Dr Gabrielle Fundaro

Habits & Health episode 9 Dr. Gabrielle Fundaro

Habits & Health episode 9 with Dr Gabrielle Fundaro who has PhD’s in Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise and many other accreditations.

Some of the topics discussed:

  • Fat shaming-body image
  • Gut health, The microbiome
  • Antibiotics, bacteria
  • Anaerobic exercise
  • Diets
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Vitamin PhD
  • Supplements
  • Approach to coaching
  • Being a doctor vs being a health coach
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Being addicted to peanut butter!
  • Helping clients with cravings
  • Body image webinars
  • Comprehensive coaching


Upcoming Webinars & Education:
Bridging the Gap with Comprehensive Coaching Webinar Series (Starting April 8, 2021
Gut Health with Gab Webinar Series (Coming May 2021)
Comprehensive Coaching Facebook Community
Membership (special rates for clients who don’t coach)
Coach Mentoring 1:1
Individual and Group Telehealth Coaching
Individual Gut Health Consults & Low-FODMAP Navigation

Recommended books:

Mome - Michael Ende Modern Food, Moral Food by Helen Zoe Veit Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Mome – Michael Ende

Modern Food, Moral Food by Helen Zoe Veit
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Favourite quote:

Kurt Vonnegut:

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Habits & Health links:

Facebook Group

How to leave a podcast review

Details of online workshops to create habits for health

Are you in control of your habits or are they in control of you? Take my quiz to find out

Take part in Tony’s free 5-day-programme

The Dr Gabrielle Fundaro interview link:



Tony Winyard 0:00

habits and health episode nine. Welcome to the podcast where we give you ideas on habits you can create that will help your health. Today's episode is with Dr. Gabrielle fundada. She is a doctor, a health coach. She's got a PhD in human nutrition in food and exercise. I mean, her list of credentials is pretty impressive. And we talk about many different areas today about body image about various aspects of health. And and obviously, we dig into habits as well. So that's coming up very soon. If you do like this episode, why not share it with someone who you feel would get some real value from this. Please do subscribe to the podcast so you can get it every Tuesday lunchtime when it's released. And it would be great if you would leave a review for us that really lets me know how what you think about the podcast and you know if there's any areas it can be improved. But it also lets other people know about Yeah, the more reviews we have, the more likely someone who discovers the podcast maybe by search will actually take a chance and have a listen to it and see what they think. Hope you enjoy this week's episode. habits and health. My guest today is Dr. Gabrielle fundera Haider and Gabrielle.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 1:23

Good, how are you?

Tony Winyard 1:24

I'm very well I'm very kind of jealous at the moment. I was jealous when Shannon came over and you're your partner in crime, I suppose. Because she was in Bali when I was speaking to her. And now I found out you're about to go to Mexico. I mean, what allows me to

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 1:40

I know, I know she. She is quite the digital nomad. She was my inspiration to go about life that way for about a year before I settled here in Arizona. So yeah, it's it's an adventure for sure.

Tony Winyard 1:57

Is Arizona, where you're from?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 2:00

No, actually, I grew up for the most part in Michigan. And so I have over the course of my 30 some years migrated farther south and then farther west. So Michigan to Virginia, where I stayed for 10 years. And then I was in Georgia for five and then nomadic for about a year and a half or so and just settled out in Arizona here back in August I I bought a house and now like a grown up, I

Tony Winyard 2:31

guess I would have thought that the weather was far better in Michigan than it is where you are now.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 2:37

Oh, my goodness. Oh, you love eight feet of snow and perpetual winter. It's great. And I have to say the summers in Michigan are nice. They're a little bit milder than the summers out here. We get up to I think like 47 Celsius in the desert here. So but I love it.

Tony Winyard 2:57

Yeah, I know which one I prefer out of the two. courier told you the listeners about what is it that you do? What do you specialise in?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 3:07

Oh, that's a good question. So I would say that I wear two hats. And one hat fits inside the other. So the biggest hat that I wear is just in helping people figure out what they really want to do, and then help them do that. And I ensure that whatever journey we're on, my clients are fully informed and they know that they're in the driver's seat, and I am their travel guide to their destination. And within that, I also have a background in what people would refer to I think, is gut health. But I have my PhD in the area of human nutrition, metabolism and probiotic supplementation. So about 10 years ago, before it was super cool. I started studying the gut microbiome. And I had the amazing fortune of spending some four years teaching people about it and speaking internationally as part of Renaissance periodization. So I at the heart of what I do, is providing evidence based information and dispelling a lot of the myths that are really pervasive, especially in diet culture, and sort of the diet culture, gut microbiome overlap of gut health.

Tony Winyard 4:24

Wow, there's so much to dig into the Where to start? Well, let's start with a gut health because, as you mentioned, you kind of alluded to there, it's becoming almost fashionable in the last sort of year for people to be talking about gun health. And for people, even though I think there's still a lot of people who aren't aware of how important that is. So do you want to maybe let people know why it's so important?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 4:48

Oh, absolutely. So when when people are talking about gut health I have. I've been asked sort of like the definition of gut health quite a few times, and there's no real definition. Not that you would find You know, a textbook or a research paper, but I think people are mostly referring to the absence of disease in the gastrointestinal tract, comfortable digestion. So you know, a tolerable amount of gas or bloating, comfortable bowel movements, and also, perhaps, most significantly, a diverse, resilient and adaptive group of microbes, so micro organisms that reside in the gastrointestinal tract. And those micro organisms play a very clear role in energy harvesting, and nutrient assimilation from our diet. So they take the parts of our diets that we can't really extract energy from, and they extract the energy for us. And they also play a role in immune function, really, from the time that were born. There, they're helping to educate and mature our immune cells, all the way up to current day pathogen defence, that they're helping to control the levels of potential pathogens that we might ingest or be inhabited by. And they also play a role in the periphery. So the tissues outside of the gut, they play a role in skeletal muscle metabolism, our ability to switch between using glucose versus fats for energy, they probably also play a role in behaviour, and, and perhaps even mood, and also play a role in the development of all these systems. And we know the vast majority of this from rodent models, because we can grow rodents or other animals without a gut microbiome without any micro organisms, and we find that they don't develop normally. And while we don't have any causative links between the gut microbiome and any disease, we have started to identify patterns of differences that we see in people who have various diseases versus those who don't. And so we still aren't sure whether it's the disease that might be causing the the different, but the different relative abundance of microbes or the other way around, or if a causal link even exists. But we do see that there's a relationship between health and disease and the microbiome and also our dietary habits, and our physical activity habits as well.

Tony Winyard 7:37

I'm just wondering, as you were speaking now, what it is that surprises people most it means some of the things you just said, like, for example, how the bacteria in our gut affects our behaviour and our mood. I mean, I would, I would imagine, that is a real surprise for most people.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 7:53

You know, I think that some people might actually make assumptions that we haven't been able to support yet. So and it could be because, you know, I'm existing in the realm where people are really excited about gut health, and they're excited about the possibilities, to the point that they might draw conclusions before we actually have the data there, you know, and so people are recommending, like probiotics, or, you know, certain diets to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder, for example, or other, you know, mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety. And as compelling as the early research is, we don't have a strong enough data to indicate that those would be safe or effective. And in some cases, some of the interventions actually seem to make things worse in humans. So we have to be very careful. And you know, we can be excited, but still also be, I think, cautious about what we're what we're claiming and what we're recommending. But it probably is surprising to some people that we have these, this sort of bi directional communication between the gut and the brain. And so the the vagus nerve, so that's the nerve that really controls most of our rest and digest functions, we can communicate in that way. And we actually also even have sort of a separate nervous system called the enteric nervous system that helps to regulate our gastrointestinal function, kind of independent from the brain, which is interesting to think about, you know, that that it sort of is it's the second brain. Sometimes people say that,

Tony Winyard 9:40

how much when we are, you know, when we get prescribed antibiotics and so on, how much how does that affect the microbiome?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 9:52

It really depends on the type of antibiotic and the microbiome to which it's applied. So there are some things antibiotics and obviously, antibiotics are made to kill bacteria. And the vast majority of microbes in our gut happen to be bacteria. So we have not yet refined that type of of medicine to be able to just pinpoint the pathogenic or disease causing microbes, and really were inhabited by pathogenic microbes in normally, so so they're not even always, you know, bad guys. But depending on the type of antibiotic we're taking, we may see pretty minimal effects on just a few different microbes that happen to all have in common, whatever it is that the antibiotic acts on. Or we might see really widespread effects, we might see a really large loss of life and diversity in the microbiome. And we might bounce back in a few days or in a couple of weeks, or we might see that there's almost a permanent change, you know, how to six months or a year. Now, that being said, it doesn't necessarily mean that that change is indicative of disease stage or, you know, dysbiosis, that a lot of people are kind of using to mean something bad, it could be that it is just an altered healthy state, it's a new state. So so the microbes have adapted to that challenge. And they have maybe changed membership, but they haven't necessarily lost function. So it's not just the members of the community that matter, but it's their function, it's their genetic material. And fortunately, most of us have really resilient microbiomes and a high level of redundancy. So even if we lose a few, the others can sort of pick up the slack and say, Oh, well, we know how to metabolise that. So that's all right, you know, this one, this one lost out, you know, we'll pick up from there. But when we do see a really large reduction in diversity, then we run the risk of having potential overgrowth of those pathogens that at low levels don't cause any problems. But once they sense that their numbers are increasing, and they can potentially overcome host defence, that's when they'll start producing those virulence factors. And they can actually cause disease. And that's what you would see with C. difficile. So that happens in people who are taking, you know, really strong antibiotics for a fairly long period of time that C diff, which is a normal inhabitant might start to grow, you know, beyond what is I see relative abundance if we want to say that and then can cause disease.

Tony Winyard 12:36

So it's a more easy issue than when someone is prescribed antibiotics, and they don't finish the full course. So what is it that happens there?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 12:44

So imagine that you are trying to get rid of like a bug infestation in your house, and you have killed all of the bugs that you can see, and some that sneak out and whatnot. And you're kind of like, well, I guess, you know, I don't see anymore, and so they must all be gone. And all you've really done is gotten rid of the ones that were, you know, brave enough to come out of the woodwork. And the rest of them are still just kind of hanging out and increasing in numbers. And they're just hiding. And it's kind of like that when we're using an antibiotic. And we don't take the full course, we might feel better before it's done. But that doesn't mean that we have really controlled the numbers of pathogens effectively. And what can happen with bacteria is that they can, they can actually transfer their genetic material within one generation. So it's called a horizontal gene transfer. So you may have some bacteria that have developed a resistance to that antibiotic. And that's why they're still alive. And they then transfer those genes, they transfer that resistance to other bacteria around them. And now they also are resistant to that antibiotic. And then as they divide, and they start to spread that resistance, now the antibiotic will no longer work. And if you go on to infect someone else with those bacteria, then the antibiotic will not work for that person either. So we have to make sure that we are taking the antibiotic all the way through so that we really suppress those bacteria, and they don't have the ability to rapidly multiply and spread that resistance.

Tony Winyard 14:26

It's fascinating that the numbers of bacteria compared to cells, I mean, there's no comparison is there there's like what trillions of bacteria? And as I don't know, how many cells are there?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 14:37

Yeah, it's really it's interesting the way that that statistic has evolved, because it sort of depends on whether you're counting red blood cells as being human cells. So I think the updated version used to be kind of like a 10 to one or a two to one, but it's really so it's sort of a one to one of all of the human cells in our body to all of the bacterial cells on our GI tract, but where we're vastly outnumbered is in genetic material. So they have just a, an amazing magnitude of of genes that they can express. Whereas humans have a much lower number of genes, we basically can't, can't engage in as many functions as the bacteria can. And that's really helpful to us and bacteria and the other microbes as well. And it's helpful to us because we can kind of outsource those metabolic functions. And they benefit us in that way. And in turn, we, we feed them and we give them a place to live.

Tony Winyard 15:38

In terms of habits, what are our healthy habits to have good for our microbiome.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 15:47

The foundational habits are nothing super sexy or exciting. People, I often see people recommending, you know, everyone should take a probiotic. And that's really not the case. Probiotics do have some applications, but they're very, they're specific. They're strain specific, so the type of probiotic that you're taking matters. And they're fairly specific to what they can actually help with. So they're fairly limited applications based on on the current data. So the foundational habits that would be most supportive of a diverse and adaptive microbiome would actually be eating a variety of plant foods. So doesn't have to be vegetables, but fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, things that provide fibre, which is considered a microbe accessible carbohydrate. So fibres contain chemical bonds that we can't break down with our digestive enzymes. And so they pass to the colon. And then they're metabolised by the bacteria there. And those bacteria will sometimes produce gas which we have to pass, but they'll also sometimes produce short chain fatty acids, and those are actually beneficial to us. So along with our diverse and plant centric diets, because it can be omnivorous, engaging in regular physical activity. So another determinant of microbial diversity is cardiovascular fitness. And it has been illustrated in quite a few studies on various types of athletes and recreational exercisers that people who engage in physical activity tend to have more diverse microbiomes. And there's sort of a dose dependent relationship there too. So as we engage in in more physical activity, we tend to see a greater diversity up to a point, because there can also be a point of diminishing returns where maybe we're engaging in a really high level of endurance exercise and high intensities, and that can cause some gi distress, and not necessarily that directly affects the microbiome, but it can just make it really difficult for us to to eat enough and to assimilate nutrients, you know, if we're having really severe stomach pain and loose stool and things like that, after a run,

Tony Winyard 18:05

so wouldn't be affected by if you were doing a lot of anaerobic exercise with with that effect.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 18:12

We still don't know that. So there are there are so few studies that have been done on that I've even included resistance training and looked at the microbiome. So there has been there have been a couple of observational studies that have determined the relationship between microbial diversity and diet in people who are doing resistance training. And what we found is thus far based on just a couple of studies, that it seems that people who are not ingesting adequate fibre don't seem to fully realise the benefits of exercise on diversity. So it seems that that might be sort of a mediator with that with with the relation between the relationship between exercise and microbial diversity. And that's been shown in cross country runners and also bodybuilders. But outside of that, and one other study that I know of that that looked at people who are engaging in resistance training and supplementing with whey protein, they weren't really looking at the effects of resistance training, they were just looking at the effects of a whole lifestyle change. And he did see an increase in diversity, but we don't really know exactly why. There are really no other studies that have looked at resistance training or high intensity, you know, sort of like hit type workouts. But I have been collaborating with a faculty member out of Lipscomb University of Tennessee, on a resistance training study. So we're actually going to be looking at some gender specific or sex specific differences in microbial populations in athletes, and then how an intense bout of resistance training might affect intestinal permeability and gi function and whether some of the GI distress that we as we speak After intense exercise might be mediated by sex specific differences in the microbiota. Yeah,

Tony Winyard 20:07

there's so many more questions I like to continue with on that whole kind of microbiome area. But let's let's kind of step back and got you into this in the first place. How did you develop this kind of fascination for this whole area?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 20:20

Well, it actually was just a serendipitous event, because I started my PhD actually just studying the effects of high fat feeding on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. And I was in a lab that really studied skeletal muscle physiology and biochemistry. So we were really looking at human metabolism. And part of the study design quite often was the application of something called LPs, or like the polysaccharide, either to skeletal muscle cells that we had taken out of a mouse or a human or to to live mice, we would inject them with this man, we would measure changes in metabolic function. And I was curious about what this was supposed to represent, you know, what's the physiological relevance of this injection. And as it turns out, LPs is part of the cell wall of certain bacteria. And when those bacteria die, or are destroyed, that LPs endotoxin is what it's called, can potentially leave the intestines and bind to immune receptors on on various tissues throughout the body. And one of those tissues is skeletal muscle. And I thought, Well, why don't we look at the gut, then I mean, if this is something that we have seen is associated with high fat feeding, type two diabetes, and the presence of obesity, then maybe we can get to the source and see if there's an intervention available. And initially, there was some resistance because we were not really an intestine lab. You know, we didn't we weren't looking at that it was just this was sort of like our, our mode of inducing metabolic inflexibility. But there are some funding became available to perform a probiotics study. And so we determined we'd ended up designing the study that would use probiotics as a as an intervention during high fat feeding. Experiment. So we did this in two rounds, we had mice, and then we had humans, and it was basically just, you know, several weeks of feeding mice, what's essentially like cookie dough. And with the human with the human subjects, they had, you know, really high fat milkshakes and whatnot. And we wanted to see if those probiotics would help to reduce either fat gain or insulin resistance or offer some protective mechanism against the associated inflammation. And it was really just a means to an end, because I wanted to get my doctorate so I could teach. And so after I finished, that was five years, and I stayed on for a teaching fellowship for, you know, two extra years after I had mostly finished things. I thought, okay, I'm finally done, you know, I'm going to go on and be a professor. And I did that for three years until I was recruited by Renaissance periodization, to be a coach, and I coached part time while I was teaching for a year, and then realised I really needed to kind of pick one. And the coaching was incredibly fulfilling, and an area where I thought I could grow and learn and be creative. And so it was actually Mike Israel from Renaissance periodization, that recommended that I start talking about gut health, because this was back in 2017. And it seemed like it was kind of just an emerging trend. And he said, Don't you have your PhD in something like this when I was like, Yeah, I mean, it's pretty much exactly this, I guess I can talk about it. And so I started, I did my first podcast with Steve Hall, and revived from revived stronger in I think, June 2017. And then I have, you know, one more podcast the next month, and then to the month after that, and then all of a sudden, you know, like seven podcasts in a week. And I've learned not to do that because it tires me out. But it's just been sort of an exponential growth, you know, of interest in the field. And I just happened to have done, you know, my doctorate in it, and I finished that in 2014 and people weren't really excited about it yet.

Tony Winyard 24:15

You were talking about medicine, I love the name of your business, vitamin PhD, have such a great name.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 24:22

Thank you. It was a it's kind of evolved over time. Like Initially, it was vitamin PhD, it was like get your daily dose of evidence based information. And, and my coaching approach and, and obviously, coaching framework has changed since then. Because when I started my Instagram, and when I started my blog, it was just to provide information. I mean, I wasn't coaching yet when I started everything. And then I thought, Okay, well, I want this information to actually, you know, help people and, and so my messaging started to changed a little bit. And I've actually recently rebranded I guess I would say, now I'm, I'm completely independent and vitamin PhD is my thing now. So I had a sort of my side business for a while. And I thought, you know, there's more to it than giving people information. And as I as my messaging has changed, but a lot of my content is still stable. I mean, I still talk about gut health and the gut microbiome. But I do it in a way now that is, hopefully empowering to people. And without invalidating their experiences. So for example, if a person has has gone and gotten a food sensitivity test, you know, or some other tests that might not be valid, it's not super helpful to say, Well, you know, that that was wrong, those aren't valid, that's not a useful test, because they need and deserve validation of your experiences first. And so I've been talking about this for a while. And I've had a few people, a few podcast hosts that said, you know, you really mix science and compassion. So well, I thought, gosh, you know, that really resonates with me, compassion is definitely one of my main values. And as I was thinking about how I want to redo my website, finally, after four years, because it's kind of like a sixth graders portfolio read before, I was like, you know, I want to express what I'm about. And I still want it to be like, it's a vitamin, you know, with something that you can take, it's a supplement. And I was thinking about, you know, what are words that are associated with vitamins and minerals, and fortify a fortification and enrichment came to mind? And then I realised it just like, hit me one day, science fortified with compassion. So that is, that's my aim. Now, you know, that's, that's my mission.

Tony Winyard 26:48

And you mentioned there about that your previous approach was kind of almost just to give information. And so how has that changed? What is it that you do now?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 26:59

I still give information, but now it's with permission. So I like to borrow from the motivational interviewing course that I did with with Shannon, who was on with you, several podcasts ago. And, and so motivational interviewing for people who don't know, very basically, it's a way of being with someone, it's a it's a set of skills, but they are embodied by a specific spirit. And a little more specifically, it's, it's a way of having a conversation about change with someone, it's not a way to get someone to change, it's just a way to create a space where they feel comfortable talking about it, knowing that they are accepted, whether they change or not. And so when I give information, it comes later, in the conversation, it comes at a time when you're ready to create a plan. And my information, helps to supplement their learning journey. And I didn't even come up with supplement that was Bill Miller and Steve rollnick. And Teresa Moyers. So I love that though, that, you know, this is my expertise has a specific place and a role. But it is as a supplement to their journey enriches their journey, and it keeps them informed. So whatever choice they make, you know, they're doing that with the best information, whether it's about nutrition or, or health. And so they are still in the driver's seat, and they have a really great map of where they might want to go.

Tony Winyard 28:38

And how is that changed? Both from your point of view, the experience for the client and the experience for you?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 28:48

I think it was, it was an adjustment for for both parties. And I have had some clients that I've been working with now for four years. And, you know, they've said that they can tell that the approach has changed. And they really like it, you know, they really they have they've enjoyed the process. And I've been transparent about it the whole time to say, you know, I like that I know that I did done things this other way before. And you know, I feel that this other way is actually is better and more effective. And they know that what I'm doing is empirically based use evidence based. It's something that we find in the literature is your effective practices. And also I feel that there are more authentic to the way that I like to interact with people. But it did take an adjustment on my part to really reflect on who, who I thought I should be as a coach. And I think who, and it's something I think a lot of coaches go through that. We are initially I think sort of programmed to operate as the experts that are providing information and telling people what to do and sometimes clients will come to To us with that expectation expectation and say, tell me what to do. And so right off the bat, it's really important to validate their experience. You know, I know that you've had experiences like this before, find out what works for them, and then have a conversation, where you can meet in the middle about, you know, your shared expectations. And, and here is, here's how I view myself as a coach, I'm your travel guide, tell me where you want to go, we can talk about the ways to get there. And I'll make sure that it is safe, and, you know, only relatively bumpy. And, you know, and you share with me your unique experiences and expertise. And I think where I find it, where I found it was the most tangible was in the conversation. So when you're doing telehealth, and you've kind of shifted from providing a lot of information to instead, you know, reflecting a lot and asking questions, sometimes there are some more pregnant pauses, because you're the client is waiting for you to tell them something. And all you've done it, you've reflected something back to them, you know, to show that you understand, and it's just waiting for them to give you more information. But that has really smoothed over time. And I also now ask fewer questions than I did, even when I started changing my approach, because sometimes that can can turn into just like an information seeking mission, you know, and the client thinks, okay, I have to give you this information. But when you can reflect really skillfully and show that understanding, that is still an invitation for them, to give you more information, and for them to start giving you more change talk or sustained talk, depending on you know, their where they are in their balance of sort of ambivalence and desire to change. And I think with with clients, it can be an understandable adjustment, and sometimes maybe a little bit, maybe uncomfortable, because they might not have had experiences like that in the past where they were really in the driver's seat. And so there's a, you know, also I think, needs to be a very open level of communication about where my expertise fits in, versus where their expertise fits in. And that even if I gave them the most scientific evidence based super duper fantastic nutrition plan, if it was totally unrealistic for them, then they would have a hard time adhering to it. And then they might feel that they're incapable, or they would blame themselves. And if I am a really judgmental person, and I'll tell them like, Oh, you don't want it bad enough for something and, and that's just not a helpful dynamic for anyone. So, you know, it's just about having those conversations about like, what what, what are about our shared purpose, and, you know, finding meaning in coach versus clients, and you know, how we view ourselves in the dynamic and always having an unconditional positive regard and acceptance and empathy and compassion. And what I found that's a very new development is that people have have expressed that the way that they talk to themselves is different, because they're starting to internalise the way that I regard them. And I think that's really one of the most beautiful things that I could hear and not something that I really heard when I was starting off, you know, with nutrition, coaching and providing information, and more sort of prescriptive ways of coaching.

Tony Winyard 33:33

I found that interesting when you refer to yourself as a coach, and yet, we know that you're a doctor. And so I would imagine, it's not an approach that many doctors take, oh, I could be wrong on that. What was your thoughts on that?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 33:49

You know, I guess I always I was joking, like, whoa, I'm not that kind of doctor like I, you know, I um, I think it's really important to, to practice humility, and realise that my title is a reflection of a lot of dedication and, you know, work ethic, and time and energy investment, and, you know, a passion for learning and the value of education. But it doesn't place me like above anyone on some like hierarchy of, of human quality, you know, or worth. And I think that is partly, you know, that's maybe why I'm drawn to motivational interviewing, and, and positive psychology. Because I think that that is a very charitable and, and fulfilling and even, like, mentally healthful perspective of other humans to say, you know, I think that people are inherently valuable and worthwhile as humans and that humans are generally capable Have change, and are generally born capable of doing really great things. But we're also very vulnerable to to influences that might make us do harmful things to ourselves or others. But that we have the capacity to make changes, that doesn't necessarily mean that we'll decide to make the changes. And that's okay, too. But, you know, I think that the way that I leverage my education and being a doctor, is that I have sort of, I've been vetted in a way, you know, by the US education system, and my peers and colleagues to say that I do have expertise in this field. And that compared to someone who has not studied in the field, I probably have some more insights than they do. And, and so that's kind of how I couch it, you know, that this is my area of expertise. And this is how I can best supplement your journey, you know, because I'll be able to tell you, hey, those tests are not accurate. And I know exactly why here are the real limitations based on how, you know, this research technique actually works. And so it's a tool, but it's not something that, you know, puts me in charge of, of clients, or, or gives me the agency to tell them what to do.

Tony Winyard 36:27

When you're trying to help clients make changes. I'm wondering how for yourself, when you've, have you ever had trouble making changes in your own life at any stage?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 36:39

Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely. I still do. I mean, it's, it's just a human experience, you know, ambivalence is ambivalence, the wanting of two things that are seemingly at odds, it's just a very human thing. Because we have a hard time really predicting what we're going to do in the future. And we have sometimes a hard time accepting what we've done in the past. And we have a hard time making changes, you know, like we are, to some extent, we are creatures of habit, we do lots and lots of things habitually every day, we do lots of things on autopilot every day. And we also have a hard time, in some cases, establishing new habits or breaking old ones. And I think to some extent, that could be perhaps because we have some inaccurate beliefs or misconceptions about what it takes to make changes. So for example, people are talk often about needing more self control, or needing more self discipline and more motivation. And none of those things are like motto constructs that you can like turn up and down, like a volume knob. And, and you know, and like self control, for example, is not even really associated very closely with, like, you people use it around food a lot, Oh, I wish I had more self control. So I would not eat this food. And self control does exist. There are various definitions, but it's probably not the thing that we use to not eat food. There's like some other constructs.

But when we have those beliefs, you know, I just don't have self control. I just can't be trusted around this one food, then we may end up developing some maladaptive coping mechanisms. And where we see this manifesting with food is that people will restrict that it'll be an off limits food, it's not allowed in the house, they can't be around it. But it's a food that they really desire. And so when they are inevitably around that food, they eat it in uncomfortable amounts, because they are predicting inaccurately, that they won't be eating that food again. And so this is sort of the Last Supper effect. And then you know, they'll then the cycle kind of just repeats over and over again. And so counter intuitively, often, the solution to that is not more restriction, but it's actually liberation from restriction and habituation to that food. So we start to increase our exposure to it, and give ourselves permission to eat it. And along with other practices, like mindfulness and making sure that our emotional needs are met. Over time, we end up just being okay with being around that food. So this was something that actually I had done with peanut butter. So I'll go, I'll share my peanut butter story, because I think a lot of people can relate to this one I had. So I had had a history of disordered eating when I was in college and grad school and competed as a weight class athletes and ones even as a physique athlete. And those are both high risk sports for eating pathology. And I got to a place where I felt very out of control around peanut butter. And I if I didn't have if I had it in the house, I would just eat the whole jar, you know, regardless of how I feel It was just that I thought, okay, I'm not gonna eat peanut butter again after this for a long time, so I'm just going to get it out of the way, just get out of the house, I thought, Well, okay, that's not super effective. So how can I make this peanut butter less accessible, maybe I'll modify my food environment. And that can be effective. And so in this case, I froze my peanut butter. And it did help me to not eat that jar of peanut butter, because it was frozen. But it was really sort of a bandaid on that habit loop. And whenever I was around other sources of peanut butter, I would eat uncomfortable amounts. And I thought, you know, how am I going to get out of this, like, Am I gonna have to freeze my peanut butter forever. And I ended up attending a seminar by Nancy Clark, who is a sports dietitian. And she's really well known and prolific dietitian, and she was talking about eating pathology in in athletes, too, to, uh, you know, it's just a small part of the overall presentation. But what really got me Was she said, you know, if you have an athlete that really loves a food, you invite them to eat the food, every meal. And I thought, can I eat peanut butter, every meal, Oh, my gosh, like, maybe I thought, you know, nothing else has worked, I'm just going to go ahead and eat peanut butter, every meal, it's gonna be a tiny amount of peanut butter, you know, I still had to at that time, like hit my macros, but it was getting peanut butter every meal. And I did that. And it did not take long before I was like, I don't think I like peanut butter. As much as I thought I liked peanut butter. And I it was a concerted effort, I wasn't eating peanut butter every meal until I got to the point where I thought, okay, I don't like I don't really care about peanut butter, I can take it or leave it. And so I was able to have peanut butter in the house, not frozen, just in my pantry. And I did this habitually over the course of several years, with a bunch of different foods. And now it's things that that you know, at that time, seven years ago, or so I never thought that I'd be able to have in the house, cereal cookies, peanut butter, whatever, like two pints of ice cream, I just know, I can eat that whenever I want. And when I eat those things, I do it while I'm paying attention. And if it's not something I really enjoy, I don't have to finish it. So. So that was one change that I found to be really difficult to make. But it did take, I'm challenging, you know, my beliefs, and then also really accepting outcomes that were outside of my control. I wasn't sure how the peanut butter experiment was going to go. But I had to be open to whatever outcome would would be would result from that. So that's something I work on a lot with, with clients that we help to kind of foundationally we establish what's really important, you know, determining their values, and move through challenging some of those beliefs that can keep them stuck in cycles.

Tony Winyard 42:55

And I guess somebody must be quite surprised when you say to you give them permission to now keep on eating that there must be quite surprised.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 43:04

You know, it's, it's, um, I can't even say that I necessarily give them permission, because I can tell them you have permission to eat any food, and they have to give themselves permission. Yeah. And, and that is, I think, an understandable challenge, because people are often very fearful that if they give themselves permission to eat, then they will eat everything forever, without stopping. And, you know, and they're the other side of that fear is that they'll gain weight from it. And in some cases, the fear of weight gain is so significant that they are, they feel stuck in that place of, you know, kind of losing out on quality of life, because they're afraid of the repercussions of eating more and gaining weight. And, you know, and that's a fear that I dealt with too. And it's part of, of our of existing in a culture that judges weight gain and stigmatises it and stigmatises larger bodies. And so even people who are in normative bodies, that could you know, even if they did gain weight, they would still be in a normative body. It's just the fear of weight gain that that is, you know, another thing to discuss another belief that has to be examined and evaluated and really kind of dig down deep. And see, you know, is that something that we can make space for, because it's really a necessary part of the process that it is, in this case, it's weight neutral, not all interventions for people who are trying to you know, establish a, an adaptive relationship with food are going to be weight neutral, but this is one example where we just kind of have to say, you know, I can't to be transparent. I can't tell you what's going to happen to your body along the way. And it's Really, it's a huge act of courage for people to do that, you know, because there's, there's so much fear attached to what could happen.

Tony Winyard 45:08

And so can on that issue. I believe you've got some webinars coming up around that kind of subject.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 45:14

Yes. So, Shannon and I started this bridging the gap article series. Like in the beginning of 2020. Really, it started before that, and then we published it took us a long time, right, the first article. So the first article was meant to really be just kind of a short blog that I felt impassion to write because I was watching people who didn't know anything about intuitive eating. And I mean, the intuitive eating framework developed by Tripoli at Rush, didn't know anything about it. And they were debating about its utility in its application. And, and they were doing it from a place of misinformation and mis application. And I thought, well, that is not a useful conversation. You know, and and if we want to determine whether this actually works, and for what we have to be correct, about its intended applications before we say it's not going to work. So that was part of it. And then the other aspects where I was, at this time, I was on my own journey of learning about, and practising mindful eating, and interoceptive awareness, which is our ability to accurately identify the, the internal sensations that we're experiencing. And I realised that there was this overlap between the interoceptive awareness that we practice with, like mindful eating, and intuitive eating, and autoregulation, which is very much on the opposite end of that, you know, that is like, hardcore. That's like Sport Science. You know, when we're talking about a progressive periodized training programme, that autoregulation is based on our ability to judge our rate of perceived exertion in an exercise, it's literally saying on a scale of like, five to 10, how much did this suck? It was a nine. And that is a completely subjective, intuitive process. And so I thought, well, maybe I can bridge the gap here and say, Hey, we're using the same skill in all of these ways. So you over on this side of the debate you over on this side of the beat, see what we have in common. And then it turned into this huge, like, 10 page article where we talked about that. And then we talked about, you know, the misconceptions around like, the diets don't work and metabolically healthy obesity, and, you know, the, the the long term, long term like stasis of long term weight management, and we just took this huge deep dive. And then months later, we ended up at a place with four articles. And what was kind of the first iteration of the comprehensive coaching framework because we thought, Well, is there not a way that we can help people with weight neutral or weight focused goals? Can't we meet in the middle and just like work with clients to help them reach their place of flourishing health? And that's where that model came from. And then, as we were writing about this, you know, people started asking, Oh, is this from a webinar, you guys gonna do a presentation? And we were like, no, we're just writing because this is fine. And then all of a sudden, we're like, we're gonna do a webinar. And so we did that last year in October, it was a three part webinar series. So we talked about the origins at first paper, and then our sort of like the process and the application of the comprehensive coaching framework. And we were really fortunate that we have feedback from people who are real experts, you know, psychologists, sports psychologists, who could give us feedback and say, Here's why you might refine the model. And so we we did that. So it's always been this iterative framework that we're that we're changing based on empirical evidence based on feedback based on our experiences. And so we are putting that out again, here in a few weeks. So beginning of April, we're going to be putting that series out again, and with updates, of course, because that's what we do, we can't ever say like anything is done. And Shannon has also put out a really excellent series of webinars on body image. And we continue to, you know, write articles. So I have two more now that's taken, they've taken a more socio cultural and sort of historical look at the origins of dieting and diet culture. And we have some more in the works for clients and coaches taking a look at our what we call the the intentional eating spectrum. So it is a way to help clients kind of orient themselves toward an approach to nutrition based on their experiences, goals and preferences. And you know, not to say that one way is better than the other because all ways have their their pros and cons. And so webinars on that and who knows what else the future holds.

Tony Winyard 49:54

Well, we'll put details of all of the webinars in the show notes, but what are the dates for the webinars

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 50:00

So it's going to be every Thursday from starting on April 8. So those three Thursdays in a row, and then the following two Thursdays, we're going to be having our practical application sessions. So those are sort of like small group sessions where people can come in and ask questions and brainstorm. And we actually walk people through sort of like a real step by step process of how we engage with our clients with that model. And we also have a comprehensive coaching Facebook community. So that is a small but growing group of actually coaches and clients who come together to have conversations about these topics. And when we are hosting some of our new, we do a monthly q&a with them as well. So they get access to that. And so yeah, that's some kind of first, you know, like one on one attention, and we both provide mentoring as well. So we're just trying to help people help other people.

Tony Winyard 50:57

So the comprehensive coaching Facebook group, you mentioned, who would that be relevant for, what kind of people?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 51:04

it would be, we are probably, you know, we're, I would say, it's maybe a three to one ratio of coaches to clients at the moment. But it's really any coach that feels like they are kind of stuck in the middle between a weight focus versus weight neutral approach, they're trying to find their voice, and they are looking for some context, you know, behind the, the claims like that the, you know, really divergent claims and sort of like loud voices in the industry are making and, you know, we have some coaches that are concerned, they don't want to cause harm, but they want to help their clients in meet their clients where they are. So coaches who are kind of facing that, and then any clients who wants to share their experiences, because that is really one of the those those voices are important, especially for new coaches, to hear from a client. And then we also, I'm partnering with some trainers who are establishing a website that will help to connect practitioners and clients and patients. And they are in our group, asking for feedback. And so we're getting feedback from both coaches and clients. So if that's something that people would want to be involved with, starting in April, that would be another great way to connect and collaborate to.

Tony Winyard 52:31

We mean, time Is glying, and it often seems to in these episodes, but I I wanted to dig into some of your emails before the episode, I asked you about books that you would recommend. Oh, yeah. And I wanted to go deeper now, but I don't think we're gonna have time to go deep. But But you did. You've got some books that you you say that you do recommend? So do you want to just sort of talk about those books? And the reason why that you you recommend them?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 52:56

Absolutely. I'll try to remember all three that I recommended. But I know one was Momo, by Michael ends, he wrote the never ending story. And actually, I just read that book. It was it was recommended by a client of mine that I've been working with for a long time. And the reason she recommended it was there it was it was it was an indirect recommendation, but she actually quoted it. And she quoted a section that explains that momos special skill was listening. And the way that she listened to people helped them feel more capable. And I was just so touched that she shared that. And so it's a young adult book. I mean, it's it's for like kids, but it is about it's a story about how time is made and spent. And I think it serves as a really valuable and helpful reminder that we can all be sort of victims of time theft and time famine, depending on what we're like how we're spending our time. And so I thought that that was just a really great book. And it reminds me to slow down sometimes when I can. Um, the other one I know was a Kurt Vonnegut book. I want to say it was breakfast of champions. I really it was Yeah, yeah. So we could probably be like any Kurt Vonnegut book. I love slaughterhouse five I love face worse than death. I love breakfast of champions. I picked breakfast of champions because I think Vonnegut's writing, even though he was writing in like, like the 1960s and 1970s it's still very poignant. It's still really relevant. And he just talks about, like the human condition in society, and how frustrated sometimes he was but how entertained he was to just how ridiculous humans can be. And so he wrote sort of science fiction and he wrote, you know, about about like, politics and government. But in a really like kind of, I don't really get just a funny like dry humour type of way. And and There's some really like hilarious illustrations in there too. He never took himself too seriously, which I really appreciate. So that was one of them. And then I can't remember what the third book was. The last

Tony Winyard 55:09

one was modern food, moral food.

Unknown Speaker 55:11

Oh, yeah. So modern food, moral food. So this was written by I want to say she's a food anthropologist. Helen Zoe vite. Yep, yep. She so this was a really cool book, it's actually about the intersection of, it's kind of like how self control met calorie counting, met, striving for a smaller body. And so it is a historical account of the rise of like, how posh it is to count calories and and sort of the origins of diet and culture. So that's a really great place to get started. If you want to learn more, there's another book called paradox of plenty, by Harvey Levin Steen is a little bit longer and a little bit more of a textbook kind of read. But they're actually both I think they're both textbooks. So those would be my recommendations for kind of getting into the history. And I also have referenced that article in two of my articles on the bridging the gap website that talk about the history of and moralization of food and body and health

Tony Winyard 56:18

I'm getting the impression that's another thing you have in common with Shannon, just like you read so many books.

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 56:24

Yeah, yeah, I usually reading a few at a time. So I'll have like a book that I'm reading for fun. And then I'll have other books that I read for, for content creation and education. And so yeah, Shana, and I have like a huge compilation of like, reference, you know, research articles and books and whatnot. And I'm constantly adding to my list. So I have like, you know, Nisha, and a whole slew of other like philosophy books to that I'm like, oh, feed these, you know, when I'm, when I'm on the beach next week.

Tony Winyard 56:55

I would like to ask you so many more questions, but I want to be respectful of your time. So if people want to find out more about you and what you do, where's the best places to go?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 57:05

Yeah, they can find me on Facebook and Instagram at vitaminPhD. My website is www.vitaminPhDnutrition.com And if they want to see more of the bridging the gap work that's btg, comprehensive coaching calm.

Tony Winyard 57:19

And finally, you have got a quotation that you like, I believe?

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 57:23

yes. So I always just use the the latter half of this quotation. And to give some context, this was Kurt Vonnegut speaking about his uncle. And he said that one of the things he really liked about his uncle was that when he was having a good time, when he was in just a really lovely moment, he would look around and say, if this isn't nice, what is and i think that that is a really sweet reminder to notice those nice moments, you know, those little sort of mundane things that might go by unnoticed if we don't make a concerted effort to be grateful for them.

Tony Winyard 58:05

That's really nice. Gabrielle, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you. Thank you very much for being a guest on the show. And I'm sure people are gonna love what you could share. And

Dr Gabrielle Fundaro 58:15

I'm glad to hear that and the feeling is mutual. So I think you, thank you.

Tony Winyard 58:22

Next week is Episode 10. And we welcome back, Vicki Wusche. She was on the podcast sometime last year. And I've invited her back again. Because one of the things that's obviously happened in the last year, there's been a lot of stress and anxiety over the various lockdowns and so on. And that obviously affects health, anxiety and stress. And something else that affects stress that really increases stress is anxiety over finances, and money. And this is an area where Vicki is a real expert. And so we really dig into this. And she gives some really good habits, on ways that we can help to improve our financial situation. Ever that may be for for different people. That's next week's episode number 10. With Vicki Wusche. If you know anyone who you feel would really benefit from some of the advice that Gabrielle shared with us, please do share the episode with them. Want to take a screenshot and share it to them or maybe just send them a link to the podcast? please do leave a review. why not subscribe and I hope you have a great week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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