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?

cancer, fundraiser, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, personalised nutrition

MacMillan Christmas Health & Wellbeing Event

I’m excited to have been asked by Mel Jones from HMR Community Cancer Service (Living With and Beyond Cancer) to come and do a talk at this MacMillan Fundraiser on Saturday 30th November at Butterworth Hall in Milnrow.

Fundraiser for MacMillan Cancer Support on 30th November

I’ll be talking about how standard Western diet has become a factor in increasing poor health in Western society, and what steps we can take to improve our wellbeing and quality of life. I’ll also be sharing some quick and easy, yet tasty, health-promoting recipes, which are even more vital at Christmas. It’s a time of fun, family, but also increased pressure.

I’ll also have a stall there if you’d like to come and chat with me about your health, dietary habits, or how nutritional therapy could help you.

I really hope to see you there, though I’ll share more on the event nearer the time.

Come along and support a worthy cause!

health, Health and Wellbeing, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, person centred health, personalised nutrition, Wellness

Individuality: The Key to Regaining Power Over Your Health

A major factor in regaining your health is to understand what led you there in the first place 

“It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.” 

Hippocrates

I was looking for quotes for a presentation I’m doing in a few weeks and I came across this quote by Hippocrates.

It got me thinking about the clients that come into my clinics and how true this is. How it’s important that each client is the focus of every consultation, not the disease.

So how is this applied exactly?

Any two people can walk through the door with the same condition, but they will be totally different in terms of root cause, personality and therapeutic needs. They will have different issues in their lives, different dietary preferences, different drives, different support networks, different goals. Some people require lots of support outside of the consulting room; others require none.

As a therapist, it’s important for me to recognise these factors and deal with them appropriately – to treat each client, not as a set of symptoms, but as individuals. To see how it is best to serve them, so together we achieve the health goals they wish to reach.

Just like the people who come to see me, the root cause of any symptom is highly individual. One person’s illness may be driven by stress which is undermining their immune or digestive function; another may have a long history of antibiotic use that created a microbiome imbalance; some medications might create nutritional or hormonal imbalances; pain might be exacerbated by previous traumatic events as well as poor diet.

Usually there are a number of factors involved, and it’s up to me to unpick all the information given, and create a plan that, over time, removes all the onion layers of ill health to reveal the heart of better health beneath.

Recognising a person’s individuality is also vital when giving them a plan of action – for some, gentle guidance is better accepted than a long list of changes that can lead to a feeling of overwhelm. Others want a challenge, something they can get their teeth into, where they see instant results.

So my role is to understand what makes each person tick, to be clear about their goals, and to guide them forward in a way that suits them.

It is also up to me to empower them by helping them to understand the reasons behind their symptoms, and give them the information they require to stick to a healthier lifestyle and take back their health in the long term.

Because what really makes a difference to us all when we are adopting changes in our lives is: to be recognised for who we are, to feel understood, and to to be given the chance to regain power over our lives, as we travel on the journey to becoming a healthier version of ourselves.

Have you any thoughts on this? What has affected you the most or made the biggest difference to you when dealing with a health professional?

anxiety, blood pressure, Children, Health and Wellbeing, nutritional therapy

Parenting, Building Confidence in Children, and Future Health

Build up self-esteem in your child through positive body language and kind words.

I’ve just read a blog post by Brene Brown about an Oprah interview with author Toni Morrison which really made me think about my behaviour as a parent.

In the interview with Oprah, Toni speaks about how we can influence a child’s confidence and their self-image in ways that we don’t even realise. Here’s the link to the original post by Brene.

According to Toni, children gather information about their parents’ feeling towards them based on their initial reactions (whether they be positive or negative) on each meeting.

For instance, as a parent, do you immediately pick up on your child’s uncombed hair, food stained clothes, muddy shoes etc?

Or do you smile, happy to see them, first?

When I read this, I thought to my own behaviour, and recognised that I can be quick to criticise, without even intending to.

The problem isn’t with the criticism itself – as parents, we need to be able to tell our children not to get mud on the carpet etc – but what’s important is that the criticism isn’t the first thing they always hear.

What is that criticism (if it’s the first thing out of your mouth) telling them about themselves and what you think about them? Does your body language, or do your words, demonstrate your love, or does it tell them there is something wrong with their appearance, behaviour or choices?

If you don’t think well of them, how can they think well of themselves? And how will these micro-criticisms impact their self-esteem in the long term?

This interests me, not only as a parent, but as a nutritional therapist. A person’s health and wellbeing is all tied up in self-esteem and stress.

If we don’t think well of ourselves we send ourselves negative messages:

You’re such a mess.

Why can’t you do a simple thing like that?

What an idiot!

These self-criticisms – where we can’t be kind to ourselves – become a form of stress.

As I’ve mentioned previously, stress affects cortisol levels which, if not managed, can negatively impacts health – both mental and physical.

So how can we help our kids to develop better attitudes towards themselves and as a result, become healthier adults?

Well, I suppose initially, that lies with us and our behaviour towards them. The way we react to our kids can either enhance of undermine self-image and resilience. If we manage our reactions positively, this ultimately has a beneficial impact on their future health.

As Brene says in her blog post, don’t let the first comment to your child each time you see them be a negative one. By being kind to them, we teach them to be kind to themselves.

Say something nice, or “flash a smile” before you ask them to move their belongings (that have taken up residence on the living room floor for the last three days!)

Even if they don’t show it, your smile or kind words will mean so much, and it’s another way of telling them you love them.

Plus, it also takes the sting out of the fact they’ve got to clear up after themselves!

I’m going to try it.

What about you?

Health and Wellbeing, Interview, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, Wellness

Interview with Three Valley Vegans

Interview between Three Valley Vegans and myself.

When I took part in the Milnrow Yoga & Wellbeing Festival last weekend, I was approached by Elizabeth King from Three Valley Vegans to do an interview for their blog and newsletter, and also, to arrange a talk in Hebden Bridge for next year. I’m always extremely happy to do these events because I love getting out there to encourage the general population to eat more healthily and help everyone understand how easy it can actually be.

Although the majority of my client’s aren’t vegan, I’ve been vegan for over 5 years, and I love to share the health benefits of eating a diet higher in plant based foods. Just adding a few more fruits and vegetables into your diet can make a huge difference to wellbeing.

Here in the interview I talk about why I became vegan, why I became a nutritional therapist, why we become ill, why chronic disease is on the rise, how we can help our bodies to fight disease, and why we sometimes find it difficult to stick to a healthy eating regime. I’ve also added a link to the popular Chickpea Blondie recipe I take as a taster to events. It’s simple to make and healthy too.

This film available on Netflix is my initial motivation for becoming vegan – health, animals and environment.

Hope you enjoy both the recipe and the interview! Let me know what you think.

Here’s the link to the interview:

Health and Wellbeing, nutritional therapy, Uncategorised, Wellness

Milnrow Yoga & Wellbeing Festival

So tomorrow I’m going to be at the first Milnrow Yoga & Wellbeing Festival. I’m very excited about this.

The Rochdale area where I live isn’t renowned for being at the forefront of health and wellness – in fact, I think it’s one of the top unhealthy places in the country – but recently there has been an surge of interest, and this is the second festival I will attend this year (the third will be at Hollingworth Lake in September – watch this space!)

The festival will take place in Milnrow Park, and fortunately, the weather is forecast to be sunny, which is GREAT! Sunny weather means more people are likely to come to learn about all the good things that can be done to help both your physical and mental wellbeing.

There are going to be lots of tasters and sessions for people to join in with. Bring your trainers and look at the schedule when you get there if you’d like to participate in the Zumba or Yoga! No need to bring your mats though as these are being provided by a local company.

I can’t wait to meet like-minded people from the local area. On my stall I’ll have information about ways to improve your diet and relieve stress (a huge factor in poor health), plus some recipes for healthy snacks and desserts. I’ll be handing out some sweet treats too that are actually good for you, and offering a chance for someone to win an initial consultation worth over £100. If you’re interested in improving a health condition, please take part. There’s no greater investment than looking after yourself.

So, that’s all for now, but if you are attending the festival tomorrow, please come over and say hello. It would be a real pleasure to meet you.

food, Health and Wellbeing, insomnia, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, pain management, sleep, stress, Uncategorised, Wellness

Are You On a Diet, Or is it a Fad?

I just had an experience that got me thinking …

My online food shop was delivered and the driver was helping me to unpack.

‘This is a lot of fruit and veg,’ he said.

‘Mmmm, yes it is.’ (In our house, we individually eat about 7-10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which is the recommended amount for good health).

‘Are you on a diet,’ he said, ‘or is it a fad?’

‘No – nope, this is how we eat all the time.’

His jaw dropped.

I can’t read minds, but I could sense that he thought I was one strange cookie.

I thought it was funny as it happened, but now a little while later, I’m wondering why it’s considered ‘a fad’ (for ‘fad’ read ‘weird’) to have lots of fruits and vegetables as a regular part of your diet.

If my shopping had been full of processed foods – cakes, biscuits, crisps, white bread, sausages, ready meals etc – he wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. It’s certainly a sad state of affairs that a week’s worth of processed foods, to him, would be considered a ‘normal diet’.

I don’t think he’s alone in this. Over the years I’ve had lot of comments made on my food choices by cashiers as I pass my shopping through the checkout.

I wonder what’s happening to us as a society that we see foods containing lots of artificial additives and sweeteners as the norm (while some of the ingredients are not even recognisable as real foods), yet if we eat a diet of simple, fresh produce it’s seen as questionable behaviour?

If eating ‘junk’ is a normal way of eating, no wonder we are witnessing a rise in chronic diseases, including bowel cancer in the young. This has been found to be directly related to lifestyle factors (including ‘worsening diet‘), and is worrying for the next generations, who will pick up the eating habits of their parents. I wonder if eventually our young will even know what a fresh fruit or vegetable looks like? We already have a situation where many young people can’t identify what animal particular meat products come from. We are becoming increasingly dislocated from our natural food sources.

It’s definitely time we start rethinking the way we look at food.

I like the fact that I am in a position through my work to help people to learn the benefits of healthier eating and guide them to make better choices. It can take a little time to get your head around it, but often my clients are surprised at how easy it can be. Understanding the purpose of healthy eating is the main thing (people don’t realise there is a link between diet and issues such as insomnia, anxiety, joint pains, stress, fatigue, depression etc) which is where I come in as a nutritional therapist.

If you don’t eat a lot of fresh produce, why not make a start by adding a portion of fruit or veg to your day today?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com