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Category: Student Life

When you don’t agree with your client’s food preferences.

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Everybody has their own food preferences, likes, dislikes, intolerances and allergies. Some people are omnivores, some people are vegetarians and some are vegans. All personal choices and preferences for any number of reasons.

What do you do as a nutrition practitioner? How you put aside personal nutrition preferences when working with clients?

This is the question my colleagues and I have been wrestling with as we go further into our second year of our nutrition studies and we start to observe clients in clinic. There are quite a few vegetarians and vegans on my course who have very passionate beliefs. How they will work with clients who don’t want to give up meat, who believe that eating meat is a part of a healthy diet?

On the flip side, what about the meat eaters who work with vegetarians and vegans? There is a lot of evidence that meat has important vitamins and minerals, some of which can’t be obtained from plants. A long term vegetarian or vegan may not be interested in that information, especially  if they’ve chosen this dietary model for political, religious or ethical reasons.

So what do you do?

Right now, it seems to me that there are a number of routes.

1. Present the facts to clients in a neutral and respectful way and understand their reasons for their food choices. This will help understand  if there are any areas where your clients may or may not be flexible.

2. Explain where you’re coming from (if necessary), again, in a neutral way, sticking to the facts.

3. Use the experience to develop the tools in your practitioner’s arsenal. If you’re a vegan / vegetarian, learn how to optimise a meat eater’s diet – the right omega-3 sources, the best balance between meat and green vegetables. And on the other side, it’s equally important to understand the best ways to optimise a plant eater’s diet – the best vitamin b12 supplements, the best sources of complete plant protein and the sources of fat for this group.

4. Specialise in working with vegetarians and vegans. I’m not sure if it’s possible to only work with omnivores, but if there’s a will there’s a way.

Above all, respect is essential.

Photo by Death to Stock Photo + Mumsy

A year of studying and working.

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Photo by Ryan Wilson

My first year of being back at work and in school is done. I haven’t really had much time to reflect because of all of the work travel I’ve done in the last two weeks – Melbourne and then Jakarta a week and a half later.

In retrospect, it’s been a tough year. I went freelance last September, which is a completely different mindset to working permanent and started the first year of my nutrition course a week later. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things right and try to balance work, study, family and social life. The wheels fell off a bit in March when I moved from working three days to five and into a much more high pressured job. Now that I’m back to working three days, I realise that I’m not only very fortunate to have the option to be part-time and freelance, but that a less pressured schedule is necessary for me to keep my sanity and do well in my course.

The last time I was a full time student was in 2004, when I completed an M.A. in Marketing. In the intervening years, it seems that the intensity of studying and how I, as a visual person, need to study, seemed to have dimmed in my mind. For my exams in February and June, I needed to remember how to study and remind myself of the tips and tricks I used to use. Tricks like summarising all of my lecture notes by hand, then going over them in highlighter, then using lots of acronyms and mnemonics to help remember the reams and reams of information. Each time, it was intimidating and I almost psyched myself out.

Going into year two, I feel ready. My passion for nutrition and helping people is still strong and I’m ready to jump in again.

I’m a student again!

Photo by inbal marilli

My nutrition course has started and boy, is it going to be a good one!

I’ve signed up for a three year course of nutrition study at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in central London and I’m on the other side of a very intensive first few months of studying cells, tissue and muscle.

I was a bit skeptical at the beginning of the first day, because I thought to myself, “what does this have to do with nutrition? Let’s just get to the food part already!”. I see things a bit differently now! Forgive me, Ms Non Science background for stating the obvious, but the body is an amazing thing and we really should treat ourselves with better care!

Take something like bone homeostasis – this amazing process of negative feedback in the body means that osteoblasts and osteoclasts are constantly creating and breaking down bone, adding calcium and sending it back into the blood. If we have too little calcium, it’s a problem, if we have too much calcium, it’s a problem. And as we know, not all calcium sources are created equal!

This is just one of thousands of processes that are constantly happening in our body, all trying to keep us balanced in one way or another. I’m so excited to keep learning more!

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