Frequently asked questions
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 learn to select healthier foods out of choice.
Do I have to attend a certain number of appointments?
No, you can attend as many as you think that you need or require. The health benefits achieved by dietary change can occur quite slowly so most people choose to attend at least 2 or 3 appointments because it enables a review of progress over time. However, you can attend single appointments as and when you want them, to fit in with your lifestyle and your budget.
Are you going to charge a lot of additional costs?
The costs for your consultations are agreed before your appointment and are fixed. Thereafter, the only additional costs will be those that are agreed with you during your consultation. Laboratory tests are likely to be the biggest additional cost that may arise, but you are under no obligation to complete these, and for most people they are not necessary. If tests are recommended to you, you will be fully informed of their cost beforehand and it will be explained to you why they are being recommended. If cost is prohibitive, some patients decide to persist with the dietary recommendations for a longer period of time and then request the test at a later date if their symptoms have not resolved enough through dietary changes alone.
Do you make money out of recommending tests or 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.
Tests or supplements can be expensive, and I will always work towards achieving your goals without the need for them if I can, but sometimes they can be the best way forward if you have a complex condition. Laboratory tests are recommended for your own benefit when there is seen to be a need for more information, in the same way that your doctor would arrange a test for you. Sometimes 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.
Charges for tests are invoiced directly to you by the laboratory, and any recommended supplements are also purchased by you directly. I am registered with some companies that allow you to buy the supplement at the trade price but there is no financial advantage to me if you use them, and you are still at liberty to buy them from whoever you choose.
I've been told that I should only seek dietary advice from a Registered Dietician. What is the difference between a Registered Nutritional Therapist and a Registered Dietician?
This advice is common and originates from the fact that the title 'Dietician' 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 Assocation 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 Dietician and a Nutritional Therapist, the focus of the work is often different. Many dieticians 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 use the principles of Functional Medicine to address a wide variety of chronic conditions through diet and lifestyle management. They may use laboratory tests to investigate nutrient deficiences, hormal imbalances and digestive dysfunction, and they may recommend supplements for patients who find it difficult to get sufficient nutrients from their diet or where there is evidence to show that they have a therapeutic effect.
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?
For further information on the difference between Registered Nutritional Therapists and Dieticians click here.