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In 2021, Brittany Carpenter had an unusual problem for a woman with a newborn.

“I was on maternity leave and my daughter was sleeping very well, so I had all that time available,” she said. “My husband had 12 weeks of paternity leave. That time after giving birth is strange and you wonder, ‘Who am I alone?'”

Carpenter is a nutritionist and has a master’s degree in functional medicine. She started posting on Instagram as “Nutritionist Brittany” and quickly amassed a following. Many of her social media followers were suffering from gut issues, hormonal imbalances and fatigue and wanted her help.

In 2022, Carpenter began offering virtual services. There was a waiting list and she had to hire other nutritionists to help. Today, Carpenter has a team that offers functional medicine and customized meal plans for women with gut and hormonal issues. They are completely virtual and serve people across the country. With more than 41,000 followers on Instagram, she posts tips, recipes, lots of videos, supplements she likes, and more.

“We want to improve your health, not just your problem,” she said. “Everything about your lifestyle affects your health.”

New business focuses on nutritional services

Four women pose for a photo at the Nutrition Studio in Springfield.
The Nutrition Studio in Springfield has a team of four: Shannon Crosby, Meredith Osgood, Brittany Carpenter and Amanda Allen. (Photo by Brittany Carpenter)

In April, Carpenter opened the Nutrition Studio, 1911 S. National Ave. Suite 105 in Springfield, across from Mercy Hospital on National Avenue. Carpenter said she misses seeing patients in person and there is a great need for nutrition services in southwest Missouri.

The local company does not offer functional medicine, but rather nutrition for weight loss, irritable bowel syndrome, cholesterol, children’s nutrition and family nutrition. She creates each plan individually with the goal of sustainable health.

“When you come to us, we won’t recommend the keto diet if you don’t like meat,” Carpenter said. “Instead of trying to fit into the mold you think is right, we’ll create a personalized plan that’s tailored to your life. If you’re consistent with your health changes, you’ll see the health benefits.”

The value of evidence-based nutrition

Carpenter is a Cape Girardeau native and graduate of Missouri State University. Before starting her own company, she worked at Hy-Vee and Pyramid Foods and was a professor at Cox College.

She also discusses with her clients the need to consult a nutritionist when taking injectable weight loss medications, which are becoming increasingly popular.

“There can be long-term complications,” Carpenter said. “It can make it harder to lose weight in the future. People think, ‘Cool, I’m not hungry,’ and they lose weight, but the problem is you lose muscle mass, and when you lose muscle mass, your metabolism slows down. Of course, when you stop taking the medication, you gain the weight back.”

People need good, evidence-based nutrition because there is so much conflicting information online. Carpenter offers personalized meal plans that you can’t find online. Of course, people can ask ChatGPT or Google and get answers, but the AI ​​doesn’t know you, your family or your schedule, she said.

Carpenter can work with families whose children are athletes, are on the go a lot, and end up getting fast food.

“We create a realistic plan,” she said. “We don’t give you set meal plans because that’s not helpful. Once you get bored with those meals, you haven’t learned anything.”

Instead, she addresses a patient’s lifestyle, their passion or dislike for cooking, and their schedule, building on the strengths of their diet and helping them overcome the challenges they face.

Brittany Carpenter sits on a chair in the Springfield Nutrition Studio.
As a new mom with unexpected free time, Brittany Carpenter started posting on Instagram as “Nutritionist Brittany.” She quickly amassed a large following and turned it into a business. (Photo by Brittany Carpenter)

Starting a business is an interesting change

At the Springfield clinic, it’s Carpenter and two other nutritionists. It doesn’t accept insurance. Nutrition Studio offers a four-month package that includes a monthly session and unlimited chat support for $225 a month. A single appointment costs $180.

Starting a local business was an interesting change.

“With my first business, I had an audience before I had a business, but this is different,” she said. “I have a business and I’m trying to build an audience. I believe so strongly in what we’re doing.”

“Nobody will change their life in an hour”

Meredith Osgood sits at her desk in the Springfield Nutrition Studio
The Springfield Nutrition Studio opened in April on South National Avenue across from Mercy. (Photo by Brittany Carpenter)

Carpenter doesn’t offer individual appointments to online clients. She sells packages because “nobody is going to change their life in an hour.”

She takes a holistic approach and addresses nutrition, exercise, sleep, hobbies and stress management. Most of her Instagram followers are interested in gut health, which is a topic close to her heart. Carpenter even posts photos of her own bloating. Sometimes she browses the yogurt aisle at Walmart and gives tips on which yogurt to buy.

When you have debilitating bowel issues, it really gets in the way of living your best life, she said. If you can’t go on vacation because you can’t wear a bathing suit or don’t want to run to the bathroom, that affects everyone.

Dietitian Brittany’s online services are staffed by three dietitians, a certified nutritionist, a clinical nutrition doctor, a certified holistic health coach, and an assistant. They offer unlimited chat support so people can reach out and get answers immediately. There is a five-month package for people with gut issues for $3,450.

She recently developed a course called Functional Foundations, a 10-week self-paced course designed to help people change their diets. This option costs $397.

Simple, sustainable changes have paid off for a customer

Four women pose for a photo at the Nutrition Studio in Springfield.
Brittany Carpenter’s team at the Nutrition Studio in Springfield includes two experienced nutritionists and an office assistant. They are (from left): Amanda Allen, Brittany Carpenter, Shannon Crosby and Meredith Osgood. (Photo by Brittany Carpenter)

Carrie Miller, a Republic resident and occupational therapist, signed up for Carpenter’s five-month plan last year. She heard about Carpenter from a physical therapist. Miller teaches at Cox College, and although their employments didn’t overlap, people at the college spoke very highly of Carpenter.

Miller was experiencing irritability and fatigue and thought it was hormones. Her doctor ran some tests and her levels were back to normal, so she started following nutritionist Brittany on Instagram.

“I believe in a holistic, evidence-based approach and wanted to be sure that their work was based on science,” Miller said.

After a few months, in August 2023, Miller signed up for a five-month plan. After a series of tests, Carpentered recommended supplements, probiotics and prebiotics, dietary changes and more. The plan was 100% tailored to her, Miller said, and she saw results after a month. Miller noticed improvements in her skin, gut health and energy, and had more patience.

“I only followed 50% of her plan because I’m really busy, but even that changed my life,” Miller said.

The changes were not difficult and were lasting. She liked the holistic approach.

“I am now convinced and recommend Brittany to anyone who will listen to me,” said Miller.

Juliana Goodwin

Juliana Goodwin is a freelance journalist with experience covering business, travel and tourism, health, food and history. She was formerly a food and travel columnist for the Springfield News-Leader, a business reporter for the Joplin Globe, and has written for USA Today and Arkansas Living Magazine, among others. More from Juliana Goodwin