How the nutrition adviser can help you

The nutrition adviser Matt Berrisford

Learning what is a heart healthy diet is an important part of a cardiac rehabilitation programme, as Matt Berrisford explains.

Matt Berrisford is an exercise specialist with special expertise in healthy eating and a degree in exercise and nutrition.

As part of the cardiac rehab course at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, he runs a group session explaining the principles of healthy eating.

He addresses common misconceptions, such as the belief eggs are bad for your heart, and explains that people don’t have to completely cut out foods they enjoy, but can have them in moderation.

He explains the importance of planning ahead – being prepared with the ingredients and recipes to make healthy meals – rather than reaching for an unhealthy convenience option.

We might start with a goal to have one portion of fruit and one of veg each day

He can also work with patients one-to-one, giving advice and helping them set goals. Patients often fill in a food diary first to help identify areas for improvement. “Some people try to change their diets completely but find it hard to stick to,” he says.

“The best way is to change little bits here and there. For example, if someone doesn’t really eat any fruit and veg, it’s quite intimidating to be told to have five portions a day. So we might start with a goal to have one portion of fruit and one of veg each day. We’ll try and find a way of making it a habit – for example, having a piece of fruit with breakfast and a portion of veg with their tea.

“When people come to the end of the course and you see it has made a real difference to their lives – that their daily tasks are much easier – it is really rewarding. It is not really a job, because you shouldn’t enjoy work as much as we enjoy our jobs.”

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