I was formerly a health research psychologist at the University of Birmingham Medical School, and then an NHS Programme Manager/Consultant. An autoimmune disorder provoked an about-turn and I left academia and the corporate world to follow my passion and train as a chef with Darina Allen at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, set on a 100-acre organic farm in Cork, Ireland.
The experience of learning about the value of real, whole, organic food, the alchemy of artisan food production and classic culinary skills changed the course of my life. I started a small cookery school – Once Upon a Cook – and soon people with health issues were asking me to help them make better food choices. I wanted to learn more and became a Certified GAPS (Digestive Healing) Practitioner under Dr Natasha Campbell McBride, supporting folks struggling with digestive health issues. My knowledge helped me to win my autoimmune battle! I also began to write my book Once Upon a Cook – Food Wisdom, Better Living (recently published in February 2019) to help people to make more conscious and healthier food choices by putting traditional foods back on their tables.
The more I learned, the more I realised that coaching skills were key to helping people make sustainable changes to optimise their diet and lifestyle – the IHS Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching qualification was a perfect fit for me.
Now my days are spent coaching, researching and developing 1:1 and group coaching programmes, writing for my health education website, speaking on nutrition and lifestyle change and campaigning for real food with the Public Health Collaboration (PHC) and the British Holistic Medical Association.
My UK Midlands-based and on-line health coaching practice focuses on women and particularly women in midlife… not because the guys don’t need help – but because I truly believe that women hold the family, the community and world in the palm of our hand, and it’s a very heavy responsibility! An ambassadorial role with the PHC supports their mission to inform and support healthcare practitioners to see the potential and the benefits of dietary interventions for patients with obesity and diabetes.
Since qualifying with IHS, I’ve been working with NHS GPs to develop and lead pilot projects to build staff resilience and holistic well-being in clinical and non-clinical primary health care staff and cascade their learning to the community. It’s exciting – we’re breaking new ground… watch this space!