In honour of Global Wellness Day yesterday, we had a chat with Larina Robinson from The Body Dietetics (https://thebodydietetics.com/about/).
Larina graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics with First Class Honours so it’s fair to say she knows her stuff!
Today she practises as a Wholefood Dietician and is very passionate about individualised healthy eating, meaning finding what works for you. She’s particularly interested in Paleo, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, coeliac disease, FODMAPS and fructose intolerance.
Larina’s career was born out of trying to find a way to heal her own gut health issues so she’s got firsthand experience dealing with the problems many of us face on a daily basis.
Her genuine desire to see people everywhere find their way to optimal health comes through instantly when you read her blog (https://thebodydietetics.com/blog/) where she shares loads of amazing recipes, nutrition tips and general lifestyle advice.
With what to eat and what not to eat becoming a more and more confusing maze to navigate we thought that Larina’s refreshing approach to finding what works best for you was the perfect way to for us to celebrate Global Wellness Day because at the end of the day just like different people’s skin responds differently to skincare or reacts to certain ingredients, our body is no different and we need to be taking care of it from the inside out!
So we hope Larina’s advice and some of her delicious recipes get you inspired!
Tanya: What lead you to study nutrition and start The Body Dietetics?
Larina: I actually got into health and fitness when doing my internship for a different degree! My personal trainer at the time told me to be a PT, but it was always food that I was most interested in. I had food intolerance issues for years prior and never really knew what was happening, so I decided to learn more as a way to help myself and help others at the same time. It was instant love! The Body Dietetics came out of a desire to help others in a way that was outside of the usual private practice or hospital setting that most people envisaged when they heard “dietitian”. Food and diet are such sensitive, socially and culturally-linked topics that I wanted to reach more people in a time and place that suited them best, no matter when or where that was.
Tanya: Everywhere you turn these days there is something about gut health problems, why do you think this has become such a massive problem?
Larina: I truly believe it’s a complex mix of a variety of things. Dietary changes over the years with globalisation and mass production of foods, different environments we’re putting our bodies in e.g. more world travel, more medications in use, our modern obsession with hygiene, and a lack of understanding about how what we eat affects our gut, and our gut bacteria.
Tanya: What are the most common problems you see people present with?
Larina: Bloating is huge! So many people have issues with excessive bloating, gas and troubles with their bowel movements. Fatigue, lethargy and low moods are also common with some digestive disorders. It really highlights the link between the brain and the gut.
Tanya: How do you go about deciding whether someone has an intolerance and what to?
Larina: A food diary or a diet history recall is essential to identify trends and potential trigger foods. During a consultation I’d also go through family history and their personal health history to see if anything comes up that relates to the symptoms as well. This is crucial as there may be a history of something more health-threatening than a food intolerance. Depending on their symptoms, the client would be guided through an appropriate elimination diet. Then the avoided foods are typically ‘challenged’ to test for a reaction. This process varies from person to person and it is quite easy to accidentally do it wrong. It may also mean the client misses out on particular nutrients that they may need to supplement with for the duration of the elimination.
Tanya: What do you think is the most common misconception about nutrition today?
Larina: That it’s just about teaching people to eat more fruit and vegetables. That’s a great start, and if you make progress on this, then that’s amazing, because so many people struggle with this, but if you want to reach optimal health and feel really good, figuring out what works for you personally is a game-changer.
Tanya: What does the word ‘Wellness’ mean to you?
Larina: Wellness is: doing daily practices that make you feel your best. It’s the days where, after the fact, you reflect back on them and realise you had no health issues. You went about your day with ease, you were in a good mood, you felt accomplished, and you felt good about yourself – without even really realising it on the day. The saying that ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til’ it’s gone’ is so true!
Tanya: What would your top piece of advice be for someone who is struggling with their nutrition and gut health?
Larina: Honestly, please see a health professional who is trained in the latest research. Gut health is linked to SO many aspects of your overall health, and poor gut health may be linked to a variety of conditions; some that are simply annoying and uncomfortable to deal with, and some that could potentially be life-threatening. If you self-diagnose or take advice from someone who isn’t trained, at worst - it may lead to further complications and serious health issues, and at best – you’ll be wasting a lot of money trying all kinds of things to do it yourself.
Tanya: Are there any supplements that you recommend that everyone uses/tries?
Larina: For everyone to try: I love a good fermented food as a probiotic boost. Kombucha, coconut milk kefir, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables etc.
For those with gut health concerns: There are some great supplements out there for soothing gut inflammation and helping to heal the lining of the gut, but you’ll need to get them from a health practitioner or pharmacy. My personal favourites are Intestamine and SB Floractiv by Bioceuticals. You can also get Iberogast from a pharmacy too to help with reliving symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Tanya: You regularly share recipes on your blog, can you give us your top three go-to ones?
Raw Mixed Berry Yoghurt Tarts - https://thebodydietetics.com/blog/2015/1/11/raw-mixed-berry-yoghurt-tarts-gluten-dairy-refined-sugar-free
Simple Low-Fodmap Pumpkin Soup - https://thebodydietetics.com/blog/easy-low-fodmap-pumpkin-soup
Paleo Banana And Raspberry Bread -https://thebodydietetics.com/blog/2016/9/23/paleo-banana-raspberry-tigernut-bread
Tanya: What are the most common questions you get asked by your clients and what are your answers to them?
Larina: Do I have to stay on a strict Low Fodmap Diet forever?
Answer: Definitely not! A Low Fodmap Diet is for those with IBS that need to figure out what their triggers are. Once you’ve done a number of food challenges and pinpointed some key foods that give you grief, you can continue to liberate yourself from the diet and enjoy a wider variety of foods.
Should I take a probiotic?
Answer: There are a lot of bacterial strains being tested for their unique health-promoting benefits. You can now get different combinations of probiotic bacteria for different issues. So it really depends on what your symptoms are or your diagnosis. A multi-strain probiotic supplement, or foods such as yoghurt, yakult, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented veggies and other probiotic-rich foods are a nice little top up for daily maintenance in healthy people.
I’m restricting so many foods and still don’t feel great, to the point where I’m now scared of eating food. What do I do?
Answer: First, we need to explore what it is you’re cutting out of your diet. What foods give you grief, and what foods you seem to tolerate. Then it’s a matter of assessing your diet history, health history and lifestyle to determine what could be your key culprits and get you back on a diet and lifestyle plan that is going to make you feel great, give you as much variety as possible, and keep your symptoms at bay. It’s a bit of a process, but it’s so worth it once you know what works for you and what doesn’t so you can regain your control!
For more of Larina’s amazing recipes or to get in touch with her head to her website (https://thebodydietetics.com). Did we mention she also has a cookbook? Well she does! Wholefood Entertaining covers why eating whole foods is important for your health and gives you simple tricks to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle goals while still socialising and enjoying being you!