Thursday, May 25, 2000, The Ridgefield Press By Hilary S Wolfson
Several years ago IBM corporate executive Renee Simon had a sore throat that wouldn’t go away. From there, debilitating symptoms ensued- everything from severe fatigue muscle aches and pains to depression and general malaise.
Eventually diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr Virus (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), doctors told this South Salem resident, a vegetarian and marathoner-in-training, that antidepressants and a leave of absence from her high-pressure management job at IBM would be the best course of action.
But Ms. Simon felt empowered and motivated to take a different path. That path was a series of alternative therapy and approaches to natural healing and wellness that included everything from acupuncture, vitamin C. drips, and meditation and visualization to fasting, vitamin and mineral therapy and massage.
Now Ms. Simon is helping others follow that path, with a new practice as a nutritionist in Ridgefield.
“The most important success factors were changes in my diet and lifestyle that were livable for the long pull,” said this a former self admitted high- stressed executive whose days on the fast-track of 70 hour work weeks have been happily replaced with “Renee redux” new – lease- on -life career as a clinical nutritionist and mom to a seven-year-old “light of her life”, daughter Rebecca.
Along with changes in diet and lifestyle, Ms. Simon participated in intensive vitamin and mineral therapy and with an amazing “mind over matter” determination, also achieved a positive mental attitude. She was able to do what most including herself thought would be impossible. She got well.
“And in four months” said Ms. Simon proudly “I had a complete recovery from this devastating, debilitating virus within four months’ time. Most people didn’t think it would EVER happen” she said smiling.
When Ms. Simon looks back at the “big picture,” the snapshots that, come clearly into focus are the ones of her taking allergy shots from the age of 5 through 20, inhaling nasal sprays, and taking oral steroid medications and antihistamines.
“This is what many of us do or did and like many of those people, I never thought twice about not doing them,” said Ms. Simon, whose private practice in South Salem and Ridgefield has many people who “have been there and gone that route,” walking through her door asking Ms. Simon for help.
When she realized she had been compromising her immune system from years of allergy treatments, high levels of stress and eating foods she didn’t know she was allergic to, she was inspired to help others avoid the pitfalls she had fallen into and help them take health steps towards “optimal wellness”.
“I decided to go back to school for nutrition,” said Mrs. Simon, “because I realized that preventive medicine is the key to optimal wellness. There’s so much we can do to keep ourselves healthy. Feeding the immune system optimal nutrition, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lots of pure water, and eliminating all processed foods, foods with high levels of saturated fats, fried foods, smoked meats, red meat and refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol, can put people back on the right path to health.”
“This was something I knew about from the inside so it made sense for me to help others recover from challenging health problems like the one I had,” said Ms. Simon who along with her master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition has done some postgraduate training in nutritional pharmacology.
Looking at the whole person
Using nutrition therapeutically to help prevent disease as well as treat disease, Ms. Simon looks at the “whole person” (rather than a set of symptoms or individual problems, hence the term “holistic”) from the inside out, and tries to understand what underlying causes may be affecting people when they come in with a particular problem.
“It’s about looking at the person and what they need to get back in balance,” said Ms. Simon who specializes in natural approaches to infertility, hormonal imbalances, weight loss issues as well as children with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism, immune system problems, allergies, asthma, migraines, digestive problems and chronic infections.
“To understand the root of the problem,” wrote Ms. Simon recently, it’s important to look at the interrelationship between the brain, and the digestive and immune systems.”
She talks about the importance of looking at psychoneuroimmunology, which refers to interactions between the emotional state, nervous system and the immune system, and how there is a growing body of knowledge that documents just how much the mind influences health and disease.
Children in particular, who are more susceptible to all sorts of stress are being diagnosed more and more with chronic digestive problems and allergies
“A lot of children that I see with learning problems have underlying digestive problems,” said Ms. Simon, who along with her extensive past history questionnaires, will often order stool tests, hair analysis and a complete blood work up to assess a patients biochemistry and mineral and metal levels.
Many of these children were treated with a lot of antibiotics over the years for chronic ear infections and bronchitis and their gut is totally destroyed by the chronic antibiotic use,” said Ms. Simon. “We have discovered that children who have depressed levels of iodine, iron, magnesium and lead, which is diagnosed through hair analysis, are prone to ADHD and other illnesses.”
“People would be amazed to learn that through appropriate diagnostic tools, such as food sensitivity tests and analysis of biochemistry, children’s immune systems could get dramatically stronger and they can become much healthier because now we have the information to help them get there,” said Ms. Simon.
Ms. Simon also does workshops throughout the year on healthy eating and mastering difficult weight loss issues and will be offering a support group for parents of children on gluten-free/diary-free diet or other limiting foods.
“We will be talking about how to successfully implement an elimination diet”, said Ms. Simon, “and what symptoms and changes should be expected the first 30 days. We will offer alternative food strategies, recipe ideas and do some food tasting too. Most of all it’s about group ideas and strategies that work. That’s the beauty of support network, said Ms. Simon.”
“What I try to do is not give people a laundry list of what to do,” said Ms. Simon. Rather it’s more about taking small steps — dietary changes, supplements, stress reduction techniques–and after they see how much better they feel, they feel empowered to stay healthy,” said this “new lease on life” professional who doesn’t just talk about the mind — body connection. She embraces it with her “heart and soul”.
Renee Simon, M. S., clinical nutritionist, has private practices in both South Salem and Mount Kisco, NY and Ridgefield, Connecticut. She can be reached by calling (914) 763-9107.