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E#200 How to Coach Around Nutrition and Eating Habits

This episode is about how to coach around nutrition and eating habits

I was recently asked, ‘how do you coach around nutrition and eating habits without being an expert’? Today I’ll illustrate a few ways to do this with some examples.

When Clients Ask You What They Should Eat

Let’s say a client comes to you and wants to be told what to eat, and whether she should follow a diet plan.

A good starting point is to ask what the client already knows and acknowledge why that matters to them – what is behind this change in eating and how will that impact their life? Their answers may reveal some important values that will help them to create a compelling vision.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* When Clients Ask You What They Should Eat
* How to Discuss Portion Sizes
* Coaching for Weight Loss

Next, you would explore what they know already about healthy eating. Most clients have a reasonable amount of knowledge – just not how to fit it into their busy lives. But if your client doesn’t know much, you might point them to relevant guidelines, or refer them to a professional who is qualified to help.

The most important thing is that you are not here to educate clients or tell them what to do. Instead, your role is to draw out what your client knows and help them make sense of it, identify any knowledge gaps that require referral, and otherwise help them to create safe and effective goals to achieve their vision.

How to Discuss Portion Sizes

Let’s say your client isn’t clear about portion sizes or serving sizes but sees this as an important part of eating well. How do you tackle that?

Firstly, there are published guidelines on these aspects that you can share with a client. The way to introduce them is to ask permission – would you be interested in looking at the guidelines on portion sizes and serving sizes?

In sharing the information, you can ask the client questions that will raise their self awareness. These might include questions like:

How much of this did you already know?

What surprised you?

What have you learned?

How might you use this information?

What would you like to experiment with?

There is much to be learnt about healthy eating and there is also a lot of mis-information out there. Your job is to support your clients as they consider changes they may to make, provide well documented information when required and step in if they are planning to set goals that are unsafe in any way.

Coaching For Weight Loss

People might want to change their eating habits and diets for many reasons including to reduce arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, to lower blood pressure, or address a chronic illness like type 2 diabetes or an autoimmune condition, or to boost their energy.

But a lot of clients who want to change their eating habits are concerned about weight loss, either as a stand-alone concern, or coupled with one of the other aspects.

So how do you have conversations about plateaus, popular diet trends and supplements?

The starting point is always about finding out what the client knows already, and what their perception is about this area.

What do they know about this diet trend or supplement, it’s safety and efficacy?

Or in the case of a plateau, what do they know about energy balance?

What is attractive about the solution they’ve found?

And what’s behind that?

Often clients are drawn toward things that seem to offer a quick solution to their challenges. Unpacking conversations can reveal underlying fears, concerns or motivators, and awareness of these can lead a client to reasonably assess whether their thought processes are helpful.

If there are any remaining concerns or desires to try certain approaches, you can easily refer a client to a doctor or dietician for more specific advice.

But often, you get the chance to turn the conversation back toward the longer term goals, the sustainable habits they are doing, how they feel about the habits, and also, basic principles about mindful eating and tuning into natural hunger and satiety signals.

You may invite a client to watch their thoughts and/or track their responses to food, any ‘rules’ they set around eating, how they feel in social eating settings, what thoughts they are having about other people’s results etc. In doing this self-reflection, the client can learn the valuable skill of critical thinking to help them work out for themselves if they have legitimate concerns or not.

A little information and some self-reflection can be used to help your clients develop the skill of understanding what their bodies are telling them, so that they can self-regulate their behaviour more easily.

Two key drivers of unhealthy eating habits and weight concerns are stress, and faulty thinking patterns that lead to unhelpful feelings and beliefs. In that sense, while the initial work in weight loss

coaching is around more superficial topics like what to eat and how to get organised, the deeper work for lasting change is around the individual’s ability to set boundaries, manage their lives and their emotions.


Today I shared three examples of how to coach around nutrition. We covered:

1. What to do if a client wants to be told what to eat

2. How to coach around portion sizes, and

3. Coaching for weight loss including popular diets, supplements and other people’s success.

We’ve only just skimmed the surface of weight loss coaching, but these are three common questions that I have been asked by coaches who want to coach clients around nutrition and eating habits.

I hope this episode was useful. Please subscribe to my podcast on iTunes and I’d appreciate your rating and feedback if you are enjoying this!

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#198 The Impact and Potential of Health and Wellness Coaching

This episode is about the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching

The recent HCANZA conference showcased some of our leading innovators and impactful coaches, as well as the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching. This article summarises how health and wellness coaching is at the cutting edge of health behaviour change in a variety of contexts, and how huge the opportunity is right now for qualified health and wellness coaches.

The inaugural HCANZA conference on June 2-3, 2022 was an incredible opportunity for like minded graduate and professional health and wellness coaches to come together and learn about opportunities for our profession. The conference was made possible by the incredible work by HCANZA Chair Linda Funnell-Milner, whose tireless efforts (supported by the board and leadership team) ensured that everything ran like clockwork.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* The Award Winners
* The Speakers
* The Networking Opportunities

The conference kicked off on the evening of Thursday 2 June with a cocktail party, a keynote address from Grant Schofield, and an awards ceremony which I was invited to MC.

The Award Winners

Let’s start by recognising the movers and shakers in our industry, in Australia and New Zealand. The awards winners were:

1. Giovanna Stewart: Best Emerging coach of the year

Giovanna is a dietician who is gaining success by combining her dietetic expertise with client-focused coaching skills.

2. Jaala Dyer: Coach of the year in a clinic setting –

Jaala has developed a collaborative and creative platform for the most important chronic disease drivers that many in our communities face, and it is now being shared across the wider community.

3. Karina Morris (WCA graduate): Health & Wellness Coach Advocacy Award

Karina shows dedication in delivering coaching to a truly underserved population within the disability community, showing both courage and leadership to take Health and Wellness Coaching to areas that will make a significant difference to people’s lives. Karina is striving to have Health and Wellness Coaching recognised as a professional service within the NDIS that can be funded under many other parallel funding-based systems.

4. The Change Room (employs WCA graduates): Business Achievement Award

The Change Room has successfully adapted to the challenge of Covid and has created and provided resources for the unprecedented health and wellbeing issues arising in this time both for the individual and for organisations. They have adapted their use of technology to facilitate the ongoing

delivery of their core mission – supporting clients involved with return to work via insurance company funding.

5. Sharon Tomkins: Health & Wellness Coach of the Year

Sharon demonstrates committed to ongoing learning and training, individualises her client programs according to needs, and has engaged in many models of delivery and has been active running community programs. Sharon clearly works collaboratively with other health practitioners and shows leadership in her role of training health coaches.

6. Brad Hulcomb: Outstanding Contribution to Health

Brad is an influencer across multiple layers – medical, coaching and sports – and has impacted many on his journey, from his medical work to his ski instructing to now his health coaching. As the director of the Urgent Care Clinic on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu ski field, he led doctors, nurses and radiographers providing high-quality care in austere environments. He ran medical conferences to provide participants with more than just knowledge, but also focus on their own well-being. He is also a coach trainer with PreKure. He is someone who walks the talk.

As you can see, there are many ways that health and wellness coaches can have an impact, and these are just a few – the top six of over 50 coaches nominated for these inaugural awards.

The Speakers

On Friday, the audience was treated to a jam-packed day with speakers from different realms sharing knowledge and innovation from the coaching front.

Session 1 was about thinking big and exploring the possibilities.

Michael Arloski talked about how important it is to deepen our craft – and he discussed the concept of craftsmanship, which is very close to my own heart. Michael says that in the face of global well-being challenges that our clients face, we can double down by focusing on masterful coaching and staying within our scope of practice. Practice, patience and presence are required to become good at what we do, and focusing on this will help us to deliver incredible value to our clients.

Paul Taylor presented a summary of his new book ‘Death by Comfort’ – why modern life is killing us and what we need to do about it. Paul discussed some of the latest research around the benefits of ‘uncomfortable’ things like exercise, cold therapy and heat therapy, and how they can truly improve quality of life and longevity.

Suzie Carmack talked about creating value as a coach, and about building your personal brand and business with a portfolio career. A portfolio career is the idea of having multiple income streams as a coach, but also organising your days and working in batches to avoid burnout.

Session 2 shared exemplars of partnerships from the field.

We heard from Grant Schofield, Troy Morgan, Dr Sandra Scheinbaum, Bee Pennington and Sam McBride.

The speakers illustrated various ways in which coaches can build and leverage partnerships to build their businesses and have an impact.

One thing was definitely clear – as a coach, we need to engage our target market and build relationships there to truly understand their needs, before going in to ‘sell’ anything. It is truly relationships that give coaching a platform to really shine and make a difference.

Troy Morgan discussed two ways to succeed in corporate – firstly, to develop strong partnerships with all stakeholders, and secondly, to collect data that proves the impact and value of the work you are doing. Those two things can make you indispensable within an organisation.

Sam McBride’s ‘Men’s Muster’ in NZ was a particularly interesting example of how to engage men with the idea of health behaviour change, with a little beer and a lot of engaging outdoor activities.

Session 3 was about breaking business ground.

David Carroll, myself, Philippa Flowerday and Michelle Yandle discussed how coaches can establish thriving businesses in a variety of contexts.

We explored different models that can create income and add value, and discussed coaching success in organisations, workplaces, communities and solo businesses.

Michelle showcased a unique ‘ Empowered Eating’ model that is based in the ancient wisdom of her ancestors, and which is relevant to the issues upstream of eating – family,

A key message is that being specific about the problem that you want to solve, is the best and easiest way to build your business and have an impact.

Session 4, the final session, included speakers who are inspiring best practice and stepping into new specialty fields.

Dr Cam McDonald, Shivaun Conn, Sarah Rusbatch and Fiona Cosgrove talked about cutting-edge research and emerging niches in coaching.

Cam discussed the power of combining coaching and technology, focusing how we are extremely variable in terms of our exercise, nutrition, psychology and medication needs, and how digital metrics can identify and predict the needs of individuals so as to fine-tune their habits and protocols in these areas.

Shivaun talked about trauma-informed care – what it means and how to work with it and manage your own triggers as a coach. She explained the signs of a dysregulated nervous system (stuck ‘on’ or ‘off’) and the language that someone might use in either state, as signs that a coach could use to identify a need for referral or support.

Sarah outlined how (and why) her grey area drinking practice has skyrocketed in the past 14 months and shared the personal story behind her journey to becoming a grey area drinking coach. Her talk hit home with a lot of questions and commendations related to her work.

Fiona Cosgrove discussed her PhD research into the development and care of the health and wellness coach, and the four key areas that changed for coaches themselves during their coach training journey. These are self-knowledge and acceptance, better relationships, professional optimism, and personal health and wellness. Fiona’s was a fitting final session that pulled together the essence of the conference – that Health and Wellness Coaching has important impacts on both coaches and clients in terms of physical, mental and emotional health.

Networking Opportunities

The networking sessions created invaluable connections for all who attended. As the MC on the Thursday evening session, I invited everyone to introduce themselves to someone they hadn’t met before, to forge new connections.

By Friday, the ice was well and truly broken, and everyone was eagerly swapping contact details and sharing ideas in the breaks between speaking sessions. Several people were discussing opportunities to work together or to try the services of someone else. All in all, there was significant cross-pollination and the generation of new ideas.


The recent HCANZA conference was a huge success. It was an event that bought coaches together, showcased new and innovative research in our field, and highlighted coaches who are breaking ground and having an impact. Further, the conference showed that success is available to all who qualify in this field.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 78: How to Build a Referral Network with Allied Health Professionals

What is the most effective way to become known and to start connecting with potential clients?

By building a referral network with Allied Health professionals. Here’s how to get started so you can get a steady stream of referrals and build your sales pipeline.

When I work with coaches who are starting their coaching business, the first question they ask is ‘how do I get clients?’ I want to talk about the most effective way to become known and to start connecting with potential clients – by building a referral network with Allied Health professionals.

When you start a business, the first thing you need to do is start marketing.

But what is the best place and way to START marketing?

To answer that, let’s acknowledge that there are three main parts to marketing your business:

  1. Becoming known
  2. Connecting and engaging, and
  3. Making offers

Working in an industry where quality and credibility are essential, Health and Wellness Coaches can gain a huge advantage when starting their businesses by networking with allied health practitioners.

It takes time to build rapport and relationship in allied health, but these specific relationships will help you to build the most meaningful connections.

And if you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline.

In my local coaching business, I networked with GP’s in the startup phase of my business and involved them in the development of my program approach, and within 2 years was being listed on GP care plans and was referred clients on a regular basis.

Let’s take a step back and explore what all this means and involves, so you can start building your own relationships with allied health practitioners.

It Starts with Trust

Even when someone is ready, willing and able to get help with their health and wellbeing, they will generally only buy from someone they know, like and trust.

As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

Further, consider how much more weight an Allied Health Practitioner’s referral has, compared with a referral from a friend or family member.

People see medical and health professionals as trustworthy and reliable, and that sentiment transfers to you as a referral partner.

It therefore makes sense to start building Allied Health relationships early on in your business, so you can position your business as credible, professional and reputable.


Referrals Build Referrals

An easy way to get referrals from Allied Health practitioners is to meet and network with them and refer people you know to them.

Even if you don’t have any clients, you can become their client, or refer people you know to certain practitioners.

Do this and they will get to know you and will more likely want to reciprocate.

Which local practitioners could you use the service of and refer people to?

Networks Build Collective Knowledge

When you maintain your professional networks and relationships, you enjoy an added benefit of keeping your finger on the pulse with developments in your area, and in the health industry more generally.

For example, I recall a Medicare Local meeting that I attended in my Shire.

I had the chance to network with Allied Health professionals I knew, meet new practitioners in the area, learn about some of the common problems our sector was facing generally in terms of funding, information sharing gaps and key client issues (some of which I could help with) and, I was able to make a couple of useful contributions to this meeting.

I learned very quickly that these sorts of events were worth attending and helped me to support other practitioners while also building trust in my network and identifying new business opportunities.

In addition, as Allied Health practitioners came to know me better, they understood how I helped people, and could send clients to me that were the right kind of client for my niche with the exact problem I helped to solve.

As they say in marketing, I was getting pre-qualified client referrals who were suited to my program and to my way of working.

The impact of this was to increase my sales conversion rate such that around 90 – 95% of all enquiries would buy from me.

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

How to Build a Referral Network With Allied Health Professionals

Here are five steps to getting started with your Allied Health Network.

  1. Get professional business cards printed with contact details and website/social media links (ideally LinkedIn)
  2. Develop your professional identity and a clear, simple elevator pitch-style overview of who you help, what you do, and how you deliver that (see the Coaching Success Accelerator, Unit 1, for a step-by-step process)
  3. Visit to identify health services in your local area and make a list of those relevant to your services and niche.
  4. Decide on how you will approach Allied Health professionals to make contact – for example, would you:
  •   send a letter,
  •   phone to request an in person meeting,
  •   book an appointment as a client
  •   attend an Allied Health event, or
  •   approach a chronic disease organisation that relates to your niche?

5.  Start scheduling appointments and reaching out to those professionals to introduce yourself and discuss a referral process that suits you both.  They may have something in place that they use, or you could develop something together.


Referrals are a great way to start and build your business.

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

If you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline

That means you can convert a higher percentage of enquiries to sales.

Further, you get to keep your finger on the local and industry pulse and help other practitioners, plus identify business opportunities.

What are you waiting for?

It’s time to follow a simple, five-step process to building your referral network so you can generate a steady stream of enquiries to fill your programs and sales pipeline.

Ready to build networks with Allied Health professionals?

 Give your business the head start it deserves! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 62: Intuitive Eating 101

You might have heard recently about intuitive eating. If you’re wondering what it is and what the benefits are, stay tuned, because that’s what this episode is all about.

Before you listen to this, I recommend you listen to the previous episode #61, where I discussed Body Intelligence or BQ.

Intuitive eating is a type of Body Awareness, which is the first pillar of BQ (body intelligence).

Intuitive eating is a concept that was developed by Evelyn Tribole, a dietician and counsellor, and Elyse Resche, a nutritionist.

They define intuitive eating as:

“a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.”

It is a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought, and the authors of this approach call it ‘weight neutral’. 

The idea is to trust and use your inner signals, both mental and physical, as a guide for what to eat, how much to eat, and when.

I wanted to speak about this because it’s so close to my heart and it’s a big part of the Metabolic Typing process that I was trained in and use with many hundreds of my clients.

An End to Dieting Mentality

Intuitive Eating proposes an end to the dieting mentality – but what does this actually mean?

I had a bit of internal conflict around the idea of dieting and not dieting for some time, and after some reflection I got clear on my position around this.

Firstly, I believe that there are circumstances where it makes sense for some people to follow specific diets.

Here are some examples of this:

  1. Many overweight people have fatty liver and dysregulated insulin. In this case, a short period of low carb eating might be required to regain insulin sensitivity and to get rid of cravings sooner.
  2. Some people develop temporary intolerances to certain foods – and this can happen in periods of intense stress or if you eat too much of a certain food, or if your immune system is triggered – so in this case it makes sense to follow a low-stress diet for a short period to allow the body to recover from its inflammatory/reactive state.
  3. People with gut health issues might need to temporarily or permanently be on a specific ‘diet’, such as a FODMAPS diet, or a high fibre diet or a diet for Crohn’s or celiac disease, for example.
  4. People with a chronic lifestyle disease may need to follow a specific type of diet to manage their symptoms or condition, such as diabetes, heart disease etc.

The idea is to trust and use your inner signals, both mental and physical, as a guide for what to eat, how much to eat, and when.

What I’m saying is this – in certain situations, some people DO need to have a certain mentality around what they do or don’t eat, because it may affect their wellbeing.

That aside, if we look at what the word diet means, it’s simply the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

So to be clear, what we’re talking about with Intuitive Eating is that we are aiming to stop being obsessed by food and eating habits, to stop unnecessarily restricting ourselves, and to stop having negative or harmful thoughts around food or our bodies.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Let’s explore the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.

1. Reject the diet mentality

This principle is about ignoring the quick fix marketing and solutions we are sold, and the promise that the next diet will work and solve all your problems.

The truth is, when we rely on someone else for the answer, we give them our power. And in actual fact, your body is designed to give you all the signals you need to eat  in a way that nourishes and supports good health. It’s our in-built survival mechanism

2. Honour your hunger

Leading on from the first point, we must learn to recognise true hunger and to give your body enough of the right kinds of food.  

Our bodies use carbs and fat for fuel, and can also use protein if the other fuel sources are not available. We need to trust that our bodies will tell us when we are truly hungry and give them a balanced die.

3. Make peace with food

Food is not a reward or a punishment. Restricting is a sure fire recipe for creating guilt, binges and uncontrollable cravings. 

It’s important that we allow ourselves to eat healthily in a way that supports our bodies and minds and to use self-compassion when we feel urges.

4. Challenge the food police

There is no good or bad food. There is no forbidden food or treat food. There is no need to do calorie accounting. Applying these labels and this intense scrutiny creates guilt, judgement and self-loathing.

In actual fact, there is just food, and it is a fuel. Thinking this way about food, without any labels can help you to make peace and eliminate the negative thoughts and feelings about it.

5. Respect your fullness

Our bodies tell us when we’ve had enough to eat. When we make the time and space to notice these signals, we will naturally stop eating.

Mindfulness is a tool that can help us observe this simple and powerful signal.

6. Discover the satisfaction factor

Rather than busily scoffing our meal or feeling wanting for something else, we can enjoy eating and feel satisfied with our eating by simply paying attention to our food and the experience of eating it.

When you truly experience the process of eating – the texture, colours, flavours and smells – then it’s much easier to feel satisfied.

7. Honour your feelings without using food

Some of us have been conditioned to reach for food when we’re anxious, lonely, bored, stressed, angry or sad.  

But food won’t solve the problem and may make things words, by throwing feelings of guilt into the mix. 

There are healthier ways to manage your mind and your emotions and you can use those processes to replace food and honour your feelings, so that you can sit with them and let them go in a healthy way.

8. Respect your body

A lot of people think that a healthy body must look a certain way. The reality is, as I learned in my Metabolic Typing qualification, we are all different sizes and shapes and, we are biochemically unique on the inside.

Our physical bodies are adapted to different climates – cold climates, mountainous climates, hot climates.

Our biochemistry is adapted to the available food sources that are in those local environments. 

Respecting your body starts with recognising that your natural shape and size gives you unique strengths and skills, and by fueling your body with the right foods for YOUR body type.

9. Exercise and feel the difference

Further to this, each person does best with a different type of exercise. Your physiology gives clues as to which exercise might work better for you – but also consider your levels of stress, your stage of life and what you like to do.

If you’re only exercising to lose weight then you’re missing out on a wealth of other benefits like stress management, endorphins, strength, flexibility, agility, stamina and mobility.

Look for other motivators or goals around exercise and you’ll quickly learn to love it. 

10. Honour your health

Finally, nobody has a perfect diet. One meal won’t throw your entire life off track. Rather, choose foods that help your body to feel strong, clear, capable and well.

If you choose foods that create these feelings most of the time, it will make healthy eating so much easier, and you’ll be able to turn it into a habit that you love.


To wrap things up, you can see that the principles of intuitive eating are about body awareness, body knowledge and then body engagement – they are intrinsically tied with the principles of BQ, as discussed in episode 60 of this podcast.

Choose foods that help your body to feel strong, clear, capable and well.

The skills and tools that help you become an intuitive eating are mindfulness, thought watching and thought change modelling.

Changing your relationship with food is about more than just making a plan and doing it – it also means unravelling your old mental patterns and beliefs so that you can let go of past behaviours, and start taking positive actions in the right direction.

For assistance with intuitive eating, visit page.

Ready to learn more about intuitive eating?

Changing your relationship with food can be the start of a whole new relationship with yourself. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: