Q & A with MEDA’s nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr

Tell us a little about your nutrition practice and how you run your nutrition business.
I have my own private practice on Harley St, London, where I see clients one-to-one and I specialise in weight management, gut health and autoimmune conditions. Due to the current climate I have moved my practice online and I am loving being able to help people across the globe because of it. 

I also work with a number of corporates, specialising in offering workplaces health webinars to support their teams’ mental and physical health. I have worked with over 150 companies including Accenture, Adobe, Chanel, Deloitte, Ebay, Investec, Lloyds Bank and Lululemon.

How did you get into nutrition?
Growing up as a young adult, I suffered terribly with digestive troubles. 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 (while 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 re-trained in Nutritional Therapy (while 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 return to 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. 

Nutritional advice is something people are more aware of but there are so many different approaches. Are there any key principles you would suggest as a good starting point?
1.     Try to eat real food without labels. Foods that come from nature are what we are designed to consume. I always ask myself, would I find that in nature? And if not, do I want to consume that regularly? Most of the time it’s a no, and occasionally there is a yes (I love a good chocolate biscuit).

2.     Drink more water. Most of us are dehydrated, which given that we are roughly 60-70% water, means that just a small change in the water we consume can have a huge impact on our bodies homeostasis. Water is crucial for every cell, organ and system in the body, and vital for us to function at our optimum state. When we are dehydrated, our energy creation, digestive system and food cravings all fall out of whack. So often, my clients are confusing thirst with hunger and end up snacking when all they need to do is drink more water.

3.     Move daily – whatever your preferred form of movement is, from going on a walk to gardening or kickboxing, enjoy movement as part of your day-to-day routine. Physical activity is beneficial for both the mind and the body.  

What is your go-to recipe at the moment?
Well, I have definitely had more time to experiment in the kitchen at the moment and have been finding some new go-to’s. However, I do love a banana bread – who doesn’t! I have it with my live coconut yogurt in the morning or with a cup of Tulsi tea in the afternoon. My latest banana recipe is a chocolate variety that is high in fibre, has no added sugars and is friendly for those on dairy free, gluten free and low carb diet. Recipe here