My first year as a nutritionist and my 22nd year as a teacher and what a year it has been! I’ve learnt so much about myself and the new world in which I’ve immersed myself in.
This year I have worked in so many different teaching roles and managed to write a business plan, build a website, devise programs to suit my clients, run incursions and parent education and remain relatively sane and incredibly happy! It wasn’t an easy feat but those who know me well know I never do things by halves. I’m on my way to building a very rewarding business.
I have learnt that science is super hard and I’m actually pretty good at it! Nutrition science like all sciences is vast in shades of grey and not black nor white. Its complexity is overwhelming yet is often made out to be the simplest of mechanisms. The realm of health involves genetics, biochemistry, behaviours, environment, relationships, politics, finance, employment, religion, culture and ethnicity. Those who try to make it into a single formula downplay all of this.
I’ve realised how entrenched we are as a society in the ‘diet culture’ and how I was unwittingly part of it. Healthy eating has become a moral accomplishment and the will to ‘be healthier’ has become more damaging than good. The desire to be a smaller, curvier or more muscular body is something I’ve learnt to not care much about anymore. I’ve learnt that society likes ‘extremism’ because that’s what gives a great headline and or sells a product. I’ve learnt how health and well being is sold to us in so many different packages. They’re now sold as lifestyles, self-care and wellness along with transformations, detoxes and challenges. Most of these set people up to fail so that they only buy into the next one again. Even though I’ve been teaching critical literacy and thinking for years, I too have been conned by these ideas. The way I see it now is exactly that…they’re ideas or ideals. Ideals are not REAL!
I’ve learnt from the most amazing health professionals: nutritionists, dietitians, psychologists, occupational therapists and doctors just to name a few. I’ve had some wonderful mentors to help me navigate the new world of health which is completely different from the education sector. I am grateful for the time, advice and support these people have given me.
I’ve learnt about intuitive eating and have embraced this way of having a healthier relationship with food and my body. I’m more in-tune with my body and I eat what my body wants. This is definitely not a process to take me to perfection. There’s no such thing. I’m still learning and I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning about my body and how to tune into it. I exercise to feel happy and strong and relieve stress. I’ve learnt to be more silent and to listen, and feel what’s happening. I suppose this is just mindfulness. I’ve discovered that food I thought I liked, I really don’t care for much anymore. I eat a wider range of foods. I don’t worry about calories in or calories out. I know that my appetite changes day to day and I can better read and predict how my body will operate best. I still have times when I overeat, eat mindlessly or do ‘non-hungry’ eating but now I’m better equipped to recognise this. I don’t stress myself over it because this is normal eating! I acknowledge it and move on.
I’ve learnt that I love paediatric nutrition and this is the area I’ll be exploring further in 2018. This year I’ve learnt how confusing it is for parents to navigate the feeding arena because it certainly can be an interesting performance at times. I’m an educator at heart and am passionate about educating parents about the traps of ‘diet culture’, how to raise competent eaters and how the feeding process is a learning process that takes many years. This is going to be an exciting and rewarding space to work in next year.
The journey has just begun and there’s a lot more to learn. I’m very happy that my midlife crisis has taken me here!