Hi, I’m Priya Chawathe, Functional Nutrition Clinician from the greater Seattle area in Washington, United States.
I can teach you to successfully and safely use food, supplements, and lifestyle as medicine; so you find lasting relief from the physical and emotional hardships caused by your thyroid symptoms and diagnosis. My Functional Nutrition expertise allows me to target your unique underlying thyroid root causes - not just your superficial symptoms - thus bringing your body back into a true state of balance. My customized approach optimizes digestion, hormonal, immune and brain health, in addition to any other compromised body systems - to produce lasting energy, vitality and strength. My goal is for you to thrive, physically and emotionally, so you can then do the things you love best.
Having suffered from depression and anxiety myself (as part of my thyroid diagnosis), I am intimately aware of the denial and stigma that prevents one from seeking help. By sharing my story, I hope to inspire other women in similar situations find the care they so desperately need. I don’t want other women to suffer in silence like I did for more than half my life.
Why Health Became my Number One Priority
I believe that it’s crucial to be honest and true to ourselves. Denial, dismissal and hiding the way we truly feel can sabotage our health and force us to live with a body, mind, and spirit that is slowly falling apart. Relying on external sources (crutches) to numb our pain and merely carry us along, sadly robs us of the health and joy we all deserve.
I dragged myself through life for years, without the energy or desire to truly live. I blamed myself for being lazy, incompetent and undisciplined. I did my best to ignore and push through symptoms of depression and fatigue, because I had daily obligations as a mom, wife and graduate student. Whenever things got really bad, I thought it was the stress and hardship of my difficult life that was causing me to feel that way. The stigma associated with mental health also made me hide my reality from everyone, even myself. I felt empty and disconnected. Connecting with others—even fictional characters on television - made me feel alive and gave me an escape. I was at my happiest watching endless hours of TV and stress eating because it’s how I numbed the pain. I finally did reach my breaking point one day; which forced me to get medical care (even though I was embarrassed) and was subsequently diagnosed with depression and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, a few years of taking pills for these conditions did not magically undo the real damage inside my body, although they did provide some temporary relief. My health progressively got worse even with regular exercise and a healthy diet. I was now really desperate for an easier life (like the one all my friends had) and for a body and mind that was working for me, instead of against me. My young daughter and husband deserved and needed a healthy Priya, with whom they could enjoy all that life has to offer!
Why My Health Got Worse Even on a Healthy Diet and Medication
My love for my family and new symptoms (that were now visible to everyone) - weight-gain, insomnia, hair loss and cystic acne - urged me to look for help outside of traditional medicine. I’d always been curious and interested in the healing power of food, so I turned my attention to nutrition. My diet at the time was mostly home-cooked Indian fare, but I decided to experiment. I tried a few specific diets for skin, thyroid health, and even embraced veganism for a brief time. None of these diets helped, and some actually made things worse. I didn’t know then that many of the healthy foods I was eating everyday (whole wheat, yogurt, rice, soy, oatmeal and dark chocolate) were actually hurting me. I was not yet familiar with the concept of bio-individuality; that one person's remedy could be another person’s poison. I also didn’t know then that my thyroid medication (although necessary) was only serving as a bandaid.
Discovering Functional Nutrition
Although quite disheartened by now, accepting and living with my symptoms was not an option for me anymore. My health had become a priority and I was determined to find an answer to my thyroid symptoms. My endurance paid off and a novel book caught my attention. It was “The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First”, written by Dr Mark Hyman, an internationally recognized American family physician and pioneer in Functional Medicine.
In the introduction to the book, Dr. Hyman explains that diseases as we currently define them will one day no longer be relevant, as we understand the basic common molecular mechanisms at the root of the symptoms. This meant that my thyroid symptoms and diagnosis were just surface level expressions of deeper hidden imbalances that needed to be addressed for real relief. The book also confirmed that indeed nutrition would be the cornerstone in my recovery, but not nutrition as I had known it until now. The book referred a more cutting-edge, powerful nutrition - “functional nutrition” - set within the functional medicine model. Functional nutrition doesn’t stop at, “You are what you eat”; instead it emphasizes, “You are what your body can do with what you eat.” Functional nutrition wasn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all, band-aid solution to my thyroid symptoms because it would finally target and correct the deeper hidden molecular imbalances.
The rest as they say is history. Functional medicine and nutrition proved to be the answer to my health problems. I share my story in more detail in a chapter titled, “Rebirth: Finding My Health, Happiness and Destiny” in the Amazon best selling book, Silver Linings Storybook .
My Path to Becoming an Advocate for Health
Eager to share this success and help other women with thyroid disease, I trained in functional nutrition for two years with Andrea Nakayama, my current mentor and functional nutritionist extraordinaire; after graduating as a health coach from The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. My former masters in health research from The University of Texas complemented and added value to this training by giving me the ability to think scientifically. With my training in functional nutrition and my education in health research - I can look beyond the surface level symptoms of my clients and instead for clues that illuminate the underlying reasons for their symptoms and related diagnoses - to bring them real relief using food, supplements and lifestyle recommendations. I have successfully helped clients from all over the world get to the root of and alleviate their suffering from several symptoms including depression, anxiety, stubborn weight, acne/other skin conditions, hair fall, PMS, fatigue, digestive issues, chronic headaches, allergies, joint pain and more.
Trust is paramount in any relationship, including the relationships I form with my clients. On that foundation of trust, we work for several months together as a team implementing powerful, targeted changes in food and lifestyle to support their thyroid health from the roots. I feel honored every day to be of service while empowering clients to take control of their health and happiness – the way I did mine.