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Ellen Nicholas - Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner

Hi, my name is
Ellen Kennedy Nicholas.

I am the certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner at Optimized Brain & Body, a foodie, a thirteen-year GF food entrepreneur at farmers markets, and the mother of three adult children. My interests run to music and movies, politics around health care, reading and researching healthy and proactive ways to age with all my faculties! 


 A life-long resident of small towns along the Hudson River (Clermont, Rhinebeck and Saugerties), in the Mid-Hudson Valley in New York State, I'm just two hours from NYC and 60 minutes from Albany. My practice has been developed to work with chronically ill clients anywhere in the US.  We will use a combination of  Zoom or telephone for appointments; email for the transfer of information like health questionnaires /intake, protocols,  & test results; and a private Facebook group with a minimum of 12 hours a week of office hours for questions between appointments.

Why I became an FDN-Practioner...

My story:

 My story, not as rare as it should be, is that I struggled for more than 25 years as a result of a variety of acquired ailments that I contracted beginning in college where I was diagnosed with strep and took antibiotics 10 times in one year.  Beginning in 1980, I began to be sick with ailments including candida, hypoglycemia and Lyme Disease  (which wasn't even a thing at that point and was not diagnosed till 2000).   Several doctors told me I needed Valium as a result of the unidentified Lyme, that it was all in my head.  Fortunately, I had the confidence to know something was wrong, and not with my head!

 In 1994 I became pregnant with my third child and truly my health fell apart.  I had to stop driving once I fell asleep TWICE at stop lights. Chronic muscle and joint pain, brain fog, weakness to the point I couldn't even carry a pocketbook.  Once he was born, I was unable to lift my new baby for months.  For eight years I was only out of bed for 2 1/2 to 3 hours per day.  In 1995, I was diagnosed with that new thing, "fibromyalgia" where the doctor told me to not even look for a cure because there was none and it would only "make me crazy". His suggestion was anti-depressants.  I cannot really say how scary it was to be that sick and not be able to take care of your new infant, three-year-old, and seven-year old.  


Eventually I was diagnosed in 2000 with Lyme, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis by one of the first Lyme Literate Doctors but I was still a wreck after treatment and in some ways, worse.  The one really good thing was the unbearable pain in my feet went away.  The bad thing was that even after 17 months on antibiotics I was still weak, sick and "unable".  In many ways worse. I gained 40+ pounds and probably damaged my liver.  In 2005, came thyroid treatment for being hypothyroid and although better, I was still only out of bed 5-8 hours a day depending on whether it was winter or summer,  warm, cold or rainy.  Diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, ulcers.  I had it all.  Through serendipity, someone gave me a stack of 12 magazines they were done with on January 1, 2007.  In there, I found four articles on gluten which I had never heard of.  I took it as "a sign" and put myself on a gluten-free diet January 2, 2007. Within 8 months I was up 14, 16, and 18 hours a day.  For the first time since 1995, I was able to work again.  Commonly spoken of as the "Gluten-Free Lady", you may know me from The Gluten-Free Dessert Kitchen and Ellen's Country Kitchen, a farmers market vendor in the Hudson Valley since 2009.   

Rather than be angry or depressed about the hand I was dealt, I choose to assume I went through this particular journey for a reason and that my life's work is to help others struggling with health issues -- whether that's you, your spouse or partner, your child, your parent or a friend/acquaintance.  I'm happy to say that I came across training to be an FDN-Practitioner that

I KNOW lets me lead others to healing.   Perhaps this story resonates with you, lets you know that I will not be intimidated by anything you present, or how numerous the symptoms.  Complicated, complex illness is a real thing.  I will not think you are faking for attention or "just depressed".  I will not give up on you unless you do.  Send an email , text or call to schedule a complimentary call of roughly 20 minutes​.  I'll ask questions that will determine whether I think I can help you and give you an opportunity to determine whether you might want to work with me.


"How does this process of
remote appointments work?"

Step 1 

We have an initial appointment (45 minutes) to allow you to talk freely about your health and health history.  The goal would be to allow me to interview you sufficiently to discover whether I believe I can help you on your health journey.  Also, of course, for you to determine whether you would like to work with me.  


Step 2

You sign and return my Terms of Service AgreementYou determine which type of service arrangement or coaching package you would like to operate under.  Then I send you your initial health intake package by email.

Step 3 

You complete and return your Health History and the other components of my intake package.  This will take approximately 60 minutes to fill out.  Once you have sent the packet to me, you go to my online calendar and schedule our Initial Consultation giving me seven business days to review.


Step 4 

At this intake appointment, I will further interview you to gain insights into you and your health history.  This appointment would be approximately 90 minutes. At that time, or by the next day, I will suggest which functional lab tests would reveal the most insight or clues about the potential root causes of your symptoms.  During this intake interview, we will begin to discuss the trademarked FDN protocols which you will begin while waiting your testing and test results to arrive. 

Step 5

You will do what is necessary for each of the functional lab tests you are undergoing and get them to UPS by pick-up or drop off.  Typically that means going to a lab although many labs just need samples to go out by UPS.  The directions for testing are very well done but I will be available for testing or protocol questions as necessary by email, on the private Facebook Group Page 

Step 6

We will have a 90-120 minute appointment after your lab results are in for what I call Results and Recommendations.  If that length of time is too long for you because of fatigue, we will have two 45- to 60-minute appointments.  At that time, I will provide you with a recommended health-building 90-Day Protocol based on your test results. You will be provided with written documentation of all this AND written support documents as well.  Those with brain fog and pain often find it difficult to retain directions.  The written support documents will keep you able to make your way through the process. 

Step 7 

Depending on the level of support requested initially, we will have weekly, biweekly, or monthly appointments as needed.  Many people need the weekly coaching appointments for the purpose of staying on track particularly early on.  It is a very real thing that accountability with someone can greatly affect the process and increase chances of success. Additionally, weekly email check-ins during non-appointment weeks and membership in my Facebook Group will enable you to ask quick questions at any time.  Facebook Group questions are checked twice daily.  


It should be noted again, I am not a medical doctor therefore unable to legally diagnose or treat. I am a Practitioner of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, which is a non-medical, health-building, opt-in model of self-care utilizing a proprietary science-based investigatory methodology. Personalized, non-medical protocols are devised and guided after in-depth analysis of your health history and intake, functional lab tests and results, clinical correlation of symptoms with functional labs test results, and client willingness to comply to the protocols for 90-180 days. Individual biodiversity is a factor in self-healing. What this means is what works for one person may not for another.  Healing for two people with similar symptoms may take significantly different time-frames. As a rule, protocol execution and compliance by the client are the primary factors achieving results. It is understood that you can and should consult your physician if you have any concerns and to see if protocols after development  are right for you. 

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