Seeing a naturopath is pretty scary. Isn’t it? In this article, I will talk about the five things that make seeing a naturopath scary for some people. Now, if I go out anywhere, which is pretty rare these days in all honesty, and people meet me, I generally don’t let them know that I’m a naturopath because I think naturopaths are often put into the same category as psychologists. You don’t want to meet them at a party after you’ve had a few drinks or you’ve been eating some bad food or whatever it is. Your conversation might be a little bit more relaxed than what it would normally be when perhaps you were chatting with a naturopath generally in a consultation.
I often find that there’s quite a lot of apprehension of people not wanting to see a naturopath. I think that’s pretty understandable. Many naturopaths tend to get a fairly bad rap for what we do, and we don’t really fit into a lot of conventional society’s ways of thinking about things and doing things. So that’s understandable. So I wanted to talk about the five main fears or anxieties around seeing a naturopath today. Perhaps you can overcome these fears or anxieties about seeing a naturopath and actually go out there and do it.
Fear of Judgement
So the first one, I guess, is that there’s a fear of judgment. With many naturopaths, they can tend to get fairly rigid with their ideas about what you should be doing with your lifestyle and what you should be eating. Many of us who have been practising naturopaths have been practising for a little longer; we understand that you need to live in the real world. You need to be experiencing things, and you’ve got to do what is best for you. In practice, I have learnt not to be judgmental, and everyone is on a different part of their health journey and has different knowledge and experiences, and we need to understand that. So a good naturopath really won’t judge you for whatever it is that you’re doing, okay? So what you’re eating, the lifestyle that you’re living, the things that you’ve done to yourself over the years, we’ve all done some crazy stuff.
So the second thing I wanted to talk about is overwhelm. So for a lot of people, they’ve tried so many different things. They’ve Googled their symptoms. They have tried a load of different supplements and perhaps spent thousands of dollars on supplements. There’s this fear with overwhelm that a naturopath might expect a certain amount of commitment from you as a client or a patient to a certain lifestyle or dietary regime or an exercise regime or something along those lines. So I think there’s a fear that you might go straight into overwhelm. I think that’s pretty normal because, in many situations, most people’s lives are pretty busy. Additional chores like food preparation or meal prep and really thinking about what you’re eating and exercising every day and meditating and all the rest of it can seem pretty time-consuming.
I guess the best way that I can remedy this particular fear or anxiety is that often you need to do a bit of work and put in a few hours to allow yourself to prevent long-term health conditions. But also a lot of people are working from a point of a deficit when it comes to their health. So the kind of people who would feel overwhelmed at seeing a naturopath often have their energy lower, and stress levels are high. So it’s getting your head to the point where you’re ready to take responsibility for your own health and say, “Yeah, I’m ready to do this.” Having a practitioner or naturopath that can actually chunk things down for you, so put your protocols or your health plan into bite-size morsels so that it is easier to work with and you can understand the journey that you’re going to be going on. So overwhelm, that’s understandable. It happens with all of us.
Fear of Over-prescription
The third thing is fear of overprescribing. This is a personal gripe of mine with a lot of practitioners. Please note that I do, as a service, I do a supplement consolidation as well. So I know that some naturopaths will overprescribe deliberately. So they’ll prescribe between 10 to 12 or maybe 15 different supplements for their clients, hoping that something, maybe something, will work. It’s a bit disconcerting to find that some practitioners don’t have the confidence to prescribe according to the individual and prescribe confidently. So there’s a fear that you’ll walk away at the end of your consultation with a naturopath with several hundreds of dollars worth of supplements and things, tablets and things that you need to be taking. A good naturopath won’t do that. It’s something that I’m always really mindful of because a well-prescribed supplement, whether it be a herbal or nutritional supplement, one supplement is often a lot better than using a whole bunch of different things.
Really, you don’t know what’s going to be working. What I work on as a practitioner is a person’s overall wellbeing. So it’s not just about the supplement or the prescription of a tablet or a powder or a capsule or whatever it is; it is a prescription for a lifestyle change or a dietary modification or some meditation or an assignment or project or whatever it is. When they come in, I always advise my clients; I give them a budget to work to with their consultation and their supplements. I always say, “Look, it’s going to be this much for your consultation and perhaps budget for this much with your supplements.” I try to work within those guidelines so that people aren’t shocked when they leave their consultation. So yeah, overprescribing is rife within the industry, unfortunately. But I think a lot of practitioners are becoming a little bit more mindful in that regard.
Fear of a Restrictive Diet (FOMO)
The fourth issue with seeing a naturopath and why it’s scary is fear of a restrictive diet or FOMO, fear of missing out. Look, many naturopaths will put a lot of their clients onto gluten-free and dairy-free diets without even looking at a person’s diagnosed medical condition or even considering whether it’s necessary. So the way that I like to work as a practitioner, if I am restricting an individual’s diet and it’s usually going to be cutting out processed foods and sugary foods and alcohol and all of those, the usual suspects, I like to focus on the things that you can have. In Australia, we have access to so many different types of foods and many different types of cuisines and lots of really healthy food. I think the emphasis should be on eating an abundance of healthy foods.
As a practitioner, I think it’s being able to accommodate a particular person’s dietary requirements. Not every person needs to be on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. That being said, a lot of people do. But it’s not the first port of call for a lot of individuals. So finding a practitioner that will work with you, finding out the best foods for you, and not just using, I guess, broad, sweeping dietary suggestions. It’s a matter of individualizing dietary protocols for that person. It is about, I guess, as a person looking to see a naturopath, it’s finding that practitioner who will all do that for you, who will listen to you. I think that’s the key, a practitioner who can listen to your needs. So the fear of a restrictive diet or fear of missing out on all of those things you want. Yeah, so.
A lot of that fear of missing out is it’s an emotional thing as well. It’s not just nutritious, or it’s looking at the reasons why you fear cutting out your favourite foods or processed foods or coffee or alcohol or sugar or whatever it is. I work in consultation with my clients on addressing what is the issue with that particular thing that you’re holding onto really tight, so. I think that’s understandable, fear of a restrictive diet.
Fear of The Truth
The fifth thing, the fifth fear that many people have with seeing a naturopath is fear of the truth. I find as a practitioner that a lot of people, really, know what they need to do. They know what’s going on with their bodies. Still, often they need someone who is a professional, someone who has a bit of knowledge and education on health and an ability to see what’s happening with a person’s symptom picture to be able to say, “Yeah, you do have this issue, and it does need to be addressed.” I think that fear of the truth, that as we get older, our daily habits, the little things that we do on a day-to-day basis will influence our health. As we get into our forties and fifties and sixties and older, there is that buildup of accumulated bad lifestyle habits, of bad dietary habits and things catch up to you. You can’t avoid the reality of the side effects of bad lifestyle choices.
So sometimes it is about saying, “Yeah. Hey, I do need to make some changes to my diet. I do need to make some changes to the way that I live my life, the foods that I eat, the boundaries that I set, the relationships that I have, the communication that I have with my family and loved ones or colleagues, work colleagues.” So that fear of the truth comes up with underlying anxieties associated with that understanding or knowledge that you know that you’re not doing the right thing, you know that the lifestyle choice, so the foods you’re eating are not in your best interest. Like I said, most people know that. I guess, when I think about it, the best way to actually overcome these fears and anxieties, the things that make you scared when you’re going to a naturopath, is that a naturopath is there to serve you and to help you.
A lot of us like to say that we work with preventative health, as in we’re working to help an individual prevent long-term health conditions. Really, for a lot of my clients, I say to them, “Gee, it would have been great if I had met you like 20 years ago so we could have worked on this issue before it came up.” But in reality, a lot of the time, what we’re working with is once someone is experiencing the symptoms of a chronic health condition. A chronic health condition doesn’t just appear overnight; chronic actually means that it’s been going on for a long time. A lot of us need to face up to the reality that we’re not going to be young forever, and we do need to take responsibility for our own health. That’s the key to my clinic that I work as an educator and as a guide to help people to reach their health goals.
But my goal for that individual is not only for them to become healthier and more vital and vibrant, but also for them to become independently healthy. That means that they don’t have to rely so much on pharmaceutical medications, and they don’t have to give their energy to their GP or specialist just looking for answers. So they bring in that energy for themselves, and that power goes to them to take responsibility for their own health, and that happens. That’s something that should be happening on an everyday day-to-day basis. It is something that we all should take responsibility for. But a lot of us become, I guess, a little bit complacent to the point where we’re behaving in a way that is not beneficial for our health, and it is not loving for ourselves as well.
So I guess this is me saying that; hopefully, this can help you to understand that those fears and anxieties about seeing a naturopath are pretty normal and natural. Finding a practitioner who can be nonjudgmental, who won’t overprescribe, who won’t be trying to get you to commit to too many projects or assignments in the one consultation, and hopefully won’t give you a dietary regime that they give to absolutely everyone. They are willing to listen to your specific needs. Also, I guess that fear of the truth is that you actually want to hear the truth, or you should want to hear the truth. Hopefully, the naturopath that you choose to see can be truthful with you rather than just trying to make you feel better.
Understanding the reality of your particular health condition and what you’re experiencing, and why you’re experiencing the symptoms that you might be experiencing can empower you to move forward with your health.
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