Nutritional Psychiatry

Root Cause Psychiatry Infographic

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."



“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”

—Virginia Woolf


“The same chemicals found in the brain are also produced in the gut, their availability to the brain is largely governed by the activity of gut bacteria, and we are forced to realize that ground zero for all things mood-related is the gut.”
David Perlmutter, author of Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life


Can you relate to any of the following?

  • I am confused about the various diet and lifestyle recommendations I read about—I just want to know what exactly I should be doing
  • I have tried to implement dietary changes and build healthy lifestyle habits, but I am always unsuccessful
  • I know I want to change my health, but I don’t know where to start
  • I understand sleep, food, exercise, and other choices make a difference in my wellbeing—but I don’t know what’s most important for me
  • I am struggling with the side effects of my prescription medications, and wonder if improving my health could help me reduce or even get off my prescription meds.

Imagine you could…

  • Work through each and every one of your health questions with a trusted partner who knows your concerns and your needs
  • Receive a personalized nutrition plan tailored to what you need
  • Have a professional by your side to support the health goals that you have committed to
  • Move past the simple “eat more vegetables” refrain to understand the foundational details about what makes you healthier based on your specific biochemical and nutrient needs
  • Start feeling healthier and more in control of your life within six months

By applying cutting-edge science, Potomac Psychiatry’s nutritional psychiatry program is dedicated to helping you achieve your health goals for good.

What is Nutritional Psychiatry?

Nutritional psychiatry is the science of how emotional health is restored through nutritional and lifestyle interventions that address those root causes of emotional distress originating in your “physical Self.” When individuals are asked the question, Who am I? they nearly always gravitate towards their attributes or traits . They may describe themselves as ambitious, trustworthy, spontaneous. Sometimes, they describe themselves as broken. All of these answers may be true—but they are far from the complete picture. What if we described ourselves in terms of our “biological Self", comprised of- our “microbiome-self”, our “cellular self”, or our “detoxification self”? These selves would tell our story more completely, as these foundational aspects of ourselves may lead us to become a suffering Self, or an emotionally healthy Self, depending upon the health of the foundation.  Nutritional psychiatry starts with analyzing the health of these foundational aspects, and works up to optimize our biological and sentient selves.

The mind-body connection is one that has been debated for centuries by the world’s greatest thinkers—but in the twenty-first century, we can finally put the debate to rest. Not only is this connection real, we now know its biological underpinnings, and we know how it works to sustain our wellness—or to destroy it. Nutritional psychiatry not only recognizes the relationship between the mind and the body, between how we feel and how our body’s been fed—it posits that this relationship is the single greatest tool we have in our personal arsenal for keeping our minds and our bodies healthy at any age.

Potomac Psychiatry’s nutritional psychiatry program recognizes the role of micronutrients, macronutrients, and phytonutrients in creating and sustaining mental health. This program not only empowers our patients with the deep understanding of these building blocks of nutritional health and wellness—we also personalize our approach based on your specific needs, versus taking a more general, population-based approach. While the bodies we each call home may be fragile, we also know they are resilient—and amazingly adaptable. It is our mission to help you see this incredible capacity for yourself, and to help you change your relationship to your body for good.

What Does a Nutritional Psychiatry Treatment Plan Look Like?

Potomac’s Nutritional Psychiatry program isn’t a temporary band-aid—it’s a complete, inside-out transformation of the way you think about health. Guided by our in-house nutritionist Julie Wendt, MS, LN, CNS, patients who undertake our program travel a powerful, results-oriented path toward lifelong wellness. In one to two months, many of our patients report feeling less pain, having more energy, and getting better sleep. In six to nine months, goals that once felt impossible now appear within reach.

This incredible journey begins with a 15-minute discovery call between you and our nutritionist, Julie Wendt, during which time Julie will answer any questions you may have about working with her to improve your mental health. Next, you will complete a nutritional intake form—this form will ask you to consider what you’d like to accomplish under this program, what has worked or not worked for you in the past in terms of dietary and lifestyle changes, and what food allergies or sensitivities you may have that we should know about before we begin treatment.

Then you’ll be ready for your one-hour initial consultation with Julie. This consult will introduce you to foundational pillars of health—including diet, sleep, stress management, movement, and relationships—which we will return to again and again in your treatment. Together, we will use these pillars to name both short-term and long-term goals for your health and come up with an action plan tailored to helping you meet them.

From there, you will meet with Julie every two weeks to add to and adjust your action plan as needed. As you begin to feel comfortable and clear in your new routines, your appointments will be less frequent. Every treatment plan is unique—but by implementing research-based methods, our patients may achieve a dramatic improvement in their health and wellbeing within the year.

Foundations of Nutritional Psychiatry

Many nutrition plans are built around food alone, but our diets are not the only thing that determine our health—far from it, in fact! Julie builds your treatment plan around six foundational pillars of wellness that each inform your biological health as well as your mental health, your energy levels, and your general wellbeing. These include:

Diet: Any nutritional program can tell you to eat more broccoli. At Potomac Psychiatry, our goal is to help you understand exactly how these “healthy foods” actually serve your unique biological, genetic needs. Science can tell us more than ever before what foods create and sustain a healthy gut, restore energy levels, prevent inflammation, and bolster immunity. Beyond dietary changes, our program also focuses on the use of supplements and nutraceuticals to target specific nutrient deficiencies and get your nutritional status back on track.

Sleep: A restful night’s sleep is a critical aspect of both mental and physical health—and yet our society frequently overlooks its importance. A lack of sleep can lead to numerous chronic illnesses, from weight gain (studies have attributed a 10-pound weight gain to those who do not sleep enough) to chronic inflammation to cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. During sleep, our brains carry out critical processes that clear out toxins and other cellular junk that create these adverse health outcomes. By focusing on sleep as a core part of your health, our team can help you improve your sleep to help support your mood and cognition goals.

Stress: Stress is either at the root of or a contributing factor to almost all chronic diseases. We don’t take stress lightly, because we know that the impact of chronic, uncontrolled stress on your biochemistry cannot be underestimated. Not only do we have testing that can help us understand how your body is dealing with stressors, we are trained in techniques to help restore resiliency in your stress response to ensure it’s not contributing to poor health outcomes.

Movement: Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercise is as effective as medication in treating some types of depression and helping to alleviate other mental illnesses. Building in movement as part of your daily routine not only helps regulate neurotransmitters in charge of your mood—it also beneficially impacts your gut microbiome, which in turn directly impacts your brain through the vagus nerve. Movement also helps individuals develop healthier and more sustainable sleep routines. Your body is designed to move—and our nutritional psychiatry program will help you find a routine that you can stick with.

Relationships: It comes as no surprise that the individuals and communities we surround ourselves with have a significant impact not only on our mental health, but on our physical and nutritional health as well. The habits of our loved ones and social groups can quickly become the habits we carry through our own daily lives—and sometimes, those habits can lead to unintended health outcomes that negatively impact your wellbeing. Our program helps you navigate those habits and patterns so you have more control over your choices.

Functional Testing: Good health is not merely skin deep—a healthy diet and lifestyle can impact your wellbeing even at the most granular level, including your body’s atoms, cells, and microbiome. You and your nutritionist can make a significant amount of progress in the above categories—and our functional testing program is what ties it all together to bring about a positive long-lasting result. By administering scientifically validated tests that highlight the biological elements of health that are specific to you—including NutrEval, GI effects, KBMO FIT, food sensitivity screenings, and nutrigenomics tests like IntellixxDNA and Genomind—your nutritionist will personalize your nutritional plan to catalyze good health in every cell of your body… and the difference you’ll feel will be life-changing.

Healing Your Mind through your Body

Our bodies are the sanctuary for our minds—without physical health, mental health suffers. Our Nutritional Psychiatry program offers a science-backed, integrative approach to good health that will transform your body and your mind and offer you a new way of thinking about both.

Request An AppointmentCall (301) 984-9791 to contact us and schedule a consultation