The path to a better diet can be rather challenging, especially with our hectic lifestyles today.
Fortunately, we have nutritionists like Veronica Cavallini to guide us through the do's and don'ts of healthy eating.
Veronica is a nutritional consultant with 9 years of experience in helping people manage their dietary concerns. She has helped her patients transform their eating habits and also helped to treat their gastrointestinal conditions.
First of all, what's a nutritional consultant?
Nutritional consultants like Veronica typically guide their patients towards better eating habits, which is crucial in managing a healthy weight and optimal health.
I do see patients with a diverse range of conditions, such as:
- weight management
- high blood cholesterol
- and many others
To help patients with their struggles, nutritional consultants will also help develop healthy eating plans while taking into consideration their eating habits, preferences, and nutritional requirements. 
1. Consult your GP before changing diet plans!
Before making a switch, I recommend correcting any deficiencies that you have. 
If, for instance, you are thinking of switching to a vegetarian diet, it is best to consult your General Practitioner. He will make sure your vitamin and mineral levels are sufficient.
Interested in supplementing your diet with multivitamins and more? Read the guide on Food Supplements to find out more!
2. Nuts are great for cardiovascular health …
In creating a meal plan, it is good to incorporate nuts into your diet as it is an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, and other healthful nutrients. In fact, nuts are said to be great for cardiovascular health.
The unsaturated fat content of nuts helps to lower bad cholesterol, also known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. At the same time, it raises the good cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
Nuts such as walnuts also contain Omega-3 fatty acids which can prevent the development of erratic heart rhythms and blood clots.
The arginine content in nuts helps to relax constricted blood vessels and thus help to ease blood flow.
Nuts are also rich in Vitamin E, Folate, Potassium, Fiber, and many other healthful nutrients.
3. … but always keep consumption to moderate levels :)
While the health properties of nuts would generally encourage a higher intake of nuts, there needs to be some caution when consuming them due to their high-calorie content.
I recommend consuming nuts in small portions, usually 30g per intake, which would amount to 175kcal.
Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal conditions should also follow the recommended portion, as nuts and seeds may trigger symptoms like bloating and discomfort. 
4. Intermittent fasting can be really healthy, but don't overdo it!
Intermittent fasting, which involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting, has become a popular method for people to manage their weight and improve their health. Some common intermittent fasting methods include daily 16-hour fasting as well as 24-hour fasting for twice a week. 
A short period of fasting that lasts between 24 and 72 hours can have numerous health benefits, such as:
- Weight loss
- Improved blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels
However, it was revealed that long periods of fasting can bring about unhealthful and negative effects.
So, if your fasting periods are too long, you risk getting:
- Low glucose level
- Muscle Aches
- Erratic Heartbeats
- Liver and Kidney Issues
- Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
It is also possible for people undergoing a long period of fasting to have more muscle loss than fat.
Hence, individuals should avoid such a practice unless it is due to other medical reasons or was suggested by a doctor.
5. Lactose intolerance does not equal milk allergy
Lactose intolerance describes a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down sugar and glucose for absorption in the small intestine. It leads to bloating, diarrhea and flatulence.
Food allergies, on the other hand, occur when the immune system reacts to substances in the food. 
6. A Mediterranean diet can help you with acid reflux.
Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can help reduce reliance on reflux medications, thus benefiting a person with reflux and gastritis. It's also best to avoid large meals 2-3 hours before bedtime. Limit carbonated beverages, alcohol or citrus juices, spices, mint or garlic and food rich in fats. 
7. Consider seeking advice from a nutritional consultant.
In the 21st century, people are no longer passive observers of our healthcare. There are now various reasons one would seek nutritional assistance. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has listed some of these common reasons as follows:  
Managing Digestive Issues
Individuals troubled with digestive issues such as diarrhea and irregular bowel movements or other symptoms of digestive disturbance should visit a nutritional consultant. By seeking nutritional advice, patients can gain a better understanding of their digestive process and the root cause of their discomfort.
Managing Health Conditions
Individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic diseases should visit a nutritional consultant to better understand how their food choices affect their condition. A nutritional consultant also helps to create a diet plant that will supplement the nutrients that are necessary to manage the condition.
A nutritionist’s help will also be useful for individuals with eating disorders who may have difficulty transitioning back to proper meal diets.
Planning a Pregnancy
Individuals who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should seek help from a nutritionist to ensure that they are getting the nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Individuals with food allergies or are diagnosed with conditions like celiac disease may have specific dietary restrictions that can make meal planning rather difficult. In situations like this, a nutritional consultant will be helpful in providing you with strategies on creating a meal plan that not only substitutes food that you are allergic to but also ensuring a balanced and tasty meal.
Nutritional assistance is also recommended for individuals who are seeking to improve their diet or eating habits.
Individuals struggling with weight management can get a nutritionist’s help to uncover the reason for their weight issues. Whether the cause is due to hormone levels, lifestyle or genetic factors, a nutritionist can help tailor a diet plan and lifestyle program to achieve one’s desired weight in a healthy manner.
Improve Performance in Sports
For individuals or athletes who are looking to boost their performance in sports, a nutritional consultant is especially helpful in ensuring the right nutritional intake that is tailored according to your athletic and lifestyle needs.
There are plenty of useful ways to improve your diet and develop good eating habits, though the sheer amount of information can sometimes be a little overwhelming.
Be sure to consult a GP or experienced nutritionist if you have other questions or concerns regarding your diet.
Veronica Cavallini is a Nutritional Consultant with 9 years of experience and is currently practicing at Andrea's Digestive, Colon, Liver and Gallbladder Clinic. Veronica is also a member and accredited dietitian of the Singapore Nutrition & Dietetic Association (SNDA) as well as the Italian Dietetic Association (ANDID). Her special interest is in the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions.
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