A Non-Dieting Approach to Health

Building a better body through eating and living right

By Sue Baldani

Good nutrition is not just about losing weight. It’s also about feeding your mind, body and soul. This is the main tenet of Cara Clark Nutrition, and it’s this philosophy that has garnered Cara Clark a strong following.

A certified Sports and Clinical Nutritionist, Cara specializes in full-body wellness as well as sustainable lifestyles. Since founding Cara Clark Nutrition in 2009, she has shared her “non-dieting approach” to feeling and looking better.

“We don’t proclaim it to be weight loss and our success stories aren’t about what the scale says,” explains Cara. “Instead, it’s about people getting off medication, or those who had chronic illnesses getting better. Success is about a mom who felt so down and out and alone and now has the energy to be present in the moment with her kids.”

While living in Orange County, California, there was no shortage of celebrities seeking out her expertise. One of these was Christine Haack of HGTV’s Christina on the Coast and Flip or Flop (which Christina films alongside her ex-husband, Tarek El Moussa).

“We met eight years ago when Tarek was going through thyroid cancer treatment,” says Cara. “Christina reached out to me to help with a meal plan for him that aligned with his treatment protocol. Very quickly she realized she needed some nutritional support as well.” Christina was drained from caring for a sick husband, raising a toddler, and being new to the TV world.

Shortly thereafter, they became fast friends, and have maintained a close relationship to this day. In fact, when Cara and her family moved to Franklin last year, Christina was the first to visit and even bought a place nearby to stay while visiting. (The family’s move from California to Tennessee will be featured in an upcoming episode of Christina on the Coast.)

“We became that person we were missing in each other’s lives,” says Cara. “We even had babies at the same time with her Brayden and my Carli Jo and all of our kids are friends.”

They also co-authored the book, The Wellness Remodel. “We really wanted to touch on rewiring because a lot of it is how we think,” says Cara. “If time is the biggest obstacle, you can actually gain time by meal prepping. It’s not actually as hard as you think, but you have to have the energy to apply it. So, we say give us five days, which is when people’s energy starts to change.”

Being a wife to Chris, a financial planner, and a mom to four daughters – Maggie (age 11), Mila (9), Claire (8), and Carli Jo (Jo Jo) (5), Cara knows all about time constraints. Soon after moving into their new home, they also rescued a Pyrenees Australian shepherd mix named Aspen, so they have a full house.

Limited time is one of the reasons that Cara now only takes on athletes on an individualized basis. For others, she offers a unique and effective group challenge program. “When my third daughter was due, I had so many people begging me to take them on as clients, so I created a challenge that would work for everybody, but also take into consideration their personal assessments.”

The program has been unbelievably successful, with over 2000 participants per season taking part. “We do them seasonally so we can use seasonal foods and recipes not only to inspire people, but to also make sure they are taking in the best nutrients possible.”

Adults aren’t the only people she focuses on; she is currently writing a program called “The Balanced Kid” that she hopes to launch this month. “We already have a Fall Back to Health challenge every summer for parents to get back on track, and a kids’ cookbook, [with recipes approved by her children] so this is an add on.”

Cara collaborated with Dr. Kaisa Coppola, a functional medicine doctor, to talk about the main issues she sees in her pediatric patients, and then went on to provide all the meal plans, recipes, and guidance to help with those issues. She says that when many kids act out, instead of a behavioral problem, it may actually be a nutritional deficiency issue.

Eating first thing in the morning, she says, is key for both kids and adults, and she gives many grab-and-go ideas like rolling up your protein and carbs. A great snack or meal can be a combination of nutritious crackers and cheese, hard-boiled eggs and sliced apples, watermelon and nuts, and popcorn with nutritional yeast, which adds not only a cheesy flavor but protein and B vitamins as well. “It’s not about sneaking these foods in, but instead just shifting the experience. This is what I want to teach with The Balanced Kid.” Go to CaraClarkNutrition.com or pick up “The Wellness Remodel” to get started on living your and your family’s best lives.  

Written for Brentwood Lifestyle magazine in Brentwood, TN.

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