For Bath-based mum of two, Laura Clark, becoming a dietician back in 2001 gave her the chance to combine her love of science, food and people. Since then, she has added qualifications in sport and exercise nutrition, behaviour change therapy and intuitive eating, and has put her skills towards helping support the health and wellbeing of families and individuals across the region.
“I now specialise in supporting people who have quite complex relationships with food,” explains Laura. “They may have disordered eating of some sort or feel trapped in a vicious cycle of yoyo dieting. There may also be medical conditions that they are trying to manage, for example diabetes, thyroid problems or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
“I help people work through thoughts and beliefs that they hold about health or food or body weight and make sense of them. I apply evidence- based science but in a holistic way, tailored to the individual. We focus on the internal stuff that builds trust and confidence in our food choices and ultimately supports better health.”
“I am even more passionate about this, since becoming a parent. Having seen over 10,000 clients, you are reminded of the influence our own thoughts and behaviours have on the children we raise and how important it is to set the right tone for them.”
Among the many mums Laura has worked with is Lucy, juggling the familiar demands of work and family life. Now in her 40s and with 20 plus years of dieting under her belt, Lucy knew that going back to Slimming World for the umpteenth time was just not an option.
“She was tired, stressed and unhappy with her body,” recalls Laura. “She described feeling snappy with the kids, irritated that she was the one who always had to come up with what to cook for everyone and really battling with cravings later on in the evenings. She joked that she had a PhD in dieting and felt ultimately so frustrated that despite being super successful in work and a great mum too, she couldn’t get a handle on her weight.
“Lucy and I spent time exploring her dieting history and beliefs that had developed around foods over the years. There were a number of rules Lucy was trying to follow, and the voice in her head wasn’t a particularly kind one, getting irritated with herself for ‘caving in’ all the time. It became clear Lucy had no trust in what her body was telling her.
“Through my Anchor Programme, Lucy developed strategies to move away from dieting and diet culture with confidence. She reported feeling clarity in her head for the first time in years. She was able to stop judging herself by the scale, her clothes started to fit better and she started to enjoy eating again, without the side order of guilt and shame.
“She said, ‘After years of yoyo dieting, I finally feel at peace and in control of my eating habits. Laura’s approach has worked wonders for me.’
“For clients like Lucy, part of the jigsaw of fixing food relationships is addressing how these new beliefs can translate back into the kitchen, with meals that feed the whole family.
“One of the most satisfying things I offer clients is the opportunity to enjoy family meals again, in a stress-free, less time-consuming way. Even for parents who don’t face complex food challenges themselves, it doesn’t take much for them to find themselves preparing many different meals a night. It’s exhausting, not to mention expensive. Addressing the practicalities of family nutrition, but in a tailored, holistic way, is so key.
“This isn’t a knowledge or a will power thing. Neither have been shown to support long term change. Instead, it’s about exploring ideas and building long term habits, whilst being in tune with our needs and our biology and realistic about the realities of day to day life! Hence my moto #eatitreal.”
To contact Laura for more information on family nutrition and dieting, go to www.lecnutrition.co.uk