Written by David Silverberg

When 31-year-old Nicole Di Nardo reflects on why she became an entrepreneur in the health-coaching space, she's reminded of a specific client. 

“When she came to see me she was depressed, had panic attacks, stressed out as an overworked mother of two,” Di Nardo says in an interview. The client wasn't prioritizing meals and often ended up binge-eating her children's candy. She was on anti-depressants and often exhibited low  energy, so much so she could barely make it to bed each night, falling asleep in front of the TV nightly. 
When Di Nardo worked with her on an inspiring meal plan, “she began meal-prepping healthy dishes for herself and her family, often using her slow cooker or making smoothies to maximize on time in her busy schedule. When we had a follow-up two months after working together she said her life had changed. She no longer was on anti-depressants, she had so much energy she started to exercise again, her whole family had changed their eating habits and were now feeling the zest for life. Her enthusiasm and gratitude gave me so much pride in the hard work she had done.”
Nicole Nutrition‘s mission is to show people how their negative symptoms disappear when they change their diet. Di Nardo explain, “They become mobilized, and they take responsibly for their health and feel empowered to change it…It sets them off on a lifetime of  autonomy over their own health, rather than having a doctor monitor their progress and upping their dosage.”
Launched in 2016, her one-on-one consultation business helps clients reach their health goals through lifestyle coaching that include meal plans and exercise recommendations. At 100 clients so far, the startup aims to boost someone's “nutrition levels, and mental and physical and spiritual health,” says Di Nardo.
Her journey to found Nicole Nutrition began with an unfortunate health scare. In 2015, during a Christmas Eve dinner, she sported a crooked smile, and then felt like her face was undergoing a seizure. The ailment turned out to be Bell's pallsy, a condition in which the muscles on one side of the face become weak or paralyzed.
Her doctors prescribed her steroids which got her even sicker. “That was my entry point to alternative health, because when I tried acupuncture and reiki I felt better and the Bell's went away. I started to realize the importance of the mind-body connection and how stress induces so many physical problems.”
She goes on to say, “We are living in a new era of health and wellness. People want to understand their conditions and learn how to cure it, not just band-aid over it with a medication to hide the symptoms. I believe that reading the body and listening to the symptoms is the best way to get back to a sense of balance.”
Her client base is often brimming with people suffering from chronic fatigue or low energy levels, Di Nardo remarks. “For fatigue issues, it could be related to a nutrient deficiency or have something to do with stress management. And that's when I'll ask my clients the kind of questions they should be asking of themselves.”
If Di Nardo had to spotlight any mentor she's had in the health space, it would be celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. “He mobilized an entire country to get back into the kitchen,” she lauds. “I think the one key to living a healthy life is home cooking and Jamie proves that it doesn’t have to be tedious.”
She adds, “My goal is to inspire as many people as possible to cook with fresh ingredients and to fall in love with food. Food is more than the sum of its parts: it’s alchemy, it’s family, it’s celebration and love.”
Photo credit Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real