How does it work?
Our bodies are made up of billions of cells that rely on the combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the food that we eat to replenish themselves and do their jobs. Nutritional consultants can help you to make sure you’re giving your body the fuel, hydration and lubricants it needs to run like a finely-tuned Ferrari.
Before your consultation, your nutritionist will need to find out all about you – rather than grilling you on the spot, though, he or she will normally send you a questionnaire to fill out and send back or bring to the session. This will contain questions about your current diet, lifestyle and any medical complaints, environmental factors, allergies or ethical principals (such as vegetarianism) that might affect your nutritional needs.
The consultation itself will involve an in-depth discussion of the information you have provided in the questionnaire. It’s all about discovering any underlying deficiencies that could be causing you less-than-perfect health. This consultation is completely confidential and your nutritionist will use the information to devise a bespoke nutrition plan tailored to your needs. This will normally include advice about which foods you need to eat more of, foods you need to avoid, but could also include complete diet plans, meal suggestions, recipes, factsheets and a supplement programme to fill in bigger nutritional gaps. Some nutritionists may even give advice about increasing or changing your physical activities.
If you have complex health needs or want to be very thorough, laboratory tests can often shed light on the mysterious inner workings of your body.
- Hair mineral analysis – your hair contains a record of your nutrient and toxin levels over time; it’s like a case history for your nutritionist.
- Stool/digestive analysis – it may be embarrassing, but an analysis of your poo can help your nutritionist to discover lurking parasites or digestive disorders that could be damaging your absorption of nutrients needed for all your other bodily systems.
- Adrenal stress test – this is a saliva swab to give you more information about your hormonal stress levels, which might help you to discover if a hectic lifestyle is affecting your health.
- Blood tests – for allergies, intolerances or glucose management issues (for example type II diabetes)
If you have improvements to make in your diet, it’s often a good idea to book a follow up consultation 4 to 6 weeks later. This is your chance to ask any further questions you might have, to make adjustments to the diet plan if you’re not seeing results and also to keep you motivated on the path to being the healthiest you’ve ever been. A follow up consultation will normally only take around 30-45 minutes.
Is it for me?
Whether you’re a spring chicken or a wise old owl, anyone can benefit from knowing a bit more about how to get the best out of their body and how to take care of their mental and emotional wellbeing too. Nutrition advice is a how-to-live master class that everyone can use.
The number of health issues that can be diagnosed and treated simply by eating the right foods and cutting out negative influences on your body are staggering. Some of the main concerns that can be addressed with nutritional advice include:
- Weight gain or loss
- Depression or mood swings
- Poor digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Eczema, acne and other skin complaints
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Headaches and migraines
- Candida, thrush
- Infertility, PMS and menopausal symptoms
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Vegan and vegetarian nutrition
Good to know
Some nutritionists are paid by supplement manufacturers to recommend or even sell their brand of vitamins and minerals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is anything fishy about your nutritionist’s recommendations, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you might get better-value supplements if you shop around.