Caroline Ribeiro-Nelson, psychotherapist and Head of the consultancy firm, Free Choices, has a passion for promoting mental health & well-being. She was curious about nutrition and how it can impact on both physical and emotional well-being. So she decided to find out. We catch up with her afterwards to find out what she thought.

Why did you decide to work with Veronica?

I wanted to discover more about exactly what Nutritional Therapy was and how this could support health and well-being. What better way to find this out, but to give it a try?

Until now, I, like many people I suspect, hadn’t really given much thought or even taken time to understand how much my diet impacts my life.

For a long time now, I had been trying to manage persistent health problems, which just wouldn’t go away – skin outbreaks, lack of energy, difficulty sleeping, aches and pains, digestion problems and to top it all I was going through menopause and suffering terrible hot flushes.

I had tried support from my G.P. prescribed medication, herbal remedies, resting more, exercising, doing things outdoors, reducing work and stress, taking long holidays and enjoying time with family and friends. But none, absolutely none of these things made much difference.

I desperately needed something which would help at least to alleviate my symptoms and get me back on track.

Nutritional Therapy was a chance to utilise an approach, which could possibly help deal with my frustrating health problems.

Did you have any reservations before you started?

I never invest in anything that I do not believe in. I recognised that by working with Veronica, I could achieve three important things.

  1. Learn: A great deal about how food and nutrition play a role in the way my body and mind work. Importantly how this impacts my physical and mental health and what I can do to influence this.
  2. Improve & Grow: Provide me with an opportunity to improve my situation and to feel better. This also offered me new knowledge, practical resources and coping strategies.
  3. Share: Support others through sharing what I had gained and learnt.

I have to confess that I am quite ignorant when it comes to understanding the value and impact that our food and nutrition have on us. I believe, like most people, that eating lots of fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, not eating too much sugar and carbohydrates is better for our health. But I was oblivious on how.

I was excited to be starting my journey. I hoped that this was going to shine a whole new light and experience for an improved me. My motivation and commitment were strong and my mindset was clear.

How many consultations did you have?

I spent four months working with Veronica over 3 sessions.

It took me some time to complete several detailed forms and assessments before we had our first consultation but already, I could see that these were necessary.

When we began our first consultation, I immediately recognised the usefulness and relevance of the information she had gained on my medical history, eating habits and lifestyle. This was definitely no time to be shy and Veronica’s relaxed, professional and supportive style made this easy.

By the end of this session, I had a clear focus on the things I wanted to improve, the impact of what I eat on me physically and emotionally, the way my body responds, and detailed plans and guidance on my next steps.

Veronica had given me insight, new knowledge and practical steps – I was psyched and ready to go.

Making Progress, And Then…

By the time of my next session with Veronica (four weeks later), I was well into it. I had abstained from dairy and wheat products, I had also been exercising regularly and I was feeling the benefits of this, with better sleep, more energy, improved digestion and no significant skin problems.

During this consultation, Veronica introduced me to my personalised supplementation plan. The plan had been formulated in a specifically targeted way, in order to address my issues. These related to strengthening my immune system, better sleep, more energy, improved digestion, less aches and pain in my joints, decreased or no skin outbreaks and fewer hot flushes. It was extremely informative and encouraging to understand how my supplements could support my body.

Surprisingly, with this greater appreciation for how my body works, it gave me a stronger sense of control over my life. This was not only insightful but invigorating.

However, before our third consultation, due to feeling incredibly stressed from family and work issues, I had given in to some comfort eating, and was eating more sugar-containing products. I was also exercising less. I found that the benefits I had achieved earlier had decreased. I was not sleeping as well. I had less energy and more aches and pains; my digestion had worsened, as had my hot flushes. I had also suffered one skin out break.

But I was still eating better than before overall and had completed my supplement plan.

I talked with Veronica about “falling off the wagon” – honesty was essential and not uncomfortable. Her acknowledgement of this, along with her empathic and non-judgmental manner supported me to continue with commitment and strong motivation.

Was it worth it?

Yes, I’m Worth It.

I had made a strong commitment to this programme. Like other therapy programmes there are no guarantees. It was important for me to put something in if I wanted to get anything back. This was an essential investment in my health and wellbeing. I saw how making good nutritious food choices could improve my overall mental and physical health and welling.

I had forgotten that, when I began my programme, Veronica had asked me to rate how much I was bothered by my three health concerns. She asked me to rate these again and the results surprised me.

Scores on my health concerns, from the very first session compared to now

(10 = most bothering me, 0 = not bothering me at all)

  1. High cholesterol – stayed the same at 3
  2. Skin Outbreaks – from 9 down to 1
  3. Post-menopausal symptoms – from 9 to 5 / 6

I had made more progress than I realised. I realise now that I had probably reflected on this in light of not fully sticking to my programme and not really being fully aware of how things were for me a few months ago until now.

Were you disappointed that you had not been able to sustain your earlier progress?

Of course, I was. However I had gained and learnt so much about myself, eating habits and nutritional food value on this journey. I recognised how relevant information, received within a clear context, brings more confidence and trust, a sense of control, as well as offering greater possibilities. I was able to see the programme through, along with learning about and improving aspects of my mental and physical health. I also deepened my self-awareness and understanding.

Throughout the plan Veronica was available to answer questions and provide any necessary guidance. I also found her non-judgemental, and able to listen, clarify and explain, as well as express empathy, which made a huge difference to my motivation, ability to trust and to be open. This was an important part of the engagement, which I needed to complete my journey.

Any last thoughts?

I think self-reflection and preparation are two key factors for success, and of course, mindset is key.

Being a psychotherapist and coach, I understand how important my thinking and behaviour are to promoting change. To this end, I believe that the top 3 attributes of the right mindset for success in a programme like this is strong commitment, realistic expectations and self-discipline. Consistency is important too.

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