anxiety, chronic conditons, Health and Wellbeing, insomnia, nutritional therapy, personalised nutrition, Uncategorised, wellbeing, Wellness

I want to try nutritional therapy but… it’s so expensive…

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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?

chronic conditons, nutritional therapy, person centred health, personalised nutrition, Uncategorised, Wellness

Is Nutritional Therapy a Quick Fix?

There isn’t a simple explanation for this, as the answer is both yes and no.

Yes, because many of my clients do see improvements in their health within a few weeks of their first consultations with me, especially those who come with what are classed as more ‘minor’ complaints. Even those with more serious issues find that they quickly feel the benefits of eating more healthily.

For instance, they might come to me about rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis or chronic fatigue, or many other health issues. Alongside these conditions, they may have numerous other symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, bloating, anxiety, mood swings, heavy periods, acne, food sensitivities, allergies, hayfever. The list goes on.

Often, clients will find that that, by supporting their chronic health conditions with specific dietary and lifestyle changes, they will quickly start to see improvements in the other, seemingly unconnected, aggravating symptoms which make their lives difficult.

Often, clients will find that that, upon supporting their chronic health conditions with specific dietary and lifestyle changes, they will quickly start to see improvements in the other aggravating symptoms which make their lives difficult.

The reason for this is that nutritional therapy is a holistic approach. This means that the body is seen as a whole, where each system is not a separate entity, but interlinked with every other. Therefore, if you are supporting one bodily system, you are inadvertently supporting all the rest.

So when isn’t nutritional therapy a quick fix?:

  1. Our bodies needs constant nourishment. Most foods in the standard Western diet have had their nutrients stripped away and contain ingredients that promote inflammation in the body (and this is alongside the high stress lifestyles we lead; the toxins we are exposed to in the air, our food, in our homes, in medications, at work etc). We need to feed our bodies the right foods to provide adequate nutrients to function properly, but also to reduce inflammation. We often start to see improvements in our health when we provide all the nutrients our body requires, but if we stop and go back to our old eating habits, our bodily systems start to malfunction again, and we might see the return of our symptoms. Eating well is a long-term commitment. You may have heard the expression “a lifestyle, not a diet” and this is what nutritional therapy is all about. It’s not simply about losing weight only to gain it all again. It’s not about eating well for two weeks for therapeutic reasons, only to go back to square one, once you’ve achieved your goal. Nutritional therapy provides you with an education where you learn about how foods work synergistically and biochemically in your body to help you function at your best; it also empowers you so you can finally start to take control of your health, rather than your health taking control of you. Though it may sound frightening to make long term changes at first, a good health practitioner will support their clients into a new way of eating over many weeks and months. Once those same individuals start to feel better, and they see they can eat freely as long as they choose foods wisely, they find eating a healthy diet is not so restrictive or difficult after all, which makes it easier for them to commit in the long term.
  2. For every year you’ve been unwell, give yourself at least a month to recover your health. Many conditions bubble under the surface and take years to become fully symptomatic. A return to health, for some, may take as long. Our bodies are amazing structures whose primary purpose it is to keep everything in balance (known as “homeostasis”). This means that, although we might be lacking vital nutrients or be under a great amount of stress (which puts extra pressures on us by depleting nutrients and raising inflammation), our bodies continue to try to function normally and keep everything running smoothly. Initially, we might simply notice that we are fatigued, suffer headaches, or that we get colds more easily. However (here comes my favourite analogy) like a car with little oil, eventually, your internal engine will stall, especially if you hit the fast lane for any length of time. The longer you have been running on low oil, and at a high speed, the more damage you are likely to have inflicted on your engine. Greater damage may equate to more complex health issues. This doesn’t mean there is no point in trying to improve your health, however (eating better will always have positive effects on your body, even if you don’t notice them at first). What it does mean, is that it may take longer to start to see real benefits.
  3. It all depends on what your ultimate goal is. If you want to simply feel a little better than you feel right now, then you will likely see quick improvements. However, for those suffering with complex issues who want a return to a state of previous good health, this may take many months, and in some cases, even years. My daughter is a case in hand. Through a specific diet, we quickly controlled her Hidradenitis Suppurativa (chronic, multiple abscesses). However, reducing her body’s reactivity to other foods has taken much longer and involved functional testing (eg. food intolerance test, stool test, organic acid test and genetics tests) as well as personalised lifestyle changes and supplementation. Her gut health took a beating through years of antibiotics and other medications, and I know it will take time to address these imbalances. I have to also consider that she may never fully regain complete health, but even as she is now, her quality of life is a hundred per cent better than it was a few years ago when her future seemed to be one of constant infections, medications and surgeries.

As I tell my clients, there are no guarantees with nutritional therapy, but you should find that your body thanks you for improving your diet in many glorious ways. Your body may thank you by increasing your energy, reducing aches and pains, improving mobility, improving mood, reducing anxiety, sleeping better, and not reacting to every food you eat.

Nutritional therapy isn’t a quick fix in most cases, but like many things in life, if you are willing to put in the hard work, you’ll reap the rewards.

In many cases, nutritional therapy may not necessarily be a quick fix, but like most things in life, if you are willing to put in the hard work (especially with the support of a health practitioner) you’ll reap the rewards.

To wake up every day after a good night’s sleep, without aches and pains, and feeling ready for anything… personally, I think it’s a goal worth working towards. Don’t you?