Nutritional Advice with Jessica Pantermuehl
Take us on your journey of breaking into the health field. Was this something you always dreamt of doing?
I’ve been fascinated by the innate wisdom and complexities of the human body for as long as I can remember and knew that I would be involved in the field of health in some way or another. For much of my youth, I wanted to be a doctor - one of my favorite games as a little girl was to borrow my mom’s sewing kit and practice performing surgeries on my dolls.
But as I got older, I became more and more interested in the field of preventative medicine, which truly comes down to diet and lifestyle.
My older sister Jamie gave me a book called “10 Essential Foods” by Lalitha Thomas when I was 13 and that’s really where my passion for nutrition began. I loved the idea of being able to use food as medicine and to help prevent the chronic health conditions that I saw all around me before they even began.
After finishing nutrition school, I opened my own practice and also had the opportunity to work alongside an integrative medical practice in Los Angeles, where I spent years helping clients use the incredibly powerful properties of therapeutic foods and nutrients to decrease pain, optimize energy levels and weight, improve fertility, and enhance overall wellbeing.
During this time, I gained firsthand experience with how many moving parts were involved in going into business for yourself and it kind of blew my mind that there wasn’t more support for us as practitioners in starting a business.
We learn a lot in school about how to help clients get healthier, but if you have your own practice, you need to know how to effectively run a business if you want to ultimately help people improve their health. I didn’t quite realize this until after I was out of school and ready to work with clients and had to learn and figure out way more about business and marketing in those first few years than I would have ever expected.
It seemed like a gaping hole that needed to be filled for the sake of our preventative wellness industry effectively expanding, so I began sharing marketing resources with my fellow practitioners and that began what ultimately became the Holistic Entrepreneur Association. The HEA is now a platform where new and experienced practitioners can come to learn about business and marketing from a variety of marketing experts, business coaches, and successful practitioners sharing their best practices.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve ended up transitioning my nutrition practice to an online format so that I can create the time to support my fellow practitioners in a more robust capacity. In addition to running the Holistic Entrepreneur Association, I now teach the marketing and leadership courses at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and am the lead instructor for the Career Development Course at the Nutritional Therapy Association.
Tell us about your businesses Eat Clean with Jessica and the Holistic Entrepreneur Association. What exactly do they consist of?
At this point, my nutrition business Eat Clean with Jessica is fully online, where I help people improve their health through online courses and programs. The Holistic Entrepreneur Association is also online, where I help fellow health professionals launch and grow their businesses through our platform’s memberships and online courses.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
I feel so grateful that I get to do work that I absolutely love, every single day. Not only do I get the satisfaction of helping others improve their own lives by improving their health through Eat Clean with Jessica, I also get to work with and support my absolute favorite kind of people through the Holistic Entrepreneur Association: practitioners who simply want to help others.
The practitioners that I have the opportunity of meeting and working with every day through the HEA are an endless source of inspiration for me. Oftentimes, people get into the field of natural health after exhaustively searching for solutions for their own health challenges, or the health challenges of a loved one. The obstacles that so many of these practitioners have overcome in their own lives and the passion they have for helping others find root-cause resolution in turn is simply awe-inspiring.
It’s a total joy and a complete honor to be able to do the work that I do. Whether it’s seeing a nutrition client finally find relief from chronic digestive issues or seeing a practitioner’s business blossom through the support of the HEA, I derive a deep and grounding sense of fulfillment from my work.
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
I start my day with ten minutes of stretching on my yoga mat, get dressed, and head into my home office. I start my workday early enough so that I can have two hours of uninterrupted time to go heads-down into deep work, usually this means working on a current strategy I’m tackling at that time to move my business forward. I turn my notifications off, turn on some chillstep or instrumental ambient EDM (the Uptempo station on the Focus at Will music platform is my go-to for morning work sessions), and get to it.
After my two-hour work sprint, I cook breakfast then dig into the remainder of my morning work, following the daily plan that I’ve laid out for myself at the end of my previous workday. A daily to-do list is a must for me. My production absolutely tanks if I don’t have a clearly delineated set of tasks that I need to work on each day, informed by the weekly plan I’ve set out for myself at the beginning of that week.
That weekly plan is in turn informed by whatever quarterly plan I’ve created as well. The nature of my tasks vary slightly depending on what’s happening in my business at that time. For example, I might be working on copywriting or creating promotional materials if I have an upcoming program launch that I’m preparing for, I might be grading papers, creating curriculum, or delivering lectures if one of the classes I teach is currently in session, or I might be writing scripts and recording videos if I’m in the process of updating the materials for the programs I offer. I might be reaching out to potential partners, delivering webinars, interviewing a business coach or heath professional for the Holistic Entrepreneur Association, or being interviewed for a podcast or online publication, like we’re doing right now.
I’ve found that if I hold off until 11 am to check and handle my email, I get exponentially more accomplished per day, so I try to be as disciplined with myself as possible to only check my email at 11 am and 4 pm and to refrain from handling email outside of these times. I’m not always perfect with this, but it makes a big, positive difference when I stick to it.
I have lunch, take a short walk around my neighborhood if I can fit that in with the other items on my schedule for that day, then continue working through the items on my daily plan throughout the afternoon.
Could you share with us what you typically eat in a day?
Sure! I should probably preface this with the fact that I’m a big geek when it comes to figuring out how I can leverage nutrient-dense foods to support my body and optimize my health, so you’re about to see me nerd out pretty hard here.
I start each day with a mineral-rich green drink that I’ve created and adapted over the years. Minerals play such a vital role in all body processes, like cell-to-cell communication and the chemical reactions that need to take place for energy production. Many of us aren’t getting anywhere near enough minerals in our diet due to inadequate vegetable consumption and the negative impacts that modern agricultural methods have had on our soils. On top of that, the basic stressors of modern life can contribute to mineral depletion in the body, so I like to start each day with a really nice mineral boost.
The ingredients vary slightly depending on what body system I feel needs a little extra support at that time (for example, I’ll add in a dropperful of Vitanica Immune Tonic if I feel my body needs help fighting something off), but I’m happy to share the staple ingredients I use. It has quite a few, so I batch-prep my green drink mixes in small jars every few weeks so that I can just dump a jar into a glass of water, stir it up, and drink it in the morning.
I start with some kind of greens powder (I rotate the powders I use to increase my nutrient diversity, right now I’m using DaVinci Labs Spectra Greens Powder), then add a scoop of collagen powder for gut and skin health (if you take collagen, make sure you take it with vitamin C, as C enhances the benefits of collagen), a whole food based vitamin C powder (my favorite is HealthForce SuperFoods Truly Natural Vitamin C), a probiotic powder (I rotate this as well for microbiome diversity but right now I’m using Douglas Labs Multi Probiotic powder), and I also add a scoop of powdered inositol, which is good for your nervous system as well as cellular health. Those are all the dry ingredients that I mix together in my little jars and mix into a glass of water in the morning.
Then, I squeeze in a dropperful of fulvic acid (it’s super mineral rich, I use the Trace Minerals Research brand) as well as a liquid burdock root extract (great for reducing inflammation and helping support your body’s own detoxification processes, I use the HerbPharm brand).
Then I have breakfast, which is often eggs over easy with a small avocado and some arugula, lemon, and olive oil. Or (TMI warning), if I’m closer to my menstrual cycle, I might have a more carbohydrate-rich breakfast like oatmeal, which helps to support the detoxification of excess estrogen from the body.
I might also often have a couple of hormone-supportive seed cycling balls that I make, either in addition to my breakfast, as a snack, or as a light breakfast if I’m not super hungry.
I have a mug of some sort of hot drink with breakfast too. Right now, I’m loving frothed oat milk with MUD\WTR (a coffee alternative packed with energy-supportive herbs and mushrooms) or I’ll have some organic half-caff coffee. I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine so I try not to overdo it.
For lunch, I usually have a really big, very loaded salad. It often looks like a bunch of greens with walnuts, avocado, and some sort of protein (my go-to is cooked ground organic turkey or a few sardines – might sound gross but sardines are so super nutrient dense). I’ll occasionally add some roasted veggies to it (like butternut squash or carrot) or if I want a sweeter flavor, I’ll add a chopped apple. For dressing, I use olive oil and apple cider vinegar, which has the added benefit of helping support digestion.
If I want a snack between lunch and dinner, I might have an apple with some kind of nut butter (I love sunflower seed butter most). Or if I want something sweet, I’ll have a few squares of dark chocolate with a handful of macadamia nuts. I sip herbal tea throughout the day and will often sip on a mug of straight up plain hot water, which is an Ayurvedic method for supporting the flow of your lymphatic system.
I really love an afternoon mug of some kind of yummy, health-supportive drink, such as a satchel of MoonJuice’s Mood Dust powder or one of FourSigmatic’s mushroom blends. Or if I want something cold, I might have some ginger kombucha.
For dinner, I often do one-pan meals, where I sauté some sort of green (like spinach or kale) with some sort of carbohydrate (like some sweet potato) and add a protein (such as organic ground turkey or beef). Or I’ll do something like salmon with a big side of greens.
If I’m hungry before bed, my go-to bedtime snack is a small bowl of plain, full-fat organic European-style yogurt sprinkled with a handful of pistachios and a little drizzle of olive oil.
I try to get in some fermented veggies with one of my meals (so good for digestion and creating a diverse microbiome inside your gut), such as a scoop of raw sauerkraut with my eggs in the morning, and I also try to incorporate organ meat, such as organic chicken liver, at least once a month. Organ meats are really mineral rich and nutrient dense but if you’re trying something like liver, make sure it’s super fresh and not overcooked, otherwise it’s seriously gross.
Do you have any foods that you avoid at all costs?
I’m fortunate in that I don’t have any autoimmune conditions or food allergies that necessitate strict and total avoidance of certain foods.
So while I keep my own kitchen stocked with health-supportive foods and follow a clean way of eating for the large majority of the time, I’ll definitely occasionally have less healthy foods in restaurants or social settings without much concern.
But as far as my own home goes, I do pay a lot of attention to the quality of fats I cook with and in the foods I eat. Dietary fat plays a critical role in the health of our cells and hormones and the ability of our bodies to cool and soothe internal inflammation.
When we bring the wrong kinds of fats into our diet (such as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, refined vegetable oil, and expired or otherwise rancid oil), our cells, hormones, and inflammatory responses suffer.
What do you believe is the most useful piece of nutritional advice for someone to have?
If I had to choose just one piece of advice, it would be not to fear healthy sources of fat. Fortunately, we’ve pretty much come out of the decades-long low-fat dietary dogma, but I still see this fear of fat showing up with people that I help. Of course, there are certain conditions where a lower-fat approach is needed for therapeutic reasons but for most, healthy sources of fat can be used as a powerful tool for stabilizing blood sugar, optimizing weight, regulating inflammation, and supporting cellular and hormonal health. When I say “healthy sources of fat”, I’m referring to the fat found in nuts and seeds, olives, wild caught fish, and organic meats.
We’ve heard great things about your Seed Cycling Balls! Could you tell us the nutritional benefits of them and provide our readers with the infamous recipe?
Yeah! So, these seed cycling balls are specifically made to support women’s health, as they support the different phases of your menstrual cycle. There are two different recipes for the two phases of your cycle.
The first phase of your cycle (which starts the day you begin menstruating and lasts until you ovulate, which is about fourteen days thereafter) is called the Follicular Phase. This is when your body is preparing an egg to be released from the ovary and starts building up the lining of the uterus in preparation for a potential pregnancy. It’s called the Follicular Phase because the little sacs in your ovaries that contain your eggs are called “follicles” and during this part of your cycle, the follicles that your body selects for that particular month begin to grow.
During this phase, your body begins creating more and more estrogen and this first recipe has the benefit of supporting healthy estrogen levels. It’s best consumed during your follicular phase.
The main components of the Follicular Phase seed cycling balls are flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Here’s the recipe I use:
1 cup freshly ground raw flax seed (not toasted)
1 cup freshly ground raw pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp coconut oil (or more if more moisture is needed to blend up the seeds)
Organic pumpkin spice blend (to taste – I like a lot)
¼ tsp salt
If you’re currently consuming a decent amount of sugar in your diet, this are probably going to taste bitter, so if you need to sweeten them, you can add some form of sweetener, such as lucuma powder or monk fruit.
Blend in food processor (be careful not to over-blend because then they just turn into nut butter) and form into balls about an inch and a half or so in diameter.
Set them in the fridge to harden, then transfer to a storage container (I individually wrap mind in unbleached parchment paper squares). Keep the container stored in the fridge or freezer at all times to protect the delicate fats.
The second phase of your cycle (which begins when you ovulate and lasts until the first day of your next period) is called the Luteal Phase.
The second phase prepares your uterus and your body to be in the prime condition of accepting a fertilized egg, or to begin the next cycle if pregnancy doesn’t happen. It’s called the Luteal Phase because of a little structure that gets created in this phase called the Corpus Luteum.
Remember the follicle we were talking about in the Follicular Phase? The little sac that holds the soon-to-be-released egg that starts to grow during the Follicular Phase? Well once that egg and follicle duo have grown to maturity and that egg comes out of the follicle, the empty follicle straight up turns into this new little yellow structure called the corpus luteum (which, in Latin, means “yellow body”).
What the body’s doing here is repurposing the cells of that empty follicle into something it needs next, which is this little structure called the corpus luteum. And the reason your body needs the corpus luteum at this point is because this little yellow structure pumps out the next hormone the body needs a lot of in this second phase of your menstrual cycle, called progesterone.
Isn’t the human body just incredible?