Nourish Nutritionist, Suzanne Garaty explains why variety is key to a happy, healthy and balanced life
This week’s interview subject is the Clinical Nutritionist Suzanne Garaty who has been living and working in Majorca for many years. When you’re going to interview a nutritionist it´s probably best to not suggest a meet up in a burger bar, that much I know. So we sit down in Ziva to Go in Palma’s popular Santa Catalina area where the menu includes freshly squeezed juices and chia seed puddings. I try to get my questions out in between mouthfuls of a healthy breakfast.
Vicki McLeod: These days the awareness we have around the importance of what we eat is really growing, which is being reflected in the new website for Majorca called Nourish The Guide. You’re on their team of experts writing regular articles, how does it feel?
Suzanne Garaty: I’m really happy to be part of it, I’m in good company as they are gathering together a cross section of health, fitness and nutrition professionals who all contribute articles about wellness. The website is growing quickly and that’s very exciting to be a part of. I love the concept of it. It’s a much needed resource that showcases all of the wellness professionals here on the island within the health fitness and nutrition industry. Which can all help to nourish your body and keep you well, happy and balanced.
VMc: We can expect to see regular information on there from you?
SG: Yes, also I want people to send me their nutrition questions and I will try to help them.
VMc: A bit like “Ask Suzanne”?
SG: Yes, exactly! I’m really happy to be collaborating with Violetta who started the website, I’ve known her for many years, and I know how passionate she is about getting the information about Majorca’s resident health experts out there to the people who need it. Violetta was seriously ill with cancer and during her own healing process met many professionals working on the island who helped her with her recovery. The website is a result of her own experiences and she wants to share her knowledge and experiences with the people of Majorca. There’s everything on there from yoga schools, to information about gyms, personal trainers, health food shops, to wellness retreats, to even vegan ice cream parlours, as well as clinical nutritionists like me.
VMc: Have you always worked with food?
SG: My mother always cooked so it was normal for me to cook, my grandmother too. We were always in the kitchen making something. I grew up with everything being homemade. So it was completely natural for my journey to start as a chef – I took my first course in Nutritional cookery at C.I.A New York State in 1996 and from there my passion and appreciation for optimum nutrition grew.
VMc: What kind of food do you like to prepare?
SG: I think my favourites have got to be Asian and Mediterranean styles of cooking. I love fresh, light food with a tonne of flavour and it has to look amazing as well. I cooked professionally for several years before starting a family, and I have always made what I considered to be “healthy” food, I’ve always been fascinated by it.
VMc: So it was a natural progression for you to become a nutritionist.
SG: Exactly, in 2008 I had the chance to pursue my interest in nutrition and qualified as a Clinical Nutritionist and then founded my business Vital Nutrition. From there I then went on to do three year course in the UK at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, and graduated as a British Registered Nutritional therapist. Now I have clinics in Portals and in Palma.
VMc: What kinds of conditions are you helping people with?
SG: I work primarily with people helping them with their goals in weight management, energy boosting, women’s health and wellness. Individual clients come to me with diagnosed or suspected conditions including IBS, digestive problems, candida, underactive thyroid, diabetes type 2, cardiovascular problems, skin conditions, anxiety and depression.
VMc: It does seem to me that we know a lot more about nutrition these days. Why do you think we’re all so much more interested in it?
SG: I put it down to social media. We see photos and videos of recipes and dishes that look amazing and they are also healthy, it’s inspiring people to try out new foods and to look more closely at what they are eating. People want to cook more, they want to be in control of what is going into their bodies. My cooking workshops in Palma have been very popular and there’s always a demand for more information about how to prepare delicious, healthy food. My next one will be in mid September and focus on an end of summer cleanse.
VMc: What problems do people come to you with? Are you seeing any trends?
SG: I’ve noticed a lot of people asking me more questions about nutrition. They are researching more but coming up with conflicting advice, that’s where a nutritionist like me comes in, with scientifically proven answers rather than Doctor Google! A lot of my clients come to me with symptoms of stress. They may not realise that they are stressed. They may even say they don’t feel stressed. But let me ask you this, when was the last time that you switched off?
VMc: Errrrm…. Well, now you come to mention it…
SG: Your body needs time to turn itself off, if you are constantly “On” then it’s producing high levels of free radicals which in turn lead to unhealthy conditions. Stress has a very immediate and damaging effect on the digestive system, and from there then spreads out to the other systems in the body. It’s a domino effect, and it all starts in the gut. You know when you feel nervous or worried about something how it can affect your tummy? You may get diarrhoea, or not feel like eating, or you may overeat. How you feel overall is all affected by what we eat.
VMc: Personally I get extremely confused about what is the right and the wrong thing to eat.
SG: It’s not surprising really, for so long we were told that low fat foods were what we should be eating but really we need the fats in our diets.
VMc: So I can just slather on the lard?!
SG: No, but you can be looking to get your fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, oils… we should all be looking to eat a balanced diet and not think that we have to be so extreme about what we eat.
VMc: I’ve looked at so many, the Paleo Diet where you eat like a caveman, the Zone diet, the one where you only eat during certain hours of the day, the one where you only eat five days a week… it’s so confusing I haven’t got a clue what I am supposed to be doing anymore!
SG: Firstly you should be eating as many green foods as you can and avoiding as many beige ones as possible! But you shouldn’t be so strict with something that you cannot then follow it, I tell my clients that if they can stick to their personal nutritional guidelines about 80% of the time that they will be okay. You have to have the flexibility to go out and have a glass of wine with your dinner and have a social life, it’s as important. But you have to be seeking to achieve a balance. And also look at your lifestyle. You have to allow your body to switch off, if that’s by swimming or getting a massage or something else beneficial then you should be doing that on a regular basis.
VMc: You’re also very active with advising people who are in the Cancer Support Group aren’t you?
SG: Yes, I support the cancer patients during and after orthodox treatment. I also help advise their carers with nutritional guidelines and recipes for them for recovery and also when they are terminally ill. It’s a big issue because amazingly many hospitals don’t seem to see what you eat as part of your recovery from an illness, the food that some places serve to their patients is terrible, and they don’t seem to monitor if the patients are even eating it either. Food really is an essential component in recovering from a serious illness.
VMc: What do you think about the idea that eating an alkaline diet will prevent cancer?
SG: It can’t hurt you to eat more greens, it won’t hurt you to aim at a more alkaline diet, but there are more factors to it than just that.
VMc: Some of your articles on Nourish The Guide are about juicing. That’s been a big trend in the past years. You describe the practice like an intravenous drip into your cells!
SG: Yes, it’s an efficient way to get vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll, enzymes and phytochemicals straight out of the vegetable and directly into our bodies. It makes it very easy to absorb, perfect if you’re on the go. I will be putting recipes up regularly on the Nourish The Guide site so look out for them there, or sign up on their website for their newsletter and get them into your inbox.
VMc: What do you do every day? Do you have a regime that you follow?
SG: I start every morning with a glass of lemon and water. It flushes out the kidneys and helps the liver. One little tip though, you should either brush your teeth before you drink it, or at least half an hour afterwards because of the effect on the enamel of your teeth. I eat wheat free muesli, fruits, and kefir for breakfast, and then I eat plenty of fish, eggs, sheep cheese and veggies for my other meals. I use a lot of spices and fresh herbs which also support the liver. I tell my clients to aim for a tasty variety of simple meals. Don’t over complicate things.
VMc: For me the biggest problem is eating out, being on the go. What do you do when you are away from your kitchen?
SG: I always carry a snack with me, today I have some nuts in my bag if I am caught short. People tend to like the idea of doing short sharp shocks, like an extreme detox or a fast, as if that is going to be something which will then repair whatever is wrong with them. But in reality it is better for you to constantly be eating foods which are good for you. Even if you just start by drinking lemon water every morning and eat an abundance of nutrient dense, beneficial foods and veggies, eat the rainbow as I say, then you will already be doing your body a huge favour. Try to focus on small steps which will incrementally lead to big changes in your wellbeing.
VMc: It must be really rewarding to see positive results from your clients.
SG: Results have been incredible, some quite unexpected, I provide clients with practical, doable, yet cutting-edge nutritional information based on scientific research, no fad diets with unrealistic goals to achieve.
VMc: Information and knowledge are continually evolving aren’t they? What do you think will be the next big thing?
SG: I’ve recently started offering genetic testing for my clients. It can inform them of so many things about their health and how they can then influence their own destiny by making changes to their lifestyles. We’re really living in a time where cutting edge technology is available to us all, we just have to use it wisely and with support from qualified people everyone really can live happier, healthier lives than ever before.
You can find Suzanne on www.nourishtheguide.com.
You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram @nourishtheguide
Written by Vicki McLeod