This Evolution of Medicine Podcast, The Archetype Diet: Where Do Women Source Their Self-Worth? features long-time Functional Forum supporter, food coach and author of the newly released Archetype Diet, Dana James, MS, CDN, CNS.
Dana appeared on the very first Functional Forum in a comedy sketch with our co-founder, James Maskell, called: Think Pink.
Her groundbreaking new book is all about how women’s source of self-worth leads to the formation of their health and lifestyle behaviors.
Tune in for a fascinating listen on how self-worth creates or diminishes women’s health, including:

  • What Dana discovered after years of practice about why most women can’t stick to an individual nutrition plan long-term
  • The 4 key ways in which women source their self-worth, and how these archetypes influence their behaviors
  • Typical lifestyle behaviors and health issues associated with the 4 archetypes
  • How to use cognitive behavioral therapy to help your patients crack their archetype code, and thus, improve their health
  • Tips for practitioners on identifying and addressing these 4 archetypes in practice
  • And much more

If you’re a woman, or a practitioner who sees women in your practice, be sure to listen, and subscribe to the podcast today.
Resources mentioned in this podcast:
The Archetype Diet Reclaim Your Self-Worth and Change the Shape of Your Body by Dana James, MS, CDN, CNS

Announcer:                       Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine Podcast. The place health professionals come to hear from innovators and agitators leading the charge. We cover the latest clinical breakthroughs in health technology, as well as practical tools to help transform your practice and the health of your community. Now, here’s your host, James Maskell.
James Maskell:                 Hello and welcome back to the podcast. This week, we connect with Dana James. She is a nutritionist, food coach, and CBT practitioner, and she has written a new book called The Archetype Diet. We spent a really interesting half an hour. She talks about how women, especially source their self-worth, and how that reflects in the kinds of issues that they end up with. You know, the four different archetypes that she’s identified in women, and how you can use and understand those archetypes to be able to get to the real root cause of your patients and clients’ issues. Really, really fascinating half an hour. I think you’ll enjoy it. Enjoy.
So, a warm welcome to the podcast. Dana James. Welcome, Dana.
Dana James:                      James, I’m really happy to be here with you.
James Maskell:                 I can’t believe this is the first time on the podcast. You know, for those of you who have been following the forum for a long time, on the very first functional forum, I put in a comedy bit that Dana and I had done, and we’ve been friends for maybe seven or eight years now. I’m really excited that your book that I know you’d been talking to me about for maybe five years is finally coming out into the world. What’s it been like the last few months getting ready for the book launch?
Dana James:                      I know, five years. That’s how long it took from inception of this concept to where it is today. I’m really excited about it. We’ve got a lot of traction on social media with women, because the book is targeted to women. I’m really intrigued by what their female archetype is because it’s really about behavioral change, as well as self-awareness. Then the other piece to it is the functional medicine nutrition side, which is about the body shape. So, I’m really weaving together functional medicine, nutrition and the mind in a way that I haven’t seen done before. I’m really happy to share this with functional medicine practitioners, so they can add this aspect to their own practice.
James Maskell:                 Absolutely, yeah, so let’s get into that a little bit. I mean, obviously, over the years, we’ve seen individualized diets based on preferences, like vegan or paleo, based on blood types, based on all different types of things. The book’s called The Archetype Diet, so you’ve got these four different archetypes for women. How did you come across these archetypes? Where do they come from, and can you explain what they are?
Dana James:                      Yeah, so, a little bit about me. I’ve been in practice for 12 years, and my specialty is, it’s weight loss, it’s digestive issues. It’s adrenal and thyroid. I’m based in New York, so that’s my core demographic. I see clients every two weeks, so I’m tracking them. I’m really assessing what is going on with their physical body, as well as getting into the mind. What I noticed, which is what other practitioners will notice, is that you can give them the most beautiful plan that’s completely tailored to their biochemistry and all the functional medicine tests and so forth, and they will follow it for a good three weeks, maybe four weeks, and then they start to slip.
I really want results for my clients, so it was this inward looking at, “Why is this happening?” When I delved all the way into it, it was where they sourced their self-worth from. There are four key ways that we source our self-worth. One is from looks, very common with a female demographic; two, success and achievement; three, giving to others and being there for others; and four, from an intuitive spiritual side. So there were these four architects that I developed based on this, because when you source your self-worth from an external factor, this obviously changes your behaviors.
So a woman that sources her self-worth from success, which is my archetype, called the Wonder Woman. Well I’m going to behave in a way that elevates my sense of self-worth by doing things that build up my success and achievement. Whereas if I’m a woman that sources my self-worth from my physical appearance, I’m going to have a different priority. So I’m going to put my time into looking good and making sure that I feel sexy and sensual and so forth, because that’s where I get my validation from. The same applies to the other two archetypes, right? If you’re about getting stuff self-worth from being there for others, then you are going to do a lot for other people.
You can get caught on this track of people-pleasing, and that’s the nurturer. If you’re the ethereal, which is about intuition and spirituality, then you’re going to move more down that direction, where it’s more into that internal world. So you can start to see that there are very imprinted behavioral patterns that happen.
James Maskell:                 Yeah, no, I see that for sure. It’s really interesting to talk about that. These revelations come from following people and following women over a period of time and seeing what are the buttons that need to be pushed or what are the areas that need to be connected with to facilitate long-term transformation of health.
Dana James:                      Exactly, because unless you get to the core root of why your self-worth is based on that, then you’re always going to fall back to those repeating behaviors and habits. I’ll use the example of the woman who sources her self-worth from success, which is the Wonder Woman. So that archetype, and we know this very well. She comes into your practice. She’s got some type of cortisone dysregulation. Whether it is elevated or it’s flatlining, there’s highly likely to be some thyroid issue from that. She’s absolutely going to be complaining of abdominal fat. That’s going to be the issue for her.
She may be fatigued just depending on where her cortisol levels are. She may be dealing with some estrogen issues or so forth, depending on how fast she’s stressed out. It’s while we’d love to think that everybody can go home and make home-cooked meals, these women are never going to be doing that, because when they’re out of balance, they’re never going to do be doing that, because they get their reward from success and achievement and for them, that might not be part of the picture. So they’re going to be grabbing that glass of wine every night because it’s the way that they switch off. So taking that glass of wine out is really difficult to them. When you have to change that imprint, which is the hardest thing to do because it’s not even conscious.
You have to go all the way back to childhood to understand why that was created, because these imprints were created from a wound, and this self-worth aspect is the coping mechanism. So, in my case, being the Wonder Woman, it develops from a wound of not feeling pretty enough as a child. I could have gone down the direction that many femme fatales go down, which is I’m going to get my self-worth from the way that I look. But I didn’t, I pivoted, and I went, “Well I’m never going to be able to play at this game, so I’ll just be smart and kind instead.” So then, by the time I was 14, I was a straight A student.
I had so many degrees behind my name; it’s absolutely ridiculous, which is just like a lack of self-worth, but unbeknown to me at the time until they really recognized that that’s where I was getting my validation from. Once I identified the childhood memories behind that … and this is the same with all of my clients … and cracked it, you’re no longer vulnerable to the anxiety that comes from needing to be the best, in the case if you’re Wonder Woman.
James Maskell:                 Yeah, super interesting. It definitely speaks to … I know you’ve been doing cognitive and behavioral therapy for a long time and learned a lot about that. It seems like you need a toolkit like that to get into these kind of conversations with patients.
Dana James:                      Completely. And, CBT is a really nice match to functional medicine, because CBT is about getting to the core root of your emotions and behaviors. So the basic CBT model looks like this. It’s your thoughts lead to a three-pronged process. One, your emotions, physical changes in the body, and your behaviors. If you’re trying to change something from a physical perspective or a behavioral perspective, you have to go back and look at those thoughts. Here’s an example that I use with my clients, the same situation. You’re with a friend. You’re planning on going out to dinner with a friend, and right at the last minute they cancel on you.
This could be one response. “Oh my God. Why does this person keep canceling on me? I must have done something wrong. Wow. What am I doing wrong to make this person cancel on me?” So, what emotions come from that thought? There’s some type of sadness. What type of physical response might happen? Perhaps there’s a drop in serotonin levels. And what type of behavior response might happen? They might go and comfort eat. That’s one option. The second one might be, “Oh for Christ’s sake, this person cancels on me all the time. I can’t believe it. Grr!” That emotion is anger. Then what’s the physical response? There’s going to be a surge of adrenaline and noradrenaline.
What’s a behavioral response? “I might go and drink a glass of wine because that’s really annoyed me,” or it could be, “Oh fantastic. I actually didn’t really feel like going out tonight.” So the emotion from that is pretty neutral. There’s not really going to be a physical effect on the body, and the behavioral response is pretty neutral as well. So just by changing that perception of the situation, it changed the physical response, which we as functional medicine practitioners really fixate on. Then it changed the behavioral aspect. So what I really like people to understand is that behind all these biochemical and hormonal changes, there’s a mind piece to it.
CBT goes beyond that. So it’d go, “Well why did you perceive it to be like that? Why did you get angry in that situation? Why did you get sad in that situation?” And it tracks it all the way back to childhood. It’s like, “What happened in your childhood to create this perception?” Because that is how you view your life today. It’s through that prism. So if you really want effective behavioral change, you need to go back there. In my practice, I’ve developed a six-hour reprogramming process. The key part of that is the three-hour trifecta, which is you recognize these childhood memories, you reinterpret them, and then you energetically release them.
I’ve found that you need those three to really break these imprints that our self-worth is based on an external factor, or really, this can be applied to any upsetting childhood memory that is still having a trigger today.
James Maskell:                 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, super interesting. So you’ve got to create the time in your practice to be able to do this. I know you position yourself initially as the food coach. But with that background in functional medicine and CBT, there’s a ton of other trainings there. When you started to take this from your practice into a format with the archetypes, how easy was that process? Did it start out being, like eight archetypes and you boiled it down to four? Or were you able to … How long ago did you recognize these four types of women?
Dana James:                      Yeah, it was about four years ago and I had more. I do not remember what they were, but when I really sat with it, I felt that you could distill it down to these four. Within these four, you can be balanced or out of balance. So if you’re a Wonder Woman that’s out of balance than a typical patient/client that a functional medicine practitioner now is going to see, because they’re getting stressed, exhausted. Don’t really have the coping skills. But, as they move up to more of a state of balance, which includes the physical body, that end that’s also in their mind, they become a different type of Wonder Woman, where they’re able to see things with a lot more clarity.
So the goal with the archetype diet is to have a women rise up to what I call their crown. And here, they’ve broken this belief that this self-worth is based on an external factor, and they’ve started to layer in the positive attributes of all of the other archetypes. What happens with the archetypes is you tend to be dominant in certain personality traits. So the Wonder Woman is very assertive. Very assertive can be quite masculine in her way of being. She’s very driven. She tends to be successful. But on the most softer side of things, such as the femme fatale, she can often cut off that sensuality.
So, she’s going to be coming into you, and she’s got a totally tapped-out libido because that aspect of her isn’t being nurtured. She cut it off to be successful, or she’s forgotten about the ethereal aspect, that very intuitive, the whimsical side that’s equally as important as the intellectual side. And so, what I want women to do here is recognize the importance of all four of these positive attributes and to incorporate them within themselves, so that they become less and less out of balance.
James Maskell:                 Beautiful, yeah. It’s great. For the different four archetypes that you’ve identified, what are some things that the practitioners who are listening to this can do to be able to identify the different types? And how to provide some support with them whether or not they have a CBT therapist, whether or not they have time with patients? How can they get the best out of what you’ve learned for their patients to help them move forward through some of these issues? Because it’s super clear to me that exactly what you’re saying is true.
It’s not by accident that we end up with these patterns. It’s obviously coming from early childhood experiences, and it’s a very unlikely situation in today’s society that they’ve had someone care for them enough to be able to take them through this process.
Dana James:                      Exactly. You don’t need a CBT background to do this. And that was why I created this, that when a woman walks into your practice, by looking at their physical body, I want you to understand their mindset because there’s a certain way of talking to them. When the nurturer walks into your practice, so the nurturer is the self-worth is based on giving to others and people-pleasing. You are going to recognize her because she’s that insulin-resistant type of woman. She tends to be pretty estrogen dominant. So she’s going to be carrying a layer of body fat everywhere.
Then if she’s further out of balance, and she’s going to be carrying body fat on the hips and the thighs here. So to know that that archetype tends to be about wanting to be there for others. So, putting herself first is going to be a challenge for you. It’s going to be challenge for her. It’s going to be a challenge for her, but whatever you are suggesting for her needs to be nurtured. She’s the one that’s going to struggle at a social situation asking for something different. So asking for more vegetables or asking for something that’s gluten-free, she will feel like that she’s a diva if she does that.
It’s letting her know that it’s okay for her to assert herself, and no one is going to think negatively of her if she asks for a meal that doesn’t contain any gluten or dairy, provided she just goes about it in a really kind way. Because that’s her greatest fear, is that, somebody or everybody at the table doesn’t think much of her. If you’re not a nurturer, if you’re any of the other archetypes, you don’t really get, right? That’s not what you worry about. For you, it’s important that you get what you want. If you’ve got a Wonder Woman coming into your practice, you can feel her walk in, and she’s going to be complaining of abdominal fat and maybe energy issues, and she can’t sleep at night and so forth.
So, for her, it’s recognizing that success is her driving factor, and creating time for herself is going to be fundamental and putting in stress-reducing practices, because you can put in all the quarters of rebalancing supplements you want. But unless they are re-looking at their life, then they’re going to constantly be on these quarters of regulating supplements, right? So get them to start meditating. Give them some of those tools. That will be really helpful for them. If it’s the femme fatale … So the femme fatale bases her self-worth on her looks. This is where there could be a whole lot of issues with her, depending on whether she’s restricting food or she’s an overeater.
The body type you’re not really going to tell so much because it does depend on those behaviors. But recognize that 80% of the time, she’s thinking about her food and her body and not to dismiss that, because it’s a really painful state to be in, right? It was a wound that was created in childhood, but don’t dismiss them. Understand the pain that they are going through and work with them on that. Then there’s the ethereal. The ethereal is going to come into you because she’s constipated, got dry skin. She’s maybe got amenorrhea. She tends to carry too little estrogen. She will have long thin muscles.
And for her, she’s just like the weird girl. Everybody just thought she was weird. She often feels displaced. She often feels not heard. And so, it’s really important that you make her feel heard, that you incorporate her, that you really listen to what she’s actually saying, because when you do that you are going to motivate these four archetypes of women. They’re going to be loyal to you, and you are going to see behavioral change within them because you’ve really tapped into what their issues are.
James Maskell:                 Yeah, super powerful. I think that there’s such truth in that, is that, you see the practitioners and patients develop that special relationship when people feel heard. No one is going to feel more heard than someone who helps them identify something within themselves, about themselves that no one’s ever identified for them. It’s a pretty powerful moment.
Dana James:                      And with each of these archetypes, because there are hormonal differences between them, I’ve developed a diet for each of them. Between the Wonder Woman nurturer and femme fatale, there are just really subtle differences. With the nurturer who’s estrogen dominant and insulin resistance, I’ve got her including cruciferous vegetables every day. That might be half a cup of cauliflower, frozen cauliflower in her smoothie, and the frozen cauliflower makes the smoothie really, really rich and you’re cutting down on the amount of food that’s going into that, really simple thing like that.
And in her case, because she’s so insulin resistant or tends to move that way, then I pull the carbohydrates out of her diet and the starchy carbohydrates out of her diet, and they are replaced with more vegetables. I’ve put her on more of a pescatarian-style diet, because she just responds better with more fish versus the red meat. I said for her red meat once a month. I pulled out the nuts because they’re chemically and energetically too dense for her, and replaced them with seeds. So, very, very subtle differences, but these make a profound difference in a woman’s ability to be able to lose weight.
With the Wonder Woman, she’s got more freedom than the nurturer, so she can tolerate more of those starchy carbohydrates. So for weight loss, I’ve got her around a quarter of a cup, and we’re talking chickpeas or sweet potatoes or grains or so forth. You as a practitioner get to decide what you want to suggest for them. I’ve made some modifications, if they had autoimmune diseases and so forth. And for her she can have … She can have the nuts and she can have the seeds and that’ll be based on how she’s actually feeling. If she’s feeling scattered, then adding in some nuts is going to be a great snack for her.
If she’s feeling like she just is too heavy and out of balance, then seeds would be a better snack for her. I focus more on snacks that support the thyroid, so there’s … have four Brazil nuts as a snack or some nori with some avocado in it, because that’s what part of her imbalance is. With the femme fatale, it’s quite similar to the Wonder Woman and her shift is more on the mindset. I’ve also worked with the different chakras, which I won’t really have time to go into on this call. But the chakras work with a different color spectrum. For the femme fatale, the orange color spectrum is really helpful for her.
So getting her to snack on some mango, which is not too sugary for her. It’s not too sugary for anybody unless they were a diabetic. It’s one that’s going to rebalance her emotional state. With the ethereal, the ethereal can tolerate more starchy carbohydrates than any of the other archetypes. So she’s the one archetype that can actually handle these grain balls and work well on a vegan diet, provided she’s particular about where she’s sourcing her amino acids from. She’s also the one that, if she’s not sensitive to dairy, can actually put dairy in high quality dairy versus the other archetypes.
So with the Wonder Woman, because she is more on that stressed-out state, she tends to be the most sensitive to gluten and dairy, but not all of our clients are sensitive to gluten and dairy. Because I’ve been in practice for 12 years and I’ve been watching women come and go, I’ve had a woman on gluten-free and dairy-free diets and they’ve been on that for a year, maybe three years and then decided to put it back in, and they’ve got no issues with it. All right, as long as it’s high quality gluten and dairy, they can tolerate it now.
James Maskell:                 So let’s just say we have a practitioner who’s got like a library, and they have all their favorite books there. Maybe they have The Whole 30 and other books that they’ve used in the past to facilitate … you know, sort of like to say, “Look, here’s the plan. Go do this,” and then that’ll be something to read in between. Do you see this being able to do that? So, will someone who reads the book without any other help be able to identify which one of those archetypes they have and be able to understand themselves better? Because ultimately, I see that most practitioners don’t have the right team or the right combination of expertise to be able to maybe execute on this directly.
But having some sort of content and community or coaching would be able to facilitate these kind of discussions, because ultimately, if you’re the person that helps someone unlock this side of things, you’re going to gain a lot of trust very quickly.
Dana James:                      That’s exactly right, and that’s why it was written. The way the book is structured, it’s find your female archetype. Well, first of all, it’s like, well why does self-worth matter? How does it link into your body shape? Then it’s find your female archetype and gives you a whole lot of background on why you’ve created this belief, and gives you the typical childhood upbringing that it’s associated with. Then I go into the food piece. There’s a formula as well as a 10-day meal plan. So, I like formulas. I don’t like meal plans. I like to be able to have my own freedom, so that’s why I gave them both of those.
And because there are subtle differences, I wanted women to understand why they were doing that. The next section is about busting a lot of those nutrition myths. We’ve taken nutrition to the extreme, and now, we just have women and men who are fearful of food. This book was written for an educated demographic. It’s not a basic book. It’s to the woman and to the men that just explain why certain food rules are out there, and what’s true and what’s not true, and when is it valid and when is it not valid. Then the final aspect is the six-hour reprogramming process, which is all in mind.
So, I highly encourage all practitioners to at least look at the book or even get on to my website and find out themselves want their female archetype is. I think if you’re a man, obviously, you don’t need to do that but just get interested in it. It’s just so helpful for you when that woman walked into your practice and you can read their body and know how they’re going to respond to something, like what their triggers are going to be and where you need to support them.
James Maskell:                 Beautiful. Well look, I think this is super timely. I think a lot of practitioners are looking for resources to be able to go deep into this kind of stuff without having to go deep into it themselves. I think that, ultimately, the majority of people that are coming into practices across the country are women, and we are all in the business of getting people well. And more than getting people well, getting people to a point where they know how to take care of themselves, and they’re not dependent on the provider. I mean, ultimately, that’s kind of the goal of what we’re looking to do is to facilitate the transformation of people to a point where they know themselves, and they can go through a process of understanding themselves well enough that they don’t have to be sick.
And so, I really appreciate you sharing everything that you’ve shared up until now. I think this is a beautiful place for us to leave it here for today. I would encourage everyone. What’s the best website to go and order the book and go through the quiz?
Dana James:                      The quiz is on my author website, which is D-A-N-A You can order the book from there, or you can go straight to Amazon, wherever your preferred place is.
James Maskell:                 Beautiful. Well look, my practitioner community I’m sure are super supportive and interested. If this speaks to you and you are having trouble getting to the root cause of a lot of some of the issues that maybe some of your clients are having, then this is a great resource. Dana, thanks so much for being part of the podcast, and wish you much success on the book tour. And yeah, I think, obviously, finding synergies between functional medicine and other tools is really what’s going to get everyone over the line and is … you know, what you’re talking about here is really the root, of root cause resolution medicine.
So, thank you so much for bringing this into the world. I know it’ll be valuable to a lot of people. If you’re listening to this, a good book to add to your in-practice library and useful for everyone else. So this has been the Evolution of Medicine Podcast. We’ve been with Dana James, food coach, at NYC, and functional medicine CBT practitioner, and check out the book, The Archetype Diet. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
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