What is a Nutritional Therapist?
So many professionals help with diet and nutrition. Find out how nutritional therapy stands out.
Nutritional therapy falls under the umbrella of naturopathy
- Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is system of healthcare that encourages and promotes the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms using natural therapies. Naturopathy focuses on promoting and restoring health. This holistic approach recognises that human health is influenced by a complex interplay of various factors -body, mind, emotions, social factors and environment- and each aspect can impact an individual's health and well-being. Health is an optimal state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
- Nutritional therapy, or naturopathic nutritional therapy, is a holistic approach that uses nutrition (aka foods) as medicine to promote health and restore wellbeing through appropriate nourishment. There is no difference between food and medicine, merely one degree, as foods have the same kind of therapeutic properties than herbs and medicines.
Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food. Hippocrates
Nutritional therapists are health professionals well-versed in the art of customizing dietary and lifestyle interventions to boost overall well-being, tackle specific health issues, and help clients achieve their health goals naturally and holistically. By meticulously assessing each individual's distinct nutritional needs, health history, and lifestyle factors, they curate personalized plans centered around whole foods, appropriate supplementation, and empowering education, enabling clients to embrace sustainable and health-promoting choices. They work according to the principles of naturopathy.
Principles of naturopathy
- The healing power of nature (vis medicatrix natural): nature acts powerfully through the healing mechanisms on the body and mind, to maintain and restore health.
- Vitality: the person is treated, not the disease. The living energy in people is what ultimately cures. Health is a return to and of vitality.
- First do no harm (premium non nocere): naturopathic practitioners prefer non-invasive treatments that minimise the risk of harmful side effects. They know which patients to help safely and which to refer to other practitioners.
- Find the cause (toll causam): every illness has an underlying cause, often in aspects of the lifestyle, diet or habits of the individual.
- Doctor as teacher (docere): educate the patient and emphasise self-responsibility for health, to inform, motivate and empower.
- Treat the whole person: health and disease comes from a complex interaction of physical, emotional, dietary, genetic environmental, lifestyle and other factors. All these factors need to be taken into account when treating the person.
- Preventative medicine: this approach prevents minor illnesses from developing into more serious and chronic degenerative diseases
- Establish wellness: the primary goals is to establish and maintain optimal health and to promote wellness, regardless of the level of physical health or disease. Wellness is defined as a state of health, characterised by positive emotional state
How to choose your nutritional therapist (NT)
In the UK, nutritional therapy lacks regulation, allowing anyone who completes a weekend course online to label themselves as nutritional therapists. Consequently, it is crucial to conduct thorough research before selecting a professional to work with. Several institutions (such as CNM, ION, CNELM) offer excellent nutritional therapy training, and most graduates typically affiliate with reputable associations like BANT and ANP. Choosing a nutritional therapist from either of these associations ensures that your practitioner possesses a solid knowledge base, and ideally with additional training in functional medicine or specialised CPDs. Each nutrition therapist has their unique training journey, here is mine.
Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well. She exists for no other end. Do not resist. With the least inclination to be well, we should not be sick. Henry David Thoreau