Introducing Team Mint Nutrition

We’re two experienced medical nutritionists who use fresh thinking and individualised programmes to coach our clients to have happier, healthier relationships with food and with their bodies.

Passionate about food, we find it hugely rewarding to help people who may have lost pleasure in eating, rediscover the joy. We also enjoy collaborating with organisations such as schools and institutions to overhaul their meal provision and with the food service industry to develop recipes and promotional materials.

Most of our work is with individuals and families. We each have the qualifications and experience to find solutions for every client, regardless of their challenges and situation. You’ll notice when reading our life and work stories that we juggle work, family and other commitments. Like you, we know how precious time is. We therefore only give our clients programmes that we ourselves could manage. They must be realistic and doable. Become effortless and able to be sustained for the long term. And above all, enjoyable!

One of the keys to our programmes’ success is our interest and knowledge of the psychology around eating. In our work at Shelly Beach Practice, we collaborated with psychologists to develop a non-diet approach to eating that includes a mindful eating programme. We’ve found it of great benefit in coaching clients with eating difficulties as well as those who want to develop a more positive relationship with food and eat healthily.

We’re dietitians by profession and have worked in hospitals and clinics with doctors and multidisciplinary teams and receive referrals from a wide range of clinicians including psychologists,  physiotherapists, gastroenterologists, paediatricians and endocrinologists. This clinical experience enables us to better manage clients with health conditions and be on the alert for signs that they may need to see their GP.

We just love what we do and helping clients break free from eating habits that are holding them back and affecting their health. You’ll find our enthusiasm infectious. We listen. We’re empathetic and compassionate. Respectful. And 100% focussed on getting you back on track with your eating.

Kate Syers BCAPS, PGDipDiet, NZRD

I love food. I love to cook it, talk about it, eat it and socialise around it. When I was 13, I overheard a dietitian enthuse about her job and decided that would be the career for me. How can I thank her enough?

My job as a dietitian has enriched my life and enabled me to work in exciting, varied and challenging roles in different settings in Aotearoa and the UK.

My love of food and interest in nutrition has also been a big part of my personal and family life. I’ve travelled widely enjoying other cultures through food experiences. Fortunately my husband, Hayden, loves food as much as I do and I’ve seen to it that our four young children do too. We love relaxed meals at home and entertaining.

After graduating in 2000 with a Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics, I worked in the areas of diabetes, health promotion, childhood nutrition and in the food industry. My first role was as a dietitian with Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust delivering a nutrition course to adults working in the Maori community (I am part Maori myself). I then moved to Waitakere Hospital where I was a diabetes dietitian supporting patients to better manage their condition through nutrition.

The bright lights of London beckoned in 2002. For seven years, I worked in various parts of the city to gain as much diverse experience as I could. I was a community dietitian offering patients in GP clinics nutrition support to manage their weight, diabetes and cardiovascular health. I worked for a catering provider that delivered allergy-friendly meals in schools. I wrote a National Accredited Programme for Health Workers. I then linked up with London Metropolitan University to write learning outcomes and assessment criteria for the course and later produced the learning resources and used them to teach throughout England.

The consultancy work introduced me to the world of self-employment. I loved the autonomy of it.

A whole new phase of my life began when I returned to Auckland and had my first child. I developed an interest in childhood nutrition, delivering talks on toddler nutrition and starting babies on solids at our local Parent Centre. This expanded to include other Parent Centres and I have organised dietetic colleagues to assist. Working with parents and children has become a large part of what I do. Feeding children can be a confusing topic for parents. I can see it’s a relief for them to have access to good quality, evidence-based nutrition education and support.

My practice extended to include part-time work with clients with eating disorders when I joined Thrive/Tupuora in 2014 as a food service dietitian. I met Estella there and learnt more about the nutritional management of clients with eating difficulties and how psychological intervention can improve outcomes. My role expanded and I began to support Estella with her clinical caseload.

After the birth of my twins and son, I left Thrive and joined Estella at Shelly Beach Practice where I continue to work alongside psychologists to treat clients with eating disorders and weight management issues. I love seeing the difference our work has on people’s lives as they learn to normalise their relationship with food.

Mint Nutrition is the perfect complement. It allows Estella and me to expand our sphere of work using our combined experience and eating behaviour knowledge outside the eating disorders field.

I’d love to help put the joy back into your eating!

Estella Leek Dip HSc, NZRD

Growing up in the South Island, I was part of a family that had a very strong food and health culture. What we ate my mother made from scratch and my father led the Otago University physical education programme. I believe this is how my love of tasty, healthy food and fondness for the outdoors and exercise developed.

Every shared meal and food occasion was celebrated when I was young. Conversations often revolved around food too. My mother used to say that if she were in a shipwreck, she'd be the first to shore and would have a meal prepared from seafood and wild vegetables for her fellow passengers by the time they landed.
As child I assumed that homemade bread, yoghurt, cheese and fresh produce and meals enjoyed round the table were the norm in New Zealand families! 

I've no doubt that my mother's passion for food sparked my interest in nutrition. A real foodie, I love to see and help others enjoy their food and experience the health benefits of adopting a more balanced eating plan.

Mint Nutrition provides a wonderful opportunity for me to use all the experience and knowledge I’ve gained as a dietitian to empower clients to transform their eating, and with it, their lives.

My varied work background enables me to treat clients of all ages including those with health issues. Over the past 30 years I’ve worked for public and private health providers in the areas of eating disorders, weight management, food and allergy intolerance, cardiac rehabilitation, oncology, paediatric, family and community health.

Passionate about nutrition education, I’m constantly looking to refresh and expand my knowledge in nutrition and allied areas to ensure my clients get the best possible outcomes from treatment. In recent years, for example, I’ve worked with psychologists at Shelly Beach Practice to develop a non-diet approach to weight management which has become the Mindful Eating Programme. I have always appreciated the strong relationship between psychology and dietetics; it makes little sense to work on changing eating habits without addressing the psychological factors that get in the way of change. 

I’ve got a strong creative streak which has seen me at various points in my career branch out into writing for magazines, graphic and kitchen design, and marketing. These skills have actually proved useful in my dietetic work. I’ve written articles for GP Magazine, produced nutrition resources for corporates, cardiac patients and adolescents with anorexia nervosa, designed domestic and commercial kitchens and have fronted health segments on a TV show.

Currently I’m working part-time at Shelly Beach Practice with two psychologists and my colleague at Mint, Kate. The focus in that practice is more on the treatment and management of clients with eating disorders.

Kate and I founded Mint Nutrition because it enables us to see a much wider range of clients as well as expand our work within the food service and nutrition education sectors.

I’m very committed to upskilling and have in recent years attended courses on various psychology models including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Solution-focussed Therapy and Psychodietetics and mindfulness based therapies. I love sharing what I've learnt and have enjoyed lecturing at Auckland and Massey Universities, presenting at conferences and running workshops and training programmes throughout Aotearoa.

I have a busy life but like it that way. My husband Nigel and I have four children between us and together we love celebrating food, friends, music and the outdoors. For me, being in nature goes and in hand with good nutrition. I really enjoy biking, walking and skiing, relaxing on beaches and in the mountains, and being creative.

I’d love to show you how easy it is to adopt a healthier eating plan. It’s not about denial, it’s all about balance. You’ll be amazed at what a positive impact it will have on your life.