Nutritional therapy uses food and diet to help the body’s own healing ability to maintain good health and to prevent or alleviate illness. Practitioners look for nutritional deficiencies, allergies or intolerances to food, or for factors that can cause poor digestion or absorption in the stomach or intestine. Treatment involves dietary change and may include the use of nutritional supplements, such as vitamins and minerals.
On the first visit, the nutritional therapist will ask about your current health problems, your medical and family history and your diet and lifestyle. They may ask you to fill in a questionnaire about these things before or during the consultation. You might be asked to keep a food diary over a period of time so the practitioner can get a better idea of what you are eating. The practitioner may also carry out some tests to find out if you are allergic to any foods or lacking any nutrients.
They will then make recommendations about diet, supplements or herbal remedies and may also talk to you about physical exercise, or other ways in which you can promote your own good health. You may be given these recommendations at the first appointment, or the nutritional therapist might wait until the results of your tests are available.
The first session may last for about one hour, with follow-up appointments lasting between about 15-30 minutes. The practitioner will probably want to see you for a course of treatment over a period of time and should be able to advise you on the length of the course of treatment after the first consultation. Your practitioner will monitor your progress and make changes to the therapeutic diet if necessary.
Some vitamins can be toxic when taken in large doses, so always follow your practitioner's advice or the guidelines given on supplement packaging.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women, children and people with a serious illness should get medical advice before following a nutritional therapy programme or going on a restricted diet.