As a young child, I remember reading my grandfather’s medical textbooks that he kept at home. He wasn’t a medical professional, but it was common in those days for people to keep medical textbooks at home. I remember poring over the pages and being fascinated by the diagrams and complex terminology. I was in awe of the perfect design of the human body.
As I grew older, I was aware that my Mum had some different ideas to others when it came to health. She was very much in to the “alternative” - we were not allowed to eat sugar for a period of time and she also experimented with gluten free cooking ….back when it wasn’t the latest thing. I remember scones made with rice flour that almost bounced off the floor. While it was strange for us kids at the time, now I really respect the efforts she went to in the quest to better our health. She came in for some humorous criticism from her own mother, who once said “what did I do to get one as weird as you?”.
The chronic illness era
After I developed chronic illnesses in my 20s, it was almost a given that I would seek some “alternative” paths to get myself well again. I’ve had varying degrees of severity of chronic fatigue syndrome, panic disorder and endometriosis. I have recovered my health, but I still experience these to a lesser degree now and have come to accept that they are what they are. I never stopped wanting to get myself well again - something in me and encouragement from my family kept me going.
In the midst of the worst of illness, I had a lightbulb moment. Until then, I’d been slaving away in advertising industry roles, putting my health at risk with long working hours, ridiculous deadlines and massive egos to contend with.
I decided that I wanted to change my path and put to good use my experiences and also the knowledge I’d acquired along the way. So, I decided to return to formal study in a new field: Nutrition. I spent the next few years attending college and undertaking hundreds of hours of clinical practice as part of the course.
Helping others achieve their own health goals
Skip ahead to the future, and I am now a qualified Clinical Nutritionist and Naturopath so that I can offer truly holistic health advice to my clients. Herbs are an essential and amazing medicine that complements nutrition beautifully. I feel privileged to be able to study and work in a field with a rich, culturally diverse history, offer meaningful expert help to people and work alongside colleagues with the highest values. Because of my experiences with chronic illness, I have a unique insight in to the challenges people face trying to recover their health and I can see there is a massive gap in promoting resilience for those with chronic illness. Similarly, some healthcare professionals will give advice in an area they aren't qualified to do so. This is also not ideal.
Qualifications are a necessity
I strongly believe that people giving out health advice to people with chronic health complaints must be qualified, regardless of whether it's free or not. It's about basic respect for the people you're advising. The internet and social media seem to have encouraged an idea that anyone is qualified to give out health advice, simply because they have an audience. This could not be further from the truth. From (often) biased moderators in Facebook groups, to influencers paid to promote products, it really is important for us all to exercise caution in deciding who we take advice from. While I have personally benefitted from information in various groups, I've also seen terrible advice given out which can and does cause real harm.
QUALIFICATIONS AND PROFESSIONAL ACCREDITATION
My Dad likes to call me the professional student. Studying was a real lifeline for me when I was too unwell to work.
These are my qualifications and I regularly undertake professional certifications such as for SIBO treatment.
- Advanced Diploma in Nutritional Medicine from ACNT
- Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy from ACNT
- Accredited with ATMS professional association
- B.A. in Social Science from the University of Technology, Sydney
- Masters in Digital Communication and Culture from the University of Sydney
My approach is based on a combination of evidence based medicine and the collective clinical wisdom of thousands of my nutrition and naturopathic colleagues, documented over many centuries.
I believe the best results come from finding the balance between science-backed interventions and more traditional cultural interventions. I don't believe that people need to choose one or the other - both have merit and can work together under the care of skilled practitioners. We also have to remember that not everything will be studied in a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Medicine is excellent for acute care, but less effective when it comes to chronic illness and prevention - this is where nutrition and naturopathy come in to their own.
Truthfully, there is still much that science is yet to discover, and it may never do so. We have to honestly ask ourselves if science has the ability to prove everything. I don't believe so. In the meantime people are suffering with their health, which is where the value of traditional interventions comes in.
I use a combination of nutritional interventions, lifestyle changes, “health hacks” and resilience coaching to help people reach their individual goals. No one person is the same, even though we share a common physiology. Individual genetics, life experiences and lifestyle factors mean we are all very different in our needs and preferences.
After a few years of attempting strict Paleo and observing many others, I came to realise that it isn’t necessary for the majority of people. A less rigid, relaxed style of wholefoods eating that takes the best elements from different approaches is what works and is sustainable for most. I’ve observed many people becoming incredibly stressed from a dogmatic approach to health – this stress is far more harmful to health than eating the “wrong” food now and again. I love cooking and sharing food with loved ones – my goal is to help others find peace and enjoyment with food, while getting the best nutrition possible.
It’s important for me to be open minded and supportive of my client’s personal health choices, but I will always be honest with my clients where I feel that something they are doing is, or could be, harmful. I don't believe in heavily restrictive diets - I only recommend restrictions where there is evidence that it will be helpful, and I always ensure to watch for any signs that the restriction is causing new issues.
I firmly believe that most health conditions will improve when the right techniques are used consistently. I aim to give people sustainable tools to help them educate and empower themselves for a lifetime of good health.
Lastly, I like to think I'm a non-judgemental nutritionist. I don't believe in rigid sets of rules or "good" and "bad" foods. I believe food is there to be enjoyed with loved ones, not feared.
I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, it has become this great passion of mine and I've also been teaching myself food photography. My recipes are all gluten free, most are dairy free and I also have a lot of Paleo and plant-based recipes...I've got everyone covered! Importantly, the ingredients are accessible, affordable, have health-promoting properties and the recipes happen to be super tasty. Food should be enjoyable, and I like to make things that are not overly complicated.