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?

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, 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?

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?

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