For my regular readers and new ones too you might find that I’ve explored the many sides of food as research topic, from cultural practices, gastronomic traditions, philosophy, literature, religion and a topic I’ve been thinking about is food as medicine or as a tool to heal. I invited Alex Vickers to share her own life story and how she decided she wanted to help people live better. which I find very interesting to say the least, I hope this piece provides you with a whole new angle to see food and how we can better relate to it.
Alex Vickers is a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist (Dip.Nut.CNM) She has a great interest in food and the good (or harm) that it can do. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others and helping them to the best health.
The path to wellbeing begins with: ‘First do no harm’.
First of all, what is a naturopath health practitioner? I hear you ask, well is a professional who applies natural therapies to heal, balance and help patients restore their wellbeing.
Her or his spectrum comprises far more than fasting, nutrition, water and exercise; it includes approved natural healing practices such as Homeopathy, Acupuncture, and Herbal Medicine, as well as the use of modern methods like Bio-Resonance, Ozone-Therapy, and Colon Hydrotherapy.
At a time when modern technology, environmental pollution, poor diet, and stress play a significant role in the degradation of health, a Naturopath’s ability to apply natural methods of healing is of considerable importance.
Frequently, Alex explains: a Naturopath is the last resort in a patient’s long search for health. Providing personalised care to each patient, the naturopath sees humankind as a holistic unity of body, mind, and spirit.’.
“I work mainly with food and counselling, giving my clients the ability to help their bodies to heal themselves.”
Naturopathy is enjoying a huge surge in popularity. Celebrities such as Gwyneth Palthrow and Ella Woodward are promoting the profession and showing how much good it can do. For the ‘old school’ this is a bit of a two edged sword – on the one hand it is helping to promote good health but on the other it is making naturopathy more about looking good and being slim than about simply being full of health.
I came to naturopathy early as a child, my parents would use a naturopath rather than a doctor and it became something I saw as completely normal. I don’t remember seeing a doctor at all as a child but I do remember eating lots of garlic, growing our own vegetables and being wrapped in freezing cold chest packs.
I knew, even as a small child, that these practices helped me to recover my health quicker than my peers and I decided that I wanted to be able to help others.
Although I went to study naturopathy at 19 I didn’t manage to stay the, very difficult, course. Anatomy class, soft tissue work, massage, nutrition and naturopathy classes which ran from 9 in the morning until 6 at night every day of the week, combined with a part time job, new husband and a life in London meant that I failed my first year and couldn’t carry on without considerable expense and so I dropped out.
Many years (and a very bad diet) later I became ill. The doctors suspected MS initially. My first port of call (after being given advice to take many different drugs – all with dreadful side effects) was to my old family naturopath. He saw me – very much changed in almost 20 years and, very kindly told me that when I was ill enough I would change my diet or I would have to take the medication. He gave me a diet sheet (the same one that he gave everyone), told me to avoid gluten and assured me that he didn’t think it was MS and sent me away. I managed to follow the diet for a couple of weeks and then resorted, once again to chocolate and crisps.
In the several years that followed I felt wretched. I got bigger, my joints ached, I was exhausted all the time, some days I struggled hard with day to day living. Something had to change but I couldn’t get my head around it. As I started to follow the plan though, I started to feel better. I had days when I felt almost normal. I gave up chocolate and gluten and started to really feel the benefits. My old family naturopath died (he was in his 80’s) and I couldn’t find anyone who I connected with so I decided to go and study myself.
Colour Run 2014 -I would never have been able to do this before changing my diet.
Three years at CNM Manchester later and I am a qualified Naturopathic Nutritionist. I still struggle to stick to my plan but I am in absolutely no doubt that it works. I have clients who I see on a one to one basis and they are finding that they have great results. I am passionate about what food can do and the harm it can cause. My clients are always amazed that with small changes to their diets they feel so much better.
Food is amazing – it provides the body with the tools needed for it to heal itself. Given the right environment many conditions can be alleviated. Most of the clients that I work (including myself) with have autoimmune conditions which respond brilliantly to dietary change.
A typical diet for someone with an autoimmune condition would be to remove gluten, sugar and dairy and follow, either a paleo diet or a vegetarian diet.
As everyone is different and the ways in which their body responds is different it sometimes takes time to find exactly what works best. Each client gets an individual plan which is assessed regularly. As a practitioner I expect to get phone calls, texts and emails from my clients if they hit a snag or are struggling at all. This means that I need to have a close relationship with my clients and they need to trust me.
I feel very lucky to be able to do a job which I love. I enjoy helping people and have an absolute conviction that what I do works and is the best way to live.