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Confused about Food and Nutrition?

I have been a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath for 9 years, and been passionate about nutrition for much longer. I am amazed with how the nutritional world has changed in that time. With the ever-growing presence of social media, nutrition information is coming at us fast and furious! With that, comes a lot of confusion and conflicting opinions.

I hope this blog will cut through the noise and give you a sense of empowerment about your food choices. So, let me tackle some contentious topics!

Vegan or Meat-Eater, what's healthier?

I am not a fan of extremes. I think usually if there is an extreme opinion in anything, more often than not there is a financial agenda behind it. We are omnivorous humans, designed to eat a variety. It is well known that the cultures who live the longest and healthiest in the world are neither vegan or carnivorous, but they do eat a large proportion of vegetables and plants. Half our plate should ideally be from plants, and I mean real plants. Not processed plant-based burgers! Leafy veg, salad, legumes. Now some people do not tolerate certain foods...and that leads me to the next point...

Which diet should I follow?

We are all completely different and therefore there is not one perfect diet for humans. We are also ever-changing, and what once suited us at 21, may not suit us later in life when we are pregnant, or perimenopausal or sick etc. If a food irritates you, or you know it doesn't suit you, don't be forced to eat it just because it's being touted as a superfood eg. organic raw dairy kefir, or chickpeas. Hippocrates once said that 'one man's food, is another man's poison', this I total agree with. Keep a diary and see what agrees with you, your body will soon let you know.

If you seem to react to everything, that is time to get some 1:1 advice from a registered nutritional practitioner, not your popular (unqualified) foodie influencer.

Do I need to buy in to lots of expensive tests and health tracking devices?

I am a traditional naturopath, which means I think with good case history taking, a lot of time, one can avoid expensive hormone/gut testing. Testing always give you a snapshot in time, and remember the body is constantly changing, so it isn't always 100% accurate.

I am not against testing, it can be helpful especially if someone has generic symptoms which could point at lots of different issues, eg. thyroid and iron status. This is my most common test I use, which doesn't break the bank (under £100). But with gut tests, often you have the same approach anyway, regardless of the results. I tend to only use gut tests for very complex cases.

As for monitoring devices, I think they have a place and can be insightful to see which foods suit you metabolically, but again I think this could be done if you really listen to your body and note your hunger cues and keep an accurate food diary.

My aim as a practitioner is to teach my clients how to listen to their bodies (which are constantly communicating with us), without the need to read/follow some man-made/electronic device. It only gives you a very specific metabolic knowledge anyway, which is far from the whole picture of health. I think these things can cause more stress than they're worth, which is something we all need to reduce in our lives.

Exotic Superfoods are essential

I am a big fan of seasonal and local produce, for many reasons. Not only is this the healthiest option - what grows around us is naturally what we need. But this is also eco-friendly as is reduces CO2 footprints and pollution. We don't need goji berries and quinoa to keep us healthy when we have root vegetables, apples and pears in abundance.

I also aim to eat seasonally, and sourcing a local farmer who reduces their pesticide use supports local business and reduces your exposure to toxic sprays while saving you on money (yes farms are usually cheaper than the supermarket!).

In a nutshell:

  • eat local and seasonal as much a possible

  • cook from scratch as much as you can - ignore the extreme diets

  • eat a variety of foods (half the plate veg)

  • eat protein at every meal

  • listen to your body, keep a food diary

  • seek 1:1 advice from a qualified practitioner (ignore those influencers who are sponsored)

I am not a medical doctor. This is not meant as medical advice. Please speak to your GP if you have any concerns.

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