Here's an interview I had for the CNELM (Centre for Nutrition Education & Lifestyle Medicine) undergraduate degree newsletter this year.
What Course(s) did you graduate from at CNELM and when did you graduate?
BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. I graduated in April 2014.
What did you do before doing this course?
My first degree is in Chemical Engineering with Biochemical Engineering BEng (Hons) from Birmingham University. Chemical engineers are the people that design the processes in factories where supplements and pharmaceuticals are made. Instead, I decided to follow a career as an engineer in the automotive industry at Dunlop and then BMW/Land Rover. I designed wheels and tyres for Land Rovers and went to test tracks with the test drivers and stylists, as well as working closely with the factory and the chemical laboratories. Then I decided to move into an IT role at BMW because the automotive industry was going through a lot of change. I moved to Mars for over 7 years as an IT manager with a European team, it was a great company for offering personal development training.
What made you decide to embark on this course of study and what attracted you to CNELM?
From an early age I had noticed that foods affected my digestion, and my family have hayfever and food intolerances. I was fed up of taking medications for sinus headaches and digestive issues and started seeking complementary therapies which included being a volunteer client at a nutrition clinic.
When I was at Mars I had a lot of management training and coaching training including NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and I started to consider how I could work with people 1-1 in the health industry. I decided to study yoga first because I could do that alongside my full time job. Then I had a sabbatical to California for two years to accompany my husband for his career, and that gave me thinking time. I signed up for the course at CNELM before I returned. I had met Kate Neil years before when I’d been investigating nutrition courses and had asked her lots of questions about the nutrition industry. I liked the CNELM course because I wanted to study part time and enjoy the experience, as well as having time to do CPD (Continuing Professional Development) with suppliers while I was studying. The fact that coaching/NLP was a priority at CNELM was also a major reason for choosing the course.
What have you been doing since graduating?
I worked part time for Nuffield Health as a nutritionist for a couple of years, I have lectured at an adult education college, worked alongside medical doctors in a corporate setting and been a CNELM supervisor. I also did the Zest4life training while I was a student and a pilot with that. Then alongside these different projects I see clients for 1-1 nutrition. I do enjoy working as part of a team, and working for another company that offers corporate work, testing or supplements could be an interesting next step.
Tell us a bit more about your work in the community.
My yoga training course (British Wheel of Yoga) prepared me for my degree as it was actually a really intense course over 2 years, it gave me a lot of skills around lesson planning and catering for different learning styles. This got me into adult education college to teach nutrition as I could demonstrate my skills in this area.
I teach yoga once a week in Wokingham which is the most relaxing thing I do. I turn up and teach and there isn’t much paperwork! Having set this up before my nutrition business I was already aware of the challenges of finding venues and getting people to attend in group settings when I did nutrition events.
I have run local nutrition events for activities that are important to me such as mental health; and things that interest me or might get some publicity. For example, I ran a healthy eating workshop at the library. Some activities are paid and some I hope I will get some publicity. As many of you might be aware from the offers of work or opportunities we get I could probably spend all my time doing unpaid work in the nutrition world! I volunteer at a local charity in another capacity and decided that my nutrition work isn’t charity work so I use this as my guide to set boundaries.
Which of the things you’ve done so far has been most successful?
I have done a couple of local community events which have got into the local newspapers. Those type of things are really satisfying and fun to do. They help my friends, family and clients understand what I do so they’re more likely to refer people on to me. I am also regularly on BBC Berkshire radio which I really enjoy.
If you were graduating now, would you do anything differently?
It’s my perception that the people who are doing really well are the ones that have come from a marketing background. They appear to have come onto the course with an idea of what they wanted to do. I would have spent more time thinking about this and then I would have had 4 years of studying and slowly building up a following alongside.
Is there anything you wish you’d known before finishing your studies that you might have prepared for differently?
I think it would be useful to know in more detail what other professions and careers offer nutrition and to what extent. That would help Registered Nutritionists/Registered Nutritional Therapists to focus on their expertise rather than just being another ‘nutritionist’ in what can feel like a busy nutrition market. For example, I can go to a networking meeting as a Registered Nutritionist but there could be another 3 people from other professions who also offer some aspect of nutrition as well. It is useful to understand what they can and can’t do and how you can complement each other.
What or who has most inspired you in your work?
William Walsh’s work – I like his integration of medicine and nutrition in the mental health arena.
Christine Bailey’s recipes – I like the fact that they suit different diet needs and are inspiring, but most importantly the recipes work. I have bought a few recipe books from other experts, spent money on fancy ingredients and the recipes just aren’t that good… please test them if you’re creating a cookbook!
Ian Craig - I like the way he integrates sports nutrition and nutritional therapy.
Deepak Chopra – I like the integration of traditional medicine, yoga and modern medicine.
I also follow some dietitians and doctors on social media which gives me insights into the challenges and opinions they have.
Do you have any tips, hints, things you’d have done differently...?
Have a wide range of sources where you get your data from; for example, make use of different test and supplement companies. They are all marketing to us as consumers because in the end they need to make profit. They will all be able to tell us the unique reasons we need their product, but in the end you have to ask whether that is the best option for your client.
Original article: Coriander Stone. CNELM. The Nutritional Supplement July/August 2019