What is Nutritional Therapy?
Nutritional Therapy is an evidence-based approach to maximising one’s health potential though individually formulated nutritional and lifestyle changes.
It promotes the benefits of good, wholesome, unprocessed foods for optimal well being, as well as the therapeutic effects of particular foods for specific health conditions.
Nutritional Therapy treats the body as a whole while seeking the root source of health concerns, rather than simply treating the symptoms.
It works on the basis that we are each individual in our make-up and therefore, ‘one size fits all’ models of eating (often based on outdated research) simply don’t work well for a lot of people.
How can Nutritional Therapy benefit me?
Nutritional Therapy is suitable for everyone, young and old, for those who would like to alleviate specific symptoms, as well as those who would just like to improve their overall health and wellbeing. In a nutshell, Nutritional Therapy helps you to identify the foods that make you look and feel your best. Our work together will focus on your unique needs as the level of biological variation between us all to just too immense to provide a ‘one size fits all approach’ so we focus on understanding the unique underlying factors that may be at play in your ongoing symptoms and health challenges.
What health concerns may benefit from Nutritional Therapy?
- Digestive Problems(Constipation, Diarrhoea, bloating, IBS, Reflux, Food allergies/Intolerances, diverticulitis)
• Weight problems (Weight gain/inability to lose weight, sugar cravings, blood sugar imbalances, diabetes)
• Cardio-Vascular Health (Raised cholesterol, high blood pressure, Metabolic Syndrome)
• Hormonal Imbalances/Women’s Health (infertility, PMS, PCOS, Endometriosis, Menopause symptoms, Recurring Thrush, Cystitis.)
• Skin Conditions (Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea)
• Mental health & General Wellbeing (Low mood, Anxiety, Fatigue, Poor Concentration)
• Autoimmune conditions ( such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, that often do not respond to conventional medicine)
What kind of diet & lifestyle advice can I expect to receive from a Nutritional Therapist?
As part of the consultation process, a nutritional therapist will go through the client’s medical history and assess current health status. The clients personal health symptoms, needs and goals will be discussed and a personalised nutrition plan will be devised on this basis.
Nutritional Therapy focuses on natural unprocessed whole foods which heal the body and boost overall health. A Nutritional Therapist will work with the client to devise a meal plan that is nutritionally balanced, practical, enjoyable and sustainable. If any foods need to be reduced or eliminated for a period of time, viable alternatives will be suggested that will maintain nutritional needs.
Where necessary, a Nutritional Therapist may also prescribe natural supplements in safe doses e.g. probiotics, vitamins & minerals to help alleviate certain symptoms or optimise nutritional status. However, natural foods are always the first line of treatment.
Nutritional Therapy is not intended to replace conventional medicines but to complement them, and, where necessary, dietary changes can be made under the supervision of a Medical Doctor.
Nutritionist vs Dietitian vs Nutritional Therapist
I get asked about the difference between these 3 distinct ‘titles’ a lot. Here is a brief summary.
A nutritionist is anybody who claims to be an expert in the field of nutrition. This is a broad description because some nutritionists have not studied, meaning they are not appropriately qualified and do not belong to a governing body and it may even have completed a 6 week online nutrition course and started selling their services. When taking advice from a nutritionist always check they have studied, are registered and belong to a governing body.
A dietitian is somebody who has a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. Dietitians generally work with the HSE, although some will work directly with the public. I am not a dietitian.
A nutritional therapist is somebody who is appropriately qualified and has a recognised qualification in Nutritional Therapy. Nutritional therapists usually work in private practice offering tailor made health plans, using nutrition and lifestyle interventions to help support the body towards maintaining health. I am a qualified and registered nutritional therapist and am also completing training with the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM). Some clients and people in the media etc may refer to Nutritional Therapists as a nutritionist because many people are not aware of what a nutritional therapist is. Therefore, when taking advice from a nutritional therapist please always check they have appropriately qualified, are registered and belong to a the NTOI governing body as it is not a protected title. Some of of the colleges that train Nutritional Therapists are ION, CNM. IHS, IIHS
Currently, the Nutritional Therapists of Ireland (NTOI) is the professional association supporting qualified nutritional therapists in Ireland, and it is affiliated with the British Association of Nutritional Therapists (BANT). All NTOI members are trained in clinical practice and undergo intense clinical supervision for 2 years during years 2+ 3.
Here is a good overall (slightly UK slant) article that discusses the matter in more detail http://bant.org.uk/about-nutritional-therapy/nutrition-titles/