Nutritional Therapy vs General Nutrition Advice

RightFood4U Nutritional Therapy - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin
Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

June 18, 2018

Nutritional Therapy vs General Nutrition Advice

Today, you find advice on Healthy Eating and Lifestyle EVERY WHERE. In magazines, newspaper supplements, in your gym, in radio and TV programs, in cooking demostrations life or on TV, from your GP, from your friends and family, on the internet of course, on facebook pages etc etc.

It is fantastic now, that if you want to change to a healthier life-style, you will get the information. It is widely available. And that in itself is a good thing.

However, two problems with this:

1. Any advice can only be GENERAL advice and

2. It can be very confusing if the information contradicts itself.

So, despite there being so much information out there, there are

1. still so many people who don’t follow any advise

(because they are not motivated, they find it too difficult, they think they won’t have the time, they are happy with all their “health issues”, they are not aware that nutrition can play a role with their particular health issue, etc etc)


2. many people who actually do follow some advice, yet still experience health issues, issues with weight (and that can be not loosing weight or not gaining weight)

The reason for both of the above, is that all the advice you find widely available is GENERAL advice and not INDIVIDUAL! Most advice given cannot and does not look at YOUR health history and YOUR individual needs. You need to remember that WHAT IS GOOD FOR SOMEONE ELSE, MIGHT BE POISON FOR YOU!

Maybe not quite “poison” that would kill you, but it might simply cause you issues that are not good for your health.

Following the advice to eat lots of green, raw salads and plenty of vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach, might not be good for you. If you have a condition called SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) – which by the way many people have – eating too much fibre, can just aggrevate the situation. SIBO shows with many digestive issues, and can lead to more serious issues such as auto-immune diseases, esp the thyroid. SIBO could be – among other things – also caused by not chewing properly and eating on the go, i.e. not digesting your food properly,

Switching to a diet full of salads and vegetables, and eating the way you’ve been eating your easily digestable white toast or pasta, can in itself cause many digestion issues. Eating fast and not chewing properly can in the long run be responsible for “Leaky gut”, which in turn is thought to be responsible for many food allergies and intolerances, as well as auto-immune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Hashimoto (Auto-immune underactive thyroid), and possibly many more. The studies are on-going, but haven’t reached main-stream medicine yet. So, it is something your GP might not even know about.

Any issues in your gut, such an imbalance in the gut flora (i.e. too many bad bacteria and/or not enough good bacteria), can lead to mal-absorption of your nutrients. So, you might be following all the good advice and eat proper healthy food, but you could still not be getting all the nutrients that you should, because you are not absorbing them. Healthy eating is NOT just what you put into your mouth, it is also what you absorb and assimilate in your body!

Are you one of the many people who are frustrated that they do stick to a “healthy eating plan” and still can’t seem to manage to shift the weight? You might be experiencing an initial loss, but put it straight back on? Are you beating yourself up for not being able to stick to a plan and that your sugar cravings have taken over control again? Do you think that this is just down to your own lack of willpower? Or does your “Weightloss expert” tell you that you should try harder? Are you fed up with all these comments such as “It’s really easy! You only need to do xyz!!! It worked super for me”

A Nutritional Therapist is actually trained to find out what is holding you back! If your hormones for example are out of balance, you can eat all the “healthy” food you want, and it’s not going to do anything. A NT, can find out which hormones are out of balance, and then find the RIGHT FOODs for you! These can be your female hormones like an imbalance of estrogen and progestrone. It can be your stress hormones that are holding you back, or an issue with insulin – which is a fat storing hormone. Your thyroid hormones play a vital role in anything of your metabolism and not enough, not converting them etc can cause all sorts of health issues.

Don’t try and self-diagnose though, you could be making things worse. Some people for example read that a Ketogenic Diet is good for weight loss and they start increasing their fat intake, without at the same time reducing their carbs enough. Some people try Intermittent fasting, but their blood sugars are still all over the place, and they just create extra stress in their body, releasing more cortisol which in turn leads to more fat storing.

Do you think your mood has nothing to do with what you eat? It’s amazing how many people don’t think that what you put into your body has anything to do with how you can manage stress, with your depression, anxiety, moodiness, crankiness, or other mental health issues. But what is going on in your brain is coordinated by your hormones and neurotransmitter. And your hormones and neurotransmitters are made up of chemicals which the body gets from what you put into it. Your hormones and neurotransmitters are also influenced by your microbiome (your gut bacteria).. It is no different to taking anti-depressants or other medication – they too work on the neurotransmitters in your brain.

If you visit a Nutritional Therapist, you will have to fill out a questionnaire first, in which the NT (Nutritional Therapist), will go through all body systems and your health history. This will give him/her an indication what has priority and need to be dealt with first. Issues in your gut for example, can be easily identified by asking the right questions or if necessary doing the right tests.

An individual food plan and explanation of what is going on in your body, and what is holding you back from reaching your full health, will usually help you motivate to stick to the recommendations. Just being told that eating broccoli is good for you, might not just do the trick. But if you understand, for example, why eating that cupcake is NOT good for you, what is does in your body, you might think twice about eating it.

This does not mean that the meal plans you are given by an NT are very restrictive or complicated to implement. Again, the NT will gear it towards you. It might be some small steps first which you can implement easily, and then something else a week later or so. It is not a quick fix! You might see some improvement quickly and that will hopefully motivate you to do more. But it is a learning curve, it’s a journey. It does not happen by a magic wand. You will have to put some effort in, but your NT will support you on your way, and motivate you and come up with new ideas if something didn’t work. You work as a team, it’s not a lecture. You don’t need to justify yourself, you don’t need to count points or be punished for sins.

A good NT will also be able to explain you any contradicting food information that you might find out there in the public. Your GP might recommend you a low-fat diet because your cholesterol is high. And then you read somewhere a new study, that it is not so bad to eat avocado and eggs. As an NT, we can explain where the health recommendations came from, and we can help you make sense from those seemingly contradicting information. Unfortunately, a lot of people use this as an excuse not to do anything. They say: “every day there are different and new recommendations on what to do and what not to do”. “It’s too confusing.I don’t know who to believe anymore.” Quite often, newspapers need a headline and the reports on a latest study are just there to sell the paper.

You are an individual! You need to eat towards your needs, find out what your body needs from a qualified Nutritional Therapist!

I personally wish, I had access to the Nutrition advice that is out there now, and wish I had met a Nutritional Therapist 25 years ago. I know my life could have been completely different. If you are young and you don’t experience any major health issues yet, you might still benefit from seeing a NT to prevent health issues.

I had put on weight rapidly in my late teens when I was living in Australia for a few months. There were no fast food outlets in Germany at the time and I tried everything I could get and love it. I managed through starvation to lose it again within a year of coming back to Germany. Thanks to all the bullying at the time from “friends” , I told myself that I never ever wanted to be overweight. In the coming years, every time, I put on weight, I just didn’t eat for a day or two and I lost it again. I know now that this was not healthy.

I’ve never been able to cope well with stress, and couldn’t hold a job any longer than 3 years. I suffered very bad PMS, very sore breast, very moody and extremely depressed and even suicidedal the days before my period. I was always hungry and ate non-stop. I was extremely HANGRY, if I didn’t get food, I got so angry and cranky and got really rude to so many poor waitressing stuff. I often had no energy in the afternoon and was so floored that I needed to lie down. When I was working, I needed lots of coffee to keep me going, only to crash when I came home. I had no energy to cook or prepare healthy meals. And then at night, I couldn’t sleep. Woke up during the night, head spinning. Waking up tired and wired, but not rested. Needed more coffee to get going. I had very little energy to exercise. I found out that I have an underactive thyroid during investigations on my infertility, and been on medication since. I know now, that many of the symptoms above are linked to the thyroid and also to an imbalance in my female hormones (estrogen/progesterone). I know now that my imbalanced blood sugar was part the reason. And I know now, had I intervened earlier, I possibly could have got pregnant. I know now, that I probably could have had a good career in a full-filling job, if I had been able to control my stress hormones better.

I thought I was eating healthy, I wasn’t overweight, I was vegetarian and I was buying whole-meal breads and pasta and vegetables and salads were a regular in my diet. I did not know however, that I was eating too many carbohydrates and that I was on a blood sugar roller coaster all the time. I did not know that I was probably not getting enough good protein in my diet which is so necessary for hormonal health and that this might have been one of the contributing factors to my infertility. Or maybe it was nutrient deficiency because I wasn’t absorbing all the nutrients I was eating. I didn’t have any digestive issues with any particular foods, but maybe eating too much wheat caused a lot of inflammation in my gut and body which I never noticed. Maybe the use of antiacids which I used when I ate too much, could have led to too little stomach acid which then in turn led to not properly digesting my food. Not taking enough time out from a hectic work life could have caused my stress hormones to be constantly too high. Maybe not exercising enough led to more muscle and bone loss than I should have had at my age.

I know I can’t regret those things. But if I can only help one person to be able to lead a happier, more full-filled life through a few changes in nutrition and life-style, my life and studying to be a Nutritional Therapist will have been worth it!

At 54 now, I am fitter than ever before, I have constantly good energy, most days anyway (and if not, I know what to do to rest), I feel so much more balanced and happy with my life. Having seen a Nutritional Therapist and followed the guidelines made me interested more, so much that I studied 31/2 years. During those studies I have seen so many success stories that I know it works. Unless you can say that you feel 100% healthy, you too might benefit from Nutritional Therapy.

Give me a call, write an email, if you want to have a chat, how Nutritional Therapy can help you, how I can help you change your life!

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