What is Nutritional Therapy?
Nutritional therapy centres on the individual in an approach to healthcare that employs assessment and intervention using nutrition and lifestyle-based to assist the individual to optimise his or her physiological, emotive, cognitive and physical function.
The use of food and lifestyle changes is recognised as a principle component of achieving and maintaining optimal levels of health. Research is increasingly recognising that foods have nutritive value beyond simply caloric or macronutrient quantity and quality. A nutritional therapist will work with you to achieve the best food selection for your personal needs.
Do I need to see a Nutritional Therapist?
Probably! You may have been diagnosed with a specific health condition or maybe you would like to have a better understanding of your body, how it works and which foods can help (or hinder) you to stay healthy. You may want to lose or gain weight, run a marathon or improve your personal performance. Whatever the reason, Nutritional Therapy is about educating, empowering and helping you to achieve your health goals.
Many of us suffer from health conditions that range from a few mild symptoms to more severe and multiple symptoms which can be acute (occasional flare-ups) to chronic (long term). Nutritional Therapy may help you achieve and maintain good health and peak performance, as well as disease prevention and control.
My personal approach to nutritional therapy means that your individual needs and circumstances are taken into account to formulate a realistic and practical programme.
What happens in a Nutritional Therapy consultation?
Before your nutritional therapy consultation you will be required to complete a questionnaire and 3-day food and lifestyle diary. The questionnaire is quite detailed but the information enables me to assess your current state of health so needs to be completed with as much detail as possible which saves time in the consultation.
In a typical nutritional therapy consultation I will assess your general health, family history, dietary habits, digestive function and lifestyle. In order to give the best advice possible, it may be necessary to undertake specific functional tests. I will then devise a dietary and lifestyle plan suitable for your individual circumstances. This may include dietary adjustments, suggestion for dietary support, lifestyle changes and food or botanical supplement recommendations.
What’s the difference between a Nutritional Therapist and a dietician?
Nutritional Therapists encompass the use of carefully compiled individual prescriptions for diet and lifestyle in order to alleviate or prevent ailments and promote optimal health. These recommendations may include guidance on natural detoxification, procedures to promote colon health, methods to support digestion and absorption, the avoidance of ingestion or inhalation of toxins or allergens and the appropriate use of supplementary nutrients.
Nutritional therapists often work with patients, many of whom have been referred by medical practitioners, who have chronic health problems that conventional medicine finds difficult to treat. These include allergies, digestive and bowel disorders, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, depression or stress, auto-immune conditions, migraine and skin disorders. Increasingly, parents with an overweight child and/or a child with learning and behaviour difficulties seek to support their child with nutritional therapy as opposed to prescription medications.
Nutritional Therapists must meet the National Occupational Standards for Nutritional Therapy and are presently coming under regulation by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).
Dieticians work principally in the National Health Service and are regulated by the Health Professions Council. Their professional body is the British Dietetic Association. A dietician uses the science of nutrition to devise eating plans for patients to treat medical conditions. They also work to promote good health by helping to facilitate a positive change in food choices amongst individuals, groups and communities.
NB. Only dieticians and nutritional therapists are trained in clinical practice to give one-on-one personal health advice. Both groups must practise with full professional indemnity insurance.
Nutritionists often work outside a clinical context: in the food industry, in research and academia, in government and other agencies. They are qualified to provide information to the public about food and healthy eating, but not about special therapeutic diets.
Link to BANTs briefing note on understanding the differences between dieticians, nutritionists and NTs.
What conditions can Nutritional Therapy help with?
Nutrition and lifestyle approaches to healthcare have been repeatedly shown to support the health of all the major systems of the body (skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory, endocrine, immune, reproductive and integumentary [skin, hair, nails]. Call or email about a specific health concern and I’ll let you know if I can help.
Nutritional therapy is not a substitute for medical advice. However, it works very well alongside conventional medical care and can help to reduce and improve your symptoms in addition to discovering other underlying and possibly contributing factors that are often overlooked, thereby supporting your medical professional’s protocol more effectively.
Will I have to stop eating everything I love?
Obviously if a certain food is causing you problems you may need to stop eating it for a while. As your Nutritional Therapist I will guide you towards healthful foods and away from those that are less healthy, promoting balance in your food intake. Eating for both health and pleasure is, for some, not achievable at the same time. Striking a balance is sometimes very difficult and possibly confused by marketing messages from food manufacturers. I will guide, encourage and support you through your journey towards optimal health and peak condition.
I don’t like the word diet. It conjures up images of food restriction and being hungry. My role as your Nutritional Therapist is to educate and empower you to achieve your personal health goals, whatever they are. As we eat with mainly pleasure in mind, you’ll find my approach practical, realistic and non-judgemental.