Keeping it Simple means Better Patient Care
Joining us today is Rachel Aldridge, a naturopath specialising in gut health and children’s health, who realised that keeping it simple gives her patients better care.
In this episode, we discuss how to gauge your patient, ways to get big wins when keeping it simple, managing patient expectations, working with kids and family compliance to treatment, plus Rachel shares her “Keep it Simple” steps.
About Rachel Alderidge:
I love empowering people to understand their body and how it relates to their gut health. Health and wellness should not be overwhelming – I address the WHY things are out of balance in a fun way and put together a plan to not only get you functioning well now but how you can keep it that way.
My passion for naturopathy and gut health was sparked when I was experiencing my own gut issues many years ago, and the only person who could bring everything back into balance was a naturopath. This was a game-changer for me – not only for my health but finally inspired me to follow my “gut feelings” and study to become a naturopath at Nature Care College.
My background is in the corporate world, so I do know the stresses and the balancing act that comes with budgets and deadlines. I believe my experience here allows me to bring a unique perspective when working with my clients to reduce the overwhelm that often comes with (but shouldn’t) wellness.
Life isn’t all green smoothies … I also have a keen love of great coffee (as you will see on my social media), but life is all about balance, right!
Andrew: This is Wellness by Designs and I’m your host Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us today is Rachel Aldridge, a naturopath who realized that keeping it simple actually gives her patients better care. Welcome to Wellness by Designs, Rachel, how are you?
Rachel: I’m good. Thanks. How are you?
Andrew: Good, thank you. Very good. Now, let’s go first a little bit through your history and your interests because, you know, we have to sort of expose if you like or delve into what made you realize you need to get more simple rather than more complex because we’re all in that race to know more.
Rachel: 100%. So my background is…I actually have a corporate background, and when I had my own health issues, which I think every good naturopath out there has had their own health journey, I fell in love with naturopathy and decided to start studying it whilst working full-time. And it was really that balance between corporate and study and everything there where I just had to learn how to keep things simple, to be honest with you. So I joked that I had, like, a third life crisis. I decided, you know, when I was about 30, 31, that I was going to completely change what I do. And yeah, my journey to be a naturopath started from there.
Andrew: So it’s a very interesting point you say about your own health journey because, as you say, we hear this so often with naturopaths. And, to me, it’s not that medicine fails, but medicine certainly fails a certain group of people, and that’s why they keep searching. And, of course, there are other people who the medical model fails them, and they just keep going the medical model. But it’s really interesting to me though, we are seeing more and more stories of Orthodox medical practitioners becoming sick and then having to be exposed to their care and how they’re treated but as a patient. And it’s a real eye-opener for them. Because they’re just…
Rachel: Massive eye-opener.
Andrew: Yeah. And they’re almost ubiquitously, not pleased with the experience of being a patient.
Rachel: Yeah. And I think it is where there is that balance between not being completely well and having an illness. And that’s where a lot of people, we all seem to fall between the cracks. If we can’t have a label put on us, then often, people don’t know what to do with us. And that’s what I do love about what we do. We support everyone that has fallen through the cracks, so to speak.
Andrew: Yeah. So tell us a bit of keeping it simple. How do you gauge your patient’s understanding of what you’re talking about? Do you check in regularly, or do you have other tactics?
Rachel: Yeah, look, I like to have a joke. So as you can see, I’ve got poo emoji stuff everywhere. And I always joke that I stumble on big words. So I’m very passionate about when I’m talking with my clients and describing things to really try and keep it quite simple. Now, one of the big things is, you know, when we’re case taking or talking to our clients, it’s trying to see where they’re at on their journey. Now, I sometimes have clients who come into me, and they’ll tell me about the podcast. They’ll tell me about websites. They’ll tell me, you know, all the research that they’ve done. So, in my mind, I’m like, okay, they’re a different type of client, and they, you know, need an approach perhaps a little bit different, but not always. Or there are the clients that come in, and they’re just after some help, and they’re after being heard. And I think that’s a really big thing.
I heard some colleagues talking the other day, and it really is about listening to your clients and letting them be heard and gauging where they are on their journey. And again, you know, I did say about, you know, some of my clients that do the podcast, just because they research doesn’t mean they want you to then hand them flow charts and, you know, get very complicated. It really comes down to what is the so what, you know? It’s like they’re seeing you because they know that you know your poo, and they want you to make it relevant to them, is how I see it.
Andrew: Okay. But I guess what are the ways in which we don’t make things simple? You know, I mentioned earlier that we’re all in the race for more and more knowledge and new concepts come out every year, every, you know, quarter of the year. So we learn something, and then whether we’re excited or whatever, we tend to spew back these, you know, Th1, Th2 C cells, and Treg, you know, and all that sort of thing. So what are the dangers?
Rachel: I think the danger is overwhelm. 100% overwhelm. I think we have…one of the biggest issues with client retention would be when they’re feeling overwhelmed. And how do we overwhelm them? Well, we can overwhelm them with our love. You know, like you said, we get so excited, and we want to tell them all the things, and we want to show them, you know, we know all these great flow charts, we know what happens here. And as a client, it’s almost like, you know, a dear and headlights sometimes, you know? If they could slowly back out the room or whatever, they might want to do that. But it’s that overwhelm from trying too hard is a really big thing.
And also trying to get them to do too many things at once because, you know, Andrew, we all want to be successful when we’re working on our own, you know, health and wellbeing. And if we leave a consult and we’re like, “How the heck am I going to be able to do half of what this naturopath…? Like, yeah, she knows what she’s doing, but I can’t. I can’t even drink water.” And I joke with some of my clients where, you know, we’re working on things, but, you know, when we can’t get back to those basics… And that’s where we need to really pull back and go, okay, what are some big wins or a couple of things that will make a difference and really focus on them.
And I think at the start; it’s letting them and supporting them get these wins rather than sending them away with, you know, five supplements, a herbal medicine, ten things to do, don’t forget to meditate, and, you know, have your smoothie bowl. And it’s just not that all those things aren’t going to be awesome. Like, we know, like, that would be unreal. But what is realistic? And that’s also understanding your client 100%. So I see a lot of families. And, you know, if I told the mom that, “You know, you need to get up an hour earlier because I need you doing, you know, these five things,” it’s just never going to happen. And so overwhelm kicks in. It’s not simple. And they don’t come back.
Andrew: I love that point you make about, you know, the basics of it, and that is client retention and overwhelming them with our love. But I have to ask, how do you strategise when you’re dealing with a complex disease, let’s say rheumatoid arthritis? Forgive me. How do you segment the different things to do into workable components that will, A, give them at least some bang for buck about relief of symptoms? You know, when you can’t do all of the foundations now, how do you get your big win?
Rachel: It’s such a great question. And I have a client that we’re doing at the moment. And it really is. So the way I like to do it is during a consult, I write down my little, you know, the words that stand out for me and the symptoms that stand out for me. And often, I’ll have a client just tell me how complicated they are. And they’re like, “I’m so sorry. I’m very complicated. I have all these things going on.” And so I reassure them that, you know, they’re not alone. And we almost mind map it out.
And a lot of the time I find, you know, there’s always a random outlier of a symptom where, you know, it’s doing its own thing, but I do find when you mind map things out, so keep it simple in your own mind so then you can, you know, relay it to them, is going, “Okay, this is what’s going on.” So if it’s all driven by, say, with that example, inflammation that’s coming from diet, you know, a lot of time, these people are feeling like crap. And so the thought of having a salad or going for a walk or drinking water, you know, and it sounds hilarious
as I say it, but it’s all just too much. So it’s like, okay, how can I make them feel better about themselves? And it’s picking those wins, and it’s doing a really good case history, not only just the case history but where they are at the moment and really listening to them.
You know, a lot of these people that are complicated again, and like, I know I said it before, they just want to be heard, and they want you to tell them what to do. So as a mom and I see a lot of moms, there is nothing more awesome than when you don’t have to mum somebody else if you know what I mean? Like, if someone just says to you, “Okay, Rachel, I want you to do these three things. So I don’t have to think about it.” And that’s where it comes in with these clients.
So I think… And it’s also been really honest with them. So if you’ve got a complicated case, don’t tell them it’s going to be fixed in three weeks. It’s not a magic pill. And that is hard. It’s really hard managing expectations. But I think you need to step it out as what the journey is and what the big wins are, or the big changes that you can make right away. I had a client where we, I say we, she did all the work, but she removed gluten from her diet and reduced sugars. And she came off her hardcore pain meds based on that, you know. And it was me just almost coaching, encouraging her through it that was probably our biggest, you know, win really early on.
Andrew: That’s no big deal there. Just getting somebody off wheat and sugar. I mean, that’s…particularly when you’ve got an ingrained pattern, dietary pattern, people think, “Ah, I’ll just do it.” That’s fine if you’re a naturopath.
Rachel: I think even us. Naturopaths needed.
Andrew: I loved what you said about mind mapping, though. So do you tend to do mind mapping with the patient, or do you tend to take a few points down and do the mind mapping afterwards?
Rachel: Again, it comes down to the person. So if someone’s feeling really overwhelmed by their own health, so I will often, and, you know, as you can see, I’m slightly obsessed with gut health, but a lot of these people that once you kind of map it out, that’s when I can say to them, “Stress is doing this here, and food is doing that there.” So I can talk them through it. And I think if you don’t talk them through it and they’ve come to you for one thing, and it looks like you’re going on another angle, then they’re not going to buy in. Because they don’t buy-in, if they don’t buy in and understand what you are working on, then again, there’s no compliance. So for me, by mind mapping it out, it’s almost like a choose your own adventure. Do you remember those books? So it’s like, “Okay, we could go down this path, but right now, I really think we go down this path, so we get there.” And that’s kind of how I approach it.
Andrew: Okay. So what about kids, though? Well known for their non-compliance. How do you get them on board?
Rachel: Well, a couple of things. So when I’m working with kids, so it’s not just the kids you need to get on board, Andrew, we really need to get the parents on board. So more often than not, you know, the protocol is supporting the parent as much as the child is a huge one. So I’m a mom of two boys. I have one that’s
Rachel: I know. I know. At least I’ve got that balance. And so, you know, a lot of time… And it is understanding it depends how well the child is, but what journey they’ve been on. You know, a lot of them, they get taken to different appointments where they’re hearing that or listening to grown-ups talk about them like there’s something wrong with them. And so I’m very big on not doing that because kids absorb everything. So whether we’re going down, you know, a spectrum pathway or a child that’s overweight, you know, I’m very big on promoting the wellbeing of the child from a mental health perspective there. Sometimes depending again on the child, so I work with a lot of gut, so we… And I have poo stickers, not real poo, poo emojis. So we do, like, a poo chart, and the kid gets involved that way. Or, you know, if we’re looking at foods that we want them to include, I get, you know, the mom or dad to go to Kmart and get one of the little workbooks and get the food catalogues from Coles or Woolies and cut out, you know, the broccoli or whatever, and put in there and say, this is the one we’re going to work on this week. So try and get the kids involved in that sense, so it’s still fun. But it really is supporting the parent and listening to them.
So a lot of times, I see parents where they’re feeling a bit deflated with their own ability to, you know, get little Joey to do what they want. Now, you don’t have to be Einstein to know that your child should be eating, you know, veggies, but, as a practitioner, to make the parent not feel very strong in what they’re doing is not going to benefit anyone. Like, that mom or the dad knows that their child should be doing this. So it’s trying to support them, encourage them, and let them get a few of these wins on the board for both themselves and for their children is really big. But I mean, it is hard with the kids that don’t wanna be compliant. They can be really stubborn. But it is really working and supporting and empowering. I think that’s a really big word, empowering the parents as much as you can.
Andrew: And I do like your point about supporting the parents and working with the parents because often, these poor dietary habits are generational. So I get your point. You’ve gotta get the parent on board with taking, like, with eating broccoli, for instance, or Brussels sprouts, let alone the non-compliance or the, I’m going to say, refusal. Still, it’s not, but the resistance that you’re going to have from a child who’s taste buds are really keened towards bitter foods. They’re ultra bitter for them. Whereas me in my 50s, mid, I love broccoli. I love Brussel sprouts. To me, it’s like a wonder food. Of course, I use butter. But do you have any hints and tips to not just get the child overcoming their resistance, but it is also getting the parent on board with probably changing their dietary lifestyles and lifestyle choice?
Rachel: Yeah, I think one thing to remember is, one, kids are really resistant. Resistant. Resistant, yes, resilient, but they don’t wanna feel sick. They’ve got too many things to do. You know, they want to feel better. And talking with the children, a lot of them, you know, you can have a chat with them and say, “Look, your tummy is hurting because we’re not doing this. And when your tummy’s hurting and you’re not playing with your friends, so you’re missing out. So we need to do a couple of these things, you know.” So kids are pretty smart, you know, and I think it’s getting them to buy in where you can.
You know, a lot of the times it’s I have parents ask me, “How can I hide these foods? You know, how can I do this?” And hiding only gets you so far. And it can be that bigger picture, like, you were saying, Andrew, where, you know, as a child, you know, maybe the mom or dad, they were never encouraged, I was going to say forced, but encouraged to eat different foods. So it’s almost reteaching. And then it can take a while for a child to try new foods. You know, how can you involve the child in the kitchen? Because a lot of the time, you know, like I said, I’ve got two tornadoes. They’re five and seven. And cooking with them is not relaxing at all. At all. But I also know that if I take my lavender oil…no, if I go through this process with them, it’s letting them learn and empower them about it all. So it is those tips there, you know, bring them into the kitchen.
Also, changing how you’re doing mealtime can be really important as well. So instead of, you know, imagine if someone, you know, sat there, Andrew, and, like, went, “You’ve gotta eat. Do this.” I mean, you’re not going to do that. So I think it’s, you know, really looking at these different things, even having it like a not a smallest sport, but the way they can pick at their own things, like a deconstructed meal and stuff like that, it’s really important. I always joke that kids, there are two things you can’t force kids to do because the authorities frown on you, you can’t force them to eat, and you can’t force them when to poo. And when kids are pushing their boundaries, they’re the two things where, so constipation might come in because they’re like, “Well, you can’t force me,” or foods come in, and so it’s more of a, not a powerplay because that sounds awful, but you know what I mean? It’s them trying to stamp their authority as well.
Andrew: Yeah. They’re trying to regain some power over their environment, their lives. But that’s really interesting about voluntarily withholding defecation to regain a sense of control over their lives. You can go so many places here with childhood anxiety, abuse… Oh my goodness. There’s a rabbit wall. Something that you said before was about… Oh, that’s right. Forgive me. It was earlier when patients come in with so much information from the internet and things like that, which may be on course, or indeed it may be way off. I am reminded of a story recently in the medical rags about a female patient who came into her doctor and, with the advice of Dr Google, she had prostate cancer. So how do you advise patients that they’re on track and like, “Guys, this is way off-kilter”?
Rachel: Well, the prostate one would’ve been an easy one too, like, you know, show them a diagram on that. But I think we need to pull back because, you know, as a practitioner, sometimes, you know, some of these clients come in, and we’re like, “Oh gosh, this is gonna be hard,” you know. But we also need to appreciate the journey someone’s been on. You know, when you have not felt great for a really long time when no one’s listened to you for a really long time, and you are relying on Dr Google to help you out, okay? So they’re not doing this, I mean some might, but they’re not doing this to be painful. They’re doing it because they can’t find an answer. And that’s where it really comes back to one, understanding the person, your client, what is going on with them, what journey have they been on, even going, “You know, I can only appreciate, you know, all the research that you’ve had to do, but now you are safe with me. Let me look at everything with fresh eyes. You know, let me look at this bigger picture, and let’s put together a plan.” And I think, you know, they want to feel safe. They wanna, and like I said it, and I’ll say it again, they want to feel heard, and they want you to make it as simple as you can for them.
Andrew: And also one of the other things you spoke about was, you know when you’ve got a child on the spectrum, when you’ve got a child with weight problems, whether that be under or over, we’re also really talking about the child’s self-esteem here, and it’s crucial that we support them. You know, all of these kids get teased. My wife’s a teacher’s aide and deals with behavioural issues. And she’s an incredible woman who’s very balanced, far more balance. I’m not balanced. But the teasing that some of these kids endure. And, you know, like, I can still remember being a fit, healthy young child, and we used to have Brett. And Brett was the kicking bag, you know, even though he was in our group, nowadays, I just think, “Oh, what a pig I was,” you know?
Andrew: Kids can be really mean to other kids. How do we ensure that we’re supporting their self-esteem throughout this process of change, which can be frightening in itself?
Rachel: Yeah. I mean, it’s such a huge area, and I think having young kids, it’s something I’m very passionate about as well, you know? Often, when I’m working with the parents on really sensitive topics, I would do a lot of the consult or all of the consult without the child there because the last thing I want is that child to feel any less about themselves. Now, if you’re the child that, you know, maybe a little rounder than your friends or he’s skinnier than your friends or finding it harder to do certain things, you don’t need anyone to tell you, you know first, right? So it’s really but for me to understand exactly what’s going on. I don’t want a meeting so I can openly ask the parents questions without them, the child going, “Okay, now someone else thinks I’m sick. Now someone else thinks I’m not good enough.” So for me, it’s really gauging what’s going on with the parent, and I am more than happy to have these conversations without the child there.
I also think it’s about then the child trusting you. And so it’s telling them why we’re doing different things. So it might be, “This is gonna make your tummy feel a little bit better.” Or, you know, if someone’s got a weight challenge, “You know, by us doing this, it’s gonna give you more energy.” You know, rather than go, “All right. We need you to put on two kilos, or we’ve gotta make you lose two kilos,” or something like that. So the right use of words is very important there.
I also often bring in a colleague, you know, so kinesiology can be great to help support that emotional side of things. So don’t be afraid to, you know, get a little team around these people or even with the parents. You know, it can be really hard, and you can feel like it’s all just too much that you’ll deal with in another year. So it’s trying to support them. But I think, you know, being as supporting and as encouraging for these little ones, because like I said, they know before anybody else if they’re not feeling good about themselves. They don’t need to have that reinforced.
Andrew: Yeah. But, like, how hard is it to get the real reason that is going to motivate them from them? You know, kids, you know, they don’t know you, so you’re a new human who’s delving into sometimes quite personal things about themselves, which they may already be feeling bad about. And now, you’re asking them details about it. What sort of tips and tricks can you teach us about getting the information you want out of that child without putting a label on them?
Rachel: Yeah. I mean, I just try and have fun with them. So at the moment, all my consults are still, you know, online, but you can still create a connection. I was funny before COVID hit; I was like, “Oh, you couldn’t have a connection online, but you so can.” And a lot of the time, it’s really good for these kids and adults, let’s be honest, that are quite overwhelmed in a doctor’s or a naturopath’s rooms. You know, they’re in their own safe environment. So it’s about engaging with them as a person first, you know, having a chat, talking about school, talking about something they like, and then trying to bring it in and get them to say things in their own words. Again, Andrew, you’d be really surprised where the kids do want to talk about certain things, and the words that they use can be different from grown-up words that can really highlight what’s going on for them.
So I would say, you know, engage with the child, have a bit of fun, and again, use their language. You know, don’t come out with all these big things because then the child’s just going to be like, “You lost me at hello,’ you know, and it’s trying to see what’s going on there. And then tell them why we’re doing different things. “You know, this is what we’re gonna do.” And I often say, “You know, if you’ve got any questions afterwards, you tell mommy or daddy, and they will call me,” because, you know, it’s about working together on this. So I think it’s…you know, there isn’t one way, but if you’ve gotta listen to even your tiniest client and some of their hot buttons or their words can be more personal, but, you know, when you look through it all you can get a bit of an idea. So say it’s food. So that’s where I’m like, “Okay, let’s write down what’s going on, and we can see the colours or how often you’re doing a poo,” and you know. So have a bit of fun with it as well.
Andrew: You said hot spots, hot points. How do you become aware, become really present for their points?
Rachel: Yeah, I mean, as a general thumb, I think when something’s really important to someone, they will say it a couple of times, maybe in different ways. So that’s where, you know, we have to, again, like, we were saying at the start where we just want to fix it. Let me fix you. Let me do all these things. But sometimes, you just gotta pull back and try and engage in conversation and really listen. And then, you know, come around… And it does take practice. And I think it’s something we’re all always learning how to listen and engage and try and pull more information from them. Whether it’s, so say they’re not big chatty kids, do they do a drawing for you? You know, “Little Suzy, can you do a drawing with mom,” or, “Can you show me on here where your tummy hurts,” or, “Can you show me,” you know…” And it’s creative, but it really comes back to listening and engaging. And then if there’s a word or a theme that comes up a couple of times, then you might need to
gently come back to it, or you might go, “You know what, that’s obviously a sensitive area, let me talk to mum or dad about that.”
Andrew: Oh, okay. So you could gauge, like perhaps their body language when they’re talking about that topic or when they’re mentioning that word?
Rachel: Yeah. So there’s body language, you know if they’re starting to fidget more. Like, I had one child, and once we started talking, he got so nervous again, he had to go to the toilet. So, like, I literally had to run to do a poo. So you can see just there what is going on for someone. You know, and I think, that’s where sometimes we need not follow all the steps. You know, some people have a very structured consult approach, which is something we’re taught at the start. But I think it’s trying to ease into it with some of these more either complicated cases or some of these little people as well.
Andrew: And just on the topic of kids as well, and particularly kids on the spectrum, how do you hone into that topic, which is their gift, that light of theirs?
Rachel: Yeah. The thing is, I hate labels. I find that a label is…it can hold us back so much. So, you know, it sounds silly how I say this, but I try to look at the individual and lift them up. You know, we all, everyone can do better and feel better. And, you know, it’s about engaging in with them, okay? So what is it they love to do? What are they great at? You know, and that’s amazing. But I feel that we can be quite… It can almost put blinkers on us if we go, “Okay, I’m getting a spectrum child in today,” or, “I’m getting…” Years ago now, I’m sounding really old, there was a Monty Python skit, and the pharmacist, instead of calling out Andrew, it called out hemorrhoids. Not that you do, but they were identified with their label versus them as an individual. So step a bit back from that.
Andrew: Well, that’s actually a very good point. I am corrected because we do. We do very often label a person for their disease despite what we’d like to think of ourselves. That’s a really interesting thing. So, what you’re saying actually falls more in line with the naturopathic doctorate about treating the body, treating the person rather than the disease as well. I am learned today. Thank you very much.
Rachel: That’s okay.
Andrew: I have to ask though, with regards to getting a quick win on the boards, you know, sometimes you need to dampen symptoms, which are very distressing for the patient, how open are you to the use of certain pharmaceuticals as part of treatment, obviously, with given, you know, the scope of practice of naturopath? Yeah, how open are you to using pharmaceuticals?
Rachel: So I’m fully open, to be honest with you, Andrew. I think that as a naturopath, my duty of care is to the client. And so it doesn’t, in my mind, how do we get those wins? How do we make someone feel better? And it doesn’t have to be just one way. I am more than happy, one, to get them to go back to their GP, or, two, to go, “Okay, you’re already on medication now, what can we do to nourish and support you at the same time?” So a couple of examples would be, I get lots of constipated kids in, and they’re on laxatives, or their parents aren’t sure if they should use laxatives, and this child is in a whole heap of pain. So how is the child gonna be compliant with anything if they are in that much pain?
So that’s where, you know, I do see being able to bring… Do I want them on laxatives? No, but as a short-term thing, based with, you know, the care from their GP or their pharmacist, I see how they can be working together, you know? And I think that as a naturopath, like I said, my duty of care is for the client or the patient. What is the most important thing for them right now? One of my gut clients, he has SIBO, and he’s overseas, and he was my researcher, and he’s done, you know, reading about antibiotics and whether or not they should use them. And he was surprised with my answer because he thought. After all, I was a naturopath; I would only go, “We have to be 100% natural with everything we do.” And I think that we could be doing a disservice to our clients if we only have very limited thinking. But again, I’m not about to go and prescribe something, but I’m more than happy to find the right combined approach for a client.
Andrew: Yeah. I’m just reminded actually of a point with lactulose. Lactulose used to be a medicine pharmacy, but now it’s prebiotic. So it’s like, I know, like, was always…
Rachel: Now, that it’s okay
Andrew: Yeah. But it was always working in that way. We just didn’t know about it. But I take your point that sometimes symptoms are so distressing that you just need an intervention to help them on their way and indeed help them take in a new or perhaps a slanted way, a different way of approaching, you know their dietary and lifestyle issues. So it’s a very good point you make.
Rachel: And I think it’s one of those things where, you know, there are some people where they’ll hold off on antibiotics, for example. Okay. So as a gut-loving naturopath, I’m not going to be going, “Ooh, everyone do antibiotics. They’re amazing.” But I think we have modern medicine for a reason and a way we can combine things where I think it’s super important is that we give the medicine, whatever it is, the respect it deserves. Where I would get upset is where people think, you know, antibiotics are, like, you know, popping a panadol or something. Like, these guys are huge. They’re going to come in and really throw things around. So let’s give them that respect. And what’s the plan to support the client and nourish their body around it. I think that’s super important.
Andrew: Just as a last point, can you take us through some specific examples that you use with your patients to get a better handle on the steps you take?
Rachel: Yeah. So how I keep things simple for them?
Andrew: You’ve got a right smile on your face. I know you’re thinking of a patient right now.
Rachel: No. So I call a lot of my clients crap cakes because… And they still come back, so they must understand. But it comes back to where they’ve been to the doctor, they’ve had their blood tests, and nothing’s wrong with them, but they feel like shit, okay? And so it’s where, you know, the analogy I like to give is just because you’re not deficient in something doesn’t mean that you’re functioning well. So I’m like, “Okay, you’ve got a recipe for a cake, and it says you need eight eggs. It’s all right. It’s gluten-free. It’s good for you. It means you have eight eggs, and you’ve only got two, okay. So you’re going to make the cake, but it’s going to be a crap cake. And so my job is to find out what the missing ingredients are or the ingredients you don’t have enough of so you’re functioning well.”
And people actually really get it. They understand what I’m saying. Everyone’s had a bad cake, but they understand why they don’t necessarily feel great, but not have a label that a doctor can give them. So I think that’s really important. I bring in fun when I’m describing the gut. So the gut’s my big thing. And a lot of people, no one sat down with them and told them what the gut is, how what’s going on in the mouth is affecting it elsewhere, you know? So it’s, but not again, coming back to keeping it simple, but even having a bit of a laugh about it. Telling them about the gut lining, talking about what leaky gut is, and because I’m a boy mom, I bring in, you know, Zurg from “Toy Story”, and that’s my Zonulin.
So, you know, and it’s about my way of, “I know, I don’t get out anymore either,” but my way of trying to do it is… And this is my approach, so you need to find what works for you. But, you know, if you’ve said something, and it’s completely foreign, you’re like, “How am I ever gonna remember that? It makes no sense.” And now you’ve got this crazy naturopath who’s out there having a bit of, you know, a joke about it all and making it real life. You know, I’m big on the analogies. What does that mean? And then I can’t tell you, Andrew, how many times people were like, “Oh, I get it now.” Or “I see where you’re coming with that.” Whereas if I, you know, started talking about, you know, microvilli and this and this and this, it’s almost like, you know, they glaze over, and you’ve lost them at hello.
But this is my personality as well. So I think it is about being comfortable with how you work, trying not to be like everybody else. I do that to keep things simple. I’ve also brought processes into my clinic that keeps things simple for me. Like, I use SimpleClinic, which makes my life easier. And it means that I’ve got all these, you know, great tools on hand where I can, and have fun with my clients, and it’s already, you know, written and ready to go. And I think, you know, it’s about keeping our lives simple so we can keep their life simple and having a bit of fun around it as well.
Andrew: I think what you’ve actually stumbled on is mnemonics. So you have these crazy examples that are fun. So they’re out of the ordinary. That’s a mnemonic. That’s how we remember the cranial nerves and the ideological sieve and…
Rachel: And the kids love it just as much as the parents. So, you know, if you go in, and yeah, I just think it’s big. So they expect, and it’s up-levelling what you know. Like, university, college can teach you the flow chart, but it’s that so what that you need to figure out how you describe it to your clients.
Andrew: I think it’s also poignant that, you know, a true expert uses simple language. If you go to a very experienced gastroenterologist, for instance, they won’t be saying, “Right, epigastric quadrant,” they’ll be saying tummy, you know?
Andrew: They’ll be speaking on the patient’s terms. And I guess, as you said, listening to the patient’s cues as to how much they know, how much they want to know. Rachel, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s blatantly obvious that you’re not just an expert, but you’re a true patient advocate. And I truly take my hat off to you for being that. So well done to you. And thanks so much for joining us on today’s podcast.
Rachel: Thank you so much for having me.
Andrew: It’s been our pleasure. And remember, thank you for your company today. And you can find all the show notes and the other podcast on the designsforhealth.com website. I’m your host, Andrew Whitfield-Cook. And this is Wellness by Designs.