Stella Metsovas, a certified nutritionist and coach in Laguna Beach, Calif., said that many of her female clients complain of late-afternoon fatigue, which she addresses through dietary changes that keep blood-sugar levels stable. She also looks at possible food allergies and ways the body responds to stress throughout the day. Armed with physiological and psychological data from a client, coaches like Ms. Metsovas can design a diet tailored to individual health concerns.
Cheryl L. Rock, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said research shows that the personal coaching approach is very effective. But she cautioned consumers to be leery of advice from unqualified coaches. “Anyone can give nutrition advice, so it’s important to investigate their training and experience,” she said.
Services from nutrition coaches range from creating meal plans to shopping with clients, cooking for them and even stocking their cupboards. For executive clients who travel often, coaches give advice about what to order at restaurants. Deborah Carabet, a licensed nutrition counselor, has offices in Los Angeles and New York. She is also a chef; she shops for groceries with clients and goes to their homes to demonstrate healthy cooking. Her coaching rate is $250 to $700 a session.
Nutrition coaches say baby boomers are the biggest consumers of their services. “Boomers want to prolong the middle of their lives,” said Mary Furlong, author of ”Turning Silver Into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace” and chief executive of Mary Furlong & Associates, a marketing firm. Boomers want an active, engaged life as they age, she said. “They want to work longer; they want to date,” she said. “How do you stay in the game if you aren’t healthy and energetic?”
Barbara Mohan, 55, a law-office administrator in Manhattan, hired a nutrition coach because a gluten intolerance made her feel bloated and lethargic, even though she had changed her diet. “I still felt something was wrong with me,” Ms. Mohan said. Her nutrition coach, Brooke Kalanick, who is also a naturopathic physician (she attended a fouryear naturopathic medical school and took a board exam) determined that Ms. Mohan had toxins in her stomach and treated her with natural supplements and a detoxifying diet. “I feel 100
percent better, my energy level is up, and I dropped weight,” Ms. Mohan said.
Nutrition coaches say that about 65 percent of their clients are female. “Men tend to wait until something goes wrong before they see someone,” Ms. Kalanick said. An example is Richard Green, 48, a real estate agent in Newport Beach, Calif., who received a diagnosis of persistent acid reflux. He was put on medication but still had symptoms, so he sought the services of Ms. Metsovas.
“We cut my fat intake and I learned what causes reflux,” he said. “Stella gave me recipes tailored to me. I’m single, have a demanding career and don’t want to spend an hour trying to put together a meal. Now I cook ahead of time on the weekends so I can just put meals in the oven when I get home from work.” A few months after he began working with her, Mr. Green stopped taking his medication, lost some weight and found that he had more energy.
Nutrition coaches generally charge $100 to $300 an hour, whether the session is in person or over the phone. Ms. Kalanick charges $250 for the first visit, which lasts about 90 minutes and includes the development of a nutrition plan. Follow-up coaching sessions are $100 for a halfhour.
Some of her clients require weekly sessions; others see her every few months. MS. NOORZAI finds coaching so crucial to her well-being that she has cut certain luxuries out of her life to afford the several hundred dollars a month for her weekly phone sessions with Mr. Zehetner. “I stopped going out at night, I don’t get manicures or pedicures, I don’t get my hair cut as often,” she said.
Thanks to the coaching, “I know now how to make food work for me,” she said. “I’ve introduced myself to new foods and learned where the hidden calories are,” she added. “I know how to better combine foods, like proteins and carbs. What Brian is teaching me is a lifetime skill, not a quick fix. It’s literally changed my life.”