Therapist Spotlight: Susan Hart

I’ve always been interested in food and cooking, it makes me calm and relaxed. My love of food developed at catering college, but being vegetarian at the time was a bit tricky! Fast forward to now and if I’m not eating food, I’m cooking it, reading new recipes or trying out new ingredients. There’s always something new to learn. 

Nutrition Coach Susan Hart

Hi Susan! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Being vegan is a great opportunity to try delicious ingredients from around the globe; I especially love experimenting with Asian inspired food and all the heady spices. Eating out at local restaurants allows me to taste new dishes and then try to replicate them in my kitchen. If successful, they become recipes that my vegan cooking class clients can make or ready meals I make for clients that don’t want to cook.

What led you to a career in nutritional therapy?

Many years ago I had my own catering business, focusing on creating food for people with special diets. That lead to a voyage of discovery about nutrition, the mind and how healthy eating can help the body. 

I put all my skills to good use and started Nutrition Coach. I now advise clients about healthy eating and how small but permanent changes to their food and lifestyle choices can have a big impact.

I put all my skills to good use and started Nutrition Coach. I now advise clients about healthy eating and how small but permanent changes to their food and lifestyle choices can have a big impact.

I spent five happy years supporting people and their families going through cancer at Maggie’s cancer support centre in Nottingham. As a nutrition coach, part of my role is to help clients set achievable goals using CBT techniques to turn negative feelings into positive actions. 

I still use my cooking skills by offering plant-based workshops, online ‘cook-along’ classes, face-to-face cooking sessions and a delivery service for the vegan meals I prepare.

You offer plant-based cooking classes. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

This developed after a number of clients requested healthy meal plans or recipes. There was obviously a desire for my clients to make healthier choices, but many felt they lacked cooking confidence. So, vegan cooking classes were born.

Not every guest is vegan; many would like to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet. I provide all the ingredients, a recipe for two and the equipment. Clients can have a private one-to-one class where they have more flexibility about what they’d like to make and tailored nutrition advice and support. Or they can be part of a small group of up to four people who cook and learn together.

Like so many businesses, Covid has impacted on how I deliver my classes.  I’m now offering online ‘live’ cook-along classes. It’s a chance for people to cook together, ask questions and for me to share nutrition and cooking tips.

Susan hart cooking on local TV
Susan Hart cooking on local TV

What can clients expect from their first chat with you?

I offer a free 15-minute consultation. It’s their chance to ask questions and see if what I offer is right for them. Every nutrition session is different, depending on my client’s needs and goals: some are concerned about weight loss, for others, they need to reset their diets and lifestyle choices. 

Many have an ongoing medical condition like diabetes, IBS, certain cancers etc. I can help them to adapt their current diet and support their doctor’s recommendations.

By using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tools and techniques I help my clients to question negative thinking patterns.

All clients are asked to complete a food diary and lifestyle questionnaire. This provides crucial information about the choices they make and how that impacts their daily lives.

With lots of listening and gentle questioning, I guide my clients to make small but permanent changes. Breaking issues down into smaller goals make them more achievable and realistic and, therefore, more likely to succeed in the long-term.

You also hold a cognitive behavioural therapy qualification. Can you tell us how this complements your work with nutritional therapy?

By using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) tools and techniques, I help my clients to question negative thinking patterns. This can bring about real change.

The saying ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’ is something we explore and challenge. This is particularly true when it relates to weight loss. Many of my clients have tried for a number of years to reduce their weight. They try all the latest ‘diets’, give it 100% then crash and the weight piles on again, and possibly a few extra pounds. Along with that can come disappointment, guilt, frustration and anxiety. Yoyo dieting is not good for the body or mental well-being. 

CBT can be helpful in changing the way my clients relate to food and put them back in control.

Have you any advice to give someone interested in trying nutritional therapy?

It’s important to be able to relate to your advisor or therapist. If you are interested in seeking advice, then look on their website. See if they are registered with any professional bodies, check out their reviews, ask for personal recommendations and, finally, talk to them. And don’t be afraid to walk away if there isn’t that connection.

I always urge people to take advantage of free mini consultations and speak to a few professionals until they find one that they can relate to. I find my NLP skills help me to build rapport with clients and put them at ease. It’s important that clients feel valued, listened to and not judged. 

Where can people find you?

All my contact details are on my Nutritionist Resource profile and you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Written by Katie Hoare
Katie is a writer for Nutritionist Resource.
Written by Katie Hoare
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