Areas of Expertise
Disordered eating can happen at any size, with any body shape. Sadly, the glamorised body shapes associated with eating disorders portrayed by social media, popular movies and TV shows can lead to many of my patients feeling afraid, ashamed or unworthy of seeking help. However, habits or symptoms associated with disordered eating don’t always fall under a clear cut diagnosis or stereotype. Regardless of the problem or severity, I believe that everyone deserves access to nutritional treatment and support.
I can help you if you are worried that:
- Your relationship with food isn’t ideal
- You have food anxieties or food fears
- You have very black-and-white rules around food
- You find yourself preoccupied with food for much of your day
Often, disordered relationships with eating and food, and poor body image begin in periods of stress, major life changes, or poor mental health. Disordered eating behaviour often acts as a coping mechanism when everything else in life feels uncontrollable. For some people, changing their eating behaviour might have started off as a resolution to become healthier, but over time it turned into a negative, unhealthy or restrictive eating habit.
I’ve helped many of my patients to escape from a diet mentality and strict food rules so that they feel comfortable honouring their body’s natural hunger and fullness signals. Identifying any problems early on is important, as it provides an opportunity to develop healthier ways of dealing with stress and trauma. Ultimately, seeking treatment is the beginning of your process of gaining a deeper insight into yourself and developing new coping mechanisms and skills that you can build on for many years to come.
Eating because you’re stressed, bored, lonely, or angry is a normal part of being human. In fact, eating or craving certain foods during times of stress developed as an evolutionary adaptation to help humans survive in harsh, stressful environments. Fast forward to modern times, the psychological stress from our relationships, jobs, school or home life can act as a trigger for emotional eating in the same way. However, when food is your only coping mechanism for dealing with stress or strong emotions, it can become problematic. When addressing emotional eating, it’s important not to blame yourself or demonise specific foods that you may crave or love. I can help you to develop additional tools for coping with stress that will help you to enjoy eating, rather than relying on it.
Did you know that your gut is like your second brain? In fact, there are more neurotransmitters in your gut than in your brain, which means that looking after your gut health is essential for your mental health. I’m passionate about helping my patients to improve their gut health because this can help to regulate your mood, boost the immune system, keep skin healthy, and improve sleep and energy levels. Focusing on the health of your gut is one of the most effective ways to enhance your overall health and wellbeing.
I work with my patients to improve their gut health by firstly evaluating your diet to assess if you’re eating foods that will keep your gut healthy and happy, and how you could improve. This might include eating a wider variety of foods, focusing on specific nutrients, vitamins or minerals, consuming more fibre, or avoiding foods that your gut doesn’t agree with.
Many of my patients might struggle with digestive issues or discomfort after eating. Whether these symptoms are an occasional inconvenience, or a debilitating daily occurrence, no one should have to put up with ongoing gut symptoms. As a nutritionist, I can help you explore whether a specific food or component doesn’t agree with you through a systematic trial and error process. If there’s another underlying cause for your gut symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), we can address this using evidence-based dietary and lifestyle interventions.
My approach to mental health
I believe that nourishing our minds and bodies with nutritious and healthy food is vital for good mental health. I support my patients to build a healthy and happy lifestyle by using evidence-based nutritional science and positive psychology. I help my patients to choose a nutritional approach that allows them to feel confident, energised and reach a place where food is something to be enjoyed and celebrated.
I begin treatment by getting to know you as a person rather than simply focusing on what you eat. The first and most important step is creating a safe, trusting and supportive environment for you. Once you feel comfortable, we can start exploring your food history through a clinical assessment. The assessment will involve taking a comprehensive history of your history and relationship with food from childhood, which helps us to identify where any negative thoughts around eating or food may have originated from. We will also discuss your current eating patterns and any symptoms or nutrition-related issues that are bothering you, to create a personalised treatment plan.
If you need additional support, treatment or psychotherapy to address disordered eating patterns, I can help match you with the right psychiatrist or psychologist and we’ll work collaboratively to give you the best possible care.
Personalised treatment plans
Your personalised treatment plan will always be tailored to your goals, preferences, and any symptoms you’re experiencing. In terms of nutritional recommendations, this might include a meal template, balanced recipes, recovery challenges, supplement advice, or exploring what we can add to your diet rather than restricting foods. I’ll also take into account your daily schedule, exercise or fitness goals, sleep quality and whether you’d like to integrate family or social support. During treatment, I always ensure that we progress at a pace you feel comfortable with, as I understand that creating new habits around food and eating can take time.
Not only am I here to support you on your nutritional journey and goals, but I’ll also provide you with the evidence-based strategies and information you need to feel confident in maintaining the lifestyle changes we put in place.
Training and education
I’m a registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr), certified by the Association for Nutrition (AFN), UK. I have over three years of clinical experience helping teenagers and adults in private practices, including the BlueTree Clinic in Harley Street and The Abbey Clinic, in Bisham Abbey. I’ve also completed accredited courses in Disordered Eating and Body Image with the Association for Nutrition. Outside of my clinical work, I regularly consult for brands, advising on nutrition, health claims and creating bespoke recipes.
I completed my Master of Science in Human Nutrition at Oxford Brookes University, which encompassed not only training in nutritional science but also psychology, public health and behavioural change. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Loughborough, where I focused much of my research on eating disorders and sociocultural factors perpetuating disordered eating in females such as the changing ideals of female beauty standards in the media and ubiquitous diet culture. I have a special interest in the rising prevalence of orthorexia and how social media may operate as a mask for eating disorders, food restriction, body image issues and excessive exercise.
In addition, I enjoy giving motivational speaking and running workshops. I am partnered with many schools and am passionate about raising awareness amongst young people about nutrition misinformation, especially through social media. I educate the younger generation on the dangers of disordered eating and raise awareness about eating disorders, poor body image issues and excessive exercise. I’ve also written guest features and produced social media content for several brands and publications such as PRESS Health Food, Forking Wellness, Reset your Gut and Oxford Vitality.
Find out more about my nutritional approach by:
- Hearing my contribution as an expert on ‘Nutrition Explained’.
- Reading my blog ‘Why You Can’t Recover From An Eating Disorder On Safe Foods’
- Seeing some of my recipe samples on instagram @hannahcartwrightnutrition.
My personal interests
Outside of my clinical work I love writing blogs and producing social media content that breaks down myths around diets and eating disorders. I’m an ambassador for UK’s leading Eating Disorder charity BEAT and Crohn’s and Colitis, a charity raising awareness about Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I’m also passionate about running, and recently completed the London Marathon. My other hobbies include baking, cooking, traveling and trying out new restaurants.