Channel 7’s resident clinical nutritionist, Sarah Di Lorenzo, wants you to follow your gut

Sarah Di Lorenzo, 51, could have been a marine archaeologist, but luckily for our guts, she developed her passion for healthy whole foods into a career as a nutritionist. Sarah has a clinic on Wycombe Road in Neutral Bay, where she gets goosebumps every time she helps someone to heal their gut.

Sarah grew up in Killara with her father, a psychiatrist, and her mother, a nurse, providing fresh, nutritious food. She says her mother shopped locally for the best produce, regularly visiting a German bakery in Gordon for sourdough.

“No one in my family ate lollies and chips and stuff,” says Sarah. “You just didn’t. There was a real dominance of whole foods in my upbringing, but my mother would never deprive us. If there was a party, we’d have fairy bread. There was always balance and moderation.”

Sarah says her real passion for food came from her Greek grandfather, a migrant who brought his Greek ways to Australia. He was widowed young and moved in with the family when he was 80, living until he was 96. Sarah loved watching him cook.

“He had such a love and respect for food, was very portion-controlled, and ate in-season a diet that was predominant with legumes like beans and fava.”

When Sarah was in her teens, she was having reactions to white bread, with crippling pain a few hours later. Her father told her she’d have to put up with it; all the family had the same issue.

She suffered severely at age 18 during a trip to Italy while eating lots of rolls, pizza and pasta. Sarah was studying science at the time at the University of Sydney. She began a hobby in nutrition, documenting how different foods made her feel and working on her diet to make her feel well.

“It was a hobby until I realised I was really good at it,” says Sarah. “I thought ‘This is a passion and it’s a gift’. I started advising people and friends who didn’t understand food. And my own gut health was amazing, so I knew it was my calling, and I studied nutritional medicine.”

Sarah says that our western diet results in 50 per cent of us having some kind of gut issue, such as constipation or irritable bowel syndrome, during our lives.

“The western diet is very low in fibre,” says Sarah. “It is also low in diversity. A recent study found that 75 per cent of adults only eat 12 different plants – nuts, fruits and vegetables. We should be eating 30 plants per week.”

Sarah advises adding some variety to our meals. Rather than rushing out the door in the morning with a piece of toast, we might have eggs one day and fruit salad or granola another day.

Lunch can be simple too. “There is no excuse for getting a salad bag, getting a pouch of rice, throwing two boiled eggs with some nuts into a box and taking that to lunch,” she says.

Don’t ignore the symptoms, Sarah warns. “Your gut will communicate with you. A big telltale sign can be eczema or dermatitis, constant headaches, gastric headaches, cloudy head, poor sleep and insomnia.”

Sarah’s recently published book, The Gut Repair Plan, contains an easy-to-follow four-week gut health plan.

Sarah is a regular on Weekend Sunrise with Monique Wright and Matt Doran

“Week one is a detox week, a clearing week and a lot of nutrient density,” explains Sarah. “Week two is repair, week three is rebuild, and week four marries it all together. It was really about breaking it up into four weeks with a different objective.”

Sarah believes that having a plan can really make a difference to your health. “Eating healthy food is medicine,” she says. “You know what I always say to people? Don’t be ad hoc. Don’t wing it. Don’t improvise. Make a plan and stick to it. The key to success with health is you have to look at your health like a job you take, saying ‘what am I eating today?’”

Sarah’s passion for digestive health is infectious. “I feel like I was put on this earth to be a healer. Every time I help someone, I get goosebumps.”

The Gut Repair Plan is available now in bookshops.