This week, we’re featuring Ellen Syverson, MPH, FNTP, RWP. Ellen Syversen has a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health, and over 10 years of experience as a certified health educator. Her passion for nutrition started as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, West Africa, where she worked on maternal and child health issues as a nutritionist in a rural village for two years. Prior to starting a nutritional therapy practice, Ellen managed and directed the OSU Lane County Extension Nutrition Education Program and conducted numerous seminars county wide.
How are you using the skills you learned through RWS?
Between 2016 and 2017, I completed all three levels of RWS. Prior to that I did adrenal and hormone panels as this was my area of expertise at the time, but I did not feel like I had enough tools to take on the more difficult clients that were presenting with challenging gastrointestinal symptoms.
Since completing the RWS courses, I have had amazing success with challenging clients, many with autoimmune diagnoses, by using all the tools and protocols I learned through the coursework. I have listened to every Mindshare presentation, mentored with RWS instructors to increase my knowledge, and am active in the RWS forum while also pursuing continuing education opportunities to assist the complex clients in my practice, Pathways for Health, LLC.
Where I am now: I currently have an integrative MD who provides continual referrals including his fiancée. I have learned from these referrals that he is singing my praises and telling his patients that I am the best functional nutritionist in Lane County, OR. Another client’s Harvard-trained functional medicine doctor looked at the protocol that I put together for her after doing comprehensive blood work, GI MAP and MRT plus a menopausal hormone panel with CAR. He commented, “Wow, your nutritionist really knows what she is doing, and I agree with all her testing recommendations and subsequent protocols.” I can attribute this success to the skills, tools, and clinical confidence I have gained through RWS. Currently, I mainly work with females age 20-60; however, I do have men and some children in my practice. Just a month ago, I joined Margaret Floyd Barry’s Eat Naked Kitchen Team, and I have started seeing her clients as well. It is exciting to work with Margaret and be a part of her team in addition to seeing clients in my own practice.
What’s your superpower when it comes to working with clients?
I was a psychology major in college and did a lot of volunteer and internship work. I worked in a group home for emotionally disturbed boys, volunteered on a suicide hotline, and I spent my summers working with mentally disabled clients in a group home setting, while also waitressing to earn money for school.
So, my superpower is counseling and coaching which come extremely easy to me, and really helps people feel safe and comfortable when working with me. I help them work through their ambivalence, support them through the challenging protocols with empathy, and I can put myself in their shoes. I always share my own story and past health struggles to keep it real, so my clients know that I get it. Clients feel relieved to know that I am not perfect, that I too have struggled and suffered, and can understand what they are going through.
What’s one fun thing most people don’t know about you?
Most people do not know that I spent two and a half years in Niger, West Africa in a rural village as a nutritionist in the Peace Corps. I assisted the midwife with births, weighed babies, gave health education lessons to women in Hausa, the local language, got funding for a community garden and Vitamin A distribution project, did home visits to check on women with sick children, and trained incoming volunteers for two months alongside a renowned International Health Consultant. I witnessed a great deal of Marasmus and Kwashiorkor, but I also got to observe how happy my fellow villagers were, even in the face of adversity. I did get malaria, but I also got to travel to Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Morocco. I departed the African continent from Morocco on a boat going past the straights of Gibraltar to Spain.
How do you spend your time when not seeing clients?
When not seeing clients, I love to spend time with my husband, two teen girls (16 and 19) and our dog, Ginger, doing outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, camping, and skiing. I love to travel to new places, read, do HIIT and Zumba workouts, cook yummy nutrient dense meals, bake healthy treats, soak in my hot tub, and spend time with friends over dinner and a glass of wine. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is attend outdoor concerts and dance like crazy!
Can you share a success story from your practice?
When I first saw Krista, she could not get out of bed due to debilitating migraines, and she could barely drink water without feeling severe nausea. She has Cushing’s disease, a thyroidectomy due to cancer, and had no gallbladder.
She was eating a SAD diet and had no experience with a clean, whole food diet. She had more food sensitivities than any client I have ever seen. It was a real challenge for her to upgrade her diet, avoid the inflammatory foods and figure out what to eat. However, I was able to coach her through the process and find reasonable substitutes for all her favorite foods. After completing her six-month program that included blood work, stool testing, food sensitivity testing, and a complex supplement protocol, the migraines were gone, her nausea was 75% better, her bloating was minimal, and her diarrhea resolved. She was one happy camper, and incredibly grateful for the help and support.
Combining her background as a health educator with her training as a nutritional therapy practitioner, Ellen offers clients holistic nutrition counseling, therapy and education with the goal of correcting imbalances in body chemistry and achieving optimal wellness naturally. She is a Level 3 Restorative Wellness Solutions Practitioner, and will be taking the Level 4 course this August. As a functional nutritionist who loves to use objective lab testing, she specializes in chronic fatigue, food sensitivities, and digestive dysfunction/hormonal imbalance. Ellen is a mom to two lovely teenage girls and a sweet Belgian Malinois dog, has been happily married for over 25 years, is a nature enthusiast and avid hiker, and she loves to practice what she preaches. “It brings me great joy to watch clients’ health transform from sick and tired to energized and joyful.” She has been practicing as an NTP for 11 years and as an RWP practitioner since 2016.