We’re excited to introduce you to Josh Gitalis, Toronto-based Clinical Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner. Josh and his team work with clients to provide evidence-based clinical nutrition and integrative healthcare to clients locally and globally. In addition, Josh is passionate about educating other practitioners and offers a comprehensive certification program in Functional Nutrition. Today, Josh is sharing more about his own training and expertise and what brings him joy in helping those on their journey to better health.
Welcome, Josh! We’re really excited to be featuring you. To get us started, can you tell us a bit about who you are and who you help?
I’m a Clinical Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner, and run a Toronto-based private practice, with a worldwide client base. I have taught Clinical Nutrition for several natural health colleges and run my Functional Nutrition Certification Program. I split my time between working on complex clinical cases in my clinic and teaching.
The area of functional medicine has really taken off. Is it true that you were actually the first Functional Medicine Practitioner in Canada to be certified by IFM?
Yes, this is true. I like to think that I was in the right place, at the right time, coupled with the right mindset to pull it all together.
After I got my nutrition diploma, I was always looking for the latest and greatest in clinical nutrition. I attended any nutrition-related event or seminar I could find, and eventually enrolled in the Clayton College of Natural Health – a school that had been around for 30 years at the time. Well, they, unfortunately, went belly up after the 2008 crash, and at that time I was half-way through my Masters.
I regrouped and looked for the “next thing” to guide my studies. That’s when I found the Institute for Functional Medicine.
Can you tell us a bit about your path to IFM certification?
My passion and guiding question has always been, “how can I be the most effective practitioner?”. This can also be interpreted as, how can I help people in the most effective way, and help them achieve their goals in the least amount of time. This question has lead me to always seek out the most clinically relevant information.
IFM’s focus is on teaching practitioners how to work with people in the most evidence-based, low-risk, result-oriented way possible, combining the best of the allopathic and natural worlds. Their philosophy lined up with mine.
Can you share some insights into how using the principles and tools from functional medicine helps you help your clients?
Let’s first establish that there’s tremendous overlap between functional medicine, functional nutrition, clinical nutrition, holistic nutrition, and integrative medicine. Much of it is semantics.
That being said, all of these disciplines take into account all aspects of a person’s health picture; diet, lifestyle, environment, genes, etc., and then has tools in place to help me determine what the “sliver” is, and addresses that.
I call the root cause of their imbalance the sliver. If you get a sliver, you can put a bandaid on it, or take pain killers, but until you remove that sliver, healing won’t happen.
Functional nutrition is all about finding the sliver and then removing it, and allowing the body to do what it does best, heal.
It’s not easy to keep clients on track with their health goals. Do you have tips or strategies around helping clients follow through with your recommendations?
I’ve got lots!!! But my top 3 would be:
- Follow up with them regularly. Accountability is a key factor in any lifestyle transformation program.
- Determine barriers, and address them as soon as possible. One example that is quite common, is people’s social environment. If there are spouses, partners, friends, or family that are not supporting your client, then it makes it very difficult for them to follow through. Providing guidance and tips to deal with these situations can greatly improve success.
- Make all your recommendations SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Way too often I see practitioners making recommendations that aren’t specific enough. Recommendations need to be given like a prescription. There should be no confusion.
From working with clients to working with practitioners, what was the catalyst for launching the Functional Nutritional Certification program?
My students. I created my first continuing education course which I taught at a nutrition school. But then students kept asking me about different topics, and I realized there were some huge gaps in their education. Gaps that I also had, that I had sought to fill with my own pursuit of continuing education. As a result, I kept on creating courses, and this eventually led to the creation of a comprehensive program. But to reiterate and summarize, my students have always been my greatest teachers, and they continue to guide me. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
What has most influenced your passion and approach for health and nutrition?
I have a deep desire to live the best life possible. Embedded in this value is my pursuit of optimal health. Through my journey, I have learned a ton, and my passion has always been to share this with others.
Great health is a foundation for living the best life you can live. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. A healthy mind and body is like having a tuned-up car, ready to take anywhere you’d like to go.
Do you have anything coming up that you’d like to share with our community?
I run my Functional Nutrition Certification Program in January and September each year. All of the courses that are part of the program are also stand-alones (with a couple of exceptions). The dates for all of these and information about the full program can all be found at www.joshgitalis.com.
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