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The Celebrity Nutritionist

The Celebrity Nutritionist

Sweet peas.

Kate Salter | UK Telegraph

There are few people who could make the inner workings of the gut exciting , but the nutritionist Ian Marber is one of them. As he waxes lyrical on slow-release wholegrain s while drawing diagrams of things called mitochondria, his enthusiasm is so infectious you forget he is talking about things that would normally bore most of us silly.

For the past 10 years Marber has managed to get people to pay attention to the kind of nutritional advice that until recently was doled out by hippies in health-food shops. He is the man behind the Food Doctor, a nutrition consultancy based in west London and an immensely popular range of health foods. Often referred to as ’the celebrity nutritionist Ian Marber’ – a title he says he dislikes, even though it’s not far from the truth – Marber makes regular appearances on television, writes advice columns for newspapers and magazines and has written a bestselling series of diet books. But as well as tending to the dodgy digestive systems of celebrities (about whom he is frustratingly discreet), the media appearances and the health-food range, Marber is a dedicated nutritionist on a mission to get us to listen to the kind of sensible advice that flies in the face of the diet-obsessed, wheat-intolerant, no-carbs-after-6pm brigade.

A tanned, fit-looking 45, dressed in slim-fitting black trousers and a black V-neck jumper, Marber looks more like a posh property developer than someone who deals with the often deeply unglamorous world of bodily functions. Marber specialises in digestive conditions, from bloating and food intolerances to more serious complaints such as coeliac disease. A large part of what he does is also geared towards weight loss. But one of the reasons Marber has become so popular is that he gives simple advice – always eat breakfast, don’t deny yourself the odd pudding – that is easily followed, rather than spouting diktats that advise eating gooseberries on the third Tuesday of every month.

Marber’s no-nonsense approach is born of his belief that people have become disillusioned with nutritional advice because there is now too much choice, and too many promises of miracle solutions. ’I think in this world of billions a lot of people are looking to make themselves feel special, and sometimes good honest advice is not want they want. They want the magic, they want the Hogwarts, the slightly strange consultant in a flowing caftan saying, “Ahhh, I can tell…” What they don’t want to hear is, “You don’t have a food intolerance. You don’t have a food allergy. What you’ve actually got is a yeast infection or an excess of bacteria.” That’s not sexy. It’s much sexier to believe, “That woman was brilliant and told me I can’t eat peas. Now my life is changed.”’

As his clinic is based in chi-chi Holland Park, Marber has his fair share of clients who, with a healthy bank balance to sustain them, can be more in thrall than most to the myriad ’breakthrough’ solutions on offer. ’Considering where we are in west London, you would think we’d get all the rich housewives,’ Marber says when we meet at his office. ’Well, we absolutely do. And we also get the estate agent from Glasgow who saved up for four months. Funnily enough, people who are very rich often see too many people. They wouldn’t go to three or four colourists for their hair, but they will see four or five people about their bowel, or their bloating. They do four different things at once and never get it sorted.’

Presumably, Marber is just as tough with his famous clients, who are more susceptible than most to the latest wacky diet regime. ’There’s one “celebrity” nutrition consultant who famously reads faces,’ he says. ’I don’t understand that. If I offered to read your palm in order to tell you what you could eat, you wouldn’t trust me for a nanosecond. Certainly, one uses visual clues, but you don’t make a food plan based on a few clues.’