If you ask Vicki Pare for ibuprofen, she might tell you that the bottle in her medicine cabinet hasn’t been used in so long that it’s past its expiration date.
That’s just part of her story, and once she gets started, Pare can’t help but boast about the effect that revising her eating habits has had on her overall health.
Since 2017, it also has been her business, Better with Nutrition (www.betterwithnutrition.com).
“Years ago, nutritional approaches literally saved my life,” Pare said. “It became my passion after that. I spent time researching nutritional approaches to different illnesses and would offer help to anyone I could.”
When her daughter was ill, she accelerated her research and education and believes that the nutritional strategies employed had a tremendous impact in healing. While obtaining certification, she began to consider what it would look like to make this a business.
Having owned several other businesses, including a day care center, she wasn’t new to the process. But this type of business was new, so she spent several years working on a business model.
She explained, “I wanted to take all the proper steps to make it a professional business,” Pare said. “I spent time researching and choosing a name, and completed a competitive analysis on area businesses using the internet and printed resources.”
In addition to the core business, Pare saw a need for another program, and Picky Eaters Palette was developed as an option. That program targets not only children, but anyone who lacks nutritional balance because of limited food preferences, and often, unhealthy food choices.
“The increased ingestion of processed foods, food dyes and additives create ill health, which results in nutritional imbalances, behavioral and mental health challenges, and chronic diseases,” she said.
Pare practices what she preaches, and is dairy-, soy- and gluten-free. She refrains from processed foods, exercises, avoids sugar and has a specific supplement program. But, she cautions, just because that has worked for her, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. There is no “one size fits all” solution.
Working with clients begins with a comprehensive health analysis including testing, if necessary, to determine the root causes of a specific problem. She says she believes our bodies speak to us and should be looked at as a whole to listen to what it’s telling us.
“Each person is unique, and some individuals may need dietary and lifestyle adjustments in just a few of these areas where others may need a complete reboot,” Pare added.
As a functional nutritionist, she likens herself to a detective as she searches to find what caused an adverse health condition. Her goal is to target those symptoms with a plan that will help heal a body and return it to an optimal state.
“I will go to the ends of the earth to help someone get better,” Pare said. “I will support them as they walk this journey to better health. Being a certified nutritionist practicing functional/holistic nutrition doesn’t stop at customizing dietary plans — it’s counseling individuals on lifestyle changes to help them become the healthy individuals they strive to be and reach the goals they desire.”
Many have reached those goals, and Pare has been encouraged by those successes. As a client of the UW-Green Bay Small Business Development Center and Green Bay SCORE chapter, she is working to optimize her marketing to have a greater reach. She employs social media, has designed her website and collaborates with other professionals in the health care field.
Each day is different as she works with clients, and divides her time between marketing, website maintenance, administrative duties and continuing education.
“I am always listening to webinars and podcasts for the latest functional medicine approaches,” she said. “You may consider me a functional nutrition ‘junkie.’”
As she grows the business, her goal is to have solid brand recognition and to have her programs used in multitudes of households within the next five years. The pandemic never derailed her as she offered a choice of video, telephone or one-on-one meetings (with masks in place). Pare does, however, look forward to the day when the virus passes and she can have more personal contact. In the interim, she will continue to help clients and pass along her nutritional wisdom.
“The old saying ‘we are what we eat’ is only partially true,” Pare said. “If one continues to eat fast food, processed foods and foods high in sugar, well, your health will decline. But, the real truth to the statement is that you are not what you eat, but rather what your body has the ability to do with what you eat.”
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.