Friday 7 March 2014

What changed since leaving University?

Before i started studying nutrition at university i was of the opinion that my views and opinions from what i had learned would not be validated without the credibility of a degree behind me, the only part of me that still believes that is my ego when i look to question others beliefs or agenda, although i try not to let that influence me these days. Upon leaving university i'd had numerous successes with clients, however i'd felt that because i was 'unqualified' then i didnt really have a place putting my name to the clients i had worked with. What i did think though, was that i had finally become a Nutritionist, the fact i'd been practicising nutrition for nearly 4 years didnt really mean much to me, the 3 letters after my name did though. Oddly.

The harsh reality though, is upon leaving university, my education really excelled. What univeristy really gave me was the analytic mindset to break something down and evaluate it based on sound scientific reasoning, or logic as some may call it. I have always read a lot, books, journals, blogs, forums, basically whatever i thought i could learn from. I quickly developed my own bullshit-o-meter, which allowed me to skim over articles, journals or press pieces with an agenda and file them under 'worthless' this to me was a real learning curve, i'd come out from under the structured learning of university and was in at the deep end, defending my own views (often against myself), evaluating new methods and research for the benefit of using with my own clients and progressing professionally to stay ahead of the game.

So after leaving university and entering the world of practicing nutrition, of which i'd decided against the conventional routes of either sports teams/programmes or NHS, here's what really changed:

1) My attitude to those without a degree in Nutrition

I'd basically become brainwashed in to thinking that without a degree in nutrition or dietetics then your opinion was actually worth less than someone with a degree. This soon changed and to be honest the 2 people i most admire for their nutrition knowledge, neither have a degree in the field, one is my mentor and amazes me every time we talk with what he knows, strangely i still go back and check/validate what he says though, the other is someone who's personal journey was similar to my own and who's thirst for good health helped inspire me to go in to nutrition. With all of the information available through social media, these days it is much easier to gain an understanding of nutrition, saying that it is also much easier to become brainwashed in to thinking only one method works. A good understanding of science is the most important tool you can have when starting to study nutrition.

2) Peer reviewed research holds all of the answers

Well it does but it's not always the best way to practice if you're always being lead by this. The fact is without research our beliefs will never be qualified or fully understood, however it really is a chicken and egg situation when it comes to research. We need forward thinkers who will test theories out before research and we also need researchers to test them to prove whether they are valid theories or not. In all honesty they both need each other. One thing i will say though is that if you only ever practice nutrition based on the available research then you'll usually be 2-3 years behind whats really going on in the world of nutrition. You only have to look at how long it has taken the WHO (world health organisation) to heed the warnings about cutting sugar to see how long you can be waiting for the official line to changed (10 years). Our job should always be to assess methods and make the safest but most effective decisions possible for our clients. This applies very much to myself, i've used methods which would be shunned by many to have bodybuilders place on stage or fighters drop more weight than they should, but i have always fully understood the methods and never would i do something i deem unsafe. A clients health is always the most important thing. I was also taught at University that there is no such thing as a good or bad food, just good or bad diets, i now think this was one of the worst things i have ever been taught, it's nearly as bad as being taught a calorie is just a calorie. They're not.

3) My view of 'the bigger picture'

The health of the nation is and probably never will be that important again to those that make decisions, it will be always come second to money, and unfortunately ill health is a profitable business. I used to believe that we lived in a country which cared about it's people and their health, that we had the best health service in the world and we as a nation were progressing. Now, i believe the opposite of all of those things. Our government don't care about our health, if they did then companies which aggressively peddle foods that are harmful to our health would be fined or at least taxed more to pay for the burden they add to our broken NHS, which is only a matter of time away from becoming fully privatised and less effective at looking after our dying nation. Nutrition aside, the gap between the wealthy (healthy) and the poor (nutritionally) is widening, the rich get richer at the expense of the poor, and to me this is not progress at all. We're in a downward spiral of ill health, through obesity and diabetes (type 2), both illnesses which could be eradicated completely, if we did enough about it. But we won't because too many companies have a vested interest in keeping our nation unhealthy.

4) I learned to give a shit

Probably the most important thing for me on a personal level, people that knew me when i was at university and a few years ago probably had few nice things to say about me, i'm the first to admit i wasn't a very good person, in fact i'm probably still not in some people's eye's, i cared only for what i chose to care about and that was, what i felt directly affected me. What i have also learnt is that caring about money, gadgets, possessions and status makes you feel quite poor. Now i care and want to make a difference through Nourish, i never want to go to sleep and every person we help makes me realise just how important it is to care.

It's always good to finish a blog with a Ghandi quote too....

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