Coquettish Professional is a quarterly business and lifestyle magazine based in Birmingham, West Midlands. It is aimed at 19-30 year old women and aspires to inform, excite and encourage its readers. The first issue was launched in October 2015 and I was asked to contribute an article about my life as a nutritionist.
If you don't managed to get your hands on a copy, here's what I wrote:
BECOMING A NUTRITIONIST
By the time I turned 16, I knew I wanted a career in the wellness industry. My favourite subjects at school were Science, Physical Education and Food Technology, and I spent my teenage years participating in every extra-curricular sport possible and avidly reading the health and fitness magazine, Zest. After a few discussions with the parents, I decided to embark on a degree that stimulated my interest in food and health and chose to study Nutrition at King’s College London. After 3 years working and playing hard in the City, trying to fund my way through university whilst enjoying the typical facets of student life, I graduated with a First Class Honours degree and decided to move back to Birmingham with my parents and look for a job in the nutrition world.
Nutrition has huge scope in terms of the areas it covers and I’m reading more and more about women who are leaving their highly successful career to pursue jobs in the wellness industry, becoming nutrition practitioners and health coaches. For people interested in doing this, I would always encourage you to do your research on the best course of study. There are lots of nutrition courses available, but not all of them equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to become a professional and credible nutrition expert.
MY NUTRITION CAREER
For the first 10 years I worked for two private healthcare providers as a Health Educator and Registered Nutritionist, specialising in weight loss. This really laid the foundation for my nutrition career; the knowledge and skills I gained were invaluable and the gratitude my clients/patients expressed sent me home with a smile each day, but I knew I wanted more; I wanted something I could call my own, develop in the direction that I wanted, and that I could be solely responsible for without being accountable to someone else. In 2012, I decided to set up my own business which now provides nutrition consultancy services for individuals, community groups and corporate businesses, and personal styling services for women. I worked full time whilst growing the business, in terms of increasing the client base, and now I’m enjoying a wide variety of work across the UK – I’d love for my work to take me across the world, but I haven’t quite worked out how to do that yet! The business, aptly named Nutrishion, combines my two passions: nutrition and fashion. With the fashion side of the business, I’ve really enjoyed working with clients who have rediscovered fashion following weight loss and want advice about how to dress to enhance their new figure and personal image. I’m trying to live by the quote: ‘choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life’.
STARTING A BLOG
At the time of starting the business, I immersed myself into social media setting up a Facebook and Twitter account and I started to write a lifestyle blog (Forcaiilini) to further indulge my professional interests in health, food and nutrition and my penchant for fashion and style. Initially I was publishing blog posts three times a week, but producing interesting and quality content can be very time consuming so now I commit to a once a week posting schedule. Starting a blog is relatively easy, and I’m no IT whiz kid, and it’s free if you use one of the popular platforms such as Wordpress and Blogger. Blogging is a great tactic for growing your business and if it is planned and executed well, blogging can play an integral role in driving revenue. Increasingly people, AKA bloggers, are making a full time living from writing a blog, but my blog was never intended to be a cash cow, it was just meant to be one of my many pastimes and an alternative creative outlet for me to share whatever inspires me in the world of health/nutrition and fashion.
DO NUTRITIONISTS PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH?
My line of nutrition work focuses on disease prevention and weight management and I do aim to practise what I preach. My dietary regime follows the 80-20 rule whereby 80% of the time I eat wholesome, minimally processed, nourishing food, and roughly 20% of the time I indulge in foods that we shouldn’t eat too often such as sweets, chocolate, ice cream and fish and chips from the chip shop – some people might refer to these as ‘treat’ foods. I don’t believe in diets, instead I encourage a healthy and sustainable, balanced eating regime; as part of a healthy lifestyle I think it’s important that we do not deny ourselves of some of our favourite indulgencies. If someone told me I could never eat Ferrero Rocher again, you can probably guarantee that’s all I would think about.
My clients and blogging audience are always keen to hear what I eat as a nutritionist and what my recommended strategies are for losing weight, so here are my five top weight loss tips and a glimpse of what you would find in my kitchen cupboards and fridge.
MY TOP 5 WEIGHT LOSS TIPS
1. Instead of cutting out food groups such as the demonised carbohydrates and fats, practise portion control. Instead of 6 roast potatoes cooked in a cup of oil, opt for 3 with a drizzle of oil and fill the rest of the plate with colourful vegetables
2. Avoid diets, particularly those that are restrictive and include ‘forbidden’ foods or drinks. You should aim for a healthy lifestyle that is achievable, realistic and sustainable long term and that’s why I like to promote the 80/20 dietary regime. Focus your efforts on getting the 80/20 balance right and allowing yourself a little of what you fancy, rather than cutting out specific foods completely, which could lead to feelings of guilt and irrational eating behaviours
3. Plan your meals. I know this sounds tedious but when we’re hungry and/or caught off guard with what to eat, we can often end up choosing foods/meals that are less than ideal: try cooking in bulk at weekends and then freeze the rest in different containers so you have your own little ‘ready meals’ available for when you get home late from work; prepare your own lunch or snacks the night before so you don’t have to rely on buying canteen food or convenience foods which may be higher in calories; set the alarm clock 10 minutes earlier to prepare breakfast
4. Be as active as possible throughout the day. Don’t just focus on a 30 minute session at the gym, look for all the opportunities to increase your ‘activities of daily living’ such as using the stairs instead of the lift and escalator or parking the car further away. A pedometer or other activity monitor is a great little tool to motivate you to walk more and generally be more active
5. Keep a food diary; this is such an effective weight loss tactic. Most of us eat mindlessly and often underestimate how much we eat. Keeping a record of what you eat and drink each day increases your accountability and awareness of what you are doing, which is a great foundation on which to make the necessary changes
My Kitchen Food Staples
· Extra virgin olive oil and rapeseed oil - I use these oils, which are rich in heart-healthy fats, to make homemade dressings, dips and spreads and for stir-fries
· Nuts and seeds – these are high in protein, fibre and healthy fats so they are truly nutrition power-houses. I snack on them most days and sometimes I use them to make homemade granola and NutriBullet smoothies; I also use them as toppings for my cereals and salads and I include them in many of my recipes
· Fruit - I have a sweet tooth, so as well as eating fruit to achieve my recommended five a day, I eat fruit as a substitute for sweets. Grapes, berries and Granny Smith apples always curb my sweet tooth and they’re great for snacks on the go. I love avocado in salads
· Vegetables – for my evening meals I always try to fill half my plate with vegetables (the other half protein and carbohydrates) so I get through quite a lot
· Natural yoghurt – If I’m feeling peckish in between meals I find yoghurts, with their high protein content and ease appeal, take the edge off my appetite until I’m due for my next planned meal
· Pulses (such as peas, beans and lentils) – these are high in protein and fibre and they’re plant-based rather than animal-based. Although I love meat, poultry and fish, I try to incorporate plant-based foods as much as possible because of their nutritional and environmental benefits
· Grains – when I eat chicken and fish I tend to serve them with a various whole grains and vegetables, so my cupboards will always contain wholemeal breads & pittas, brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat pasta options
· Herbs and spices - these minimise the need for adding too much salt in my cooking and at the table, and it provides an extra nutrition kick to my meals