Compared to some therapies, clients coming to see me for an initial appointment may feel like they are paying more than they would for, say, physiotherapy or massage.
“Why’s it so expensive just to get some direction with healthy eating? I could go to Slimming World and it would only cost me a few pounds.“
The thing is, nutritional therapy is not just about healthy eating… It’s not about dieting either… (though I can help you with both of these). It’s about personalised care. If you’re not sure what this means, let me explain.
There are healthy eating guidelines in many countries. In Britain, this means you are advised to:
- Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day
- Stay hydrated
- Eat lean proteins
- Eat a diet low in saturated fats
- Don’t eat too many refined, processed, or sugary foods
And yes, these guidelines can help many people stay in good health, but there are many more people who:
- Struggle to maintain this way of eating, and think they are lazy and lack willpower
- Eat this way and still feel unhealthy, have symptoms they can’t improve, feel permanently tired, or struggle to lose weight
- Have a diagnosed health condition that they want to improve but nothing they do changes their health status. In fact, in many cases, it’s getting worse.
There are many reasons for this, and it’s the job of a nutritional therapist to find out what is the root cause of the problem is, find a solution (through evidence-based nutritional and lifestyle science), and then work together with their client to use this information in a way that best suits the client’s lifestyle.
All of this takes time. For every hour you spend with a nutritional therapist, they will be spending at least another hour (usually more) trying to get to the crux of your problem through research, and then creating a plan that gets you results. And that’s even before you consider the time they spend talking to supplement companies to find the best nutrients to support you, or talking to functional testing companies to find out the best test for your health issues (then discussing your results); or even writing to your GP or other health professionals if necessary (all with your permission).
Health is also more than just about food. Yes, we all know we should try to reduce our stress and get more sleep, and I can support you to do that. But what if presently, it’s impossible to change these things because of certain uncontrollable factors in your life. Well, nutritional therapy can often improve symptoms like anxiety, stress and insomnia through herbs, plant compounds, and specific nutrients that help to support the nervous system until life starts to revert back to normal. Once stress and sleep are under control, other aspects of health usually improve too. The knowledge as to which nutrients and compounds are required takes training, as well as an understanding of the factors in your life that are leading to symptoms. A nutritional therapist will look at you as an individual and your symptoms and base their recommendations on that. You can’t get this individualised care from attending a dieting group, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
People don’t realise, but under stress, we need better eating habits, because the body burns through nutrients extra quickly at these times. But what do we do instead? We turn to chocolate, crisps, cake, alcohol, and other processed foods, because they satisfy us in the short term, but they don’t do us any good in the long term, or even help to reduce stress (in fact, they deplete nutrients even more, because the body has to work extra hard to get rid of them out of our systems). Nutritional therapy deals with this to find foods that will satisfy these cravings but also nourish you, so you aren’t feeding your nervous tension, but your body. A nutritional therapist will create resources for you to use during the times when you need alternatives to the comfort foods you currently turn to. When you feel more relaxed (because of a better nutrient status), it’s also easier to make better eating choices in the future.
Nutritional therapy isn’t about deprivation. It’s about:
- learning why you feel the way you do, and what your personal, familial and medical history, plus your current life, has to do with this.
- finding ways to enjoy the foods you love, but in a healthier way (so if you like sweet treats, I’ll offer you healthier recipes that are rich in magnesium, B vitamins, and fibre for instance; or if you’re lacking in time, direct you to protein bars that are loaded with goodness, not sugar).
- giving you the knowledge about yourself and food so you can go away and independently make choices that best serve your health in the future. What’s even better, is that this knowledge is then passed on to entire families, so I’m helping more than just one individual! Once people understand the negative effects of poor nutrition to their physical and mental health, and they feel the huge positive effects of good eating, they are also more likely to stick to it long term.
- Supporting you between consultations so you have a chance to share your progress with someone who understands, and ask questions about things that you are uncertain about.
All this takes time. Some of the work happens in the consultation, but a lot of it happens outside of it.
So what else are you paying for:
- professional registrations to say that the person you are seeing is accredited (so trained to a particular standard) and upholds certain professional standards. In my case, BANT, ANP, CNHC, GNC.
- registration with the ICO (an organisation that ensures I am fully GDPR compliant, so your personal data is fully secure – eg. through a professional client platform).
- regular continuing professional development to keep skills up-to-date (CPD). I am directed to do 30 hours a year, but in reality, do a 100+ hours per year.
- full professional insurance
People are often reticent about nutritional therapy because of the cost, but don’t think of it as an extravagance, but as an investment in yourself.
I see improvements in people all the time, whose health issues have been disabling them and their enjoyment of life. Weight loss is often a lovely side effect of your body getting into balance (even if you’ve been struggling to lose weight, or keep weight off for years).
You wouldn’t expect your car to keep going forever without a regular service, regular oil fills, and the right grade of fuel. You know that patching up a tyre is only a temporary measure.
If you don’t expect your car to run perfectly without investment and regular care, why do expect that of yourself?