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Ever since our first cohort of coaches graduated from our AIP Certified Coach Practitioner Training Program, we’ve been watching with pride and excitement as they bring the AIP to the traditional healthcare landscape. Our AIP Certified Coach Spotlight features give you a look at what it means to be an AIP coach, and what you can expect when working with one as part of your healthcare team.
Tina Christoudias-Spyrou is a graduate of our most recent AIP Certified Coach cycle and we’re blown away by the ways she’s already been able to help clients with autoimmune disease. As someone with Hashimoto’s herself, Tina specializes in thyroid issues and has a track record of helping her clients avoid surgery using diet and lifestyle interventions.
How did you become involved in the healthcare field in the beginning?
I actually started out my academic career in opera performance as a soprano. Being on stage from a young age in theater, dance, and song triggered my interest in nutrition as it was very important to me to look and feel my best in order to perform. This interest later led to a switch in my undergraduate major from performance to the nutritional sciences. I received my undergraduate with high honors from Rutgers University and received dietetic training from the Harvard affiliated teaching hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
What prompted you to use your skill set and training to specifically focus on serving the autoimmune disease population?
As with many of my colleagues who have gone on to serve the autoimmune population, I have an autoimmune condition. Knowing what I do today, I must have had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis since I was a teenager. It wasn’t until after giving birth to my daughter that I understood the repercussions of having such a condition. During this time, I had every symptom in the book: depression, hair loss, severe constipation, brain fog, and inability to concentrate or to even have a conversation, and weight gain.
After major frustration and disappointment from finding any answers from my doctor, my husband’s love and support led me to find an integrative doctor in London. He told me about nutrition, gave me supplements and desiccated thyroid medication. Within two weeks of changing my diet and taking some supplements, I started to lose weight and my brain fog lifted. This experience was my “AHA!” moment to learn more.
Since then, I have written a book about how nutrition can help to get rid of symptoms associated with hypothyroidism called Tired of Feeling Tired?, I have become an AIP certified coach, and am now on the path to becoming a functional medicine practitioner. In my practice today, I predominantly see women with thyroid issues and hormonal imbalances and other autoimmune diseases.
You recently became an AIP Certified Coach. Were there aspects of the program that you feel were particularly beneficial?
I say it all the time that one of my biggest blessings in life is having an autoimmune condition. Although this may sound strange, it has led me into a life where I can be of service to others by offering them help through my personal and professional experiences. My chronic issue has also led me to becoming an AIP Certified Coach where I met my tribe of very inspirational practitioners. I believe one of the biggest assets of the program was in fact the ability to connect and have continued interaction with such brilliant and inspirational people such as those I am blessed to call my AIP colleagues today.
I felt that the program also helped me as a practitioner because it offered detailed tips on how to be a coach to patients in order to address not only diet, but other lifestyle habits that affect health (such as sleep, stress, community, and support systems). This really added to my skill set as a health practitioner.
What kinds of plans do you currently have for your practice? Anything exciting coming up?
I would say that my biggest project to date is that I am the creator of Europe’s first Thyroid Healing Summit which is due to take place in Limassol, Cyprus in March 2020. We have a very exciting list of amazing speakers due to appear and many from around the globe are due to attend.
In Cyprus, in addition to having a local private practice, I also see patients worldwide virtually. I have created the first autoimmune support group on the island and regularly speak on television and radio platforms about holistic health and the autoimmune protocol.
Can you share an autoimmune client success story?
One patient who stands out in my mind is one that I have been seeing for the past two years. She is a 53-year-old woman with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, who started out with severe hair loss, many nodules on her thyroid, weight gain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, poor sleep and very low libido. When she first came to me, her antibodies were increased, but the doctor at the time did not feel that she needed thyroid medication. She was determined to do anything to get her health back so we dived right into the AIP diet.
To make a long story short, she stuck to the elimination phase of AIP for one year and went to her doctor to get an ultrasound on her thyroid at her check-up appointment. Initially, her doctor was convinced that her thyroid looked so bad that she probably would have to remove it. But at the yearly check-up, the many nodules on her thyroid completely disappeared!
From this point on, this patient has gone on to be one of my star patients as she has been able to reintroduce almost all foods back into her diet, she has seen almost complete reversal of her hair loss, she lost the weight that was plaguing her for so many years, her and her partner are enjoying their relationship, she still does not need thyroid medication, and she is thriving in her life instead of just surviving. It is one of the many testaments I have seen to how the autoimmune protocol and functional medicine are changing people’s health and lives for the better.
Where can our readers find you or learn about working with you?