Can nutritional therapy help you achieve your health goals?

By Katia Demekhina

Stop and think about what you ate yesterday. Do you think the food you had provided your body and mind with the nutrients they need to function optimally? Do you even know what the nutritional needs of your body are and how to meet these?

As a nutritional therapist, I am here to help you not only determine how to optimally support your body and mind through diet and lifestyle but do this in an enjoyable way that does not add extra strain on your already busy life.

How do I do this? Let me give you an insight into what nutritional therapy is and how it can help you achieve your health goals and aspirations.

Why nutritional therapy?

The food we eat has a profound impact on our health. Intuitively, most cultures recognise that food has the capability to heal or to harm. Clinical research into nutrition shows that what and how we eat can be used not only to promote health and well-being, but also to prevent illnesses and help those with chronic disease improve outcomes (1,2).

Nutrition is not about fad diets, but about a balanced relationship with food that provides optimal support for your individual health needs. The nutrients we consume are information used to make hormones, neurotransmitters, create energy, support immunity, brain health, detoxification, optimise gut function and ultimately maintain balance.

As a nutritional therapist, I am trained to understand how nutrients, food and lifestyle factors influence the function of the body and may contribute to individual symptoms and health concerns. Using a wide range of tools, I assess and identify potential nutritional imbalances and provide realistic, practical, achievable and personalised guidance to enrich your nutritional status and achieve your health goals.

How does a nutritional therapist differ from a dietician?

Unlike dieticians who have a series of standard dietary plans for a range of conditions, nutritional therapists go beyond recommending a specific plan as a broad approach for everyone with a certain condition and instead take an individual approach to each patient.

Nutritional therapists create an individual therapeutic plan for each client which takes into account not just the specific condition or symptoms presentation, but also a range of other factors including underlying nutritional deficiencies, individual biochemical response to foods, genetic predispositions, environmental stressors, patient’s health goals and motivations, as well as personal preferences and constraints. Such personalised plans help create the most appropriate and effective wellness strategy for each individual patient and, compared to generalised diet advise, have been shown to result in greater reduction in intake of foods detrimental to one’s health (3) and notably improved dietary intake among adults (4).

What conditions and health goals can nutritional therapy be helpful for?

Many chronic conditions, as well as day-to-day fluctuations in health and wellbeing, can be linked to individual nutrition and lifestyle (1,2,5). It has been repeatedly shown that nutrition and lifestyle changes can support and improve the health of all the major systems of the body including digestive, hormonal, reproductive, muscular-skeletal, immune, urinary, nervous, respiratory and skin.

Clients can look for the support of a nutritional therapist for a range of chronic conditions, as a preventative approach to their healthcare, as a way to improve general well-being or to promote healthy ageing. Quite often, people see stark improvements in their health when they implement simple changes to their diet and lifestyle.

Typical areas nutritional therapy consultations address include:

  • support to increase energy levels,
  • addressing blood-sugar balance and cravings,
  • emotional and psychological wellbeing,
  • alleviating hormonal imbalances,
  • optimum digestive health,
  • weight loss.

Chronic conditions that can benefit from nutritional interventions include:

– diabetes and pre-diabetes,
– cardiovascular disease,
– cognitive decline and dementia,
– obesity and metabolic syndrome,
– Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, IBS and other inflammatory bowel diseases,
– depression and mental health.

What can you expect in a consultation?

As a nutritional therapist, my role is to identify underlying causes of symptoms and/or disease, and to correct imbalances by utilising dietary and lifestyle advice, functional testing and individual supplements protocols. To do this, I spend time with you, listening to your history and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can contribute to your individual symptoms and influence your long-term health. We then negotiate a manageable and sustainable plan together that supports your health goals and aspirations, and works alongside your lifestyle. Together we find the best long-term solution for you and ensure that you are equipped with tools, skills and knowledge that enable you to embark on your health journey.

In addition, I am trained in NLP, motivational interviewing and other psychological tools and techniques and can assist you in changing habits, behaviours and environments to achieve meaningful improvements in your health. Coaching techniques are built into every session we have together.

I typically encourage clients to work through a program with me. The initial session lasts 75 minutes and allows me to get you know your unique life circumstances and individual biochemistry, and identify possible root causes of your health concerns. We finish the session by agreeing on a practical health plan that works for you. Functional testing can be arranged at this stage if needed to take out the guesswork and achieve quick and effective results. Shortly after the initial session, you will receive a custom report with key health goals we agreed to work on, meal plans, recipes, food sources and more. I will check in with you a few weeks later to discuss progress and provide support, and we will meet again six weeks later / or when the test results are back to review progress and adjust the program as needed. Thereafter, a maintenance session program can be arranged according to your individual needs.

Experience the difference

By using evidence-based nutritional sciences and psychological toolkit, my mission is to provide you with practical nutrition solutions planned specifically around you, to help you achieve your health goals without putting more pressure on your already busy schedule. I have great passion in making sure you retain the joy of eating delicious food while making smart choices for optimal health and well-being. Come experience for yourself how personalised dietary and lifestyle changes can make you feel great again.

References
1. Sandquist L. Food First: Nutrition as the Foundation for Health. Creat Nurs. 2015 Jan 1;21(4):213–21.
2. Zhang H, Wang Y, Jiang Z-M, Kondrup J, Fang H, Andrews M, et al. Impact of nutrition support on clinical outcome and cost-effectiveness analysis in patients at nutritional risk: A prospective cohort study with propensity score matching. Nutrition. 2017 May 1;37:53–9.
3. Livingstone KM, Celis-Morales C, Navas-Carretero S, San-Cristobal R, Forster H, Woolhead C, et al. Personalised nutrition advice reduces intake of discretionary foods and beverages: findings from the Food4Me randomised controlled trial. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2021 Jun 7;18(1):70.
4. Jinnette R, Narita A, Manning B, McNaughton SA, Mathers JC, Livingstone KM. Does Personalized Nutrition Advice Improve Dietary Intake in Healthy Adults? A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Adv Nutr. 2021 May 1;12(3):657–69.
5. Ojo O. Nutrition and Chronic Conditions. Nutrients. 2019 Feb 22;11(2):459.

About Katia Demekhina

Katia is one of the first UK-trained Nutritional Therapists to practice in Hong Kong. She helps clients optimize their nutrition to achieve various goals such as improved energy, weight loss, hormonal balance, athletic performance and recovery, healthy ageing etc. Katia has a special interest in solving women’s hormonal and chronic stress-related conditions.

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