Several years ago Cindy Cole read an article about how subtle changes in diet could improve her complexion. “Within a week my skin was clear – I thought, ‘This is amazing!’ But I was also furious that I didn’t know about this when I was a teenager,” she says. “I experimented with my own diet and was amazed at the impact that it had on my body and the way I felt.” This realization led Cole to the University of Maryland for a master’s degree in nutrition. Today she runs “Home Plate Health,” a nutrition consultation business that helps people change both their diets and their lives.
“I work with folks to help them see the difference between treats and a healthy basic diet. Most people eat a lot of processed foods and don’t realize that the additives don’t really help them,” Cole explains. “Many people think that if foods have vitamins and minerals added to them, that’s the same thing as eating whole foods.” She makes the example of how grains lose their nutrients while being processed to make white bread products. “Some minerals may be added back in at the end, but they have lost a long list of vitamins, minerals, and fiber along the way. We really need to base our diets on whole foods and real foods. Processed foods can be eaten, but they should be considered treats,” she says.
Cole’s view of nutrition counseling is not one-size fits all. Rather, she works with an individual’s personal tastes, finding foods and fitness options that appeals to them specifically. “Different people respond to different foods differently,” she notes. “For example, some people have a harder time lowering their cholesterol than just cutting out ice cream and adding oatmeal. For them it’s not so much taking out the ice cream as it is balancing the rest of the diet. I have one client on a very low-fat diet, but his cholesterol hasn’t come down. For him it’s been about adding in good fats.”
Cole understands that such changes are challenging for people who are set in their ways, so she works to make the changes gradual and easy to maintain by traveling to meet her clients wherever they are and joining them in physical activities. She usually recommends weekly meetings of 1-2 hours at the outset. Later, monthly check-ins may be more appropriate. “It’s an evolution, I give them ideas and they may try certain things or they may not, so we talk about it again. It’s back and forth,” she says.
Awareness is one tool to combat nutritional misinformation, and Cole advises people to learn more and talk back to the advertising. “The successful client is the one who recognizes the link between diet and health, both in preventing diseases and in having energy and feeling good.”
Contact Cindy Cole’s Home Plate Health at 202-344-0886 or email her.