Donna Burdick is the owner of Finger Lakes Nutrition. This is a business that offers Nutrition Response Testing as their primary modality for nutritional healing. She is also a classically trained, board certified, registered dietician with over 20 years’ experience in medical model nutrition. Donna is located at 911 Pennsylvania Ave. in Elmira, NY 14903. She can be reached at (607) 229-6079 or by email at Donna.Burdick@FingerlakesNutrition.org. Her website is www.FingerlakesNutrition.org and she is on Facebook and LinkedIn.
What is Medical Model Nutrition?
Medical Model is “after the fact”. It is not prescribing herbals; not looking for other answers. In my mind, I have been treating medical diagnoses with ineffective dietary prescription for the last 20 years. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand how important nutrition is for overall well-being and disease prevention. What I am seeing are patients that have become medical wreckage. Which means people have several diagnoses and are being treated with too many medications that, in most cases, just mask the symptoms. No real answers are provided as to why they are sick. With my clinical background and my training in Nutrition Response Testing, I believe there is always something I can do to help a person feel better. For example, I can help you relieve headaches, digestive issues and many other common symptoms of a poor diet. I do that through teaching you what healthy foods are and planning menus so that you are eating more nutritious foods that will help your body heal.
Part of what I do, is to identify the underlying stressors that are making you NOT feel well. These stressors may include heavy metals, chemicals, food sensitivities, immune challenges and scars. With that information I then create an individualized nutrition and supplement program to implement at a pace you can live with.
How long have you been in business?
Finger Lakes Nutrition has been in business for about 6 years.
How did all this start for you?
It started with a chiropractor visit in Ithaca. I am a runner and I was experiencing pain while running. So, I went in to find out why it hurt to run. During the treatment visits I was muscle-tested for the first time ever. The doctor explained that what he was doing was muscle testing, Nutrition Response Testing. I left with helpful nutrition advice and a need to know more about Nutrition Response Testing. Every time I went back, my chiropractor would tell me more and I would leave with my head spinning with excitement realizing this is what nutrition work is supposed to be. That was February or March of 2010 and by August I was sitting in an introductory course on Nutrition Response Testing in Albany.
When I left that training, I realized I had found my purpose in my career. I didn’t know how I was going to make I happen but I could not rationalize how I would practice nutrition any other way.
What were you doing before that?
I had worked in food service for years; I worked as a nutrition clerk at a hospital in Oneonta while going to school in my late 20’s. This is where I got my introduction to food consistencies and practice talking with patients. While going to school, I volunteered at Upstate Home for Children and Adults and worked in the kitchen.
I currently practice as a Registered Dietician for NY State working with developmentally disabled individuals. I have 20 years of experience in this field and feel very fortunate to work with a clinical team that includes occupational therapists, speech pathologists, behavioral specialists, nurses, doctors and more. Working with these disciplines over the years, I have learned to look at all of the influences in a person’s life and treat them as a whole person.
Where were you educated?
I have earned two Associates degrees from Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3). My first degree was in business/accounting, followed by a degree in math/science which lead me to a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta. Following completion of my degree program I completed a 10-month internship at Wilson Hospital in Johnson City, NY and then took the exam to be a Registered Dietitian.
Shortly thereafter, I started my position with NYS and returned to school at Ithaca College to earn a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. I wanted to be able to safely prescribe exercise programs in addition to the nutrition piece.
I do believe that when you find your purpose and decide to move in that direction it is as if someone hands you the tickets to get there. Divine intervention I believe. That’s how life has felt for the last 20 years.
Where did you get your training for Nutrition Response Testing?
ULAN Nutritional Services in Clearwater, FL. That has been a 6-year process since I work full-time. To complete the training, I flew to Clearwater, FL 4-5 times a year. The training is thorough and very intense including both practice management courses and clinical courses. Each clinical module, a total of 9, was composed of three full days of training. Before moving on to the next module we had both written and practical testing to ensure our competency in all the previous teaching. Exhausting, but so worth it.
I graduated in September 2016. My goal is to retire this year from New York State and focus on Nutrition Response Testing full-time. Working full-time in addition to my practice has definitely limited my success. It is hard to move forward when you are being pulled in different directions.
Are there any misconceptions about you or your business?
Communication is key in having patients understand what Nutrition Response Testing is. My goal is to have patients understand that this is about lifestyle change and not a quick fix. It is about getting at the root cause of illness or non-optimum health and not masking symptoms as with medication therapy. There is no easy way out. It takes time and commitment, often months or years to heal poor health. There is hope. The body will heal if given the right tools.
What are your greatest achievements?
Graduating the Nutrition Response Testing training and trusting the skills I have learned to help people.
After that, it’s all the success stories I have created with my patients. The healing is real
Are there any stumbling blocks?
Me! I get in my own way. Not putting myself out there enough for fear I can’t handle it all physically and personally. I work full-time and there is some fear of letting go of secure income when you still have a child to help through college. However, when I do put the effort forth, the business does grow.
When I walk into this office after a day of stress, I become invigorated and clear minded almost immediately. So on-purpose. I just have to trust
If you could have a /do-Over, what would that be?
I would begin with Nutrition Response Testing 20 years ago.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Successful in healing with a steady patient flow. Doing speaking events. Expanding my practice to focus on detoxification which will help in the prevention and treatment of so many conditions including cancer and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Patients are an inspiration to me. Each patient, with their unique situation pushes me to learn more and to be more effective in helping others.