Indie Oxford Interview: The Kitchen Table Coach
This week we catch up with Suné Markowitz-Shulman, also known as The Kitchen Table Coach, as she shares how she got into coaching, her plans for the future and, of course, her favourite Oxford indies!
Tell us about your coaching business & why you decided to set it up
I help people who have unhappy relationships with food and their bodies, and a history of chronic dieting to rediscover the joy of eating. To break free from food rules and wholeheartedly respect and care for their bodies.
The diet industry’s dirty little secret is that diets don’t work, but we have been made to believe that we’re not good enough or not worthy if we’re not a ‘normal’ weight. The world of nutrition has us striving to the holy grail of being healthy and much of this has messed up many people’s relationships with food. Society has bought into that message and in the meantime, people go from diet to fad diet in this constant weight loss battle and ultimate quest for health only to inevitably add to the confusion about what to eat and regain weight (and more).
I have always been interested in health and well-being because it is important to me, but the thing I’m passionate about is food and the act of eating.
Being a self-professed bon vivant, chef and registered nutritional therapist, it makes me sad to see how many people have this messed up relationship with their bodies and how food is the enemy, so it becomes an internal and external daily battle for many years, which not only affects physical health but also their mental health.
So, through my coaching I support them in the journey to become happy, intuitive eaters, eating becomes an act of self-care and respect rather than restriction and frustration. Nothing brings me more joy to see how they blossom and become more confident and content about who they are, regardless of the size of their shorts.
How was training & what qualification have you achieved?
This work is an ongoing learning process which I love.
After many years of working as a chef and the hospitality industry, I qualified in 2006 with a 4-year, level 6 diploma from BCNH (College of Nutrition and Health). Training was rigorous, challenging and an excellent academic and clinical evidence-based curriculum.
Since then I have always kept up with the latest developments and research in the field as well as developing my coaching skills through various modalities, with special interest in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), CBT and Nancy Klein’s ‘Thinking environment’ including health coaching from Zest4Life who specialise in health coaching for nutritional therapists.
In October I start the teacher training pathway in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) to further enhance my work as a mindfulness-based therapist which I am very excited about.
How have your previous work places helped you to become a coach?
I have mostly been self-employed, but through my work as a chef and nutritional therapist, I realised early on that coaching is a necessary skill to help people with behaviour change and that making dietary changes is a very small part of the overall health picture which includes mental, physical, social and personal well-being, which is what I am interested in.
I am increasingly concerned about people’s (especially young people) obsession with food and how this affects their mental health. I love the principles of intuitive and mindful approaches to food and eating and I follow the Health at Every Size (HAES) approach which is a weight inclusive, anti-diet healthcare paradigm that shifts the focus away from weight loss and instead promotes health gain and body acceptance.
How do you keep up to date with coaching developments and creative trends?
I am an avid reader, love doing courses and further self-developments. I listen to podcasts and follow influential people online. I recognise that my ability to be a good coach and teacher to help others with change, there needs to be much focus on my own coaching, learning, growth and development, hence the fact that I am starting the MBCT course in October and have recently joined Toastmasters to enhance my public speaking and other communication skills to do more public speaking.
In what way can your coaching help our readers?
My coaching and support are for people who are tired of the head noise about food and who just want to eat in a normal way. They want to feel content in their bodies and after years of following every diet and food fad known to man, woman or beast, they know that enough is enough, they’re fed up with trying to find the ‘best new diet’ that will ‘change their lives’ and are ready to throw out the diet books, to be brave and curious and take a radical approach to the way they care for themselves.
No more calorie counting, dieting, stressing about food and feeling uncomfortable in their bodies! Here’s to living life unrestricted and enjoying food.
What does the local community mean to you?
Being part of a community, which is supportive, diverse and accepting is very important to me and that is one of the many reasons we moved to Oxford. Having been part of a great community in South London we appreciate the friendships and connections we made there and hope to do the same in Oxford. The size of Oxford is such that it has been easy to meet new people and I seem too often bump into familiar faces which is lovely especially through networking and being part of the Indie Oxford community.
Lastly, tell me about your favourite Oxfordshire indies?
Nothing gives me more pleasure than supporting independent businesses. As a food lover, I love the Magdalen Arms for a lazy Sunday lunch, having coffee at the Society café and pizza at Mamma Mia with my daughter on a weekday evening when I don’t feel like cooking. Grape Minds, knows their stuff and I love how passionate they are about what they do. I was thrilled to impress my in-laws from America with gin and vodka from the ‘The Oxford Artisan Distillery’, how I love those bottles and finally I think Linden Chocolate Lab makes the BEST chocolate! Many more to mention, so much more for me to explore and excited to get to know more Oxford Indies.