Episode 093: Establishing A Solid Foundation for Health

093: Establishing A Solid Foundation for Health

Would you run before you can walk? Just like you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, you also can’t medicate or even supplement your way out of one either.

If you want to address the root causes of your health complaints and find a resolution for them, then the environment that your symptoms and illness manifested itself in needs to be addressed.

A sensible, flexible and bio-individual way to do this is through the Functional Nutrition framework. This is the framework that I’ve structured my health coaching services around and take all of my clients through.

So in this new mini-series of The Live FAB Life Podcast, I’m walking you through each step of this framework. In this first episode you’ll hear: 

  • Why its critical to establish a solid foundation by removing obstacles to health and healing by taking care of the non-negotiables

  • What the non-negotiables are

  • How to start addressing them


+ Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...

Welcome back to The Live FAB Life Podcast. I’m your host, Naomi Nakamura.

Today’s episode is the first in a mini series where I’ll be taking you through the Functional Nutrition framework that I use in my coaching practice when working with clients.

I think I shared this, or at least parts of it, way back in Episode 007, but that was a long time ago, and this time I thought I’d take you through each step, one episode at a time.

Before I go any further, I want to give credit where credit is due and say that I did not come up with or create this framework. Rather, it was taught to me during my training at the Functional Nutrition Alliance.

After completing my studies and getting my health coaching certification at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I wanted to advance and further my education, which I did during a two-year intensive with the Functional Nutrition Alliance. It’s been two years since I completed my training there and now I’m active as an alumni, keeping my education fresh and up-to-date with additional continuing educational opportunities, trainings and staying active in its community.

If you’ve never heard of Functional Nutrition, you might be wondering what it is. I explained it in great detail back in Episode 026 and even shared how I used it to address Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS) in Episode 025, so you may want to go back and listen to those episodes.

But to further my thoughts, I whole-heartedly believe in this approach is because it truly allows for bio-individuality - the belief that we are so unique and that no two people are the same, which is why standard protocols and dogmatic approaches don’t work for everyone.

Because taking one way of eating, one way of exercising, one way of sleeping, and trying to apply it to everyone, well, this kind of approach would only be effective if we were 100% the same, wouldn’t it? If we all lived in the exact same environment, felt precisely the same emotions, had the same social communities - you get the idea. That isn’t possible so how can we expect standard protocols to work? They don’t take into account our uniqueness.

Which is why, instead of having standardized diets, rules and protocols, I find it more effective to have systems, like the three tiers that we’ll be discussing during this series.

Having a systematic framework invites sensibility and flexibility - it meets you wherever you are at in your health journey, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and can be applied to almost any situation, whatever you’re facing.

So, in conventional medicine, and to a degree, even in holistic medicine, there’s a tendency to believe that the answer to healing lies simply in medications, or in the holistic world, supplements.

While there’s no doubt medications and supplements have an essential role in a healing journey, to, as the saying goes, “put your eggs all in one basket” is an incomplete approach that may not sufficiently addressed, “why” did your health issues even begin?

Just like you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, you also can’t medicate or supplement your way out of one either.

If you want to address the root causes and find resolution, then the environment that your symptoms and your illness manifested itself in has to be addressed, and you can do this through this Functional Nutrition framework.

So officially, the framework has three tiers. I’ve added my own fourth tier, which I’ll share in a few episodes.

But today, I want to talk about Tier One, which applies to everyone because it addresses the non-negotiables, the foundations for health.

When I start to work with a client, no matter if we’re working on helping them transition to a healthier diet, addressing a chronic illness, managing stress, losing weight, no matter what the client’s goal is, I will always start them out in Tier One, because if you haven’t done the work in Tier One, it’s a waste of time and energy to try to work in the more advanced stages of Tiers Two, Three and Four.

It would be like trying to run before you can walk.

So what is Tier One about?

It focuses on removing obstacles to healing. And this is done by removing inflammatory things whether it be through diet, daily habits or even inflammatory, toxic relationships. Because how can you expect to do advanced work when you’re still exposing yourself to things that cause inflammation?

Now while I fully believe in bio-individuality, there are certain things that I believe apply to everyone and that’s what we call “non-negotiables.”

And these non-negotiables are things like cleaning up your diet by cutting out junk food, refined sugar, gluten and dairy.

I realize that we can universally agree that sugar is bad for you, but you may be skeptical about gluten and dairy. Well here’s the thing - they promote inflammation. And if you’re trying to heal from an illness or just simply want to feel more energized and healthier, things that promote inflammation work against you getting to your goals.

Last month I was in Whistler, British Columbia on a family vacation, spectating the Ironman. It was my first visit to Whistler and Whistler Village was so charming with all the shops and restaurants. But one thing that left me perplexed was a few of the restaurants had signs outside listing its specials and highlights of their menus and several of them listed “gluten light?”

I remember taking a photo of it and sending to a few of my fellow nutritionist friends saying, “I don’t get this whole “gluten light” thing - what’s the point?”

I get it - we all love bread. We all love carbs, and the idea of going gluten-free isn’t appealing. In fact, many folks I know believe that they don’t react to gluten, or for some, even dairy.

Now I have a lot of thoughts here so bear with me…

1 | How do you know you do don’t react to something unless you remove it for a while, then reintroduce it?

Sometimes you live with something for so long, you don’t know how much better you can feel without it.

Like being in toxic but comfortable job. Like not going on holiday. You may think, “oh I’m fine, but when you actually do get another job, or end up going on that vacation, then you realize how great it actually feels to do the thing you never knew you actually needed.

So if you’ve never even tried and given your body a break from sugar, gluten and or dairy, give it a try and see what happens. You have NOTHING to lose.

2 | When you’re health is struggling, exposing yourself to even just a little something can be just as harmful as a lot of it, which is why this whole “gluten-lite” thing is honestly, silly and ridiculous.

Now I know a lot of people who know that they have a sensitivity, an intolerance for gluten. They know how it makes them feel and they think, “well, I’ll just have a little.”

Well guess what, every time eat “just a little”, it’s still damaging your insides. You’re still allowing something inflammatory into your body that’s promoting inflammation that your immune system has to battle. Doesn’t it have enough things that are out of your control that it has to battle already?

And this kind of chronic, but low-grade inflammation that your body has to fight, this is how illnesses start to happen.

So when you’re trying to heal and feel better, removing these three things is a non-negotiable, and its just a start.

You will have other non-negotiables that will be specific to you - it may be addressing your sleep hygiene, your exercise, how you manage stress, how you communicate and establish boundaries in your relationships. It could be additional changes to your diet, but you’ll have to figure out what those things are for you. And you do this through a lot of observation - through assessing and tracking - and these are things that I teach my clients how to do when we work together.

How do I teach them how to do this?

Well if you listened to Episode 008, “How to Break Up with Sugar”, which is the second most popular episode to date on this show, second to only, Episode 019, “How I Shifted My Mindset and Changed My Relationship with Food”, then you already know that the 21-Day Sugar Detox is the PERFECT program for working in Tier 1.


For 21-days you are removing refined sugar, junk food and gluten from your diet Depending on the level that you are doing, if you decide to do Levels 2 or 3, you are also removing dairy The different levels allow for flexibility for you decide what your appropriate starting point is. For example, and this is in no way a knock against Whole 30 - but if you’ve never done any type of clean eating or the sort, Whole 30 is a pretty advanced program to start with. I know tens of thousands of people have had massive success with it. I did - but its not for everyone. And trying to do an advanced level program when you’re just beginning is a sure way to set yourself up for failure and perhaps to not have the confidence to try again. A frequent question I’m always asked is to compare the 21-Day Sugar Detox to Whole 30 and really - this about sums it up. I think it depends on an individual’s personality, but I chose to be a 21DSD coach so I can offer it to my clients because of this flexibility and room to grow that it offers without the stigma of failing something. As 21DSD coaches, we have the liberty to add-on to the program as we see fit, and in my coaching programs, I also address the lifestyle factors of sleep, stress management and even time management and how to juggle it, especially when you’re a women in tech or a busy professional

So there you have it - this is Tier One - the Non-Negotiable Foundations for Health in the Functional Nutrition Framework. This is where I start all of my clients at, or at least do an extensive assessment to ensure that its the appropriate starting place for them.

Now if you’re ready to start working in this framework and ready to begin Tier One, my next 21-day Sugar Detox group coaching program begins in a couple of weeks.

I do a 4-week program where the first week is entirely focused on prepping yourself, and your kitchen before doing any dietary changes. And that prep week begins on Monday, September 2nd.

You can find out all the details for my coaching program, along with the schedule for live classes and how I structure it over on my website at www.livefablife.com/21dsd.

And if you have any questions about it, feel free to contact me directly at www.livefablife.com/contact or reachout to me on social media on Instagram at @livefablifewithnaomi or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/livefablife.

Next week I’ll be back with an episode on Tier Two of the Functional Nutrition framework where we’ll get in deeper, more advanced work for those who’s issues haven’t been completely resolved by working through Tier One.

As always, you can check out the show notes for this episode over on my website at www.livefablife.com/093. That’s all that I have for you this week and I’ll see you right back here for the next episode!


Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Coach who helps women in tech who struggle with everyday health concerns that if left unaddressed can add up to big problems. She teaches them how to identify and address the root causes of their conditions. By taking practical actions towards improving diet and gut health, and reduce exposure to environmental toxins she helps them bring their body back into balance.

Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an avid fan of Bay Area sports, and can often be found exploring the Bay Area with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!

Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest