Whilst there are some differences between nutritionists and nutritional therapists as outlined on the page who does what, ultimately when working with individuals both do a similar job in terms of helping people use nutrition for wellness. With this in mind, on the welldoing.org site, when talking about the benefits of nutrition we use the terms 'nutritionist' and 'nutritional therapist' interchangeably.
Who sees a nutrition specialist?
Nutrition or nutritional therapy can be beneficial for anyone who wants to improve their health, including those who already think they eat a healthy diet. Conditions that can be addressed through nutritional therapy include:
- Allergies, food intolerances and food sensitivities
- Digestive problems and bowel disorders, including irritable bowel disease and bloating
- Lack of energy, tiredness and chronic fatigue
- Stress, depression and anxiety
- Hormonal imbalances, menstrual disorders and infertility
- Heart disease
- Pre- and post-pregnancy care
- Skin disorders
- Migraine, chronic headache and sinus congestion
- Childhood behavioural problems
- Learning difficulties
- Eating disorders
- Weight management
- Fitness goals
- Nutritional help when dealing with chronic or terminal illness
For information about how nutrition might relate to this problem, see our What's Your Problem page.
Does it affect wellbeing?
Nutritional therapy works well alongside other therapies as well as a stand alone practice. Side effects of medication can often be improved through optimum nutrition, and psychological therapies are arguably more effective in those who are well-nourished and whose biochemistry is in better balance as many mental health symptoms are exacerbated by biochemical imbalances, which can include nutrient deficiencies. Nutritionists also often work with people – adults and children – who have long term health problems that have been difficult to treat with conventional medicine.
What is a 'good diet'?
Nutritional therapy is in many ways about moving away from fad dieting and going back to basics – simple, nourishing, no-nonsense nutrition.
Ideally we should obtain all the nutrients we need from a varied diet but in reality this is difficult to achieve due to:
- Convenience food
- Misleading labelling and advertising
- Widespread use of preservatives
- Pollutants such as antibiotics and drugs
- Stress of modern day living
These factors cause a reduction in the levels of nutrients available to both mind and body and can be responsible for poor health and many debilitating conditions.
By going back to real foods we nourish ourselves properly. Our bodies and, importantly, our minds will be grateful for it. Really embracing a balanced diet – fats and all – might seem intimidating as we have been inundated with low-fat, low-sugar, quick-fix options that we have been made to believe are good for us. However, these low-fat options are often laden with hidden sugars, and therefore are ultimately fattening. If, like many people you are confused by all the good-diet/bad-diet information out there, but you would like to eat healthily, visiting a nutritional therapist is a good place to start. A nutritional therapist can help you make positive changes by informing you, providing you with guidelines, recipes and more, whilst taking into account your lifestyle and what changes are likely to work for you.
It's also important to remember that nutritional therapy is about much more than weight management. It's a holistic practice which aims to support the interconnectedness of our minds and bodies. Unlike many areas of life, nutritional therapy celebrates difference and respects that no two individuals are genetically identical. Our genes affect everything from metabolic rate to allergy, fat absorption and even taste. As a result, nutritional therapists don't offer a one size fits all approach. Instead, they work with each client focusing on understanding their individual needs and creating an approach that fits with their unique makeup and lifestyle.