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Student Stories: Nutritionist Sinead Berry on her Leiths Online Experience

Leiths Online student Sinead Berry has completed the Essential Cooking Certificate from Leiths Online. She chose this course to develop her skills to help run her nutrition business, and was looking for flexibility as a mum with young kids.

Sinead Berry on her Leiths Online Experience

Sinead Berry (@sineadberrynutrition) is a registered nutritionist and freelance food and health writer specialising in women’s health and perimenopause. She holds an MSc in Personalised Nutrition and a post-graduate diploma in Nutritional Therapy, as well as the Essential Certificate from Leiths Online. Sinead writes a monthly newsletter offering recipes, resources and nutrition advice called Midlife Bites.

Can you start by telling us a little about what do you do?

“I’m a registered nutritionist and I focus on perimenopause. I support women in their late 30s and 40s in taking charge of their long-term health through a simple, joyful approach to food. As a writer and editor, I do copywriting, editing and consulting for brands in food and nutrition. I previously worked in fashion.”

What prompted you to do the Essential Cooking course with Leiths Online?

“I’d always been interested in cooking and working in fashion, going out to eat all the time, I considered myself a bit of a foodie. When Covid happened, I had a new-born and a two-year-old, and after about a year of going crazy, I decided to look at what I was really interested in and how my nutrition business was going to grow. I was thinking of running nutrition-focused cooking sessions online or in person and to do that I thought it would be good to learn the fundamentals of cooking. I had started doing some freelance work editing recipes for a nutrition clinic on Harley Street; my life was revolving around food and cooking already, so I thought doing some formal cooking would be of benefit. I decided that if I was going to do a course I wanted to do it somewhere with a great reputation. I needed a course that was flexible and affordable and that worked around me having two little kids. Leiths Online ticked all the boxes.”

How was your experience of the course?

“Great! It was so nice after doing a Masters and a Clinical Diploma to do something that was a bit lighter and fun to do. It worked really well for me being entirely online, and in a small group with a mentor. My mentor was really responsive and great at giving feedback and answering questions. Each week I allocated time at the weekend to go through everything. I started in January and finished in six months, then did the in-person assessment in September. That was terrifying but great. It was so nice to be in a proper kitchen and feel like you’re on MasterChef! It gave me a great sense of achievement.”

You were already working as a nutritionist and health writer. What did the course add to your skillset?

“It gave me more understanding of how recipes work, the chemistry behind it. For example, how you make a sponge cake without eggs if you’re making a vegan one. I also learned knife skills. Before I could just chop things, now I feel I’m pretty good at doing things in a particular way. It’s good learning to make things from scratch like homemade pasta and mayonnaise; [speaking as] a nutritionist, these things are so much better for you when you make them from scratch.”

Can you tell us more about your practice as a nutritionist?

“I work with clients one-to-one for a minimum of three months to get the best results. When someone comes to me, I’m always looking for a root cause of their symptoms, so we go deep into their health history, their lifestyle, their diet to come up with a personalised nutrition action plan. I refer to all the scientific research that’s relevant, then put together personalised meal suggestions, recipes, shopping lists and meal prepping suggestions to make things easy. I want to be creating my own recipes that I can give to them so that’s somewhere the course came in handy. I also recommend bespoke testing and supplementation if appropriate. The focus is on creating sensible diets so people are getting a wide variety of nutrients into their body rather than restricted diets where people are cutting things out. It has to be achievable. It’s important to specialise, then your knowledge becomes expertise in a smaller area. Every single person that comes to you is completely different so it’s like a new job every time. I find it very rewarding to be able to tell people small things they can change that to them actually make a big difference.

What plans do you have for your business?

“I’d like to create a group programme offering practical cooking sessions. I want to be able to share my nutrition knowledge as well as the cooking skills I’ve learned through recipes and to create a community around perimenopause.”

Do you think you will do any more cookery courses?

“I’d been so stressed about doing the assessment day but afterwards  I thought ‘OK, maybe I’ll do the next one’. I’m definitely interested in doing the Chef Skills course next but I think I’ll take a break first.”

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