Are you going to make me eat weird foods like mung beans or raw broccoli?
If I recommend foods to you that you don't like, the chances are that you won't eat them, which defeats the point of recommending them. Everyone has their food preferences and you are encouraged to express these in your questionnaire and during your consultation. I will then work within these preferences to ensure that your recommendations are achievable for you.
It is important to remember however, that if you have to make considerable changes to your diet for your health's sake, it may be necessary for you to be flexible about trying new things and keeping an open mind. Education is the key to successful dietary change and most people find that as they learn more about which foods bring greater health benefits, they learn to adapt their tastes and preferences accordingly and progress to selecting healthier foods out of choice.
Do you make money out of recommending tests or nutritional supplements?
No. There is always the potential for patients or referrers to doubt my motivation if I were to take commission. Patients are more likely to improve if they can implement the recommendations, so there is a far greater incentive to make them as inexpensive as possible so that people can follow them.
Often your G.P will be able to carry out tests for you, such as a Vitamin D test, for example. Tests often provide valuable information about nutrient deficiencies or the function of certain organs within the body, and therefore allow more informed decisions to be made about your dietary plan. Recommendations can then be tailored accordingly, so that you are able to gain the maximum health benefit from your consultations in the shortest amount of time. Where individuals are unable to complete the recommended tests, improvement can still be made through dietary changes alone but it may take slightly longer to achieve these benefits without the additional information that is gained through testing.
Will the advice from a Nutritional Therapist or Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner conflict with my medical care?
No. A Registered Nutritional Therapist will work alongside your doctor to provide you with all the information you need to optimise your health through effective diet and lifestyle management, so that you can gain the maximum benefit from your medical care. Nutritional Therapy does not claim to cure conditions, nor aim to provide you with an alternative to your medical care, but it will provide you with the necessary tools to optimise your health within the constraints of your diagnosis. Although there are many occasions where effective dietary and lifestyle changes can improve health conditions such that medications may no longer be necessary, you will never be advised to stop taking your prescribed medication.
I've been told that I should only seek dietary advice from a Registered Dietitian. What is the difference between a Registered Nutritional Therapist and a Registered Dietitian?
This advice is common and originates from the fact that the title 'Dietitian' is a protected term which can only be used by those who have received a minimum level of training in dietetics from a training establishment which is accredited. Therefore, many healthcare organisations will give this advice because it protects the public from potentially seeing someone who is not qualified to give accurate and up-to-date advice about nutrition.
The title 'Nutritional Therapist' is not a protected term and therefore anyone can use it, regardless of their level of training. This leaves the profession open to abuse by unscrupulous practitioners who choose to make unsubstantiated recommendations which are not backed up by scientific research, and consequently this makes it difficult for patients to know how to choose a reputable practitioner.
Nutritional Therapists who are registered with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy (BANT) have also had a minimum level of training from an establishment which has been through a rigorous accreditation process. Therapists have to maintain strict standards of professional conduct, as well as complete comparable amounts of CPD to those required by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). As a member of both these organisations (due to being qualified in two different professions), I am aware that the professional integrity and high standards required of me as a Registered Nutritional Therapist are equivalent to those required of me as a Speech & Language Therapist, a profession that has been recognised within mainstream medicine for many years.
Although there is some overlap between the work of a Dietitian and a Nutritional Therapist, the focus of the work is often different. Many dietitians work in the NHS and provide care for patients with acute medical conditions in the hospital setting. They are experienced at providing enteral and parenteral nutrition for people who cannot tolerate oral feeding and they ensure that patients are receiving the right energy and nutrient balance for good health. Some also work in the community, providing advice for patients with recently diagnosed health conditions that are known to be diet-related, such as Type II diabetes.
Nutritional Therapists are more likely to work independently and focus on taking a root-cause approach to healthcare, using both diet and lifestyle recommendations to address a wide variety of chronic conditions. Like registered dietitians, they also use evidence-based medicine to recommend certain nutrients, food groups or dietary patterns to help achieve optimal function in each individual.
When selecting a Nutritional Therapist you should always check the following before arranging a consultation.
Are they registered with the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT), thereby allowing the use of the title 'Registered Nutritional Therapist' ?
Are they registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) ?
Have they trained at a reputable college which has undergone accreditation ?
Can they provide you with a rationale for their recommendations?
Can they direct you to current research that will support their recommendations?
Are they able to provide you with evidence of continued training and up-dating of knowledge?
Do they treat their medical colleagues with respect and work in alliance with them, rather than advising you to go against medical advice?