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Hidden Gems: Meet Caitlin Self

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caitlin Self.

Hi Caitlin, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Even in childhood, I was interested in food, nutrition, and health, but I don’t think I really knew what that meant. I’d considered going to medical school but had doubts about my ability to handle the grueling coursework. I choose an easier-t0-me path (English – which led to writing, editing, and eventually teaching English abroad) – but the siren call of healthcare never quit.

When we hung up our perpetual traveler caps and moved back to the US, I got my Master’s in integrative human clinical nutrition. After a grueling board exam and a 1,000-hour internship, I became a Certified Nutrition Specialist and was ready to find a job!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Finding a job after graduating was a huge challenge. The Baltimore area tends to be a little more conventional and research-oriented, so I had a hard time finding work in a clinical practice. The first year after I graduated was a mixture of working part-time as a receptionist at a doctor’s office, completing writing projects in the nutrition field, working on my food blog, Frugal Nutrition, and spending day after day after day sending out my resume and applying to any and every nutrition position I could find.

In the meantime, I set up a private practice out of Charm City Integrative Health in Canton! In addition to continually looking for more work, I was hustling on the daily to find clients. For me, this was soul-crushing work, especially since I do not have a natural knack for being a salesperson or an entrepreneur.

It took me a long time to get to where I am today, but those challenges left scars. I spent the next couple of years overworking myself because I had this completely legitimate feeling that I couldn’t say no to opportunities. It had taken me a year to really break into this field and I was afraid of being broke and unemployed again. It’s only recently that I’ve started to scale things back, but as many business owners can relate, I still tend to work upwards of 50 hours a week. It’s a work in progress!

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a functional nutritionist at Caitlin Self Nutrition and a food blogger/publisher at Frugal Nutrition. While these businesses are maybe only tangentially related, they provided variety in my day-to-day life. I can see clients 3-4 days a week and then cook and take photos all day on a Saturday. It’s nice to see clients who are looking for recipes and having a rolodex of 300+ recipes from my website to help get them exactly what they’re looking for! I specialize in a few areas, including complex GI disorders, SIBO, and intuitive eating, and I like to combine my functional nutrition background with intuitive eating practices to help clients feel their best and expand their diets safely.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I think the most important factor in my own satisfaction and success in this field has been niching down and learning about a few topics incredibly well. I took lots of specialty training in GI Disorders, SIBO, Mental Health, and Intuitive Eating, and some specific female body health topics, which has been invaluable to my ability to help clients with these conditions.

As a result, if I’m not well versed or experienced in a topic or condition, then I can easily refer clients out to others who can help them right away. I no longer think I need to help everyone myself – my referral network is incredibly robust! This is a win-win for everyone as I get clients who I am most likely to be able to help, and I can help boost the practices of my colleagues if they’re more able to help someone!

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