How to Listen to Your Gut
with Sharon Holand Gelfand on The Healers Café with Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND

In this episode of The Healers Café, Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND, chats with Sharon Holand Gelfand, is a speaker, an author and holistic nutritionist specializing in gut health so you have more energy, less stress & feel great again

Highlights from today’s episode include:

Sharon Holand Gelfand: I have three young adult kids, but about 12 and a half years ago, one of my kids was diagnosed with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and ileitis. So it was like IBD, and autoimmune. And I never heard those buzzwords. I had no idea what anything was. All my son heard was disease, and he thought he was going to die

Sharon Holand Gelfand: Your gut knows. It really just became this mission of Holy cow. We’re all smart, we’re just not being directed to the right information, and we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall, trying to figure it out. And really, it starts within us.
Sharon Holand Gelfand: Like Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine”. But then as I started working with my clients with the gut stool, the first thing was like, let’s do a GI map. Let’s see what is going on. Let’s see what bacteria and viruses and pathogens are in that are lurking. Because they didn’t just get there overnight.


About Sharon Holand Gelfand

Sharon Holand Gelfand, CN, FDN-P, is a functional, holistic nutritionist, speaker and author. She supports woman over 40 who feel like their bodies are betraying them, and are tired and frustrated and are searching for answers. Sharon helps them get to the root of their most common health complaints with at home testing and flexible food choices so they have more energy, less stress and feel great again. 

Sharon is the creator of The G.U.T. Method®- a 3 step system to Get connected to your symptoms, physically mentally and emotionally, Understand what you need and why so that you can Take action.

Sharon shares her expertise on this topic in her book “The G.U.T. Method ®: Secrets Beyond Your Plate For A Healthier, More Energetic Life.” She is a member of the American College of Nutrition and is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. She has spoken at Priceline, Sysco, Dress For Success, and countless other organizations.

Core purpose / passion: Deep down, my bigger mission is to help heal mother/daughter relationships. And it starts with the mother. Knowing first and foremost that you are enough and deserve happiness and the first thing you have to do is put the oxygen mask on yourself and start healing your body, your mind and your soul so that you can be more present for those around you. In order to heal, you need to Get connected to your symptoms; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and Understand what it means for you and your lifestyle so that you can Take action; All part of my G.U.T. Method® 

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About Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND:

Dr. Manon is a Naturopathic Doctor, the Founder of Bowen College, an International Speaker, she did a TEDx talk “Your Body is Smarter Than You Think. Why Aren’t You Listening?”  in Jan 2021, and is the author of Amazon best-selling books “What Patient’s Don’t Say if Doctors Don’t Ask”. & “A Healer in Every Household”

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Manon Bolliger  00:01

So welcome to The Healer’s Cafe. And today I’m with Sharon Holand. And I’m really excited to be speaking with her. She is a functional holistic nutritionist. She’s a speaker and an author, and she supports women over 40, who feel like their bodies are betraying them, or they’re tired and frustrated and are searching for answers. Sharon helps them get to the root of their most common health complaints with at-home testing, and flexible food choices, so that they can get more energy, less stress, and feel great again. And she’s also the creator of the gut as in G.U.T. a three-step system to get connected, and to get connected to your symptoms, physically, mentally, and emotionally. So I think I’m gonna stop with her bio now and just welcome you, and thanks for joining us.


Sharon Holand  01:10

Oh, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.


Manon Bolliger  01:13

 So I’m going to ask you, the first question is, how did you get into this field? What is your own history that might have led you there, or are they even related?


Sharon Holand  01:27

They are actually and it’s like you don’t know what you don’t know until it’s pointed out to you. Right? Like, I feel like there’s something called the four levels of competence where you’re unconsciously incompetent. You don’t know what you don’t know. Then you’re consciously incompetent, you become aware that you don’t know and you feel like an idiot. And then there’s, Oh, now I want to do something so now consciously competent, and then you create new habits so that you are unconsciously competent. And for me, I was in that first level of being unconsciously incompetent my whole life. I grew up. I always had IBS, I had eczema. I had inflammation of my eyes, I had sinus infections. I had IBS. I had pituitary adenoma, a benign brain tumor in the pituitary gland. As I got older, it’s just my body was falling apart. I was taking Imitrex shots for migraines. But my doctor said I was fine. And doctors are amazing. They save lives. But I compartmentalize everything. And nobody told me I wasn’t healthy. So I went about my life. But my body was talking to me and I was ignoring it. It’s like, I don’t have time for you. I’ve got to take care of the kids, I have to work, I have to do for others to go away. It was like Lou talking earlier, like that nasty little gnat that you just can’t get rid of. So I get married, had kids, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, and about 12 and a half years ago…So I have …


three young adult kids, but about 12 and a half years ago, one of my kids was diagnosed with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and ileitis. So it was like IBD, and autoimmune. And I never heard those buzzwords. I had no idea what anything was. All my son heard was disease, and he thought he was going to die. And that was that first pivot of Oh, my God, what are we going to do? The doctor put him on medicine. And within a week, he was getting worse. And he started complaining that it was the medicine. And the doctor was insisting it was the disease. And of course, I wanna listen to the expert because that’s what they’ve been trained in. And after a few days, my son was relentless. He just insisted and cried to me that it was the medicine. And that was like the wake-up call of Oh, my God, why aren’t I listening to him? And thankfully, I stopped. And I did. And I said to the doctor, we’re taking them off the medicine. And we’ll get ready to try something else. And you know what he was right. So that was like that huge pause of Oh, wow. What else Don’t I know? So that led me down the rabbit hole, Dr. Google hours and hours and I was like, I need to go to grad school. I’m going to get a master’s in nutrition. I need to help my son. And I remember my sister who is a doctor just turned to me and she was so excited. I’m like, Wait a second. I hate science. What am I doing? in grad school? I’m in my 40s and my kids are in high school at this point. My oldest son’s in college. What? But it was a blessing in disguise. His diagnosis was a gift because it woke me up to realizing how we can heal and how I’ve been compartmentalizing my health, my own issues. And I healed myself naturally. And my son is still on medicine but you know, eventually, he got off his other medicines, medications and it’s just amazing. So it’s just, you know sometimes we find our careers. This career found me because I just wanted to help my son and or it’s just a business of people asking me What are you doing? You know, can you help me? I’m like, sure. Before I knew it a business was growing, a business started.


Manon Bolliger  05:13

Yeah, interesting. So it was funny how we have so many different paths that bring us to something that we realize matters deeply. And so did you end up being the one who had to treat your son? Or were you able to find someone to help him while you’re on your own journey? Because you don’t learn this all overnight?


Sharon Holand  05:35

Oh, my God, you’re right. It took a few years to learn and grow. We eventually found a doctor. There weren’t too many specialists, pediatric specialists at the time. But eventually, we did find another doctor who was more holistic. And because as I started to learn, I started to question the doctor with what about probiotics? And what about these foods? And, you know, I just saw this documentary on what happens with meat and dairy and she just, like, dismissed it, as Oh, it was nothing. So, you know, it’s just like, and that’s the point, right? Where you kind of look at yourself, and you feel like your gut knows. Like, no pun intended. Your gut knows. It really just became this mission of Holy cow. We’re all smart, we’re just not being directed to the right information, and we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall, trying to figure it out. And really, it starts within us.


Manon Bolliger  06:41

Listen, it’s a different paradigm. I mean,  my training, as you know, as a naturopathic physician, and so, we’re always looking at the whole and looking at how the body is programmed to heal, and what do we need to do to tweak it, what is it missing? And what should we not be eating in some cases? Because sometimes you have to remove certain foods. So, did you find that there was some commonality between what you were going through and your son, as it turns out? Because many times gut stuff shows up on the skin like eczema. I mean, we’re connected, right?


Sharon Holand  07:22

Absolutely! We both suffered from eczema, and we were both on a medicated cream for it, besides his condition being so gut-related, so there was a lot of gas, and he had a lot of diarrhea, but I would go between the two and I had a lot of stomach distension he would get allergies. And I had allergies also. So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that you just kind of think we’re still coming from it. It wasn’t just seasonal. It was like, all year round. It’s like when you start connecting those dots and then realize, wait a minute, what are we eating? And I start to notice, there’s a pattern. I’m feeling lousy after I eat dairy. I’m feeling congested. Well, so are all my kids. You know, it’s like these light bulbs go off, right?


Manon Bolliger  08:14

Yeah. So did you do like a process of elimination or you ended up doing a test for sensitivities? Or what was the thing that for you as like really helped clarify.


Sharon Holand  08:29

So for me, it started well with my son because I was really focusing more on him and about, you know, Crohn’s specifically and foods. It was Alright, let’s get rid of the dairy. Let’s get rid of the gluten, let’s bring in more healthy foods. But with me, it was not just like, Okay, let me cut everything out. It’s like, what can I add-in. And until I got certified as a functional nutritionist to do the testing with stool testing and the hair analysis, it was more of the playing around with the food and how I was feeling first, right? Because we always go to food first, right? Like Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine”. But then as I started working with my clients with the gut stool, the first thing was like, let’s do a GI map. Let’s see what is going on. Let’s see what bacteria and viruses and pathogens are in that are lurking. Because they didn’t just get there overnight. They didn’t just look for a motel, they’re driving down the road and be like, oh, let’s stop here for the night. You know, they’ve been camping out for years and years and years. It’s like that raid commercial. It’s like Raid. You know. So it is then with the testing, and learning even with the hair analysis, the minerals, which are like the sparkplugs of our body, getting to that root of Holy cow. You know, it’s just amazing when you start to uncover all of these and correlated to your symptoms that you can then Really take care of yourself and create a protocol that is more than just food, supplements, lifestyle, stress, you know everything.


Manon Bolliger  10:11

 So I was reading a little bit more about your history. You say that now your focus is more women in their 40s. And I’m assuming your hormonal issues are something that you’re seeing quite commonly. Yeah. What can you tell us about that? And in the context that one of your bigger missions and passion is to heal the mother-daughter relationship? Is there a link you’re seeing?


Sharon Holand  10:46

Absolutely. And that’s such a great question. So, you know, I found that my awakening and awareness started in my 40s. And when I started to…as I was going through perimenopause and just trying to understand what was happening, I’m doing testings, I did hormone testing as well. connecting those dots of I was estrogen dominant. So then thinking back to my behavior when I was younger, and then correlating it to Wow, how my mother behaved, from her stories and how she was at my age at that time, and then looking at my own daughter, who was a teenager at the time and what she was going through, realizing,  the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, right, because so much of it does get passed down through our DNA. But yet, we think that that’s our destiny. And it’s not that we can’t do something about it. So if one party so for me, it’s like mother, daughter, my mother, so it’s grandmother, mother-daughter, right? If I can just pause and stop and really understand what’s happening and how my hormones like cortisol have everything so connected to how I’m feeling and acting or reacting. And I can understand that I could take a step back and pause, and be present, and really see how it’s mirroring the way my daughter’s going through her own menstrual cycle, her own identity, and emotions during that same period. And I think so many times what happens, especially now is that we’re so caught up with everything we have to do, and we’re so disconnected, that we just don’t allow ourselves that time to just stop and really reflect on what’s common with that common thread so that we can just kind of like, you know, stop that, you know, the saying of like, you know, oh, well, I’m going to be just like my mother kind of thing, that we have that power and choice to just stop and realize it can end with me. And I can pivot and show up as a different parent for my daughter so she can understand, and then have the space to grow into a strong, independent, beautiful young woman who doesn’t have the baggage that I had from my mother because it gets passed down.


Manon Bolliger  13:17

Are you talking about…now there’s many layers to understand this. But are you saying that we have choices, right? So our hormones are affected by many different things. But what you’re saying by noticing our, let’s say, parents behavior, and then reflecting on how we are as a parent and our daughter’s behavior that we can see, like a trend, and that informs us that there’s a hormonal imbalance or like there’s the chicken and the egg thing here going on a little bit.


Sharon Holand  13:59

A little bit, but the underlying, the common denominator it’s the awareness, but it is the hormones, you know, the gut, the disposition because it gets passed down. So it is that awareness and the testing, because when you can then see where are your hormones at, at that age, what was even though I didn’t do the testing, because, you know, being able to then reflect and be like, wow, you know what, it’s so common, and I had these issues, you can really put those pieces together. And then you know, for me also doing the hair analysis and seeing the importance of some of the ratios of like calcium to potassium and just certain things that trigger adrenal responses, the fight or flight then you actually it’s like the movie The Matrix. It’s like things just start to open up that you can connect those dots. And really, yes You know, being able to paint a bigger picture and guide and lead from a different place.


Manon Bolliger  15:08

So when you’re talking about, I understand completely if you go get tested and you see a pattern, then you can make different decisions because now you know, okay, you’re estrogen dominant. And you can also so let’s see, how would you then deal with your estrogen dominance? What would be the next step? For example, if somebody is listening to this, and they’re going, Okay, I can see the pattern and I see this.


Sharon Holand  15:33

Yeah, so my specialty lies with the gut and the liver and with the hair analysis. So when I see this estrogen dominance, I look at how can I detoxify the liver and support the gut to help clear some of the estrogen metabolites. And then I have them work with a specialist who just focuses specifically on both those hormones. And I focus on the gut part, really, but it’s just having them have that understanding of how it’s connected. Because if you have a sluggish liver, then you have a sluggish gallbladder of sluggish gut everything kind of gets swampy.


Manon Bolliger  16:10

Exactly. Yeah. Well, the liver does the detox if it needs help. I mean, our hormones go through our liver, right?


Sharon Holand  16:18

Yes, exactly.


Manon Bolliger  16:20

It’s stuck there. We’re not getting very far.


Sharon Holand  16:24

So exactly and it circulates then and so it’s for me, I don’t work with estrogen, or the progesterone I don’t work with that I work with, okay, what can we do? How can we support the gut in the liver so that we can unclog the pipes? Let’s get some roto-rooter in there.


Manon Bolliger  16:45

So there’s detoxing the liver? And then how would you work with the gut then?


Sharon Holand  16:52

Well, the guts support sometimes will, depending on what the results are, from their stool, right, will depend on what they need for support. And a lot of times it’s so much of this dysbiosis, right, the imbalance in the bacteria, right? With the trillions and trillions of bacteria. So I always like to start with Whole Foods, you know, where can they get medicinal foods from plants and certain herbs or, you know, bringing in like dandelion, and, you know, fennel and things for cleansing the liver, and then put the god it’s like, let me support your antioxidants, let’s get some glutathione in there. But let’s also, if we need to, you know, build up your balance of your minerals, doing it in a way slowly, because your body needs it, it didn’t happen overnight. So it needs to take time for it to adjust. So the probiotics, you know, things that will work for you, based on how you’re exhibiting your symptoms, right, because it’s not just oh, let me look at the test and plug it in. It’s like, what’s correlating? And what’s your biggest health complaint? And how long has it been going on? Let’s focus on that first.


Manon Bolliger  18:04

There are many books that talk about, even way back, and even in conventional medicine,  there’s a very big link between the gut and also our emotions. And in fact, some people have gone as far as to say that our emotions lead to our gut issues, and that’s kind of the non-emotional approach. But nonetheless, it’s out there, too, that many of these dysbiosis is caused by emotion and why I was bringing this up is when you say, heal the mother-daughter relationship? Are you seeing this as a piece of all of that? Or are they? Or are they separate passions?


Sharon Holand  18:48

It’s all the same. It’s all connected because our body is energy. So part of the healing physically with the gut, and emotionally, it’s all part of that bigger picture of what defines health. Right, because it’s not just about the food, it’s about how we move energy in our body. And, you know, even people with the stress and everything that they go through, like the breathing exercises, the ability to get yourself into that parasympathetic state so that your body can rest and digest is very connected to your emotions. Because when it’s when you’re feeling even that stress, it doesn’t matter how healthy you eat. If you don’t address the emotional side, you’ll release all this cortisol that will wreak havoc on your system anyway. So that’s why it’s so connected. And I just interestingly, you know, the idea with the mother-daughter, of course, for my relationship, but as I started working with women, they’re like, can you help my daughter because she has IBS. So she has this and this is going on. And as I would start working with them, I would start talking to and I would always encourage them to get on the calls together. Via zoom in and have a conversation. Because as a mother, we just get into our own patterns. And then our kids filter how they hear us, right? How they listen. So being able to do that and realize how this is all connected, it is its energy. So you have to address both in order for this to work,


Manon Bolliger  20:18

But do you find that people, I mean, women and daughters, like, so let’s say it’s the daughter’s issue, for example? Does it come up that the emotional issues are their relationship? Or, like, how do you work that whole part in? I’m asking because you mentioned it as a passion.


Sharon Holand  20:38

 It’s such a great question. It really is. Because it’s uncomfortable for them to want to discuss it. And then I’ll say, Well, you know, if you want to talk about it separately, this is just something if you want to heal your gut, you have to address your emotions. And on occasion, I’ve even said, Listen, you know, I don’t know if you as a mother-daughter, if there’s stuff going on. I haven’t ever had any mother-daughter relationship, though that’s ever felt like they shut down and didn’t know what they were so curious about understanding because you end up attracting those types of people who want to grow and expand. So they were very curious about, wow, you know, how am I showing up and as a mother, and then as a daughter? What is she saying that is triggering me and then why am I reacting this way to that trigger? And then having them decide if they’re going to do the work or not? Because I’m not a therapist. I’m not a psychiatrist, a psychologist, but it comes up in the work. So it’s something I address for them to decide whether or not but because I see that pattern, it’s just like, this is just an awesome area to explore. Especially because I have a daughter.


Manon Bolliger  22:00

I’m not at all surprised by the link you know, as I’ve definitely seen it as stressors, but I haven’t particularly correlated to mother-daughter, especially not in a man. I know, there are all kinds of differences…but I do think there is a lot of that because it’s our gut, also, as our initial brain, it’s our response, you know, it, a lot of our neurotransmitters are in our gut. And so we’re in a cycle. So if we’re in a relationship that has, that isn’t fully conscious, or completely healthy, I can see that this would retrigger. You know, and if you grow up, you’re going to have dinner at the same table. And, you know, it’s going to be every time you eat, there’s the same sort of stressor, right, so I can see that it builds the potential for opening things up and changing.


Sharon Holand  23:20

So when I decided to write my book on ‘Gut method secrets beyond your plate for a healthier, more energetic life’, it was designed in a way because of their writing exercises, for you to tune in, and really start taking stock of all types of symptoms, physical, mental, the emotional, and really understand your body so that you then can take action, right? So it’s like getting connected, understanding. And I think because we’re a society that wants such quick fixes, and, you know, looking for externally to these answers, especially now, given the pandemic that we’re in, being able to take stock and to pause and reflect and tune in to ourselves is the biggest gift that we can give ourselves and our families?


Manon Bolliger  24:13

 Is this a new book that’s coming out or you have yet another book?


Sharon Holand  24:17

No the book about mothers and daughters is next year, no, this book just came out last week?


Manon Bolliger  24:22

Do you have a copy of it?


Sharon Holand  24:24

I do! I have a copy of it! The idea is like what is on the plate? That’s what we’re looking at. It’s beyond the plate. And as you said, it starts in the gut because so many of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, it’s like, if we don’t have that healthy gut, then we can’t make those hormones that are going to make us feel good and so it is all connected in that way.


Manon Bolliger  25:02

So, is there anything else you want to share about your experience as a practitioner doing this work? Anything that has really surprised you or shocked you that you’ve learned that you want to share?


Sharon Holand  25:20

I think what has surprised me the most. And what I feel so blessed about with the work that I do is that when I work with clients, and you know, like some people, it happens a little bit sooner, some people take longer, right depends on each of us. But when they really start to connect, because when you see something and you want it for somebody else, you just, you want it so badly, you just want them to see what you see. But you have to guide them and you know, meet them where they’re at. But when they actually see it, and they realize like, wow, you know, my CBO, I don’t remember, like, I’m starting to feel better, and I’m starting to clean things out and more calm. And they acknowledge and see it, if that surprised me with working with my clients because I know what I learned, I know what I experienced. And it’s all I wanted for them. Now it’s not as surprising because I’ve worked with so many. But that was like the biggest surprise of like, wow, they really get it and they want more!


Manon Bolliger  26:39

Yeah. Well, like people want solutions,


Sharon Holand  26:43

They want solutions because they see that there’s so much more than to life. And then there’s so many more possibilities. And so that’s been exciting to have people realize you know I’ve actually got more time and I  had to do was shift a few things in my calendar. And look at that, you know, it’s amazing………….


Manon Bolliger  27:03

For me it’s all about raising the expectations as well, is that if we’re in a system whereby and large people have accepted that you take a drug, maybe the symptoms go down a bit, but you have a whole bunch of other ones, you know, potentially, and for sure you lose energy, and you’re just not the same, and you might get more, you know, mental fog or all of that. And then it’s like, what is that as a life? You know, it’s not? Yeah, you know, you’re not even symptom-free. You’re just like, whatever, like, somewhat changed, but not really healed. And, yeah, it doesn’t make sense, because most of all of that is big poisons that we’re putting in us. So whereas if you take an approach to really work with the gut, work with the foods, you know, do some changes that mean that we become agents of our own destiny, we’re able to actually do something, which is so empowering and exciting. Yeah, no, I can totally see the AHA and the pleasure when they realize, oh, wow, my life is actually different now.


Sharon Holand  28:24

We want to empower them to make them their own health advocates. Because they really do know their bodies, they’ve just gotten used to feeling so lousy, they don’t even know what good feels like. And they say this is normal and it like, no this is common, it’s not normal.


Manon Bolliger  28:47

I think if you go natural, you have a general, bigger respect for the body. And you understand that when you witness it for, you know, however many years you start to know that the body can heal. We were just living in a false reality. You know, and that’s, that’s very exciting and empowering because it isn’t complicated. And, people think, oh, healing is so complicated. It’s not so but you take actions and you follow through and then you have to test drive and it’s not always clear.


Sharon Holand  29:28

It’s never a direct line, you know, you like a dance, you’re dancing with your body and, and it also really, you need a lot of self-compassion. You just need to, you know, love yourself and realize that if you take a little sidestep a little detour, it’s okay. You just come back to center again, you know, it’s, you know, people think like, oh, I’m gonna go on a diet and then they cheat and they have a cookie and then they’re like, Oh, that’s it. My diets ruined. I might as well eat the whole sleeve. Versus I’m going to indulge and let me have a little bit I know what it’s going to do, but I want to Okay, boom, over.


Manon Bolliger  30:09

Also all the emotional implications, the guilt. And that has also real physiological impact on the body. So it’s not just the food. It’s in like you said it’s holistic. So in parting words, your book can people find it on Amazon?


Sharon Holand  30:34

People could find my book on Amazon and get more information on me about me on my website, Sharon Holand with one l dot com. And honestly, parting words just breathe. It’s just breathe, you know, to come back to center and know that you’re okay. It’s okay. Today’s another day.


Manon Bolliger  30:59

Okay. Thank you, Sharon.


Sharon Holand  31:03

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.


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