referred me to an adult neurologist and essentially refused to continue seeing us because we were also pursuing nutrition and lifestyle interventions and my parents weren't against medication. And I do take medication, a small amount of medication a few days a week, but it's very low compared to the dose to the severity of the narcolepsy. And over time, my narcolepsy feels like it's reversed itself because I don't just randomly fall asleep like I used to. And I have completely reversed the cataplexy that I used to have. So I no longer have those mini seizure episodes that I was having about 30 of per day, and I'm not medicated at all for the cataplexy. So I naturally reversed those through the nutrition lifestyle interventions. And I just remember at the time there was so little attention to nutrition outside of using nutrition for weight loss.

And I just remember saying to my mom, if this is my experience, there has to be a million other people that are just like me who are going to their doctor and are being prescribed a medication without anyone asking about their nutrition and lifestyle habits. And there has to be more diseases that are impacted than just mine through the foods that people are putting into their mouth. And it was around that time that I decided I was going to become a dietician and to use food as medicine to help people better understand how the foods that they're putting into their mouth are impacting the way that they feel.

Brittany: Yeah, it's just so crazy because I've thought about that too. It's like you're just supposed to take your diagnosis and then just walk away and start the medicine. And there has to be more though. Right?

Brigid: Exactly. And there's a actually name for this by the founder of functional Medicine, Dr. Jeffrey Bland. He calls it the name it tame it, it blame it model of conventional medicine where you go in and you tell like, oh, I have GI symptoms, and then you're diagnosed with I B S, and that's the name that they put on it. And then they tame it with medication and then they blame it for every time that you have an episode. So it's like you have a flare up of your GI symptoms and you're like, oh, that's because you have I B S. And it's like, but me having this name of I B S doesn't explain why I'm actually having the diarrhea or it doesn't explain why I'm having the intense bullying that this name or this diagnostic term that you're putting across or labeling me as doesn't actually explain the root of the problem.

Brittany: So what were some major life changes that you made back then and then that you also saw your symptoms lesson? What was the correlation?

Brigid: Initially I would say removing processed foods from my diet. My parents always made meals growing up, but they weren't necessarily super attentive to the ingredients and those kinds of things, which we got super attentive to. And I stopped eating processed foods and things like that when I was with my friends eating fast food, which was really, really hard. And then a big thing was removing gluten for me. So I did a full elimination diet and then I reintroduced the foods into my diet. And gluten was one where every time that I have tried introducing it back into my diet, it makes me so uncontrollably tired. And it also, I can feel like the twitching in the back of my eyes, kind of like the onset of a cataplexy. So I am 110% gluten-free to this day because of that. And then I would also say that learning how to balance my blood sugar has made an enormous difference just for the general person.

Having a lot of blood sugar spikes and dips throughout the day is going to drastically impact your energy and make you feel like much more on a energy roller coaster. And I feel like that is just exacerbated when you have narcolepsy. So that really helped. Not drinking coffee, actually the neurologist kept recommending just drink coffee anytime that you're tired. And I was finding that it was really wiring my central nervous system and making me really wired when I was drinking it, but then exhausted later in the day. And so I stopped drinking coffee. And I want to say too, this has been years and years of me making changes. Now, initially I followed an elimination diet and then removed gluten, but then I figured out blood sugar made a difference. I figured out coffee made a difference. And so I think that sometimes it feels like you have to just have everything figured out with your health overnight, and it's just an ongoing journey of continuing to listen to your body, continuing to make tweaks over time. But those were some of the things that have really helped me.

Brittany: Yeah, no, that's amazing. You've said that you believe if you hadn't found that functional medicine doctor, you would probably be living in your parents' basement. Isn't that kind of crazy and sad to think about?

Brigid: It's so crazy because I was failing out of school and I just thought that I was dumb and not capable of staying awake, and I feel like I would have been living in my parents' basement and not capable of living like a functioning human, which was all that I wanted at the time was just to feel like a normal person. And I feel like people can probably relate to that, that have their own GI issues where they're embarrassed about the GI symptoms that they're going to have in public or when they're having flares of an autoimmune condition where it's like, I just want to feel normal and not have this impair my day-to-day life so much. I knew that one day I wanted to be a mom, I knew that I wanted to be able to make a difference in the world, and had I not changed my diet, I 100% can guarantee that those things would not have been able to fall into place in my life in the way that they currently have.

Especially even just reflecting on it with having a baby and having a health condition before you have a baby, trying to make sure that you're doing everything possible in that preconception window to decrease any symptoms that you're experiencing in addition to trying to improve egg quality and those sorts of things, improve postpartum recovery. Nutrition really comes in at every single point, and I would have been living in my parents' basement, probably not married, probably without a daughter and probably without a business that I have today because had I had the levels of fatigue that I was experiencing then and just medicating my way through it, I know that that wouldn't have made the difference in my life I needed it to.

Brittany: Yeah, man, it's just so crazy how the trajectory of your life can really change when you prioritize your health

Brigid: A hundred percent. I mean, health is the foundation of a great life. And without it, I think a lot of people normalize not having health when you feel just subpar all the time and you don't realize how much easier and how much better, and just how much more vibrant and explosive life can be once you're able to prioritize your health and give your cells the information that they need because you have 37 trillion cells, and if you think about giving them poor quality ingredients or poor quality nutrition, they're not going to function as well. If you give them higher quality nutrition, they're going to function better. It's a pretty simple equation, and I think that when people stop counting calories and thinking about just food as macros or calories or the traditional ways that people have thought about nutrition, it's like no nutrition can change your life. It can be the foundation for you feeling like you have the confidence, the functionality, and the energy to thrive in whatever it is that you want your life to look like.

Brittany: Yeah, I love that. So a little bit later in this episode, I'm going to dive into specifics of my journey with you, but I would love to chat first about the typical symptoms that people come to you with. What do those look like?

Brigid: So they range, but I would say that the most common would be low energy and difficulty with fatigue, mood imbalances, difficulty with sleep, joint pain, bloating, GI symptoms, wanting to just get their body into better condition for conceiving a child. Since we know that that preconception window three months prior to having a child, you can make a huge difference in your egg quality, which impacts the health of the pregnancy. We work with women postpartum who are dealing with hair loss and again, fatigue and the different symptoms that come with that. And I would also say that most people do want to lose weight, but it's not necessarily the focus and not everyone wants to lose weight, but a lot of times weight loss happens as a side effect of improving your health. And so instead of focusing on weight, we really focus on improving body composition so that you're increasing your lean muscle mass because that's what fuels your metabolic health. Rather than just saying, oh, I just want to be the lowest number on the scale possible because it is true that muscle weighs more than fat. And if you want healthy metabolic functionality, then you want to have more muscle than fat. That doesn't necessarily equate to the lowest number on the scale, but it does equate to lower fat composition and higher muscle composition, which is critical for blood sugar balance and hormonal health and so many other factors in life.

Brittany: Yeah. Okay. So what are your most suggested labs for people to run to evaluate their current health status?

Brigid: Yeah, I think it depends on the person that we will do a variety of different labs so that we do more in-depth conventional panels where we're looking at blood sugar markers like hemoglobin A one C, fasting insulin, fasting glucose. We're looking at H S C R P, which is high sensitivity, C R P. All of these are conventional labs that you can ask your doctor to run. And a lot of times insurance will cover whether your doctor is ordering them proactively or not is a different question because unfortunately in the conventional medicine model, it's like doing the bare minimum labs is pretty much the standard. And when you start asking for more labs to be done, sometimes doctors will give you pushback or make you feel like they're the expert and they should be deciding on the labs that are being done. But doctors should not be the gatekeeper to your health.

No practitioner really should. If you want information about your body, then I've always been a believer that you should be able to access the information about your body. So we run conventional panels like that. We run nutrient deficiency testing because nutrients, your vitamins and your minerals are the co-factors of your body's ability to produce energy, to produce hormones, pretty much everything. So nutrient deficiencies are extremely common and a lot of times a root cause of inflammation, blood sugar imbalances in a lot of issues that we see. So we do nutrient deficiency testing, stool testing sometimes for GI health to better understand the composition of bacteria and whether you have enough of something called short chain fatty acids that help with basically your entire gut ecosystem. Since we know that your gut health is the epicenter of health, we'll do food sensitivity testing. The food sensitivity test that we use is a more expensive test.

I don't recommend just generic food sensitivity tests that are like a 300 food panel that you can get for $99 because a lot of times the validity and reproducibility of that test is going to be really low, and it might create an extremely restrictive diet with a lot of food fears for really no actual advantage. So I think being specific about the food sensitivity test that you're using is important. We do hormone testing as well. A lot of people will come in and just want their hormones run right away, but they don't realize that that hormonal imbalances are a downstream effect typically of nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, and poor gut health. So we focus on those three things before we run hormones, but that's also something that we work on as well.

Brittany: What is the process after the labs, to begin healing your clients? What are some of the most common solutions that you're suggesting?

Brigid: Always a food is medicine intervention number one, because food is medicine and also food is the fuel for health. So I think sometimes it's easy to be like, give me this supplement protocol and let me just supplement my way to good health. But you can't, can't get the results that you're looking for with just the supplement protocol. So it really does require a full-blown dietary change. And even just if you think about a vitamin C supplement, for instance, where they're extracting vitamin C from something like, we know that oranges are rich in vitamin C, it's like, well, are the research studies that show the benefits of a diet that's high in vitamin C because the oranges also contain thousands of other phytochemicals and other nutrients that are intact that have synergistic effects on your health? Or is it just because they're high in vitamin C?

So when you pull the vitamin C out of a food or extract it and think that you're going to get the same benefit of eating the whole food that has all those other properties, you're not going to see the health benefits that you're looking for. But I do also feel at the same time, supplements are almost essential at this day and age in order to decrease the risk of nutrient deficiencies and maximize your health. Because unfortunately with conventional farming, our soil has been depleted of a lot of nutrients and it has been depleted of healthy bacteria that helps with improving your gut health. And if you have poor gut health, it decreases your absorption of nutrients. So the goal really would be to increase the nutrient support that you can get through supplements, but not going around the idea of changing your diet. And when I talk about food as medicine, it really depends on the person for what I would recommend or any of my dieticians would recommend because nutrition is so personal.

So what works for you is not going to work for someone else, which is where I think that it could be really misleading for people to follow the diet that their neighbors following and then expect to have the same outcome. So we try to tailor it to each person, but at the foundation we integrate the idea of eating whole foods, not eating ultra processed foods right now for a 10% increase in ultra processed foods, it increases the risk of death by 14%. This is very well established research. 60% of the American food supply is ultra processed foods. So the fact that decades ago they changed our food system without doing any research to understand the benefits or harms of it is outrageous. When you think about how most of the time doctors are like, well, we need a research study for us to agree to promoting the benefits of organic or something like that.

And it's like, well, where was the research when you changed our entire food supply and then didn't say anything about the consequences or question it? And now we know that just a 10% increase increases a person's risk of death by 14%, and not only does it increase risk of death, but it increases the likelihood of having symptoms on a daily basis that are debilitating, whether that's more pain around the time of your cycle, more menstrual pain, whether that's more fatigue, whether that's brain fog, mood imbalances, anxiety and depression have been linked to nutrition in several research studies, whether that's GI issues, asthma, so many things that we see on a daily basis that are larger than just that risk of death. So looking at whole foods, thinking about blood sugar supports with the foods that you're eating. So trying to make sure that you're eating enough protein and fat and fiber with each of your meals so that you're not eating carbohydrates on their own and trying to be mindful of the added sugar that you're eating in order to really help to stabilize blood sugar levels. And we really focus on increasing fiber to help to support the gut microbiome. So that'll be foods like avocados, almonds, chia seeds, lentils, and other beans that are going to be really great sources of dietary fiber and trying to make sure that you're eating a lot of color in your diet, so a lot of variety, the colors on each of your plates so that you're able to get those benefits of decreasing inflammation.

Brittany: It's funny because last night I literally took a picture of my plate at dinner and I was like, I need to send this to Bridgid because she would be so proud of all of the color on the plate. We had steak and then sweet potato and then all these squash and zucchini and peppers, and it was just this colorful plate. But it's funny you say that. I literally was like, should be so excited to see all this color here.

Brigid: You should have sent it. I would've been so excited. I mean, the thing is that food is not only medicine, food is joy, it is art. It is this emotional connection that we have. And when you're able to start to think about changing your diet as a way of self-respect and taking care of yourself and connecting more with nature and earth, it's like, wow, look at how beautiful this plate is and how vibrant these colors are and how well I'm going to nourish cells that you come from a place of abundance, rather a place of restriction or the diet mentality that so many people get stuck in.

Brittany: Yeah, it's so true. And I even think just for when we first started talking, I was like, okay, she's going to give me some supplements and that's going to, yeah, I'm going to change. I eat healthy, but I really thought we would be attacking the supplements hard. And that has not necessarily been the case. You know what I mean, which we'll get into in a second. But I feel like I came into it also thinking I just really need to be on some more supplements and that's going to answer some of my questions. And that's not the case,

Brigid: But it's such a great example. I mean, I know that we'll get into it more, but I agree. I think that just in the way that you're changing your entire lifestyle is the way that you get the biggest bang for your buck.

Brittany: Totally. Okay, so I came to find out about who you were through. I was on a trip with some other influencers and it was really cool because so many of the girls were wanting to talk about healthy habits and eating healthy and what are some die free products that you're using? And we are having these really healthy conversations just around making changes of our household products and what foods are we eating and things like that. And one of the other influencers, Stacy, after the trip, she sent out a few people's Instagram accounts of accounts that she loved following and that she found was really helpful and your account was one of them. And when I clicked on your account from her text message, I saw that you were following me. And so I was like, okay, she kind of knows who I am enough to follow me.

And so I followed you and realized you're a dietician. And then I think we got connected. You sent me a message and you were just like, oh my gosh, I've loved following you for years. This is so cool. If you ever need anything, this is who I am. And you'd have more information about, here's a podcast, Jenna Kutcher's dietician as well. And so I was like, okay, let me listen to this. And I was just immediately like, whoa, okay. This is the help I've been needing because for so long I feel like I've known I needed just somebody to help me figure out a path. Some of the things I was experiencing that was just making me be like, this feels like I could be doing this better, but I just don't have the time or I'm telling myself I don't have the time to figure it out.

Was just even as simple as not starting my day off with a healthy breakfast or starting with coffee and then getting so busy with work and not realizing till lunch that I hadn't had anything to eat yet. And then eating something for lunch that was just subpar, not actually fueling my body with really good food to then give me a strong second half of the day. Instead, I was drinking another cup of coffee and drinking oat milk, and all of these things were just negatively impacting, but I was still producing at such a high level. And so one thing I loved about listening to some of your backstory was that a lot of your clients and are high functioning, high level CEOs of companies that just have a lot going on, and so you really specialize and focus in on helping them live an optimal life for how fast paced everything is. So we got connected and I was just like, please help me. I know you can, but what am I doing wrong? And I just came to you with, so just teach me everything. I will stop taking this. I'll stop drinking oat milk. That was a hard one, but I did it.

Brigid: I'm so proud of you.

Brittany: And so I feel like you just kind of came in at this time where I was really like, okay, I can't keep going like this, or it's just not going to work.

Brigid: Yeah. There's so many things that I love about what you just said. One, I remember when I saw that you started following me. I was pumping in the middle of the night and I was like, oh my God, Loverly Grey just started following me.

Brittany: That's so funny.

Brigid: I had followed you for so long and I'm so inspired by everything that you do. And you're so humble too to be like, oh, she knows who I am because I feel like everyone knows who you are, but you're right, being such a high functioning person, sometimes it feels like you have to choose between health or success or health or staying afloat with being a mom or being an entrepreneur or whatever it is that you're doing for work. And the truth is you can really have both and that your health fuels your success because it increases the capacity for which you're able to do it increases your functionality, and like you talked about, it increases your emotional resilience so you can actually handle more without feeling as stressed. That was actually something that we found when one of my clients is a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and he brought me in to work with his top few hundred executives of the company.

And in the process of working with them, so many of them were reporting that they had less anxiety when they had upcoming deadlines or big fortune 500 things that happen and less GI symptoms around the stress that they were experiencing and feeling more calm and feeling happier and feeling less burnt out is essentially the way that they would describe it. And I was shocked at the level of emotional resilience that they started to experience from changing their diet, but it makes so much sense where your stress response is directly correlated with the food that you're putting into your mouth because there's certain nutrients that help to decrease that stress response like magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, if you're not getting enough of those through your diet. And then you're also stressing your gut out all the time. You have your gut brain access that's in constant communication.

And when you feel that tenseness in your stomach, you also feel it in your brain and your emotional response. I mean, the majority of your serotonin is produced in your gut, not in your brain. So the two are very much interconnected. And so when you were, I feel like I just need to be able to continue functioning at the pace that I am without making a detriment to my health without sacrificing my health. At the same time, I was like, yes, we definitely, I want to be able to support you in that process because I've seen so often how much it can help other people, and I know that you'll benefit from the same thing too.

Brittany: Yeah, and it's interesting too because I feel like I started making some adjustments and changes. I started talking and working with a life coach and talking with a therapist every week, and I started that almost two years ago, and then I started taking off Wednesdays and giving myself just a reset, and then I started working out with a personal trainer, and then I added some time with a personal trainer thinking all of these things were what I needed. I was like, surely by doing all of this, this is going to help me get healthier. Because in my mind, I was eating healthy. So looking back, which I think all of those things investing in myself have been great, and I will continue to do those as well, but sometimes I'm like, gosh, I wish I would've started with what food I'm eating and what additional supplements my body needs. So I feel like that was sort of when I was talking to you, I was at a point where I was like, okay, there is a piece of this puzzle that is missing, and that has been what it was, even though it's just been a few months, I feel like I've seen just big changes as well.

Brigid: And what you just said is so relatable because I can't tell you how many people I've heard say the same thing I eat. Generally healthy is pretty much what everyone subjectively says, but it's very subjective measurement where it's like, well, what does healthy even mean? How do you define healthy versus how another person defines eating healthy? And I remember you even saying to me at one point, I just find myself justifying it sometimes by being like, well, how bad can it actually be if I'm too obsessive about these things and people are like, oh, this is going to kill you and this is so bad for you. It's like, how bad can a sandwich really be every once in a while? And I don't think that you need to get to the point where you're fearful of eating a sandwich on an occasional basis, but I think that when it comes down to the ingredients that you're consuming, what do 80% of those ingredients look like?

Because that's going to be 80% of the composition of your cellular functionality essentially. So if you can at least move the needle to 80% optimization, you're going to feel that 80% optimization in your day-to-day life, and it's going to be worth it where you don't have to be perfect about it. It's like no one's expecting anyone to be perfect, but the changes that you've made over time, I think also have led to you wanting to continue to make more optimal choices because you're like, oh, I don't need to justify it by being, how bad can it be? Because I just want to feel great.

Brittany: Right? Yeah. And I think I find myself now almost craving these healthier foods, and even I know you've shared the optimal plate and how your plate should look for your meals, but that was even very eye-opening for me too. Just reading through some of that and being like, oh, that's not what my plate looks like. Even though I was "eating healthy", it was like so much was actually being missed. It's just been fascinating.

Brigid: Yeah, I've loved watching you go through the process, even though we're still in the process. I've loved watching you have the realizations and also seeing you feel proud of yourself for the changes that you have made.

Brittany: What were some of the specific labs that we ran and some of the changes that we've made?

Brigid: We started with a nutrient deficiency test, and your nutrient deficiency test actually came back fairly good across the board. Some people will have crazy amounts of nutrient deficiencies and you had a need for magnesium and a few others, but it was across the board not too unreasonable. And the one thing that did stand out was some of the gut health markers. So we focused on increasing magnesium rich foods, magnesium, you're now taking the magnesium supplement, and then we've started working on addressing your gut health on a more specific level because of how some of those markers came back, which also made sense based on some of the symptoms that you've experienced. And then another big one was your omega 3 levels. So we tested your omega index, which is a blood prick test that people can do, and it tells you the amounts of omega threes in omega sixes and pretty much all of your fatty acids, which is astonishing.

It's such a helpful marker when people are changing their diet because in three months you can see a crazy change in the composition of those fatty acids in your blood, and it's like, whoa, food really is medicine. It's impacting these levels of these fatty acids that really impact how my body's functioning. So you have low omega threes. So we worked on increasing dietary sources also from a supplement standpoint. We've addressed that you had higher levels of omega sixes as well, so we're working on bringing the omega sixes down. You had some others that we looked at from your more conventional labs, like your vitamin D levels that were not low by conventional standards, but they aren't optimal. And so there's a difference between having normal and optimal labs. The normal labs are going to be the conventional medicine range that says you don't have a disease and you're not at risk of a disease, but instead of just being at risk of a disease, you want to be an optimization.

You want to be moving towards the direction of health and not anything that's like, oh, well, this cutoff keeps you at an okay level where you're not going to develop these diseases. So what we're working on increasing your vitamin D levels, we also are looking at a few other conventional markers. You actually have great metabolic health overall. So I don't know if that was something that you expected or not, but that was something that we found from doing your lab. So we're just making small tweaks to some of the composition of foods that you're eating, but overall, you started from a good place there as far as your glucose and your hemoglobin A one C and your insulin levels. And then the other thing that we looked at was your genetics testing. So the nutrigenomics test, and that actually looked at gene mutations that everyone has, the DNA that they inherit from their mom and your dad.

You can't change your DNA, but you can change the genetic expression of your genes. So your genes load the gun, your environment and your lifestyle pulls the trigger. So what we've really looked at your baseline genetic mutations and then specific changes that you can make that decrease the likelihood of pulling the trigger where you're working towards that level of decreasing the genetic expression. Because I think that it's important if a person's like, oh, well, I have a family history of diabetes, I have a family history of this, so I'm just inevitably going to get it, which a lot of people are under this idea of it's like, no, you actually, all of your genes have little switches on them and you can switch them on or off based on the choices that you make on a daily basis. So we've made some tweaks based off of your genetic data to be able to make sure that from a baseline health standpoint, your trending in the right direction.

Brittany: Yeah, I think that was probably one of the most fascinating tests to me, or just all of the information that we got back from that and just even seeing some areas that I needed to work on, but then seeing some areas that I was really good at that I wasn't expecting to hear. But that definitely was the most fascinating test, I think. And I think if so many people, more people would do those tests for themself and just have the knowledge, that's what I feel like so many people are just walking around and they just have no idea and they're just eating what they think is healthy, but they don't really know and they could be doing something that's actually not helping them stay in that optimal level. And I think for me personally, just being an Enneagram three and excelling, and that's just kind of who I am. I have loved the word optimal in this type of conversation, like, well, I want to be optimal. I want to get my health in its optimal state. So it just, that's kind of just made me want to keep going too. But I don't know. It's fantastic.

Brigid: Well, I also love the word, I mean, I use the word optimal on a minute to minute basis because I like to describe foods as optimal and less optimal because I feel like it replaces the judgment that we have around food by thinking, is this right or is this wrong? Is this good or is this bad? And instead just thinking about is this an optimal choice for my body? Is this going to make me feel good one to two hours later or is this a less optimal choice and I'm going to make less optimal choices sometimes and I'm going to trust my body to bounce back from it because I'm giving it the ingredients that it needs on a regular basis. But then also from a health standpoint, putting the idea of optimization on the table to say how can we optimize your functionality and to optimize your cellular functionality is definitely something that's, like you said, it makes you more motivated to continue to invest in the choices that you're making on a daily basis.

Brittany: Yeah. So what would you say so far my biggest breakthrough has been?

Brigid: So I'm interested in what you have to say, what your perspective is on this, but I'll go first. I have witnessed in you a breakthrough from a mindset standpoint that's like, wow, this is crazy what people are doing to their bodies. And I want everyone to understand what I'm starting to realize, which is that I can't just ignore my health and then expect my health to be there for me at the end of the day, and I can't ignore my health and then expect to stay as high functioning as I am. And I think that you really developed more of a connection between what you're eating and what you're putting into your mouth and how you're expecting to function as a result. I just think the level of prioritization that you've put into it because you're so busy and you're taking on so much for your business and all the content that you're creating and being a mom and a wife and just all the things that you have on your plate that I think that just seeing you step into more of this ownership role of being like, I deserve this and I need it in order to not only feel good about myself, but to be there in the best way that I can for my team and my family has been cool to watch.

Brittany: It's like I've known this information at some level. I mean, I've talked to you about just my mom and how healthy she is in all the research and stuff that she does, but I feel like I've, that's always been in the back of my head, but I was like, I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine. But I needed to do it for myself. And now I'm just like, I feel like on fire for it. I'm like, people need to know this. They could be living much more optimal if they just knew what their body needed and we're following some specific plans. So I think just having that desire to keep going and choose what is most optimal for me has been just, yeah, I would say that's definitely one of my biggest breakthroughs and stopping oat milk.

Brigid: And stopping oat milk, that has been big. And also, like you said, just eating more consistently because that's also something that when we started seems like eating more consistently, choosing a super nourishing breakfast that has more protein in it that's going to keep you satiated through the morning, not depending on caffeine as much in the afternoon, you've decreased your caffeine consumption. There's a lot of things from a habit standpoint, and it's like these micro choices that just continue to add up and have that compounding effect where it's like the compounding interest is everything in anything, but especially in nutrition. And so I think that just looking at that for you and also coming to terms with you don't necessarily have a specific diagnosis that you're working on where sometimes I think if a person has an autoimmune condition or they're like me where they're just so desperate to feel like a normal person, that it can feel easier to be like, oh, it's not that important. Or like, oh, I'm fine with this, but you are so many people where just taking it from a subpar functionality even though obviously you're functioning at a greater level than subpar, but feeling subpar to then really increasing and improving the way that you feel is worth it as well.

Brittany: Yeah, no, totally. It's been awesome. I'm excited to see our next set of labs and then just continuing to make some changes. I also feel like you can make a lot of changes, but sometimes I think there's even things I could be doing better that maybe I needed to just make a few changes at one time and then get in the habit of, okay, this is what it looks like to eat more protein, and then I will continue making changes and continue adding to those levels of optimization. So I'm just excited to continue the process. A building block, I

Brigid: Guess it's like a building block or sometimes I think of it like a video game where you're just continuing to practice and get to the next level and the next level and the next level. And the worst thing that you can do is expect yourself on day one of playing the video game to master stage 20, where it's like that's going to really set you up for failure if you're trying to go from zero to 100. So continue practicing every day and building on your success so that you're able to go to stage four and stage five and stage six of the video game so that over time you just feel like you're continuing to make slow progress, which is always going to be better than making fast progress and then reverting back to where you were six months later.

Brittany: Totally. Okay. I want to get into some tangible advice for our listeners. Think about it, maybe some quick wins that our listeners could take away, or if there was a few adjustments that they could maybe make in their lives, what would you say are the top three foods you see people consuming regularly that are advertised as healthy but are inflammatory inducing or energy sucking?

Brigid: Do you know what my personal would be?

Brittany: Tell me

Brigid: Oat milk. I know.

Brittany: I know.

Brigid: It's so sad. I hate to burst everyone's bubble because I know the oat milk, the texture and makes the flavor so much better. But I definitely think that to oat milk is a common one because it does spike blood sugar, and every time that your blood sugar spikes, you release inflammatory cytokines. So your immune system actually will generate more inflammation. And so if it's just happening on an occasional basis, it's not that big of a deal. Your body knows how to adjust, but if you're drinking it every day, two times a day, you're getting that unnecessary spike that's becoming part of your norm where your body's just generating more inflammation. And also if your blood sugar is spiking after you have the oat milk, it's going to crash within two hours after. And so you're going to then be super tired and probably moody and anxious and shaky and whatever else and need the next, pick me up.

I would definitely say that oat milk is one. Another one that's really common would be granola. Granola is hard to find with ingredients that are truly optimal and don't have a lot of added sugar and those sorts of things. So I would say that granola is definitely a sneaky one. Another one that might be a little controversial would be oats. I mean, oats by themselves have tons of nutritional value, but if you're eating oats by themselves without balancing them with enough protein and healthy fats and fiber, oats have some fiber intact, but with chia seeds and other things that you can add to oats, then you will see more of a blood sugar spike. I'm just going to add one additional one would be fruit juices. Fruit juices are a blood sugar nightmare, and we work with a lot of clients that use continuous glucose monitors. And my team actually, we all test recipes using continuous glucose monitors just to gauge the glycemic response. And so in working with hundreds of people in observing their glucose data, fruit juice is one that will cause a huge spike and then a huge drop very quickly after. So you're much better off eating the intact fruit versus drinking it in a concentrated source.

Brittany: Yeah, that's wild. What are eight foods that lower inflammation?

Brigid: Foods that decrease inflammation are going to have more phytonutrients in them and more antioxidants that help to counter the inflammatory response? So examples of those would be extra virgin olive oil is one of the most nutrient transcends antioxidant in polyphenol rich foods. Matcha actually has a very high amount of antioxidants and polyphenols. Wild salmon is going to contain a high amount of omega3 fatty acids that are super anti-inflammatory, good for brain health, good for fertility, good for postpartum health, the growth of the baby's brain, and then also good for decreasing inflammation overall, like joint pain and those kinds of things. The next one that I would say would be leafy greens, dark leafy greens that have more of the phytonutrient density, blueberries, and actually any berries would be number five because they are also a concentrated source of a phytonutrient called anthocyanins that help to decrease that oxidative stress in any kind of free radical damage. And then another one would be broccoli sprouts because broccoli sprouts are higher in sulforaphane, which it has anti-inflammatory effects. And then the last one I would say would be avocados, because avocados have more of those monounsaturated healthy fats and lots of vitamins and minerals that also help to decrease inflamation.

Brittany: Yeah, I mean I think if you just added all of those foods into your diet, feels like a great starting point,

Brigid: An amazing starting point.

Brittany: Okay. One thing, you mentioned olive oil, but talk quickly just about how seed oils, I think seed oils are in so many things, but it's not good for you. Right?

Brigid: A hundred percent. And I also would say that they're very sneaky because they're in a lot of foods. So that's when we tested your omega six levels and saw that you had higher omega sixes and you're like, what is happening? I don't really eat, I don't go out of my way to eat seed oils, but they are in so many packaged foods, they're in most restaurants dressings, and pretty much like anytime they're eating at a restaurant, they're likely using seed oils because they're less expensive and typically have a mild flavor, so they're not going to impact the taste of the foods too much. So seed oils, the issue with them is that they're high in omega six fatty acids, and when you are getting too many omega sixes in the diet, not enough omega threes, it creates an imbalance that can increase levels of inflammation. So the unfortunate thing is that most foods in the American diet are very high in omega sixes I just talked about because they have so many seed oils in them, and so being able to decrease those and increase your omega three intake is really important for trying to improve that omega six to omega ratio that impacts inflammation.

Brittany: Yeah, I remember when we talked about that, I was just like, wait, what? And then I started really paying attention to just even some of the things that my kids are eating, and I'm like, okay, why does this have seed oil in it? There's really sneaking it into everything.

Brigid: Even baby formula, I haven't been able to find a formula that doesn't have seed oils in it.

Brittany: That is so wild.

Brigid: Yeah, I mean, if they don't have seed oils, they have palm oil and other things that aren't necessarily going to be the greatest either. So I also just want to say too, there's a huge obsession right now on social media and things with the negative effects of omega sixes and sometimes they are over-exaggerated. Having some omega sixes in your diet is actually fine because omega sixes are an essential fatty acid, which means that your body can't produce them on its own. It needs an outside source and they are essential. So having some isn't a problem if it's just very occasional. The problem is that it's very rare to find a case that it is super occasional unless you're very aware and very diligent with reading your labels, asking restaurants what ingredients are going into the foods and really doing your due diligence.

Brittany: Yeah. What supports hormones slash mood swing regulations?

Brigid: So for hormones, the number one thing is blood sugar balance. When you are experiencing a lot of blood sugar fluctuations, it will change the production of your ovarian hormones, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and especially this is especially the case in women that have P C O S, that the symptoms will be exacerbated by any kind of blood sugar imbalances when your blood sugar's spiking a lot because you don't have enough protein and fats to help to sustain stable blood sugar. That would be the number one. And then gut imbalances are probably the second most common reason that we see a lot of hormonal imbalances that impact mood swings and things like that. Then going to impact a million things like how you feel on your cycle every month, your fertility, your ability to carry a healthy child, your postpartum recovery, which is something that I'm on right now, and I'm astonished that I went through nine months of pregnancy with no doctor asking me about my nutrition and then postpartum appointments with no doctor asking about my nutrition.

When it's consuming enough nutrients to be able to bounce back after you give all of your nutrients away to another human through growing them and then feeding them if you're breastfeeding is extremely taxing and only increases the need that you have for nutrients in your diet. And the fact that it's just not even acknowledged in the healthcare system in women's health is crazy to me. But some of the things that you can start with when it comes to even just trying to decrease pain around your cycle, which impacts your hormonal health, would be increasing magnesium, because magnesium can help to relax your uterine muscles and can help with decreasing period pain and cramps and those kinds of things. So eating magnesium rich foods, taking a magnesium supplement if it's necessary as well, can be helpful. There is some research to show that turmeric can be helpful, whether that's adding a little bit of turmeric root, like fresh turmeric root that you could grade up and add to a smoothie or to a stir fry or something like that, or sometimes in supplement form can also help to reduce PMS symptoms.

Eating more fiber in your diet can actually help to significantly reduce menstrual pain. It decreases your ability to reabsorb estrogen so that you're able to actually excrete estrogen through your stool. So this is something to think about too. If you're really constipated, you actually need to be having a daily bowel movement in order to excrete estrogen from your system. Otherwise, it does get reabsorbed and can create more hormonal imbalances. So making sure that you're eating enough fiber in your diet to keep your gut health optimal is going to be helpful. So we talked about some fiber sources like chia seeds, beans, lentils, berries to actually raspberries are extremely high in fiber, avocado, those sorts of things. Limiting your alcohol because alcohol can change your estrogen and your testosterone levels, and especially around the time of your cycle. That would be a time that you would want to try to decrease the alcohol consumption as much as you can, and then trying to just increase your sleep and decrease stress or increase your stress reducing techniques would also be ways that you can improve your hormonal balance, and especially around that time of the month.

Brittany: Yeah. Lots of good tips here. Okay. Let's say somebody has tried so many other things, maybe they haven't prioritized their health in the past. What would be some words of encouragement that you could give them?

Brigid: The words of encouragement would be don't give up on yourself. You are not your past, and just because something hasn't worked previously doesn't mean that you aren't capable of investing in your health moving forward, letting go of the previous version of yourself and giving yourself the space and the emotional capacity to envision what your life can be like and give yourself credit of knowing that you are capable of helping yourself feel better, of being your own health advocate, of taking ownership of your health is so important. And something that I truly believe is that if it's possible for one other person on this planet, then it's possible for you to, you are not a unicorn. And so I hope that your audience really feels the inspiration and motivation to be like, wow, Brittany has so much on her plate. If it is possible for her to be doing this, it's possible for me too. And I think that just letting go of the past versions of yourself or the past narrative or the emotional ties that you've created, and giving yourself the ability to move forward and to say, this is a different time. Maybe I had the wrong roadmap. Maybe it wasn't the right stage of my life. Maybe I didn't know enough. Maybe I just need to think about food in a different way. I am capable of doing that and continuing to evolve as a higher and more vibrant version of myself.

Brittany: I love that. I think that's amazing advice and can just really encourage people to, you can start today. You can make these changes yourself. You can start today and then it's like one day after the next, and then another after that. So it doesn't, I mean, it is hard and there are challenges and choices and things, but I think your mindset, just making that shift and really wanting to pour into yourself has been something I've done and I'm absolutely seeing the results of that

Brigid: Mindset is everything. People don't understand enough how critical the mindset piece is for staying consistent on a health journey.

Brittany: Yeah. Do you have anything exciting coming up that you want to share with our podcast listeners?

Brigid: We're actually launching a blood sugar reset in just the next few weeks that I can send you a link to if anyone's interested in joining. It's 10 days where my team of dieticians and I plan out all of the meals, and our goal is to make all the meals nutrient dense and low-glycemic. We test 'em all on a continuous glucose monitor and also delicious and easy. So we're not trying to create, like you spending an hour in the kitchen every day. We have meal prep tips that you do about two hours of meal prep, the Sunday going in, and then all the meals you can assemble and create in 20 minutes or less for the rest of the week to make it more doable. You repeat meals throughout the week so that we specify having leftovers for certain meals so that you're not making a new meal every single meal. So I'd love, for anyone that's interested to join us, we've had 20,000 people go through the program. We run it twice a year, and the biggest improvements that we hear from people are improvements in their energy, their mood stability, really helping to reduce their cravings. We do it in November, specifically right before the holidays so that you're preventing that holiday slide so that you're able to just jumpstart on your New Year's resolution instead of having to work yourself out of the two month slump that people usually find themselves in.

Brittany: I love that. I am going to sign up myself and get some of these recipes just to kind of have in my back pocket too. So would love for our listeners to join. I'll leave a link for that. So if you do want to sign up for that, you can just go to the show notes and there will be a link there where you can click and sign up for when that comes up in November. Bridgid, tell our listeners where they can find you.

Brigid: You can find me @beingbridgid on Instagram. It's just B E I N G B R I G I D, and then my website is We do have our nutrition programs. I have functional medicine dieticians that work with me. We have coaching programs, individual and group coaching programs that you can learn more

Brittany: That's awesome. And you guys, we will leave all of her handles and websites and everything in the show notes as well, so you guys can just easily click over and give her a follow or check out her website. Bridget, today has been so amazing. I think we have all learned something. I've even learned something from this conversation, so I just really appreciate you spending time with us. Thank you so much for being here.

Brigid: Thank you for having me.

Brittany: Alright, friends, we will talk to you on the next episode of Life with Loverly.

Hi friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode on the Life with Cleverly podcast. Be sure to snap a screenshot on your phone during your favorite part of the episode. Post it to your Instagram stories and tag us at life with cleverly. I love seeing what's resonating with you and reposting the spread more kindness along the way. See you next week, friend. This season of Life with Loverly is produced by Elizabeth Evans Media Productions.

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