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?

Children, Health and Wellbeing, teenagers, Uncategorised, wellbeing, Wellness

Do Something for Someone Else…

I never thought I’d ever say this, but on Sunday I went to Morgzfest in Sheffield.

Morgz is Morgan Hudson, an 18 year old Youtuber, who’s made his name by publicly pranking his Mum, Gill, and by the two of them challenging each other with ridiculous tasks such as:

  • drinking disgusting mystery cocktails (Sunday’s vomit-worthy concoction was mealworms, mustard, honey and diet coke. Bleurgh)
  • seeing how long can you sit in a bath of ice
  • eating a food of one colour for 24 hours.

The whole of the family get involved in his videos, with his brother Jensen, Dad (Darren) and Stepdad (Bald Martin) all playing a part in the high-energy, high-jinx shenanigans.

Though I’ve seen quite a few Morgz vlogs (by force), and I can see his appeal for his fans, a day at Morgzfest is my idea of hell.

The event involved 7 hours of waiting around in Sheffield Don Valley Bowl with only junk food on offer (you couldn’t take in your own food, and it seems quite ironic with me being a health practitioner!) and the only entertainment between 12-3.30pm being a huge field of inflatables, which included the World’s Largest Inflatable Obstacle Course.

I wasn’t impressed. Especially as the rain came down in a torrential burst as soon as we got there. I was cold for the rest of the day. At first my head was constantly filled with what I could be doing at home instead.

Despite this, I had a fantastic time. My daughter absolutely loved it, and when Morgz, his mum, dad, brother and stepdad came on stage for the challenges during the last couple of hours, she was in absolute bliss. It was like watching pantomime, and not only did she have a massive smile on her face, I did too. The fact that the whole day had an aura of good-natured energy also played a massive part in the thawing of my cynicism.

Going on the obstacle course with her (I believe it really is the World’s Largest Inflatable Obstacle Course…!!!) was one of the most hysterical experiences of my life.

The whole encounter made me realise that, although you see a lot written about learning to say no and putting yourself first for health and wellbeing reasons, sometimes by putting other people first, you actually do the greatest service to yourself.

Watching my daughter happy made me happy.

Knowing she’s made memories that will last her a lifetime, will stay with me forever.

Sometimes, even though you want to say no, say yes instead.

It’s the best thing you’ll ever do.

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

Children, Health and Wellbeing, Uncategorised

Kids and New Foods

I just thought I’d share this fabulous image from the Wellness Festival I attended on Sunday. A mum and her son came to try my healthy snack tasters and became really interested in the ingredients in the recipe sheets. The foods weren’t something the little boy had tried before, and the blondies contained chickpeas, which were a foreign thing in a sweet snack to both adults and kids.

It was lovely to see them together talking about food, which is important for a child to develop an interest in food and a willingness to try new things.

It’s important to have an open attitude to food and your children will follow your lead.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get children to try foods which fall outside their familiar meals and snacks. You may have tried to introduce more of a variety, but you keep hitting a brick wall, which can be extremely frustrating, when you’ve spent a long time cooking.

I always found with my own children that if they didn’t like a particular food, I’d put a very small amount on the plate – alongside their much loved meals – which I’d ask them to at least try. They didn’t have to eat much of it – just taste it and leave the rest. Even if they didn’t like it, I’d keep reintroducing that same food (never in large amounts) at meal times. Often they’d develop a liking for it but sometimes they wouldn’t (sweet potatoes and tomatoes are two examples of this with my youngest).

What we have to remember (which is difficult in our busy modern lives) is that it takes around 10 tastes of a food for a child to be able to accept it. Just because they say they don’t like it the first time doesn’t mean they can’t ever like it.

However, it’s important not to make too much of an issue of it. If you come to realise that it’s a food they aren’t ready for, praise them for trying it, and move on. Children’s tastebuds are far more sensitive than an adult’s – maybe they don’t like that food right now, but when they’re older, it may just be their favourite (as olives are with me!)

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

Littleborough Wellness Festival

Yesterday was a fantastic day. It was the first Littleborough Wellness Festival at Littleborough Cricket Club, organised by Littleborough and Area Ladies Circle, with all proceeds going to Rochdale & District Mind. I met some great people, both the stallholders and people who came to visit.

I was blown away by how many people were looking for more natural ways to deal with their ill health or improve their health. There’s a lot of interest out there for changes to the way we eat and live our lives. What I was hearing, however, was that there is so much conflicting information out there that people often get confused and don’t know where to start.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. A good starting point is with the BANT Wellness Plate and their 7-a-day Eat a Rainbow handouts. I was explaining to the people who came to chat with me that half their daily intake of food should be focused on fruits and vegetables, but also, that it’s important to eat a wide range of colours and types of plant-based foods. Our gut bacteria thrives on different varieties of fibres and polyphenols within plant-based foods, so diversity is key. The spectrum of colours available in fruits and vegetables offer different benefits – helping immunity, mood, energy, hormones, digestion, cardiovascular and skeletal health etc.

The healthy snacks tasters I made – energy balls and chickpea & cashew blondies – went down a treat

Although eating like this is beneficial to everyone, sometimes it doesn’t improve the symptoms we may be experiencing. Depending on what’s going on in our bodies, it may even make things worse. At this point it’s advisable to see a professional who, during their consultation, will try to identify the potential root cause of your issues. We are all individuals, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The triggers and drivers for our illnesses differ from person-to-person, even if they are suffering with the same condition.

Just before the doors open. Everyone’s just finishing setting up!

One of my favourite parts of the day was talking to representatives from MIND and the University of the Third Age who expressed interest in me participating in workshops and talks with the general public. This is very exciting, as it means I can spread the word about the benefits of dietary and lifestyle interventions to a greater audience. Nutrition has an important role in mental health and healthy ageing, but it’s not always so easy to be able to implement dietary advice when you might be living alone or struggling with mental health issues. It would be great to offer support and strategies to these groups in ways that suit their individual needs.

Finally, I’d like to thank my friends Natasha Sophia Sarak (of Prestwich Health Heroes) and Pauline Holt, who turned up yesterday to support me. Cheerleaders help us move forward, and feel positive and focused! I really appreciate them taking precious time out of their day and I certainly felt the love. Thanks guys!

Really appreciate the support I got from my fellow nutritional therapy buddy
Uncategorised

Roll Up! Roll Up! NT in Local Paper!

So today, this happened…  Hebden Bridge & Todmorden Times & News – 10th December 2018

I was excited to wake up today to see a friend of mine had posted on FB that she was having breakfast with me.  I didn’t know what she was talking about at first – then I saw this picture.  With my beady eyes staring at her the whole time she was eating, I’m surprised I didn’t actually put her OFF her breakfast!

Anyway, the article is basically about my daughter’s ill health, and how it led to me eventually taking the leap to become a nutritional therapist.  If you’re interested, I’ll post the story below.

“Just eating healthily didn’t seem to be working for me or my daughter Lucy.  She’d been born with a rare genetic condition – Pallister-Killian Syndrome – and health that deteriorated with her age (nervous tics, behavioural issues, anxiety, restless legs, stomach pain, throat swelling, and a chronic condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa, which presents as large, recurrent abscesses).  Dealing with an unwell, unhappy child, who was often in pain, also took it’s toll on me.   I tried finding answers for years, and the doctors, though sympathetic, couldn’t always help.  The tests they took, on the whole, came up clear.  It was frustrating and I felt fatigued, anxious, and developed my own escalating set of symptoms (allergies, mood swings, bloating, joint pain, and weight gain), which were the negative effects of chronic stress on my immune, nervous and digestive systems. 

For years, I suspected the answer might be dietary.  As a baby, Lucy became fractious after feeding, so I tried improving our eating habits, and I saw benefits, but it wasn’t enough.  By her teens, Lucy was on large doses of antibiotics, which led to further health decline.

Trying to find answers through scientific research wasn’t as helpful as I hoped.  I found myself in a rabbit warren of information that was difficult for the inexperienced eye to fathom.  I learned that, what worked for one group didn’t work for another, and what worked for others didn’t always work for us.

In 2014, I started a nutritional therapy diploma with the College of Naturopathic Medicine.  I was certain there was a role for nutrition in improving health, but I needed the tools to do it.  A few months in, now understanding I couldn’t be objective about my daughter’s or my own health, I employed a registered nutritional therapist, and finally, we made headway.  At this time, Lucy’s abscesses were so unrelenting, the only option seemed to be drastic surgery to cut away areas of her skin and replace them with skin from other parts of her body.  I didn’t want surgery, I wanted answers.  Our nutritional therapist advised private functional testing – a stool test to check gut health for Lucy, urine tests to check my nutrient and neurotransmitter levels, and a finger-prick food intolerance test for both of us.

Nutritional therapy is an individual approach that investigates potential root causes of people’s symptoms to improve them.  Dietary change is always comes first, but as this wasn’t effective in this instance, testing now highlighted imbalances in our bodies, as well as foods that contributed to our symptoms.  The results guided which supplements and lifestyle changes were required. Since then, I’ve watched Lucy’s health blossom.  Her issues are entirely eliminated or under better control.  She’s calmer and happier.  The same for me.  The quality of our lives has improved exponentially.   I can’t recommend the benefits of nutritional therapy enough, and love having the skills to make a huge difference to people’s lives.   Nutritional therapy works on so many levels, and there’s nothing to lose, apart from a whole raft of negative symptoms.”