An Informative Interview with Health Nutritionist Tara Canning


What inspired you to become a health nutritionist?

When I became a mother I wanted to build good food habits for my family from the get go. At the time I was looking to change my career path, after many years as a chef. It is a hard life when you have young children and as a pastry chef I would be the last one leaving the kitchen every night. After a random conversation with a friend who was at the time looking into becoming a nutritional therapist that is when I had the light bulb moment.

Can you describe your approach to designing a nutrition plan for a client?

Generally I will advise a well researched, results driven nutrition plan, such as LOW FODMAP to a certain client. Sometimes a client will want a specific plan tailored to them and if I feel that is appropriate I will design one for 30 days. Then we meet again to discuss what the focus will be for the next month and take it from there. Every client is different, so that is how I approach each consultation.

How do you stay current with the latest research and trends in nutrition?

As a member of the NTOI and because I am naturally a curious person eager to learn we have to complete continuous professional development through courses, seminars and the latest research. In the area of nutrition there is constantly changing research studies, the latest trends and Dr Google can really cause some good and bad trends for clients that we need to be aware of at all times.

How do you incorporate cultural or personal preferences into your clients’ nutrition plans?

I always start by asking my client’s what their goals are from the appointment(s). You learn to trust your knowledge and intuition with clients to help them see realistic goals and how we can work together to achieve them.

Can you share a success story of a client who achieved their nutrition goals under your guidance?

I can remember one girl in her early 20’s who had chronic diarrhoea. She could not leave the house without knowing where she was going and each toilet on the way. After 2 consultations she had regular bowel movements and she was full of confidence again. She told me I had given her her life back after going to see many doctors. 

How do you address common challenges that clients may face in adhering to a nutrition plan?

If you are cleaning up someone’s diet you have to replace the foods with healthy, nutritious and affordable choices. I am always very honest with my clients about the chances of not sticking to your nutrition plan and the consequences of that.

How do you work with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors or therapists, to support your clients’ overall health and well-being?

My door is always open to other practitioners to work as a team because ultimately it is about what the client wants. I have worked with a clinical team right from qualifying in 2010 so a collaborative approach is nothing new to me.

Can you explain the role of supplements in a balanced nutrition plan?

I will always start with the food. Get the diet right first. You can have someone who is very new to eating cleaner and this could be a big lifestyle change for them so small steps are best. Other clients will have specific needs or might have a strong family history of a certain condition or we may have done some functional testing that shows certain nutrition deficits and they may need certain supplements.

How do you empower clients to make sustainable lifestyle changes beyond their nutrition plan?

Always come back to why they have come to see me in the first place. I have been a nutritional therapist for a long time and have the skills to be encouraging and educate the client too. If you know why you are doing something and the consequences of not doing it, that usually brings you to the goal that brought you to my door in the first place. I teach students, give talks to various groups from Men’s Sheds to parenting groups and sharing my knowledge and advice in an engaging, practical way is the best message I can give.

How do you approach nutrition concerns for clients with special dietary needs or medical conditions?

Every client fills out an intake form. As a certified functional nutritionist it is very detailed. It is a full 360 degree approach to every system of the body, the antecedents and what symptoms the client is experiencing now. We don’t use generic information. Every person on the planet has their own biochemical individuality and we treat every client as a blank canvas to help with their diet, lifestyle and health goals.

Tara Canning NTdip, NTOI,Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner

00 353 87 9074701

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