Pip speaks: August 2020
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
A slice of (my) life.
In the early days of the pandemic, I had a few sessions with a counsellor. It was a strange time for everyone (and still is, of course), and having just migrated to Melbourne from London I was feeling a bit adrift. But she seemed to have her own agenda for our conversations and after a while I stopped seeing her. She just didn't quite get what I needed. It got me thinking about my own journey to becoming a nutritionist. When I first decided to undertake my training, I thought - I love food. I eat healthily. I can be a nutritionist, and show people how to enjoy healthy food! Yet half of my lessons were about communication skills and behaviour change. I couldn't understand it. Wasn't I there to learn about nutrition, not to be a counsellor?
In my early days of practice I was therefore quite surprised to discover that my clients wanted to talk about their feelings, not just the food they were eating. I felt lacking in the skills to properly support them, but it piqued my interest in techniques like motivational interviewing - an approach to supporting behaviour change which is grounded in listening and understanding. I started to see more clients with digestive problems, and decided to specialise in gut health. This helped me see my purpose more clearly. The men and women coming through my practice door were in so much pain, and often highly stressed. Whether this stress was caused by their persistent symptoms, or stress was making things worse, I could see the cycle they were caught in and how I could help. I realised that food can feel like friend and foe, and eating is inextricably bound up in feelings and emotions for many of us. I started to listen more, talking less and encouraging my clients to let go of self-blame and fear. I realised that, while nutrition can certainly have a positive impact on digestive problems, it's hard to achieve health in a state of anxiety no matter how much probiotic yoghurt, kefir or sauerkraut a person eats.
This is a long-winded way of saying that, as I grew as a nutritionist and as a person, I learned to lean in and support my clients in a way that is far more meaningful and effective than just explaining what to eat and why. Of course I still do that, but a good dose of listening and empathy has become the most important ingredient. When we have rapport, our work together is more effective. When we both recognise the expertise we bring to the table, your journey to health is easier to navigate - and I can steer you in the right direction. A whole bunch of metaphors to basically say, this is a partnership. With some great nutrition advice mixed in. Pip: it stands for personalised 🍋insightful 🍉 possible 🍓.
In our consultations, I ask you a lot of questions. Perhaps it would help if you know a little about me, to get a taste of my approach?
Doing: Sitting at the dining table (well in these long pandemic days at home, an everything table), writing this post. It's windy outside, the radio is on, I'm drinking Turkish tea out of a tiny cup from Marrakesh on travels many moons ago.
Eating: To make the time pass in our house, weekends are themed. This weekend we had Middle Eastern food. A long, lazy Turkish breakfast, with olives, dips, crackers, pomegranate molasses, yoghurt and honey. Last night, beetroot soup with bright pink dumplings. It was a lot of work for pink dumplings, but it cheered everyone up. Now, I'm about to eat a slice of lemon cake fresh from the oven, made from ground almonds and yoghurt.
Looking: Out the window, two boys walked by with an enormous inflatable duck on their backs. Was it a child's paddling pool? Or a fun swimming toy? I have no idea, but it was a hilarious sight on a dull day.
Enjoying: A weekend without any work. Often I'm spending Saturdays studying for a Master's in Public Health, and by Sunday I'm so tired. Sometimes you need to go easy on yourself, especially in a pandemic. On Friday afternoon I went to my local beach, which is where I took this photo, and had a socially distanced run around for my hour's exercise. On Saturday it was so warm and sunny, I sat in the garden the entire day and feel much better for it.
Playing: Monopoly Junior with my little pip. Talk about a rainy day game. I'm hoping the game doesn't go on all weekend (like it did in my childhood) as it is not my favourite, but at least it's a simpler version and I love seeing how competitive she is!