Nutritionist Sal Hanvey urges parents to reset eating habits
Clinical nutritionist Sal Hanvey draws inspiration from ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as ‘The Father of Medicine’ and his advice that “Our foodshould be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.”
It’s guidance that’s especially pertinent at this time when Covid-19 is overshadowing virtually everything.
“Nutrition plays a major role in health and wellbeing,” she says. “Eating a balanced diet is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating could help people who feel tired, sluggish, want to lose those extra inches or pounds, or counter headaches, skin rashes, constipation or IBS related symptoms,” who runs Holywood-based Natural Health NI, a small consultancy business specialising in a wide range of natural therapies including nutrition for all age groups but especially children.
“The coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns have been extremely challenging for families here and in particular children who have been out of school and away from friends for so many months. People tend to eat more, especially sweets and snacks, when they are fed up. Many have been eating just for something to do,” she continues.
She’s concerned about the potential digestion and other health problems of family members eating meals with one eye on the television, tablets, mobile phones or listening to music from headphones especially over the past year.
“It’s not uncommon to see children and young people tweeting, for instance, over the dinner table while also watching television,” Sal adds.
Why does it matter? She explains: “Research has shown that people who are distracted at meal times often eat too much and too quickly which can have an adverse impact on digestive health. And the practice, I fear, may well continue after the kids go back to their desks at the start of next week. I would urge parents, therefore, to bear in mind that academic research has shown that the ailments and symptoms we suffer may be lessened if we correct our nutrition. There’s a chance next week to reset eating habits especially for children.
“I believe that taking time to eat without distractions such as tweeting, watching television and listening to music could lead to more fulfilling meals. Indeed, it’s much better for the whole process of healthy digestion and overall wellbeing.”
A vastly experienced nutritionist and therapist, Sal delivers talks regularly to the public and to restaurants and community groups about the importance of healthy eating and living well.
These have included providing nutritional information on plant-based cooking and the sourcing of local ingredients with talented chef Stephen Jeffers and his team at Forestside Cookery School in Belfast.
Sal, furthermore, is a regular contributor on U105FM’s Frank Mitchell Show on nutrition including the changes in legislation on children’s food in schools and how to grow vegetables and herbs at home.
She came up with the Pandemic Pantry for families on working with available food to create healthy and tasty meals against the background of Covid restrictions and also the shortages of some foods, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, in the supermarkets from the Northern Ireland Protocol.
A native of Downpatrick - Sal’s father is the widely respected and award-winning photographer Bobby Hanvey - she set up Natural Health NI on the back of her vast experience as a complementary therapist and naturopath. She’s gained prestigious awards for her outstanding work on nutrition and also provides expertise as an acupuncturist and refloxologist. Her expertise includes work with couples on IVF and parenthood.
“My primary objective is to assist in the health and wellbeing of those who seek my advice through various practices and modalities,” Sal continues. She provides “knowledge and insight into the immune system, digestion and food intolerances. I work with people to help them manage their everyday stresses and pressures and on how diets and the food we eat can play an important role in the healing process,” she explains.
“I carry out nutritional consultations, providing insight into food intolerances, allergies and the best food to help with certain conditions and symptoms.”
Sal is strongly committed to the benefits of good local food. It’s a commitment influenced by her earlier career in local food promotion and production with major Northern Ireland businesses including Willowbrook Farm Foods in Killinchy, a UK leader in bagged salads and convenience dishes, and Lynas Food Service in Coleraine, a major food wholesaler.
She was also event manager for the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society’s Balmoral Show and collaborated with Belfast City Council on cooking demonstrations at St George’s ‘Twilight Market’ in a ‘Taste the Island’ event, which she says allowed her “to discuss, while cooking, the importance of sourcing local, sustainable, where possible organic and seasonal plant based food in support of local growers”.
She holds recognised qualifications as a clinical acupuncturist, food hygiene, naturopathic nutrition, clinical aromatherapy, reflexology, anatomy and physiotherapy, ayurvedic medicine, and mindfulness meditation.
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