Giulietta Durante has chosen to dedicate her life to getting to remedying tricky health issues by focusing on her patients’ lifestyles. As a Gibraltarian Giulietta takes us through the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet and how the Instagram healthy eating craze has impacted society.
Often we don’t find our calling in life until it is too late, and in an insulated environment like Gibraltar it is perhaps even more difficult to establish our career goals than elsewhere in the world. But, in recent years we’ve started to see Gibraltarians taking a leap into the unknown and establishing their own businesses, particularly in such unreliable industries as food and fintech.
13 years ago, way before the healthy lifestyle trend encroached upon our society, Gibraltarian and self-professed health-conscious human, Giulietta Durante, decided to diversify in her career and become a nutritional therapist so she could endeavour to help people take control of their lives through what they put into their bodies and surround themselves with.
The role was far beyond her knowledge of healthcare at the time and so she embarked on a BSc in Nutritional Therapy at the University of Westminster. From there Giulietta trained under the Functional Medicine Model which places emphasis on the underlying causes of illnesses rather than the symptoms associated with it.
“I’m a nutritional therapist, it’s a little bit different to a dietician and a little bit different to a nutritionist in the sense that dieticians tend to work in hospitals or within the public health arena,” Giulietta explains as we perch contently on a wooden bench, sipping dairy-free Rooibos lattes in a vegan junk food café in the midst of London’s King’s Cross.
After her stint as a mature student Giulietta launched her business “Hormones in Harmony” in London with an immense enthusiasm to help people get to the bottom of the niggling lifestyle complaints that often are attached to far more concerning issues.
Notably, Giulietta’s role is far more hands on than that of a traditional GP and often she will delve quite far into a patient’s life, considering how their environment and lifestyle habits have impacted them and caused health issues. She carries out in-depth studies into a patient’s family history and diet and her speciality is women’s health and hormones.
Mad for matcha, but is it really healthy living?
It’s almost as if she pre-empted today’s mass adoption of the Instagram-fuelled healthy living fad powered very much by matcha, acai bowls and mindfulness. And notably it has given us all the kick we needed to start taking care of ourselves, but it is all good advice?
“It’s probably one of the biggest shifts I’ve seen in the health world and because there are now online communities it’s a great place because you’re not alone if you’ve got issues with your diet but equally they move in cliques and they’ve got these ideas about food and they’re so militant about them,” Guilietta says.
“The worst thing is they may not being doing what’s best for them so in a way social media has made us become more insular about our food choices because we become obsessed with one thing. And obviously the rise of all these Instagram personalities who have no training in nutrition and are sometimes giving out dangerous advice.”
To confirm, I’m just as guilty of adhering to the fad as any other millennial, a (sort of) dairy-free, meat-free, occasional fish eating flexitarian, all in the name of trying to do what is best for my body after years of bloating and discomfort. And for the most part, the healthier approach has worked, if nothing else but to enforce a far better relationship with food and eat more vegetables and less convenient grab and go, already packaged items.
But Giulietta admits we’re all guilty of it, particularly in the mania that is London and its long-work days and lengthy commutes. Often it just feels right to grab a sandwich. Giulietta urges me to consider meal prepping on the weekend to ensuring I have wholesome, home-cooked meals for the week.
She tells me a number of her patients approach her clinic in Uxbridge in the hopes of losing weight and insist they’ve tried everything to establish much better eating habits. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a client that said they weren’t bloated,” Giulietta notes. “It’s [down to] a whole host of things, it’s our environment, it’s a lot of the processed foods we’re eating. The worst part is we all think it’s normal but it’s not.”
Elsewhere many of her female clients come to her with much more complex issues like hormonal acne or mental health issues and her first step to finding a solution is to explore her clients’ diets. “Then I do a lot of functional testing which is looking at how hormones are working in your body, rather than just a blood test. I would look more at what your oestrogen is doing for example, because we have three types and each metabolises differently. I also look at stress, that’s a big factor in hormonal issues.”
The Mediterranean Diet
Unsurprisingly common health issues vary in her London and Gibraltar-based clients and friends and Giulietta puts it down to extremely different lifestyles. On the Rock, she notes, people generally have more time to prep meals and prepare home-made food, but on the flip-side London is far more convenient for sourcing foods that meet special dietary requirements.
But how does the difference in culture and diet between Gibraltar and the UK impact us? “Obviously there is a lot of fried fish, so that’s probably not the healthiest way to eat fish but there’s a lot to be said about sitting around a table with your family and enjoying time with them. That has a hugely positive effect on your health,” Giulietta comments.
“When you look at it more deeply it’s not that healthy but there are other things that keep us healthy. All the stuff that’s cooked by our Grandmothers is just so much better for us, especially the fact it’s been prepared at home.”
Her key tip to approaching a lifestyle change for anyone’s striving for healthier climbs, is moderation. She advises making the tiniest of changes, one that can even be realistically carried over into a hangover day.
“Some things,” Giulietta says of adapting your lifestyle, “are subtle and they don’t make a lot of impact. Some of the things we do are preventative so actually we don’t know if it’s doing anything. The annoying thing about it is sometimes all you achieve by being healthy is not getting ill. Watch out for adverse reactions, so for example if you’re putting turmeric in your tea and then start to feel quite tired, then it could be that so take it out.”
“One thing people get very good at is getting in tune with themselves,” she adds.
Outside of her traditional one-to-one services, Giulietta is super keen to offload her knowledge onto the general public, and it seems with today’s hyper-health aware society, the feeling is mutual. She finds herself hosting cooking and wellness classes in London and has even organised a wellness retreat last summer in Ibiza, offering women a week’s worth of relaxation and detox in incredible surroundings.
To read more of Giulietta’s sage advice, visit Giulietta’s Facebook page: facebook.com/harmonyhormones.
BY NICOLE MACEDO