In this episode, I’m speaking with Christa Orecchio, who is a holistic and clinical nutritionist. We discuss her unique approach to getting her client’s nervous systems out of stress and back into healing mode.
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Christa and I discuss:
- Why chronic disease can be caused by an imbalanced nervous system
- Why approaching gut problems from the level of the brain is vital for success
- Christa’s dietary approach to support recovery from stress-induced illness
- Meal frequency – long-term vs. short-term effects of eating every few hours
- The best breakfast recommendations to make a calm, energetic start to the day
- How to create a place of calm and peace in your body so you can begin to heal
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Ari: In this episode, I’m speaking with Christa Orecchio, who’s been a holistic and clinical nutritionist for the last 17 years. We are talking all about her unique approach to getting people’s nervous systems out of fight or flight, overly stressed mode, and putting them back into healing mode. She’s got a lot of unique insights, a very novel approach, and a novel way of thinking about this. Enjoy the podcast. Welcome back to the show, Christa. Such a pleasure to have you.
Christa: I always love chatting with you, Ari. Thanks for having me.
The link between the nervous system and gut health
Ari: First of all, let’s talk about the nervous system. That’s the thing that you’ve been focused on for the last few years now is what’s going on in the body when we’ve got a nervous system and a brain under chronic stress. Tell me what’s going on. Obviously there’s different lenses and paradigms through which one can look at this story from a purely neuroscience perspective or a hormonal perspective, or a biochemistry perspective, or a mitochondrial perspective, or a whatever, or a vagus nerve perspective, or these kinds of things. What is the paradigm that you have landed on as far as what you feel is most insightful?
Christa: All of those things that you mentioned there are so incredibly important. My roots have always been gut health. I know you know that. The more I progressed, it’s like, I always said a million times, all disease begins in the gut, but I really have started to see how all disease begins in the nervous system. Modern life has changed so much. Really what got me shifted into this is seeing, when I was in private practice 15 years ago we didn’t see a ton of SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Then you start to see more and more, and more, and more.
Now even in our gut program, it’s almost 50%. Now we’re seeing that over 50% of SIBO is actually hypothyroid-induced SIBO from dropping the gut-brain, brain-gut connection. That’s as a result of chronic prolonged stress. The adrenals have been oversecreting cortisol. We’ve 60 different types of cortisol and adrenaline is being released. That’s then suppressing thyroid function because they’re a team. These two glands, the thyroid has to give up. It stops converting thyroid hormone in the gut. Now we just start to see such an onslaught of SIBO.
The more we started testing, it’s like, wow, this is hypothyroid-induced, but where’s the hypothyroidism coming from? Oh, it’s coming from stress. It all goes back to the nervous system. Living in fight or flight has become so normal and so commonplace, just living in sympathetic dominance to get things done. For a while, it feels good. You feel driven, you feel focused, you feel productive, you feel on top of the world. Then the bottom drops out. So much of this “I approach”, not necessarily from a neuroscience perspective, but just from the emotional perspective that then you don’t know who you are anymore.
You can’t make decisions. You are overwhelmed all of the time with really little things. You’re going through this alternating anxiety and depression. I equate it to a car. If you filled a car with gas, and then all of a sudden you’re driving, and then you take all the gas away quickly, that’s going to be a really bumpy ride home. Then you put just a little bit in and you’re sputtering, the normal drive home which you wouldn’t even think about has now become such a stressful experience. That’s what the vast majority of our planet, especially in the last few years since the pandemic keeps marching toward living in this state of sympathetic dominance.
Their myelin sheath, that protective coating around their nerve cells, is damaged. We’re seeing so much early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia. I remember you and I talking about that at lunch. So much of this is completely avoidable with how we take care of ourselves and how we take care of specifically our adrenals and our thyroid, because the adrenals are the gas tank of the body. I don’t need to tell you that. The thyroid is the furnace and the thermostat. Hormonal balance begins in the brain.
I think if we can approach the nervous system from allowing, regulating the availability of fuel for the body, storing energy once again in the cells, creating safety, and then repairing from the neurotransmitters in the brain, then we get hormonal balance from the top down, which is the best way to live a really fulfilling life. You get to be yourself versus, I’m a little high in this, I’m a little low in this, let’s take some progesterone, let’s patch it with testosterone. A lot of times that’s almost like taking away someone’s inherent personality versus refilling them and allowing them to operate from there.
The relationship between stress, hypothyroidism, and gut issues
Ari: There’s only 1,000 questions I want to ask about everything you just said. I want to dig into some of the mechanisms here. You talked about hypothyroidism-induced SIBO. Tell me what’s going on there. How do you see those mechanisms playing out as far as the relationships between the thyroid and SIBO, and also this other layer of chronic stress-inducing hypothyroidism, if I understood you correctly?
Christa: It starts off with, let’s say, anxiety or sympathetic dominance. Then it’s going to trigger the enteric nervous system in the gut. That’s going to be activated. Then we’re going to start releasing excess cortisol. It’s going to start to thin the lining of the gut. It’s okay where this is one of the major causes of leaky gut syndrome. We convert inactive thyroid hormone T4 to active thyroid hormone T3 in our gut, and so we start to free ourselves up for all kinds of gut infections. They don’t live alone just like we don’t live alone. SIBO and Candida, they like to hang out together.
Candida is going to really block that conversion in the gut. Now the adrenals are working hard. They’re oversecreting cortisol to buffer this excess inflammation that’s going on. Now all of a sudden the thyroid’s starting to give up because the thyroid controls the pace of our digestion. Certain people will say they start out with this and maybe they have diarrhea. Then all of a sudden it drops to inveterate constipation. We ran a clinical trial in 2016 on inveterate constipation with our SIBO crowd because none of the regular stuff works, because you can’t approach it from the gut.
You have to approach it from the brain, you have to approach it from the thyroid, and then use the right spore-based or soil-based probiotics. Then you get constipation. Now because the thyroid’s controlling the pace of digestion, of course, it’s not focusing on that anymore, so now we get this inveterate constipation. Sometimes the ileocecal valve can now pop open. That’s the checkpoint charlie between the small intestine and the colon. Those two colonies of bacteria should never, ever, ever mix.
You have 10 times more bacteria in the colon than you do in the small intestine now you’re getting the backup from the colon into the small intestine just creating this litany of problems. Then people are chasing SIBO without doing anything for their thyroid. They’re painted into a corner, they can only eat 7 to 10 different foods. It’s like we’ve seen this whole exercise in insanity, and then figured it out on a grand scale within our gut thrive program. We help a lot of people heal from SIBO within our adrenal recode program because we approach it this way.
Ari: You see the brain, the nervous system, the psychoemotional, psychospiritual, I don’t know if that’s integrated into this as well, but what’s going on at that level as being the most upstream thing in this process?
Christa: Yes. You can see it in dogs, you can see it everywhere. You can’t separate the physical body from the emotional body. What happens that starts affecting the brain? It does affect our spirituality. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Matt Kahn, but I love this guy. He’s super focused on the nervous system. He’s like, when the nervous system is wound up, we are unable to make decisions, we don’t feel safe or supported in the world.
It gets to be that level. How can you really have a relationship with something larger? As you start to heal and create calm and peace, and safety within the body, refilling glycogen stores, supporting these glands, that’s when it unravels. That’s when your spiritual connection gets big, you start to trust the process of life again. Then you attract different things, and your life goes on a whole different paradigm.
Ari: What are some of the key–
Christa: It’s not just physical, you got to do the emotional work to go with this.
Ari: What are some of the key signs and symptoms in a person’s life that someone may subjectively be experiencing right now that would clue them into–
Christa: That they’re in this state.
Ari: That they’re experiencing the sorts of dysfunction that you’re talking about.
Christa: Sure. You have that, and I’m sure you talk about this all the time, that tired but wired feeling where you feel like you’re revving the gas and the brakes at the same time. You’re tired, but you can’t let go enough to actually rest, relax, or sleep. You get dizzy and you get lightheaded, and almost start to feel really anxious. You get hangry when you miss a meal. You don’t have the glycogen reserves, they’re not being released, so now cortisol’s being released. A lot of dizziness, lightheaded, irritability, heart pounding, the emotional stuff is just really inability to focus and feeling overwhelmed. Then physiologically, there’s going to be something going on with digestion.
Whether that’s one way or the other, bloated, constipation, you’re not really converting your food into fuel. That’s a big part of what’s going on here. Then, of course the cravings. I think a lot of us, a lot of people, and there’s no judgment, we have a lot of responsibility, we have to keep life going, and we can’t hit that pause button sometimes to really drop in and take care of ourselves, so we end up medicating or escaping. It’s like, I had two glasses of wine at night. Like you need it. It’s not that you want it and you’re going to look forward to it, it’s like you can’t wait to the clock strikes 5:00 or whatever that is for you.
Because sugar is the antidote to stress, and so whether that comes in with sweet cravings, really intense sweet cravings, like you need to have dessert every night or after every meal, or whether it’s wine, or whether it’s needing cannabis, something to calm down and regulate because you’re not able to do it on your own. Then also an addiction to caffeine. It’s like a love-hate relationship with caffeine, and incredible cravings for salt, because when you are in adrenal dysfunction, and you’re in this nervous system state, you’re going to be burning minerals like crazy, so your body’s craving salt, because it desperately needs minerals.
Ari: Is it adrenal dysfunction in terms of– are you likening this to the typical historical thing around adrenal fatigue, or are you saying more high cortisol is the issue here?
Christa: I’m likening it to the old school adrenal fatigue. Which we now call adrenal dysfunction, because sometimes there’s the oversecretion, sometimes there’s the undersecretion of cortisol, it’s just not regulated, you can’t get to that bell curve. Because it’s not always a high cortisol issue, it’s a circadian rhythm issue, it’s a cortisol rhythm issue.
How to improve metabolic flexibility
Ari: If somebody’s got these signs and symptoms, and let’s say they’re identifying this list that you just went over, what would you offer as far as practical suggestions for them to start to recover and normalize their physiology?
Christa: First, it’s got to be the right mental emotional approach when you’re in a state like this. It’s treating yourself like you would treat an infant. Think about how an infant cries, they cannot store their fuel. That’s why we’re waking up in the middle of the night to feed them until they get stronger on their own. You’re going to have to think of yourself like that. Food frequency is going to be a such a huge pillar because if you have low adrenal and thyroid function, your energy systems, you’re not adequately storing energy, glycogen in your liver and in your muscles, so you can’t regulate your blood sugar throughout the day.
That’s a powerless position to be in forcing you into a state of chronic stress. You’re going to have to restore harmony to the nervous system by food frequency, so really eating every couple of hours. Protein, carb, and fat, they have to be combined together. You have to include that carb that you’re going to be having. Like we say, animals, roots and fruits. You’re going to be making sure that it’s going to be a healthy whole food carb in the form of either fruit or a root vegetable to start refilling those glycogen stores. That way you never get the crazy wine craving or the sugar craving at the end of the day, so to speak. A lot of times we say it’s almost a keto recovery program.
Ari: Before you go on to the next one, let me ask a quick question here. Presumably in most of these people, they will not be excessively skinny. I would venture to guess the majority of them are not underweight, but either are normal weight, or most likely overweight. Particularly if they’re having issues like being hangry, having difficulty fueling themselves every couple hours if they don’t eat, that’s often a sign of insulin resistance and poor metabolic flexibility.
Ari: If we liken this, and I’m not saying– I have no doubt that the approach of asking them to eat every couple of hours will make them feel better. My question is this, let’s say just as an analogy, someone has a weak leg, and we offer them crutches to take the pressure off their leg, they might report that they feel better as a result of that, but if we carry that on for several months or years, that leg that’s not being used will continue to atrophy and will weaken further.
Rather than what we really want to accomplish if they’ve got a weak leg, which is strengthen the leg. How do you transition from offering what I would say is more of a crutch- and feel free to disagree with me if you disagree- as far as the frequency of feedings like that, to strengthening their metabolic flexibility so that they don’t have to rely on feeding themselves every couple of hours to feel okay?
Christa: When you think about a child, they’re not waking up in the middle of the night anymore as they start to get stronger, as they can store more food, as their body grows. It’s like the same thing. This is not as much of a crutch as it is a starting point. Because we need to get oxygen, T3, and we need to get glucose into the cell to start revving cellular energy again. Just teaching them, this is like “teach a man how to fish, don’t give a man a fish”, that’s one of our six pillars. Now you’re refilling mineral stores. Super important synergistic foods for the thyroid, the brain, the adrenals, the nervous system.
We’re combining them in the right way, protein, carb and fat. We’re starting to heal the adrenal, starting to heal the thyroid. Then we’re using the right amount of saturated fat and we’re cutting down on all the polyunsaturated fats. That’s going to start to give them a longer runway. Then, of course, this is a healing process, when they can now refill their glycogen stores, they can go four hours, they can go six hours. Some people right when you’re fully healed, now you’re back to living a natural life of, oh, I feel hungry, I should probably eat within an hour.
It takes some time to get there depending on where you’ve been. We will use temperature and pulse to really help them, because like you said, Ari, I didn’t mention stubborn weight gain in the symptoms. It’s not that everyone is overweight. Yes, insulin resistance is a part of this, but I’d say maybe 70% or people have come from a ketogenic diet, and all of a sudden they had lost a ton of weight, everything was working out great for them, now they’ve got this spare tire, just the cortisol tire that they can’t get rid of, and they’re wondering what happened because they didn’t do anything differently.
This is more of a healing of the hormonal code so that the body learns to live safe again. Movement is huge in that. A 20-minute walk after your meal can help regulate your blood sugar almost better than anything you can put in your body. Breathing is so helpful for gentle detoxification, and for cellular energy. They’re really combining everything. As they start to create a lifestyle, as they start to truly nourish themselves, and there’s a whole emotional component that we go through, then yes, the trauma starts to unwind, the physical body starts to heal. Just like as your leg heals, you don’t need the crutch anymore. You’re not going to stay on it forever.
Ari: Got it. What’s pillar number two of the system?
Christa: We covered them all because it’s like number one is synergistic foods, and two is food frequency, and three is fruit and root sugar, but always have protein, carb, and fat together, never a macronutrient by itself. Then four is the use of saturated fats. Then we’re going to move into really customizing your macros because some people, we find they come into our program and they need 50% carb, 30% protein, and the rest is going to be fat. Then some people need to do 40%. It’s really measuring it against your own body. Taking your temperature and taking your pulse, taking also this subjective feedback of, how do you feel? It’s training people.
It’s such a different philosophy than anything I’ve ever done. Because I’ve always been like, here’s the protocol, follow the protocol and watch the results you get. Now it’s like, no, we’re co-creating this together, these subjective assessments. Do you have enough energy to meet the needs of your cells? What is going on in your day-to-day life? Are you over-exerting yourself? It’s not a pillar per se. You have a lot of people really, we have to scale back. We have to make genuine changes in our work schedule, in our child schedule. We have to cut back on social activities when you’re in a situation like this. A lot of people are resistant to doing that. That’s where the subjective feedback comes in.
How to navigate different diets
Ari: I’d like to dig a little deeper on nutrition and maybe give listeners a context to understand this approach. Maybe in the landscape of the crazy diet world that we have lived in for the last several decades of everything from low fat and fat is terrible for you with an emphasis on saturated fats, which you’re saying to emphasize. There was certainly, and I would say still is certainly in most conventional nutritional circles, an emphasis on avoidance of saturated fats. We had low-fat era, we had the Atkins low-carb era. We’ve gone through tons of focus on being healthiest synonymous with being vegetarian and vegan to keto, to paleo, to carnivore.
Which I would personally consider the most extreme of any of these. To now a backlash against the vegan movements. I see it’s very popular in a lot of natural health and functional medicine circles for people to be bashing veganism, not certainly the ethical aspect of it, but saying that they see a lot of unhealthy vegans, to emphasize the importance of animal foods. People talking about red meat as a super food, and things of this nature. You’re talking about something that is, I think, inspired by a school of thought that is less well-known to most people.
It never went through the popularity that a keto or a paleo movement went by, but is more the Ray Peat style. Ray Peat also has certain things that I think I remember you and I have talked about you don’t necessarily agree with. He emphasizes avoidance of greens, avoidance of polyunsaturated fats, I don’t know what your take is on that, and consumption of additional refined sugar, for example, which he says is supportive of thyroid function. Like adding sugar to milk or consuming lots of orange juice, things like that. Anyway, just give your thoughts of placing your nutritional approach and paradigm on this landscape of all of these different diets that I’ve just mentioned.
Christa: I’ve done all of these diets. I cut my teeth 20 years ago as a vegan macrobiotic strict for a year. Then going to IIN, there’s one month where you’re with David Wolfe and you’re eating all raw food. The next month you’re with Sally Fallon, Weston A Price, and its organ meats to the max.
Ari: Then the next month you have an eating disorder.
Christa: Totally. Then the next month we need to talk about orthorexia. It’s nice. I liked experimenting every which way because you get that visceral experience within your body and there’s a million paths up the mountain. There’s no one right way, there’s no one right diet. I’ll tell you when eating macrobiotic vegan, that helped me detox from sugar in a massive way, it changed my life. It created such peace in my world. People were telling me, your aura– People in New Jersey, they don’t speak like that. Commenting on that. It’s literally just the diet.
It all depends. The answer is it depends, I couldn’t necessarily run a business and do everything I do on a vegan macrobiotic diet, but that also I’m blood type O designed to eat meat. There’s so many different factors. For me, it always comes back to bio-individuality. Always, always comes back to bio-individuality where you’re looking at, what are your current demands on your life, your sex, your age, your gender, your lifestyle?
Are you partnered? Are you not partnered? Do you have little kids? There’s so many things that we need to take into consideration before deciding on something per se. I have found when I have been in these states, and through my research, and through studying the nervous system, there are other ways that you can achieve this, but most people dealing with modern life, this is as the crow flies. You can do our other programs as a vegan or a vegetarian, but this one, you can’t. I used to counsel my clients.
Ari: When you catch a vegan in the program, do you kick them out? Do you do a public shaming?
Christa: No, we don’t. I just mean you won’t get the benefits.
Ari: I know. I’m just messing with you.
Christa: [crosstalk] I love vegans and I aspire. I really do aspire. I don’t want to have to take a life to support my own, but the fact that I know my body functions so well doing that, it’s like, only top-quality and eat it with reverence, and then you better do something amazing with your life force that has been gifted to you. On a philosophical level there, but just in terms of amino acid profile, and when you have a body– Sorry, you hear my dog shaking. You have a body that’s already having trouble converting food into fuel, you just want to give the body what it needs and not make it work for that energy until it gets stronger. That’s my take on that.
The best psychological approaches to healing from past trauma
Ari: We started off with a big focus on, I think the psychoemotional roots origins of a lot of this physiological dysfunction. Most of what you’ve offered thus far as far as the solutions is centered around nutrition. Do you feel that the solution is mostly nutritional to rebalancing that system, or is there a more direct psychological, psychoemotional approach to this as well?
Christa: I find that they’re equal and they have to be. That’s why I started shifting the direction of my company, the whole journey in 2018, as a result of things I had been through. Because I’ve been in this state several times throughout my life and pulled myself out. I always create something. The universe gives me everything right before I go ahead and create it for someone else. Having dealt with trauma and trapped negative emotions, and unhealed childhood wounding, those types of things, it was my feet got put to the fire. This was in 2018. I was getting ready to have a baby and I had to get this handled. I didn’t want to incubate a child in a body full of stress hormones.
I wrote a fertility book. I know what that does to a human. Just in general, you have to heal those psychological patterns, those neuro pathways, whatever it is that got you in that state, because otherwise the physiological healing, the diet, the taking care of yourself is just going to be a band-aid and you’re going to fall right back into that pattern. Then you’re just going to have to keep using that tool over and over again. In a lot of ways, genuinely somatically healing from trauma, releasing trapped negative emotions out of the body, learning amazing personal accountability and responsibility will pull you from a victim into a creator mode, into the power position in your life.
Looking at those limiting belief systems. Because we all have limiting belief systems that we’ve developed from zero to seven, that sets our time where we’re just taking in information like a sponge and figuring out, this is how the world works and this is what it means. A lot of that is coming from when we grow up and our relationship with our primary caretakers, and how we’re viewing what’s happening in the family dynamic as we make up these stories and beliefs about ourselves. If we don’t heal that, then we will continue to drive physiological dysfunction.
Ari: I’m going to ask a similar question as I asked with diet. In the landscape of approaches, psychotherapeutic approaches, everything from cognitive behavioral therapy to more spiritualized new agey approaches to Rogerian therapy, to psychodynamic and Jungian therapy, and EMDR, and whatever else, somatic therapies.
Christa: I’m exhausted listening to you [laughs] That’s just a lot of things.
Ari: I did go through a PhD program in clinical psychology so I know a thing or two about these different approaches. What is your favorite approach to working with people on this level?
Christa: What I’ve created over the last 20 years is more about, let’s distill everything from all of these, let’s say, different dietary theories and let’s come up with a proper plan, which is a process you can follow. All of those things that you’ve listed, I’ve tried pretty much all of them and more. It’s like, let’s take the pearls of wisdom from so many different things and organize it into a systematic protocol where one builds off the other, builds off the other, builds off the other until we’re in a lasting state of emotional wellness, or we call it emotional mastery.
We start with identifying and examining limiting beliefs. Tony Robbins is so great at that. We’ve got Tony Robbins life coach in our program. We’re really studying how are they formed and how are they responsible for keeping you in fight or flight? If as a child you felt like you had to do everything on your own, you get this idea of I’m on my own, I have to do everything by myself, that’s going to really play out very interestingly throughout your life. We develop compensation skills. Maybe you’ll be very successful but you’ll also be chronically exhausted, unable to ask for help, unsupported, or that need. We have needs that’s–
Ari: I feel like you’re describing me right now.
Christa: Yes. That’s mine. That’s why I open up my kimono when I teach inside of this, because it’s like we’ve got to share. We’re all humans. We’ve had a human experience. It’s like, you get to that point where it’s a breaking point, you’re like wow, this compensation skill has really worked for me, but now it’s going to kill me if I don’t change it. Another one for me was people-pleasing. That’s going to kill you. That’s going to drive you into dysfunction. Because it’s like we need love, we need to feel safe.
We have these needs and we’re going to get them met however we’re going to get them met in childhood. Then we’re going to continue to go forward on that. It’s really just incredible when you can develop the self-awareness and really look at yourself honestly. This is where we talk about creating the right personal accountability. The podcast that you did with Christiane Northrop, dodging energy vampires, do you remember? I said, Ari, can I put that in my program? It was like–
Ari: I remember, yes.
Christa: I’ve sent that to hundreds of people. If you’re watching this, if you haven’t listened to that podcast, it’s phenomenal. Because we’ve got a module on personal accountability, and as a result of what I’ve been through, I’ve read all kinds of books, and so I developed this continuum of accountability. It’s like empaths and people-pleasers attract manipulators, or empaths attract narcissists, people-pleasers attract manipulators.
You can go from co-dependence to addicts. You can go from co-dependent, could it be anywhere from sociopath, psychopath? It’s just a continuum and it’s balanced. The way to get out of the way as the crow flies, instead of in that podcast, Christiane Northrop says, “I married a narcissist. I got divorced. The next time I married a narcissist, it only lasts for five years instead of 18.” That’s a crazy way to live.
Christa: How can we do this as the crow flies? Self-Awareness personal accountability. We teach how to take that radical personal accountability and responsibility. A lot of people that are in this state are the empaths, the people-pleasers, the co-dependents. Doing the mirror work, taking radical accountability for yourself and stopping that impulse to take over accountability for others is going to get you to that midpoint where you realize that you’re a powerful creator. I think that that’s huge in the healing process so that you don’t continue to overgive.
That’s hard. You’ve got to evaluate every relationship in your life. We’re so conditioned to keep relationships out of familiarity versus true connection. Oh, I’ve always shown up in this way for these high school friends or college friends, or family members, and so then we’re like expected to fulfill this role that’s going to keep us away from our highest self, the greatest expression we can live. This part, and a lot of times is the hardest part for people.
How can you truly be in your power? You have to first see it. It’s almost like a surgery, is what’s happening. It’s like, okay. We say this in our program, it’s like you wouldn’t get off the operating table while you’re cut open. You’ve got to go all the way through. Then once we see what we’re doing and we have this really clear picture of ourselves, hopefully with compassion and not judgment, that’s when we can start to do the somatic work, which is just brilliant. We’re not going to say stay stuck in the story of it all.
We understand the story, we know how we got there. We understand ways to get out of the story especially as sensitive people. Now we have to basically detox these trapped negative emotions from the body. There’s a lot of different ways to do that. I’m sure you’ve talked through that. We take them through somatically finding the emotion in the body, feeling it, releasing it without going into the story, and so that they can be present right. Then we’ll move them into a forgiveness process. We all have people to forgive, but the most important person for us to forgive is ourselves. That’s that next step.
Ari: I’m not ever forgiving that asshole.
Christa: [laughs] [unintelligible 00:36:12]
Ari: I’m just kidding.
Christa: It’s just all so fascinating when you really start diving into your own personal growth. Then we move from there, it’s like, we’re doing this now. Then you start to put the soothing bomb, stitch things up. The way we do that is teaching people how to establish healthy boundaries with true exercises. We’ve got some clinical psychologists involved, and neurolinguistic programming. They’re easy because you can follow them. They’re processes.
They’re not like this nebulous thing I should go and I should try. It’s establishing healthy boundaries, and establishing empowerment. We understand that we’re responsible for our own needs of love, approval, and appreciation. That we can meet those, that we can ask for those. Then if anyone’s going to supersede our boundaries, we’ve got our own back. I think it’s a big problem in our culture. We forget we’re our own healers, heroes, and leaders.
That’s great power but it’s also great responsibility. Really helping people start to do that. Then only then will we work towards, now we’ve dismantled, let’s create the positive beliefs. Let’s shift the neuro pathways, let’s write a new story. We have mantras through all throughout the adrenal recode. One is evolve or repeat. Those are literally our only two choices in life. We’re going to keep repeating same guy different face, same job different boss unless you start to evolve, unless you learn the lessons and you go through a process.
Ari: Does this differ between individuals depending on the degree of trauma? Let’s say maybe me as an example of someone who dealt with maybe more small scale, moderate scale traumas rather than any really severe parental neglect or parental abuse, or something like that, or other really traumatic experiences whether they be military experiences or sexual abuse, or something like that. How universal is your approach, and how much does it encompass people with more severe traumas?
Christa: We always recommend– I would say this is for you and I. When we’re talking about severe military trauma, severe sexual abuse, of course we’ve had people go through and do really well. Mostly the physiological part allows them to actually even look at that stuff. To create physiological safety even allows them to want to go look at that stuff. That’s where you need the one-on-one work. Two of our coaches will work one-on-one or will refer them out.
This is more of like for the general population, 80% of us who are living on stress hormones. It’s a mixed bag. It’s like that 80-20. It’s like the 80%, we can help people to heal it. I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed anyone on the psilocybin journeys and the MAPS protocols, and all of that stuff, but I highly suggest those for the 20% that have been through just so much and seen more, and been through more than one human should ever have to go through
Ari: I’ve interviewed a few people on that subject. I would encourage people listening, if they’re interested, in that to listen to Dave Rabin who’s a a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who specializes in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
Christa: Dave who? I’m going to listen to it.
Ari: Dave Rabin, R-A-B-I-N. I’ve done a couple interviews with him. He’s great.
Ari: He actually runs his own podcast as well, which I think is– I forget the name, but it’s something psychedelic podcast. Every episode of the podcast is on that topic. My last question to you is, if you were going to leave people listening to this with three practical tips to take away. Let’s say they identify as having this dysfunction that you’ve described here, and they want to come away from this podcast feeling like, I’ve really learned this and this, and this, and I’m going to go start implementing these two or three things, what would be those things that you want to leave people with?
Christa: Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. Protein, carb, fat, and say a metabolic breakfast. A lot of times you’re not hungry when you’re in this state first thing in the morning. We separate it algorithmically between two tiers. If you’re not hungry, you need to eat something that’s going to be simple like a grass-fed yogurt, mix in some collagen, and have that with some fruit. Hopefully, you can get that down, or an adrenal cocktail. You can look that up. It’s pretty much all over online. Start with that. If you are a little hungry, start with a savory breakfast; sweet potato, kale, sausage, something like that.
What you do those first three hours of waking will set a tenor for your whole day. Think you’re trying to create consistency. Breathe. It’s easy. It’s free. Put sticky notes everywhere. Take two or three times a day, five minutes just to get out and breathe. Then I would bookend the end of your day before you go to sleep because of the blood sugar issue, and a lot of people are popping awake with high cortisol between 1:00 and 4:00 AM, or waking up at 5:00 AM with their heart pounding, have a snack. We’ve got an adrenal recode golden milk, because now you want to lower the inflammation set point at night with the turmeric.
There’s ashwagandha in there. There’s collagen. There’s ghee. You’ve got protein, you’ve got carb, you’ve got fat. The carb is some raw honey, a little bit of salt, or you could do a salty banana with a handful of cashews or cashew butter. Bookend the day, breathe throughout. Just ask yourself questions like you would ask to your child or the person you love most in the world. You and I have little kids. We’re responsible to meet their needs. You’re failing as a mom if you forget to bring snacks. If I forget to bring a snack on pickup, he can’t even believe it. Treat yourself like that.
Ari: Absolutely. Christa, thank you so much. This has been great. Where can people follow you, learn more about your work, your programs, your services? Where should they go? Where do you want to direct people?
Christa: Thewholejourney.com. You can find me there.
Ari: Awesome. Thank you so much.
(00:28) Guest intro
(01:01) The link between the nervous system and gut health
(05:54) The relationship between stress, hypothyroidism, and gut issues
(13:47) How to improve metabolic flexibility
(21:34) How to navigate different diets
(27:20) The best psychological approaches to healing from past trauma
(40:20) Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy