Nutritional therapist Ali Aldred thinks many of us need a little help when it comes to putting together a healthy diet.

We have all heard the information about wholefoods and vegetables, but after a long day at work, it is all too easy to choose the easy option, either buying processed foods or sticking to the same old dishes week in, week out, rather than thinking of something new.

The media often presents conflicting advice too - carbs good or bad? Which fats are the healthy ones? And the biggest question of all: we've all heard kale is good for you - but how to make it palatable?

We all know we are supposed to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – but how many regularly achieve that target? And according to Ali, that is the bare minimum. She would like us to aim for a helping of green leafy vegetables every day, and a range of 20 different vegetables across a week.

Perhaps that sounds daunting - but help is at hand.

On a mission to spread the word, build skills and develop knowledge of healthy eating, for the first time she has launched a series of workshops all about healthy eating.

“Many of my clients lack cooking skills and/or are very nervous and don't know how to put a nutritious diet together,” she explains.

“I found it is not enough to tell people what to do; they benefit from being shown and having hands on coaching.

"It is something I will definitely develop further.”

To date, she has two workshops up and running – Meal Preparation for One – On A Budget, and another called Vegan Cooking.

The first is aimed at people who live by themselves and need some motivation and advice to create a healthy diet – particularly if money is short.

The second was created in response to the growing interest in a vegan diet, and offers the tools to plan a gentle, plant-based diet that does not rely on processed options.

It guides vegan eaters towards a nutritionally balanced diet, as well as giving them a chance to meet other like-minded people.

Ali, 48, comes from Borrowash in Derbyshire originally, the third of four children. Her father was a chemical engineer and his job brought the family to Witney.

On leaving school, she studied at Swindon College and worked for many years as a home care manager, supporting people with learning difficulties, sensory loss and progressive medical conditions.

Although she loved the job, the hours were long and stressful, and following the birth of her son, she decided to make a change. She took a degree in nutritional therapy at the University of West London, then set up her business.

Ali suffered from severe asthma and recurrent chest infections during childhood. She also had a hip condition that caused her enormous pain, though it was not properly diagnosed for years.

The pain was caused by bone and cartilage necrosis, following the delayed diagnosis of an acute slipped epiphysis, caused by a fracture of the growth plate in the hip joint. She endured four hip operations between the ages of 12 and 30 – culminating in a total hip replacement.

Ali recalled how pain, immobility and depression caused her to eat unhealthily and she gained weight.

“I was eating five chocolate bars a day,” she said. “Too much sugar!”

But the learning process ignited by her degree became a self-healing process and Ali says she is now asthma free and she enjoys a very active life, including completing a one-hundred-mile bike ride in Surrey.

She is now a member of the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BAANT) and runs her practice from the Health Hydro in Milton Street, with workshops at the Central Community Centre.

Ali says she relishes her new career.

“I love it – really, really love it!” she exclaims with a smile. “I get very excited about it.”

As a nutritional therapist Ali gives expert advice to people, on how their eating can support them in achieving better health. She sees people with a wide range of conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, skin issues and allergies, chronic tiredness and hormonal issues.

Beforehand, clients complete a questionnaire with information about what they eat and the symptoms they experience, as well as relevant family medical history.

Then in the meeting, Ali works with clients to create a plan of manageable dietary changes.

And how can we all find better health?

“Lots of veg and a good source of protein,” Ali recommends. “Lots of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit, and reduce the amount of carbohydrate. That’s really worked for me.

"My life is hugely different to how it was – I feel better than when I was a kid.

“That is not to say I will never be ill, but if you are eating the right food, it helps your body cope with these things. “

She suggests we should aim for three cups of green leafy vegetables a day. And how to make green, leafy kale palatable?

“Add lemon, garlic, sesame and apple – and stir fry it. There’s also watercress, rocket, spinach, lettuces. My tip is to have as much variety as you can – maybe 20 different vegetables in a week. Pick something new each week to try.”

Ali also gives talks on healthy eating, to groups such as the Wiltshire Carers Network, and she is keen to help others support good health through good eating.

“I have run a couple of vegan workshops. I am not a vegan but I enjoy getting people towards a better diet. A lot of people are just starting out on this lifestyle and don’t know where to start.

"The workshops are designed to help them build a good vegan diet and gain the skills to do that. We’ve had vegans, vegetarians and people with a family member who is a vegan.”

To find out when Ali is running her workshops next, visit her website or call 07890 968216.