Let’s get to to know each other. First of all, I am a busy mom of three (plus a foster mom to two “bonus” kids), wife to a husband who competes in Ironman triathlons, with a flock of chickens, and a garden. In my “spare” time I play soccer and run marathons… I even checked the Boston marathon off my bucket list in 2015.
I am also a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist specializing in digestive health. I provide outpatient nutrition counseling for conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), chronic constipation, and what I like to call “garden variety” diarrhea. This is often chronic diarrhea where no cause has ever been determined. I really enjoy trying to solve those cases. More recently, I have been studying food allergies and intolerances, integrative and functional medicine, and sports nutrition.
I have had diarrhea most of my life. It started to get worse when I was in 7th grade. I had my first barium enema (yuck) at 13, then a small bowel follow through, and sigmoidoscopy at age 17. Since they never found anything “wrong,” my doctor shrugged his shoulders and labeled me with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
While training for a marathon in early 2016, I experienced intense fatigue, especially during my long 20 mile runs. I asked my doctor to check a celiac panel, which came back “mildly positive.” After an endoscopy and colonoscopy with biopsies, I was formally diagnosed with celiac disease on June 1, 2016. You can read more of my story here.
The digestive system always fascinated me. I remember lovingly coloring my digestive diagrams in high school elective anatomy class. In college, I initially majored Pre-Med, then Pharmacy, before finally graduating with Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Management. I completed my dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
In my internship I learned how to teach diabetic, renal, weight loss, weight gain, surgical, and other diets to patients. But no one taught me how to educate patients on what to eat for gastrointestinal problems. This surprised me! …it just makes sense– the food you eat must go through the digestive system before it enters the body. So, it became my passion: to learn how to teach people to eat when their tummy doesn’t seem to work like everyone else’s.
Flash forward. I have worked as a registered dietitian for the same health system since 1996. Initially, I worked in the critical care and surgical units, tailoring my nutrition education for patients with cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, etc.
In 2003, the health system offered me the opportunity to open an outpatient nutrition counseling office, counseling adults for anything from weight loss to diabetes, while specializing in gastrointestinal diseases and disorders. In 2012, budget cuts closed my hospital-based office, I took the plunge and started my own private practice, Strategic Nutrition, LLC. (I continue to work on-call for the health system as a media rep.) I published my first book: The Diarrhea Dietitian: Expert Advice, Practical Solutions, and Strategic Nutrition in 2013.
As a passionate private practice owner, I joined Nutrition Entrepreneurs dietetic practice group in 2009. I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as Director-elect, then Director, of Member Services from June 2014-May 2016.
I am a pretty straightforward person. I’m not afraid to talk about anything related to poop. After all these years of working with patients, there isn’t much I haven’t heard. I can even say diarrhea in public without my face turning red. One of my goals in life is to convince the world that it is ok to talk about bowels, diarrhea, and gas.
Clients benefit from my three-part approach:
- Educational: scientific, based on human anatomy/physiology and nutrition, and current evidence-based literature
- Professional: my experience as a dietitian in learning how food works in the body, particularly in those with gastrointestinal disorders
- Personal: my own personal issues with diarrhea over the years and my diagnosis of celiac disease, including my dietary successes and failures
It was said best in a children s book, “Everyone Poops.” And let’s face it, everyone does. If yours aren’t normal, you’ve come to the right place, and you are welcome here. Please “like” The Diarrhea Dietitian on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @DiarrheaRD. Subscribe to receive new blog posts and Diarrhea Dietitian newsletters.
Niki Strealy, RDN, LD