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  • Writer's pictureRachel Davies

What does a Nutritional Therapist do exactly?

Updated: Nov 14, 2022


Most people understand that they should probably eat a bit better than they do, they should probably move more, prioritise their sleep and take the time for more ‘me time’ to live a long and happy life.

‘Life’ seems to get in the way of achieving that. Many of us are juggling jobs, family life and the complexities of modern living, leaving little time to dedicate to the business of ‘being healthy’. Convenience often wins. It’s not that that’s wrong per se, but here’s the thing: all the time we are not eating or moving or living as well as we know to do, we are silently getting sicker. That may actually be going-to-hospital sick or it may mean having health niggles that bother us greatly but that we have learned to cope with. I’m talking here about things like IBS or other digestive troubles, PMS, arthritis, stress or anxiety, migraines, haywire hormones, low energy or possibly weight that has crept on over the years and you can’t seem to shift it, no matter what you try.

What I want to share with you today is that the food you eat matters more than you can possibly imagine. And that, in many cases, simply by making changes to your diet, the symptoms of some of these conditions can be improved so markedly that there is a really profound shift in how you experience life.


Nutritional therapy used to be referred to dismissively as ‘alternative medicine’. It’s only now that the science of what to eat is getting the recognition it deserves and is being actively promoted by a small number of well-known medical doctors, like Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Dr Michael Mosely.

Essentially, nutritional therapists apply the latest hypotheses and research in nutrition and health sciences to you and your symptoms and they come up with a diet, lifestyle and (sometimes) supplement plan to support those needs. They might bring in some coaching to help you put the ideas into practice in a meaningful way or break through whatever barriers have held you back in the past.


Nutritional therapy is a very personal approach. You might hear practitioners talk about people being ‘biochemically unique’. That means that there isn’t a single way of eating that is right for everyone. Your friend Lucy might have PMS and you want to lose weight, for example. Lucy might have a history of antibiotic use, while you had your appendix out when you were 14. Lucy might have an intolerance to dairy, while you hate strawberries. I could go on, but you can imagine the thousands of different permutations here. And the fact is that your DNA, previous medical history, toxic exposure, and any current symptoms as well as what you like and don’t like, not to mention your personal circumstances are all important when a nutritional therapist creates a plan for you.

It is personalised just for you. That takes time, research and skill. Sometimes there is additional testing involved to establish exactly what the key drivers are for your particular situation which are analysed and interpreted in line with your specific symptoms. A nutritional therapist may also work with supplements targeted to a specific condition or your own health goal. This can be a minefield – potentially dangerous and inevitably costly – if you don’t know what you’re doing, so it's good to have someone who does know in your corner.


A key factor in developing a plan that is right for you is understanding what the root cause of your symptoms are. If you go the GP you will most likely be given a prescription. Whilst medication of course has its place, oftentimes these prescriptions are suppressing symptoms. Only very few are an actual cure – antibiotics come to mind here.

Metformin lowers blood glucose – but why is it high in the first place? Statins lower cholesterol – but why is it elevated? Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) numb pain – but why are you in pain? These are the questions nutrition professionals will ask to then be able to address the root cause.

If you think of the analogy of a bath tub filling up and overflowing (your symptoms), the pharmacological approach would be to furiously mop up the water from the floor, whereas the nutritional therapy approach is to turn off the tap AKA getting to the root cause and addressing it.


Your first consultation will last around 75 minutes. You will have been asked to complete and send back my health and wellbeing questionnaire before your visit. During the session, we’ll go into your medical history, your health goals and any other challenges you’re facing, what you generally eat, what you like to eat, what you hate to eat and how you have to eat (on the bus, in a rush at your desk, and so on). There’s absolutely no judgement and anything you share with me is kept in confidence. We're in this together.

Nutritional therapy sessions are usually sold in programmes that run over 12 weeks. This is because it is rarely helpful for anyone to leave without the knowledge that they have at least 3 sessions in place to help them implement the programme, make changes at a pace that suits them, and to deal with any challenges or questions that come up along the way.


Knowing what you should be doing is only part of the problem if you are unhappy with an aspect of your health. Staying motivated is the hardest part of any plan. The single best way to stay in the zone is to have a buddy or coach who can give you a nudge or call you out if you start to go off piste. And to be the support and guidance to keep you going. I’d say this is the single biggest thing that makes the difference between reaching your goal and actually staying there. That’s where health coaching comes in. It keeps you accountable will ensure all that good work doesn’t go to waste.

Nutritional therapy isn't about the latest faddy diet, it is about making sustainable, health and lifestyle change...for good.

I'm passionate about giving busy, exhausted, stressed-out people a clear roadmap to improve their health and wellbeing. If you are interested in finding out more, book in for my free, no-obligation 20 minute discovery call to discuss how I work and whether nutritional therapy might be the right thing for you.

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