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Why It’s Important to See a Nutritionist

By: Simone Gisondi, Holistic Nutritionist

“Well, I already know which foods are healthy” — this is what I hear all the time from
people who are encouraged to work with me as a Holistic Nutritionist.

Truth is, there is so much information out there that if one was to do their own research, navigate the vast amount of information available online, discern between myths and truth as well as what is accurate, correct and reliable, they would in fact be able to devise their own health plan. What I’m saying is that ultimately, they can most definitely reach their health goals and desired health outcomes all by themselves. I know this first hand because this is exactly how I got started in Nutrition. Let me tell you more about that.

First off, I’m very resourceful and I also know how to research. I also had a lot of time on my hands at that time. I was home recovering from a stroke so naturally I had time that allowed me to surf the net, looking for ways to feel better and to heal. More than anything I wanted to heal and be healthy so I can raise my kids; I was only 35 when I had the stroke.

Not everyone has that kind of time on their hands. Had it not been for my stroke, I wouldn’t have had it either. If I would’ve attempted to do that level of research while I had a full-time job, raising my kids, spending time with my family and friends and also doing things I enjoyed, I would’ve never done it because I simply wouldn’t have had the luxury of time that level of research requires.

Let’s face it, time is our most valuable commodity; it’s something we don’t get back. So, in essence it’s next to impossible to find the time needed to do the in-depth level of research on how to use Nutrition to create a solution to a health problem.

Even I, with all the time on my hands back then, was led to go study Nutrition formally because the lack of structure around the information that’s out there as well as the lack of guidance on how to use it efficiently — plus the lack of support and progress monitoring makes it futile to even do any research.

All industries are comprised of certified, qualified individuals who have studied their craft extensively and we go to them because they are able to do something that we cannot — have you ever tried to give yourself highlights or change the oil on your car? Or at least they can do it better than we can. Sure we can all make a latte, but we still go and get one from a café.

Well, it’s no different when it comes to us registered nutritionists. Not only do we educate our clients, we also support them and guide them to a healthier life, which we ultimately all want for ourselves and our loved ones. But that’s not all. We do so much more.

We help you get more energy. This may sound a little crazy on the surface but stay with me. Tell me, do you hit that brick wall around 2 pm, when you reach for something sugary to give yourself that boost of energy? Or are you the kind to have that second or third coffee to keep yourself awake and functioning until the end of the workday? I ask because I’ve been there. Heck, I used to have the sugary treat with the coffee, trying to store enough energy to get me through the workday, through a workout, through making dinner for the family, through doing homework with the kids, through some household chores, through preparation activities for the next day and even through reading a few pages of a book. It’s a lot, right?

So, if you’re craving sugary sweets to merely get through the day, whether in the afternoon, following a meal or late in the evening, you are not alone. As a nutritionist, I see this probably more than anything else — the sugar cravings and the sugar addiction. And I understand it because I’ve been there myself.

It’s us nutritionists that can explain this need for sugar, what causes it and how to overcome the intense cravings for it — cravings that in the end rob you of energy. We then introduce natural, healthy substitutions.

We conduct a careful analysis of your nutritional habits, identify the root cause and develop an appropriate approach to remedy the situation, help you avoid pitfalls and provide you with tools that will give you natural energy. That’s right, no more stimulants.

And if you’re active and work out like I do, a nutritionist can teach you what to eat to support the workouts and the recovery, so that you can maximize energy. Even elite athletes work with nutritional experts that help them fuel and replenish their bodies properly, because at the end of the day their career depends on what they can do for their sport, so the nutritional expert is a crucial part of their performance.

Even regular people who go to the gym for some form of exercise — be it simply cardio or classes the gym offers — do not fuel or replenish their bodies properly, either by undereating, overeating or not eating the appropriate foods. This often holds them back from ever achieving their health, wellness and fitness goals.

And if building muscle is your goal, yes, we can help you with that, too.

We can teach you how to keep your immune system strong and healthy — This is hands down THE most important aspect of health. If your immune system is healthy and strong, it can do all that it’s meant to do with ease — that is, keep you healthy.

The immune system does this by identifying any outside invaders that do not belong in the body such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins and mounting an attack to have them destroyed and eliminated out of the body so that they no longer pose a threat to our health.

The trouble is that most of the time these invaders are introduced into the body through eating and drinking and since we all eat and drink multiple times a day, these invaders add up and put the immune system in a state of exhaustion if it has to work around the clock trying to get rid of them. And who can work around the clock with no break? Even our phones, laptops and cars get a break. Our immune system deserves a break, too. Since it does so much for us, we need to show it some TLC and support it in keeping us healthy.

Us nutritionists can help you create meal plans that consist of foods which help your immune system recalibrate, balance and strengthen. We also point out what foods to stay away from because they create inflammation — this is the immune system’s first response. After working with a Nutritionist, you’ll know which foods to avoid and which foods support immune health while still getting all the nutrients your body needs.

We’ll help you reverse digestive issues — Eating and drinking is something we all do multiple times a day. So each time we eat and drink we can either irritate our digestive system or nourish it.

100% of my clients — yes, 100% — come to me to help them with various digestive issues they are afflicted with such as bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhea, GERD (heartburn), ulcers, hemorrhoids, constipation, IBS, lactose intolerance and so on. Oftentimes the remedies are very simple changes to the foods eaten together. Really, results and relief are experienced from that one simple change.

Other times, it’s simply a matter of eliminating certain foods to begin to feel better. No matter the severity of the issue, we work with you to get to the root of the problem and design a solution that’s unique to you and your body’s requirements.

We’ll help you lose weight (or gain it) — it’s not often that we meet people that need to gain weight, but there have been a few that have come to me for that. We are all biochemically different and so are our goals and our needs.

For the most part, however, people come to me to help them lose weight, be it because they are getting married and want to look good on their wedding day, because they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, because they don’t like being overweight or because their doctor told them to. A nutritionist can teach you how to eat the right (read: healthy) foods and will outline appropriate portion sizes — one of the most important aspects of weight maintenance.

A Nutritionist will also teach you how to read labels, what is considered a serving and how much of what should be consumed at every meal — these are crucial pieces of information that make or break weight goals.

We’ll always help you lose weight the healthy way which is the only way to do it. I’m sometimes asked by clients to help them lose a large amount of weight in a very short period of time. I was once asked by a client to help her lose 30 lbs in 2 weeks because she was going on vacation. Short of cutting off a leg, falling severely ill or starving oneself, it’s virtually impossible and downright dangerous to lose that much
weight in such a short period of time.

For health reasons, it’s important that weight is lost in a healthy, sustainable way because it’s not just about looking better — it’s mostly about being healthy, feeling better but also feeling well during the weight loss process. Looking better is actually a byproduct of health.

As a nutritionist, I use a personalized approach specifically designed to meet my clients’ individual needs and weight loss goals, to guide and educate them on how to create good and healthy eating habits that can be sustained. These kinds of habits help my clients lose weight, support their health, prevent illness and disease and all lead to a healthy lifestyle.

We’ll help you get past plateaus — So, you’ve been eating healthy, working out, losing weight… and then you hit this thing called “plateau.” It’s where your weight stalls, where you get stuck and the desired goals seem unreachable, far away on the horizon. What do you do? How do you get past this plateau and back on track?

All it takes is small tweaks and changes in order to get the body moving towards your goal again. That’s why it’s important to have a Nutritionist guide you along the way because we help you avoid certain pitfalls that lead to stalling the weight loss. And if you do stall, we’ll get you past it.

We’ll teach you all about diets — As a Nutritionist I’ve learned them all — the Elimination Diet, the Anti-Candida Diet, the Keto diet, the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, the Anti-Cancer diet. They each play a role in eliminating a particular health issue and achieving and maintaining health. Truth is, dealing with various afflictions is part of daily life for many people and they need to learn what to do
to eliminate them. That’s where us Nutritionists come in. We can identify whether a particular diet is an appropriate approach while we help you transition to a healthy way of eating. We’ll help you learn how to avoid ingredients and substances that may appear harmless but can in fact wreak havoc on your health. A lot of people consume unhealthy things unknowingly all the time. A nutritionist can certainly help you demystify what is actually healthy and what is merely presented as healthy.

We know how to differentiate between healing diets and fad diets. And there are many fad diets out there — the cabbage diet, the grapefruit diet, the carnivore diet. In most cases, these fad diets give immediate results, however, they are short-term and not sustainable in the long run. Can you imagine eating cabbage only for the rest of your life? Neither can I.

As soon as a change is introduced to the body, the body responds by changing the way you look and/or feel. As soon as people see these immediate results, they get excited, but once the hardship of maintaining such a diet that is based on restriction and deprivation kicks in, people fall off the wagon so to speak. There are those who grit their teeth and stick to it for an extended period of time, but they do so at the expense of the body’s healthy balance — in essence, fad diets never have balance in nutrients, so by their very restrictive nature, cannot give long term, sustainable health results. Us Nutritionists can spot these diets that do more harm than good and help educate you on how to steer clear of them. We work with you to create balanced, long-term nutrition and lifestyle changes instead. We ensure that you adopt good nutritional habits that support you and keep you well on your way to optimum health for the rest of your life.

We’ll help you understand the food and mood connection — We know that there isn’t a particular food or a nutrient that increases or decreases the risk of developing mood disorders, but from an overall perspective, a 2014 study in Brain, Behaviour and Immunity did find an association between depression and a diet rich in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains and red meat. We also know that lifestyle factors such as dietary choices, smoking and physical activity do affect depression risk. Most chronic conditions are almost always due to various lifestyle choices, with diet being at the top. Let me explain that further. If we eat healthy and the body is in a state of health, the mind is in a state of health and equally, when a poor diet starts to break down the body, the mind starts to break down, too. The poor diet leads to significant weight gain which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. That risk now leads to worry and anxiety and a whole slew of other mood conditions over the possible emotional and financial stress the family would suffer in the event that something like cancer strikes.

We also know all about the guilt and regret people feel after they plop themselves on your couch in front of the TV after a bad day at work and mindlessly polish off an entire container of ice cream, sending their blood sugar through the roof right before bedtime.

And speaking of bedtime, us Nutritionists can also teach you all about how spiking that blood sugar right before bed increases your chances of developing diabetes and wreaks havoc on your sleep. Those who suffer indigestion and heartburn at night know exactly what I mean.

We’ll also educate you on lack of sleep, its side effects — I’m talking about bags and circles under your eyes, lethargy, sugar and caffeine cravings, etc., which gets you caught in that vicious cycle of lack of energy and sugar/caffeine cravings I was talking about earlier.

We are also the ones that will teach you how a shortage of sleep can disrupt your hormones and lead to weight gain that will be virtually impossible to lose unless you bring those hormones back in balance.

Yes, we know all about how diet impacts sleep and, in turn, mood — and vice versa. We’ll work with you to design and develop appropriate remedies designed to combat all of it — the lack of sleep, the insomnia and the anxiety — because it all comes back to diet and nutrition. What you put in the body affects the body’s state of health and the body’s state of health affects the mind’s state of health. They are inextricably
connected. We work with your doctors — One of my most popular services, Meal Planning, are geared towards helping my clients eat in a way that will help them address and eliminate their health issues. I’ve helped my clients lose weight, balance their blood sugar levels and reduce their cholesterol via meal planning, which I always develop together with them. I take into account their likes and dislikes, their sensitivities, intolerances and allergies, so these meal plans are 100% custom designed for them. A lot of us Nutritionists now work with doctors who are increasingly recommending to their patients that they work with us since simple diet and lifestyle tweaks are all it takes to improve their health.

Cholesterol, for example, can very easily be lowered via diet. In fact, this can be done in conjunction with medication or entirely on its own.

More and more people, including doctors, are putting a much greater emphasis on prevention now and see nutrition as a very effective tool for preventing disease.

We’ll teach you how what you eat affects how good you look and how fast you ageIn my article on diet for healthy glowing skin, as a Nutritionist I tell you how skin, our largest organ, relies on our diet and lifestyle for its health just as much as all other organs do. It’s because of this fact that it’s important we care for it the way we care for any of our other organs.

The diet provides it with the nutrients it needs for health after all. I even touch on how lifestyle provides the support the skin needs to be healthy and to stay healthy — in essence, diet and lifestyle are crucial to youthfulness and anti-aging.

We teach you how to stick to healthy foods during the holidays, when you travel,
go to partie, and prepare kids’ snacks — If you like to indulge when you are on vacation, you are not alone. In fact, it’s ok to indulge a little. When I went to Italy of course I indulged; I wanted to experience the authentic Italian cuisine right there in
beautiful Italy. But I did it the right way — I balanced it with the foundation of my healthy
diet and lifestyle. These are the important tricks of the trade so that you can take your healthy lifestyle with you no matter where you are.

We provide you with important guidelines which help you navigate tricky situations and
stick to your commitment to health, whether you are attending a function, a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, whether you are on vacation or on a business trip. And when it comes to preparing snacks for kids, be it for a day trip or for daycare/school, we can help you with that too, since many of us are parents, too. We know which foods to steer clear of and which are ideal and widely accepted by kids. Though it doesn’t seem so, even snacking during childhood is crucial because kids develop their diets, likes, dislikes and habits at this stage — habits, likes and dislikes that they take into adulthood. So what you pack for your  children’s snacks now will influence their health in the future. Please trust me on this, my children are a true testament of it.

We hold you accountable — Though I write about this one last, the truth of the matter is that accountability can be just as important as any other step in the journey to better overall health and wellness. There is a reason why accountability is also a significant part of every successful organization. Because it works. Accountability actually strengthens execution. It pushes you when you need to be pushed and it pulls you when you need to be pulled. It also establishes trust and it empowers you. And it makes sure you take ownership of your goals and stick to your action plan. Accountability is often the difference maker.

Throughout our lives, we place a great deal of trust in professionals and their expertise to help us reach our desired goals with the least amount of resistance possible. The case is much the same with seeing a Nutritionist. We are nutrition experts. It’s us Nutritionists that push you to stick to things when you need to be pushed. It’s us Nutritionists that pull you when you need to be pulled back from eating that bagel that’s going to spike your sugar and ruin your health streak. It’s us Nutritionists that will
empower you to take ownership of your health goals and stick to your action plan. It’s us Nutritionists that will support you every step of the way so you can achieve the health transformation. Us Nutritionists are the difference makers.

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