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7 March 2023

How to improve your diet for better health

The expression “we are what we eat” shows the importance of the diet we consume and eating the right things can really make a difference to your health. According to the World Health Organization, a healthy diet “protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”

The Specialist Medical Clinic believes strongly in preventative medicine and using a combination of treatment options to optimise our clients’ health and wellbeing in our Gibraltar Health Clinic. Diet and lifestyle is a big part of that, and so we’re delighted to welcome Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach Nikki Robertson to the team. Nikki is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Metabolic Balance Coach, Health Coach and FODMAP trained, she is here to help people find ways to improve their current diet and improve their health.

We spoke to her to find out more about what a Holistic Nutritionist can do.

“Holistic Nutrition is a complimentary therapy, which should be used alongside medical advice. In a nutshell, I help people find ways to improve their current diet so that they can enjoy better health. Sometimes I will suggest supplements such as probiotics or vitamins, and look at lifestyle changes.

My specialist area is gut health and I regularly work with patients with pre-diagnosed IBS, or symptoms like gas, bloating, or an irregular bowel habit. However, it can be applied to much wider issues than this. Other common health issues people contact me about are weight management, diabetes, cholesterol management, skin problems and arthritis. I’m not suggesting that diet can cure all ills, but it can help improve a lot of symptoms.

For example, a man came to see me after a serious diverticular flare, looking to address his diet, rather than go for surgery. We looked at his current diet, found ways to improve it which would work with his job and lifestyle and therefore become a sustainable lifestyle change. I was delighted with his enthusiasm – he took everything on board, made it work for him and hasn’t had a single flare-up since 2019.

Another lady with fibromyalgia was in severe pain in both her knee and shoulder. The pain was so intense that it was affecting her job and she was going to be sent for a knee operation. We looked at her diet and made some radical changes to try and find out if there was a food related trigger. Within a couple of weeks, she got back in touch astonished that the pain had reduced so much that she no longer needed surgery. In her particular case, there was one food that she cut out of her diet long term and a couple of others that she reduced the amount of.

It’s important to note that it won’t be the same for everyone. We are all unique and different things work for different people. However, it does show just how much of an impact food can make to various aspects of our health.”

Visiting a Holistic Nutritionist 

If you would like to explore the impact that your diet is having on your health and try to make changes, then make an appointment with Nikki for an initial consultation. Our clinic is located in the ICC Building in Gibraltar.

You will be sent a questionnaire to return prior to the consultation, to make the most of the session.  During the 60-minute consultation you will discuss what main issues need to be addressed, history, current diet / lifestyle and what the changes you could make. Following the appointment, a personalised report is sent, which might include a meal plan and recommendations to follow.

Nikki will follow-up about a month after the initial consultation to see how the changes are working, and make further changes if needed.

Some people may only need one session and then be able to make the changes suggested in the report. Other patients may be on a 6-month schedule, depending on what alterations need to be made. Weight loss for example, takes time to make sure it’s sustainable and Nikki will work with you to ensure you have the plan and the support you need to get the results you are looking for.

Top Tips for Eating for Better Health

  1. Eat real whole food – I cannot stress this enough.
  2. Aim for half your plate to be vegetables or salad.
  3. Make sure changes you make to your diet are sustainable and fit in with your work and lifestyle. This is an important factor, for example, I would not tell someone to simply increase their fibre intake, each person needs to understand how to do it in a way that works for them.
  4. Avoid processed food and deep-fried food. If you can’t avoid them, eat them less often.
  5. Don’t snack. We have become constant grazers, not giving our digestive system a break and meaning we eat too many calories.
  6. Ensure you eat enough fibre, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, get active and ensure you’re getting enough exercise.
  7. Get expert help. You don’t need to have a complicated issue to come see me, book in for a simple quick check-up on your current diet and ways to tweak it.

Nikki Robertson has clinics at the Specialist Medical Clinic in Gibraltar every 2nd Monday from 10-2. Contact us to make an appointment or find out more.