Please note: I am a nutritional therapist and not a dietitian. While I am about as skeptical as they come, and always do a ton of independent research before accepting information, my work falls firmly in the “alternative” healthcare camp. There will always be conflicting information available about the topics I am writing about (because there is conflicting information about literally everything in the health world), but I promise to only present you with information and suggestions that I have seen consistently good results with in my clinical practice.
Over the next few months, I’ll be writing a weekly column about Radical Queer Nutrition, but before we get into specifics, this here is an introduction to me, Lark Malakai Grey, and to what it means to me to be a Radical Queer Nutritionist™ (this is not actually trademarked).
I have a certification in nutritional therapy from the Nutritional Therapy Association, and I own Transformative Wellness, a nutrition and life coaching practice through which, thanks to the internet, I work with clients all over the country. I specialize in autoimmune disorders and complicated gastrointestinal issues. I am also a tarot reader. I live with my partner and three adorable pit bulls named Jezebel, Rufio, and Inigo Montoya. I also have a betta fish named Rogelio de la Vega, and approximately 50 thousand house plants. I grow a lot of food. I love Buffy, Harry Potter, queer YA fantasy novels, and fiction podcasts. I have lots of tattoos. I’m a nonbinary trans human (they/them) who lives with an invisible disability (EDS) and a serious mental illness. I am a Pisces, Scorpio rising (I’ll allow you a moment here to shed a compassionate tear for me), a Gryffindor, and an INFJ.
I got interested in nutrition when my partner was dealing with severe Crohn’s disease and we had neither money nor insurance to treat it. I discovered that I liked nutrition and even better, was really good at it. My partner doesn’t have Crohn’s anymore, which is just the coolest! (According to his GI, my partner has “no evidence of Crohn’s disease.” I understand that many folks don’t consider this to be the same as not having it, but this is the language my partner is most comfortable with me using, and I think it is important to honor that. This is in no way a claim of having “cured” Crohn’s disease, as I note further down in the article.) I have also lived with/through so many health issues that I have personal experience with just about everything my clients come to me with, from eating disorders to adrenal fatigue to chronic gut issues. I am able to speak to them from a place of experience, not just education.
A lot of nutritionists believe a lot of shenanigans about the human body, and I wouldn’t ask you to trust or listen to me without some information about which specific shenanigans I subscribe to. (Tl;dr, I really can’t stand most folks in my field.)
Here is a list of things I do and don’t believe in:
I DON’T believe in homeopathy. Homeopathy is shenanigans . Every study shows that it works no better than placebo. That being said, placebo is a pretty great medicine! Our body’s ability to heal is pretty dependent on our beliefs about whether or not we can. I never tell my clients who are into homeopathy that they should stop taking it. And for those of you who are super mad at me right now, I say the same to you—go forth and get your placebo on. It’ll probably help.
I DO believe in vaccines. I believe that everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated. I think it’s sinister to put anyone at risk of preventable diseases. And most of all, I believe that it’s absurd to make decisions based on a study that has been disproven multiple times. Vaccines don’t cause autism and risking your child’s life to avoid autism is super ableist and shitty.
I DO believe in crystals for healing. There’s no evidence to back this up, but I am a witch and witches love a crystal. I have literally told a client who asked point blank for my opinion on homeopathy that it was shenanigans and they should go buy some onyx to keep in their pocket instead. I always have crystals in my pockets. #SkepticalWitch
I DON’T believe that yoga or meditation will heal you. Like every disabled person, I have been told to do yoga so many times that it makes me want to throw things. As a person whose disability causes hypermobility (aka yoga makes my body fall apart), I take this suggestion as evidence that the suggester hates me. And as someone with anxiety, I consider meditation a form of torture.
(That being said, I totally recommend these things to my clients all the time. They are proven to help with pain and depression, so okay, I put them out there as options. However: 1) I recommend them with a ton of caveats about how it’s super okay if they don’t want to/can’t and I’m sorry for being another person bringing it up. 2) I recommend them only as co-therapies, because they reduce stress which reduces symptoms, 3) I always tell my clients that if trying to incorporate them causes stress they should stop, and 4) I usually include them only as part of a long list of potential stress reducers, including going outside, drawing, and “whatever it is that you like to do but don’t give yourself time for.” This shit is not going to magic away your symptoms. Everyone needs to stop saying it will.)
I DO believe in acupuncture, because it’s been proven to work.
I DON’T believe that nutrition can “cure” you. It can allow you to manage and put into remission ailments like Crohn’s, EDS, Fibromyalgia, etc without medication (if that’s what you want but it is SO OKAY if you take meds!), or help further reduce symptoms along with meds, but you have to do the things forever, you know? Nutrition can help get you back to health, but if you go back to your old ways your symptoms will come back.
I DON’T believe that it’s easy to start healing this way. It’s super hard to shift your diet around, to have to say “no” to things that are offered to you (even when you know the food will make you feel bad, this is still hard!), and to give up foods that you loved but turns out make you sick. What these changes are are different for every human, because everyone’s body is different. (No joke, a friend’s kid will turn completely white, vomit, and have a migraine for two days if she eats a piece of gum with blue #40 in it. Kiddo has to say no to every piece of food with artificial dye in it.) But I DO believe that it becomes easy. It becomes easy when you start feeling legit better, and then you “cheat” and have the cake* or whatever, and then you feel like shit. Once you know what better feels like, feeling better becomes way more enticing than cake. I had to give up dairy, and it was SO HARD—until the first time I ate it after quitting, when I realized that not only were my guts sad for days, but the sinus symptoms that used to be normal for me came back for a month! I so profoundly do not miss saturating three hankies a day that that’s all I have to think of in order to pass up pizza. No one wants that much snot. It’s not worth it.
(*I used cake as an example here because it is the food that I most often see my clients come in reporting a mental shift with: “I went to a birthday party and had some cake, and I felt such a big difference afterward! I don’t think I’ll do that again,” and not because there is anything wrong with eating cake! My official stance on cake is “all things in moderation unless they make you really sick.” And if cake DOES make you sick, I can totally help you find a cake recipe with ingredients that your body is fine with.)
I DO believe in psychiatric medication. The violence perpetrated on folks with mental illness by a lot of practitioners in my corner of the world fills me with rage. You are not weak if you take psych meds. You don’t just need to drink more water/do more yoga/eat more kale. Mental illness is complicated and difficult and there’s no simple fix for it. Do your meds make you feel better? Take them! I take mine.
I DO (also) believe in the gut-brain connection. Healing your gut can totally reduce (but not eradicate) the impact of mental illness. Also, not being in pain/discomfort all the time makes living a hell of a lot easier. So yes, take probiotics, drink bone broth, eat healthy food. And take your meds. Both.
I DON’T believe in weight as a litmus for health. I think it’s absurd that anyone would look at the outside of someone’s body to determine how “healthy” that person is, rather than their symptoms and habits. Your body is wonderful how it is, and my only goal as a healer is making your body a comfortable place to live. When clients come to me to lose weight, I straight up refuse to address their care plan from that angle. “If your body wants to lose weight, it will do so as you start getting healthy,” I tell them. Sometimes they don’t like hearing that. But for real dude, I am a healer! I am here to fix what’s wrong, not change the package.
I DO believe in trusting tangible evidence above all else. Sometimes (often?) the information out there just doesn’t work for making people feel better. That’s why folks seek out people like me. I trust results. I trust what people report. The reason there are so many conflicting studies is because studies often isolate things to a point where they don’t actually represent reality. So even when science says there isn’t evidence that something works, I trust what I see in my clients. And I’m really good at making people feel better.
Hopefully this is enough info for you to be able to gauge how much you trust me. Want more? Ask!
There are lots of different perspectives on nutrition and wellness; the one in this post is only of them and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice from your doctor or medical professional. It is not a deliberate departure from posts we’ve done on this topic in the past or reflective of posts we may do on this topic in the future. If you’re familiar with our work, you’ll know we’ve had authors who have advocated for practices this author does not advocate for (and vice versa), and we’ll continue to have that — no one post or series or author should ever be seen as Autostraddle’s official stance or set of beliefs on the topic of nutrition and wellness.