Interview with Carrie A. Decker, Naturopathic Physician
What drew you to add the field of eating disorder recovery to your naturopathic medical practice?
Actually, the opposite of this for me is true – the path of eating disorder recovery drew me to naturopathic medicine. I had the experience in my early teens through twenties of ongoing struggles with an eating disorder myself.
I had gone through various eating disorder inpatient programs, outpatient groups and individual counseling, 12-step programs, and not until I was working with a naturopath did I find some of my ongoing issues finally resolving.
When I became aware of how important naturopathic medicine was for my whole body in recovery (including issues like digestive problems, depression, emotional traumas, and menstrual cycle abnormalities), I chose to make a career change so I could help people with naturopathic medicine as well.
What keeps you in this work, day after day?
I’m so grateful that I am able to help people, and have so many clients that are grateful to work with me as well. It’s a relationship that feeds my heart, and also my brain as it is a lifetime of learning.
There are so many plants, homeopathics, and other natural therapies that I have yet to learn about, and there are always as new things being discovered with medical research. This gives me an opportunity almost daily to apply the things I learn.
The field of naturopathic medicine is in a growing phase – while it is well known and has been licensed in states such as Washington and Oregon for a long time, it still is relatively unknown in the Midwest and other regions.
This means I not only work with eating disorders but also have a general practice and work with people with many different complaints, from the young to old. I find myself learning many life lessons when I listen to my client’s stories and experiences, and am so glad I get to be a part of their healing as well.
What is your philosophy on naturopathic medicine and eating disorder recovery?
I work with individuals where they are at, and support them to move to the next place in recovery. As with everything in naturopathic medicine, there is a lot of variation in the individuals who come to my practice with a common primary concern.
In addition to eating disorder recovery, they might have problems with constipation, insomnia, fatigue, or menstrual irregularities (each commonly associated with eating disorder recovery) but also may have other conditions such as type-1 diabetes or ulcerative colitis that need to be considered. I look at individuals holistically, and try to find things which best support the treatment of many things at once.
With natural medicine there are many tools available that accomplish similar things, and this makes it easy to meet people where they are at. While some people may find that dietary changes will support their whole body in feeling better, others will benefit more from using digestive enzymes and sticking with a diet that has been working for them.
Naturopathic medicine is holistic practice and not one-size-fits-all, and that is what makes it so successful.
What tools would you like your participants to gain while working with you?
I want my patients to learn more about their bodies, and how to support their healing from many perspectives. When we start to understand what a complex and beautiful thing our body is we can understand how important it is to feed and treat it well.
I want to help people learn how to support their health with the many natural substances that nature offers us, as with these things the body is able to heal from within. I want people recover so fully that the disease labels they once carried are but a memory to remind them of the path from which they came, no longer a burden to bear.
What do you envision the future of naturopathic medicine and eating disorder recovery to be like?
I think we will continue to see more holistic recovery centers, where individuals can see naturopathic doctors and other alternative medicine practitioners such as acupuncturists and massage therapists to support them in recovery. I hope to be a part of developing these things.
Because we are always learning more about genetics and their association with disease conditions such as eating disorders, using this information to design individualized nutritional treatment regimes also will be something we see more of in all aspects of medicine, and particularly with mental health.
By approaching recovery individually and holistically, there are many improved overall benefits, with longer lasting effects.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 24th, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com