Chronic Disease Prevention and Management
Do you need an Accredited Practicing Dietitian for chronic disease prevention and management? Maybe you’ve been warned your diet and lifestyle need an overhaul? Perhaps you’re pre-diabetic, or have been told your cholesterol needs to come down stat!? Whatever your issue is, that’s the problem on the surface, yes. But we believe it’s much more than that. You see, it’s one thing to offer help to prevent a particular chronic disease, or offer services under a chronic disease management plan. It’s another entirely to get underneath it all and help you create a healthier lifestyle that you can see yourself living for the long term. And in our experience, that’s exactly what’s required when it comes to managing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol or obesity. It’s about finding solutions that you can actually live with.
At Tree of Life Nutrition, we have been dietitians in private practice since 1993 helping patients just like you navigate chronic disease prevention and management. We understand the complexities that have underpinned your condition, and work with you to create new ways of seeing yourself and food, through:
How can we help you manage or prevent chronic disease?
Our experts in dietary support for chronic disease prevention and management work with you to:
- Reduce waist measurements and lose weight
- Lower triglycerides and lower cholesterol
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce fatty liver
- Balance blood sugar
- Prevent cancer
- Uncover and treat nutrient deficiencies
- Treat anaemia
- Measure inflammatory responses
Chronic disease management plans
Accredited Practising Dietitians (APD’s) offer chronic disease management plans for:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Heart disease (CVD)
- Kidney disease or kidney stones
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Medical weight loss
- Arthritis; and more
You can expect a non-judgemental approach to understanding your unique lifestyle, family history and susceptibilities. Our dietitans devise a chronic disease prevention and management plan that aims to help you live a healthy life, with food that you enjoy. At Tree of Life Nutrition, we treat the whole person. You are the sum of all your parts. We understand how your weight may be impacting your condition. As well as your genetic history, your gut health, psychology, mobility, and your nutritional status. All these things are connected to the ‘outcome’ of chronic disease, and all must be considered in supporting you back to health.
Risk factors for chronic disease
In 2018, 47% of Australians had one or more chronic conditions, and the likelihood increases with age. Chronic diseases are the leading cause of illness, disability and death in Australia, accounting for 90% of all deaths in 2011. So it makes sense to do all we can to prevent chronic disease in the first place. High-risk factors for chronic disease include tobacco use, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol use and physical inactivity.
The following actions are advisable to help us prevent chronic disease:
- quitting smoking
- getting enough physical activity
- reducing your alcohol intake
- eating well
- maintaining a healthy weight
- maintaining healthy blood pressure
- having good cholesterol levels
- consistent checkups and cancer screening, especially as we age
The problem is, that understanding what to do is not always enough.
We probably don’t need to tell you the dangers of living with chronic disease, you’ve probably heard all of those before. Yet knowing what needs to be done to prevent or manage chronic disease is not always enough to inspire us to make permanent change. Life can be stressful, hard, and un-fun. In these moments, it’s really easy to go back to old habits. Habits that while they’re not serving you in the long term, make you feel better in the short term. So while it’s great to get into a healthy regime, what’s most important is sticking with it. And that’s where us, your friendly Tree of Life Dietitians come in!
Making food fun, even when you’re on a chronic disease management plan.
The most important aspect of any diet is sustainability. That’s why we place a lot of emphasis on making healthy living fun, and healthy food delicious and easy. If you enjoy what you’re eating, if it works with your personal preferences, lifestyle and abilities, then we think you are most likely to adopt new dietary changes as permanent.
Utilising the Mediterranean Diet
The scientifically backed Mediterranean Diet is one of the best “diets” that you can adopt when treating and preventing chronic disease. That’s probably because it doesn’t feel like a diet at all. The Med Diet is easy to follow. It encompasses a whole range of gut-loving superfoods we need for good health. And it’s also very accessible for the whole family. So it doesn’t set you apart from everyone else. In that way, it’s not really a diet, but more a lifestyle. Tree of Life Nutrition are Mediterranean dietitians and experts at implementing this diet for chronic disease. It’s not so much about following every recipe to the letter. If you don’t like olives, it’s not a deal-breaker! It’s more about getting on board with the principles that underpin it.
Our dietitians also offer you oodles of support. From recipes to cooking demos, meal plans, supermarket tours and educational events.
Obesity and weight loss
If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 30 or above, you are considered to be in the obese range. We recognise there are many and varied factors that can contribute to obesity. Some of which include genetics, diet and our modern sedentary lifestyles. Injuries and illness and other chronic diseases can also play a part in increasing your risk of gaining excess weight.
At Tree of Life Nutrition, we see you as an individual, not just as that number. It’s important that we understand you completely so that we can offer the best possible dietary plan that’s going to see you back on the road to health. We begin by understanding your body, lifestyle, family history and the issues that may have contributed to your excess weight. Then take your anthropometric measurements. In addition, we screen for a whole range of issues including:
- metabolic syndrome
- Cushing syndrome
- thyroid issues
- plasma lipid count
- full blood count
- gut microba screening.
Medical weight loss diet
Sometimes, you’ve tried absolutely everything to lose weight, and it’s not enough. We get that sometimes, medical weight loss such as weight loss medication or bariatric surgery can be the metabolic kickstart that your body needs to lose weight. If that’s you, we’re here to offer our dietary support for the medical weight loss process.
Sometimes you may choose to undergo bariatric surgery, and we offer specialised bariatric dietary support for you in that journey. Or you may choose to take weight loss medication, prescribed by your G.P. While you’re taking weight loss medication, we can help to create a balanced approach to diet that is going to help you extend results over the long term.Your chances of sustaining weight loss are greatly enhanced by cementing healthy habits at the same time. This process is invaluable, as medication is only effective for weight loss while you’re taking it.
In supporting you while undergoing medical weight loss, we can help you unpack your habits and cues around eating. To examine any underlying causes that may be playing havoc with appetite. Lastly, we can help you with nutritional solutions for any side effects that may be present with medication or surgery. Paying particular attention to your gut health.
Getting you back to a healthy weight is about finding evidence-based solutions that consider mental, physical, and emotional responses to food. We fortify the microbiome, which plays a significant role in your metabolism. As well as offering meal plans that are both satisfying and nutritious, and support healthy habits you enjoy returning to.
Type 2 diabetes
The main aim of dietary management for type 2 diabetes is to achieve and maintain normal blood glucose and blood pressure levels. To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by controlling blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and maintaining a normal lipid and lipoprotein profile. Also of importance is helping you maintain a healthy weight.
On a broad level, we help you reduce high-energy foods and saturated fat, and increase your intake of fibre, low GI carbohydrates and protein. We base our management plans on the evidence-based Mediterranean Diet, which we are experts in.
Important in working with you around this condition is to formulate a diet that’s completely tailored to your body, lifestyle and preference. It’s important to ensure long-term success that you enjoy the food you’re eating. If you are experiencing impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) that indicates pre-diabetes, we also offer prevention management.
One of the easiest, yet most significant ways we can look after our hearts is through diet and lifestyle intervention. A sensible and sustainable diet to help heart disease is the Mediterranean Diet. It is also scientifically backed as ticking all the boxes to prevent, treat and reduce the risk of heart disease. Adhering to a Mediterranean style diet, rich in unsaturated fats will help to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and increase ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL). And we know eating a diet high in whole grains, fibre, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats whilst restricting saturated fat and added salt promotes a healthy heart.
But you know what? We know that none of that probably matters to you if your ‘heart’ is not in what you’re eating. It has to taste good, and it has to fit in with your lifestyle and schedule. Long-term sustainability of any diet is the most important way to ensure you adopt healthy habits that are good for your heart, for life.
Metabolic syndrome is classified by a group of conditions which increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It is indicated by the presence of 3 or more of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Increased waist measurement
- Abnormal cholesterol with low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL)
- High triglyceride levels
Metabolic syndrome is very closely linked to excess weight, inactivity and insulin resistance. In formulating a dietary plan for metabolic syndrome, we consider the Mediterranean Diet. This naturally increases your intake of vegetables, lean protein, fruits and wholegrains. It also offers a reduction in saturated fat required. We also encourage activity on a daily basis.
I’m worried I’m not going to have time to do this healthy eating plan. I’m just so busy!
We get it, life is hectic. In an ideal world, we’d rise leisurely, and spend the day foraging for heathy food, preparing meals from scratch, walking and resting. In reality, life is busy, messy and all our best laid plans seem to go out the door as soon as our feet hit the ground. That’s real life, and that’s what we base our plans on, whether for chronic disease management or prevention. We’re about helping you carve out new habits right where you are, in the time you have.
I have a family history of heart disease, diabetes or stroke, isn’t it inevitable I’ll get it?
This is a common concern amongst our patients. While it may predispose you to a tendency, it certainly doesn’t seal your fate. In fact, the healthy habits that you are able to adopt will also have a ripple effect for generations to come. So potentially, your family history can stop with you!
I’m worried healthy eating is signing up to a miserable life of eating cardboard.
Oh dear, this is a common fear. We are very much focused on making healthy food fun, and working with your lifestyle and likes and dislikes. What we don’t want to do, is take away everything enjoyable from your diet, and make you starve or feel deprived. Our meal plans and advice are about adding more exciting flavours and simple swaps. And a treat or two here and there is also on the menu.
Will I be able to go out and socialise?
Everyone deserves to treat themselves. If you eat out often, we can empower you with healthier alternatives so eating out doesn’t have to disrupt your health goals. But it’s really okay to indulge now and then. We show you how to eat more mindfully and intentionally, minus the guilt trip!
I don’t like Mediterranean food that much, am I doomed?
Not at all. We are experts at swapping out what you don’t like and swapping in what you love. We work hard to make sure you don’t have a screwed-up face at the dinner table! Adopting those principles of Mediterranean eating is what’s most important. Whatever we do swap in will be just as rich in antioxidants and nutrients as the Mediterranean food we take away.
Let food be thy medicine
We know it feels hard right now, but having worked with patients in private practice for the past 30 years, we can tell you that the power of good nutrition and an active lifestyle in preventing and treating chronic disease can never be underestimated. We really are what we eat. So if you’re inspired to kick this with sensible, evidence-based solutions, we are delighted to help you do it.
FREE download: A Taste of the Mediterranean Diet recipe book
We’d love to offer you some sample recipes to help you familiarise yourself with the principles of the Mediterranean Diet. While you may not love everything, it’s a great way to start finding out some of the distinct differences that make this diet so wonderful for you. If you’d like a copy, it’s yours for free right now by subscribing to our email list.