REGISTERED NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST – BA HONS, DIP-NT, MBANT, MCNHC
Clarissa Lenherr is a registered nutritional therapist having graduated from The College of Naturopathic Medicine in Nutrition. She is also a member of BANT (The British Association of Nutritional Therapists) and the CNHC (Complementary and Natural Health Care Council).
How did you get into nutrition?
Growing up as a young adult, I suffered terribly with digestive troubles. And after years of seeing many doctors, nutritionists, gastroenterologists, surviving many camera intrusions (in both ends…) and being diagnosed with everything from candida to mental health concerns ( I was told anxiety was the reason I couldn’t go a day without being in severe gastrointestinal pain and was told antidepressants were the solution…), I decided to take my health into my own hands. I spent months researching and reading forums (whilst studying history at university not nutrition!) before I finally managed to find out about a dietary principle from Monash University that had just been released The FODMAP diet.
Through using myself as a guinea pig, I managed to find relief and eventually reduce my digestive issues that I had suffered with for years! I managed to get my mental, physical and social health back in check. Knowing what it was like to hit rock bottom with your health and feel like you are coming from a place where you’ve tried everything and found no solution, I realised I needed to somehow take this experience and help others.
Fast forward a few years on, I had gone back and re-trained in Nutritional Therapy, whilst working part-time in marketing, and the day I graduated was the day I saw my first client in clinic!
Who has had the biggest influence/inspiration on your practice?
Ah this is a hard one.
Personally, my husband was the one who supported my move to go back and study again. I would never have had the confidence to do so if it wasn’t for him.
From an industry perspective, Dr. Mark Hyman and Amelia Freer are two of my absolute inspirations. Mark Hyman because I really appreciate how accessible he makes nutrition concepts. I fully support his practice of getting to the root cause of illnesses through functional medicine.
I love Amelia’s work. Her recipes, her books and her principle of positive nutrition. She was my inspiration to become a Nutritional Therapist.
What are your 3 non-negotiables when it comes to your health?
Movement. Exercise for me is one of my biggest stress relievers, keeps my mental health in check and is incredibly important for many pillars of health.
Sleep. I have done quite a bit of extra CPD learning in the importance of sleep and how to best optimise sleep through dietary and lifestyle interventions, so that I can factor this into my client’s protocols. If I don’t get my quality and quantity of sleep, I can really feel it in my physical and mental health.
Me-time. Every week I dedicate a couple of hours to doing something for myself. I turn off digital and I look after myself. That can be anything from having a bath or treating myself to a massage to colouring in, doing a slow movement class or getting creative in the kitchen.
Food plays such an important role in our mental health – what are the best ways to optimise your nutrition to boost your mood?
LOOK AFTER YOUR GUT! 90% of our “happy” hormone Serotonin is actually created in the digestive system! Mad right? So, make sure to look after the health of your gut. Try incorporating fermented, live probiotic rich foods to help bolster commensal bacteria. Ensure you are getting in your RDI of 30g of fibre. Hydrate, 1.5L minimum per day. And incorporate stress management techniques.
Balance your blood sugar levels – this might sound simple, but balancing your blood sugar levels is key for mood. Blood sugar is the concentration of glucose in the blood, which is an important source of energy. All the foods we consume can impact our blood sugar levels, in different amounts. Foods high in sugars and refined carbohydrates can cause our blood sugar levels to spike, and consequently fall. Just like a rollercoaster. When our blood sugar and therefore energy is ebbing and flowing all day long, our mood is likely to follow suit. We can go from feeling energised and positive to depleted, low and anxious. Aim for well balanced meals of protein, fat, complex carbs and fruits and veg at every opportunity to avoid this rollercoaster of emotions!
Vitamin D. This key vitamin contributes to everything from bone health and immune system function to energy, sleep and mood. Our most rich source of Vitamin D comes from sun exposure on the skin, which is why many of us may have lower vitamin D levels over the darker, winter months. Pair that with the fact that we may be staying indoors a little more often than normal at the moment, and you could be left with low levels of this key vitamin.
§ My advice. Consider a supplement. The NHS suggests between the months of October to April, people in the UK should consider taking a low dose supplement of 400IU. I always advise checking your bloods to see if you are deficient and working with a healthcare provider or nutritionist to ensure you are taking the correct supplements for your body’s requirements.
What is your go-to recipe at the moment?
Well, I have definitely had more time to experiment in the kitchen at the moment, so have been finding some new go-to’s. However, I do love a good granola. I have it on my live coconut yogurt bowl every morning, as an afternoon snack or as a desert topping after dinner (love stewed apples with a sprinkle of granola). Granola can be super healthy and is also cheap, uses only store cupboard ingredients, lasts a long time and is versatile. You can add any nuts, dried fruits, spices, natural sugars, grains and more… right now I am loving my coconut granola – a touch of coconutty sunshine to start the day. Recipe here.
What are your top tips for managing anxiety and staying grounded at times like these?
Take some me-time. 2 hours minimum every week to do something to nourish yourself.
Limit digital. Mindless scrolling, too many/lack-off emails and the news can all contribute to those feelings of anxiety. I turn off notifications on my phone and only check it every so often – the important stuff I can check on my laptop.
Keep Moving. The abundance of amazing classes online has been so incredibly during this time of isolation. Whether it is engaging in a HIIT class, incorporating more slow movement or taking daily walks. Don’t forget to move for mental health.
Gratitude. I have a group with my best friends where we send our three things we are grateful to each other every day. It is so uplifting to not only hear what they are grateful, but also forces me to take a moment and reflect on how lucky I am.