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Personalized Nutrition: A Functional Dietitian’s Approach to Optimal Health

By Lesley Nickleson, RD, IFNCP

Evolving health care through personalized nutrition!

In our ever changing landscape of nutrition, one thing remains constant: the power of nutrition.

Personalized Nutrition is rapidly becoming a highly regarded approach that tailors diet and lifestyle recommendations to an individual’s unique needs. It recognizes there is ‘no one-size’ fits all when it comes to nutrition, rather our nutrient requirements vary depending on our unique biochemistry, health habits and lifestyle.

Personalized nutrition can take health and healing to a whole new level by aiming to restore and optimize function of body systems with sustainable results that go well beyond physical health.

What is Personalized Nutrition?

Personalized Nutrition is a systematic approach to providing comprehensive & holistic health care that considers unique nutrition and lifestyle habits, health status and personal environment. Unlike generic dietary guidelines or a diet for every disease, personalized nutrition plans are designed to meet specific needs of an individual, making them more effective and sustainable.

Creating a Personalized Plan

A personalized plan begins with a comprehensive health & lifestyle assessment. This includes:

Comprehensive Health Assessment

  • Medical History: understanding past and current medical conditions, medications and treatments

  • Current Nutrition: assessing nutritional intake, meal pattern, food preferences, dietary intolerances, sensitivities or restrictions

  • Review of Systems: thorough review of symptoms as it relates to each system of the body

  • Lifestyle Factors: evaluating daily activity, stress, sleep, routines and environment

Basically, a Functional Dietitian wants to know everything you do in a day such as what and how you eat, how you move, how you sleep, your daily routines, your struggles, your levels of stress and what are you exposed to in your environment.

Advanced Diagnostics & Testing

  • Conventional Lab Testing: using standard blood tests to assess general health parameters like cholesterol, blood sugars or nutrient deficiencies

  • Functional Lab Testing: using specialized lab testing to assess gut health, hormonal balance, metabolic health and other aspects

Based on this comprehensive health assessment, a plan is developed. Plans may address issues that range from restoring gut health, reducing inflammation or weight management to managing conditions like autoimmunity or overall enhancing well-being.

What Does A Personalized Plan Include?

  • Key Nutrition Recommendations: specific nutrition recommendations and guidelines designed to address individual root causes and achieve optimal function

  • Targeted Functional Foods: foods with highly concentrated specific nutrients and healing properties that provide benefit beyond just nutrition

  • Customized Meal Plan: to kickstart new daily nutrition habits and help with sticking to the plan

  • Supportive Supplements: recommendations for high quality medical grade supplements and access to an online dispensary for convenience

  • Lifestyle Recommendations: for all-natural remedies to address stress, sleep, movement, joy or improving environment

Benefits of Personalized Nutrition Plans

Improved Health Outcomes

They address specific health needs, with tools for managing health conditions, optimizing function of body systems and learning sustainable habits

Improved Adherence

Unlike a one-size fits all, when plans are tailored to unique needs they are easier and more enjoyable to follow.

Preventive Health

By addressing risk factors early and promoting a healthy lifestyle they prevent or delay the onset of disease

Achieving Optimal Health Scenarios

Scenario No. 1: Managing Diabetes with Personalized Nutrition

For an example, a 30-year old male with type 2 Diabetes, struggled with blood sugar and obesity. His hemoglobin A1C, a measure of long term blood sugar management, was more than double normal range. When he was first diagnosed with diabetes, his family doctor advises him: “you will never be able to eat fruit again”. What he was not told was to avoid highly processed sugary foods. His diet consisted largely of processed granola bars, candy and sugary beverages. And he loved fruit. Through personalized nutrition, he eliminated highly refined sugar foods, incorporated fruit and received a meal plan that suited his lifestyle. Within six months, his blood sugars stabilized, his hemoglobin A1C was on the way to normal, he lost 50+ lbs with increased energy and felt like he got his life back.

Scenario No. 2: Managing Malnutrition with Autoimmunity

A retired male, in his mid-60's, referred for severe weakness related to an undiagnosed autoimmune condition. At first meeting, he could barely walk, barely talk and struggled with performing daily activities. Through a personalized nutrition plan, superfood smoothies were introduced, rich in quality proteins, vitamins and minerals. These smoothies were designed to be nutrient dense yet easy to prepare. Within 12 weeks, the time it took to prepare a smoothie went from over an hour to 10 minutes, his strength and voice improved significantly and for the first time in years he was able to go out for coffee with friends.


Nutrition is powerful. Personalized nutrition plans with a Functional Nutrition approach represent the future of nutrition therapy. By embracing the principles of personalized nutrition, you can unlock your full potential for optimal health and well being. To learn more feel free to reach out to me or visit my website,



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