Studying a nutrition degree as a mature aged student at Endeavour College

I’ve just completed my second year of a Bachelor of Health Science degree Nutrition and Dietetic Medicine at Endeavour College of Natural Health. I’m a mature aged student and while at times it’s hard work, I’ve actually loved the experience so far. For me my favourite parts have been learning about the science behind nutrition, such as biology and biochemistry (I don’t have a science background by the way), and listening to the lecturers who are full-of knowledge gained from their own experiences as clinicians and from their studies. 

Meredith East-Powell nutrition yoga

I first became interested in studying a degree to become a nutritionist at Endeavour because of my own health issues with endometriosis and SIBO; I soon discovered how powerful nutrition and natural remedies can be as a tool for improving well-being. 

When I started my nutritionist degree, I was working part-time (in my corporate job) and thanks to the flexible learning options at Endeavour, I was able to study part-time and do one subject on campus and two subjects online; studying this way helped me transition and manage my priorities.

Things to consider before studying a nutrition degree as a mature aged student

When you’re mature aged there’s often competing priorities, which can be challenging. You need to be passionate and driven because study will take up a good part of your life in-semester. I think this is where the flexible learning options at Endeavour work well for mature aged students.

Another challenge is earning an income while studying, if you’re working in a demanding career, having the energy to devote to study can be difficult, that’s why finding balance and time away from your desk is key, otherwise it can lead to burnout.

Another consideration is that most of the Nutrition degree needs to be completed on campus, while in your first year most of your studies can be completed online, the following years will need to be done on campus. Just ask Endeavour if you’d like to know exactly how much study can be completed online.

While there are challenges with being a mature-aged student, there are also clear advantages; having experience in the workforce means you know how to prioritise and organise your time effectively. You will also be able to bring other skills used in your previous or current career to your studies and new career in natural health.

I think as well when you’re a mature aged student, you’ve had life experiences and you may also have had experience managing your own health issues; having this life experience will only benefit you in your studies and as a clinician, as you’ll be able to relate and empathise with your client’s situation.

From what I’ve seen, mature-aged students are often passionate and ready for the change; they’re driven and willing to make sacrifices to follow their heart. This is exactly what I’ve done and I’m loving my new direction.

Natural health is a growing industry that is becoming more important and relevant, it can treat ill health but also prevent it. If you’re passionate about improving your own health and want to help others do the same, head over to Endeavour College. 

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How mindfulness can help with endometriosis

Mindfulness seems to be a phrase mentioned a lot these days and it’s no wonder, because it can offer real benefits to our health. There are now studies that show the various health benefits of practising mindfulness meditation, including for people who are experiencing chronic pain, which is definitely a positive for those of us tackling endo.

What is mindfulness exactly? It stems from the practise of meditation but has been given a modern name. It simply means being more present, being aware of what’s happening right now. Mindfulness meditation has been shown in studies to improve chronic pain; it’s been shown to create a sense of well being, which comes from the acceptance of pain and a reduction in anxiety; changing our relationship to pain, acknowledging it and relating to it differently, encourages more consciousness to the condition.

how mindfulness can help with endo pain

Pain is extremely complex, everyone has a different perception and experience with it. Those with chronic pain conditions like endometriosis may become highly sensitised to pain stimuli for various reasons. As everyone’s perception of pain is different, so will be their experience of mindfulness; there’s no one-size-fits-all with mindfulness meditation. There’s many different types of meditation out there, so it’s worth trying some different styles to see what works for you.

Here’s a simple mindfulness meditation to get you started:

  1. Set aside 20 minutes of uninterrupted time every day (if you only have 10 minutes, that’s ok too, you can always build up over time).
  2. Sit upright in a chair or on the floor in a comfortable position you can maintain.
  3. Close your eyes and simply observe; it may be your thoughts, your emotions, your breath, how your body feels, or sounds you can hear.
  4. Let go of judgement; if you notice you start judging, that’s ok, just observe and allow the judgements to pass.
  5. If you become entangled in mind chatter or a story, just observe what just happened without judgement and keep going with the practise.

It’s simple in theory, but it can be difficult in practise, the good news is with time it becomes easier and when we start to experience the benefits it makes it so worthwhile.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

Eating out with diet restrictions

Do you feel a pang of anxiety when you get invited to lunch or to an event where food is being served? Or perhaps you’ve looked at the menu and realised they don’t cater to your diet?

I can relate. In fact I’ve been personally dealing with this since I started following a diet to manage my endometriosis after I was diagnosed in 2013, then things got really complicated after I was diagnosed with IBS and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). I was feeling unsure about what to eat at home let alone what I could eat at a restaurant!

Here’s the thing, I LOVE eating out and trying different types of food so I decided I had to learn how to get around my diet restrictions. I’ve also learnt that declining invitations and events because of my dietary restrictions is isolating and depressing. Socialising with others and feeling like you have connection with others is key to good health – we all need human connection.

eating out with dietary restrictionsSo how do you tackle these situations? Well, read-on!

  • Is the restaurant / cafe menu completely unsuitable? Why not suggest you all go somewhere else instead?
  • If this isn’t possible or you don’t feel comfortable asking to change the venue, then read the menu online, if it’s just a coffee catch up, do they offer herbal tea or an alternative you can tolerate?
  • Be the driver of change! Call the cafe and ask them how they can cater for you; for example, do they offer cow’s milk alternatives? Think of it as a service to them; you’re actually helping the cafe by educating them about food intolerances, allergies and dietary restrictions, some businesses won’t change or offer alternatives unless people demand it!
  • Make friends with the waiter; they are your link between you and the kitchen, ask them what’s possible, I’ve had plenty of success doing this, more times than not they are happy to help accommodate your needs.
  • Learn what types of food you do well with; for example, I don’t make Japanese food at home but I love it and my body tolerates it quite well, I usually just avoid tofu and fried food and pick the healthiest items off the menu such as; green tea, sashimi, sushi and salads and keep the soy sauce to a minimum.
  • Remember, what matters most are your regular eating habits (how you eat majority of the time), if you are tempted while out then don’t beat yourself up, just enjoy the moment and move on. If you are going to indulge, seek out the healthiest version or choose what’s going to give you the least amount of symptoms. Sometimes, denying ourselves things we crave make us want them even more, from this an unhealthy relationship with food can develop – I think it’s always good to keep this in mind.

Do you find it challenging eating out? I’d love to know your tips and any of your favourite eateries in Brisbane that cater to dietary requirements.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

How to meal prep

What is one major reason why some people eat consistently well and others don’t? Food preparation. Eating well consistently will help improve our overall health. It’s especially important to eat nutritious food when you’re struggling with a health condition like endo, SIBO or leaky gut.

It might seem time consuming, complicated and exhausting if you have a chronic illness – I get it. I’ve found though that preparing food in advance makes life easier. I know for myself if I don’t eat well (home-made food) majority of the time I feel it; I’m more tired, don’t sleep as well, don’t handle stress as well and have more reactions to food.

My meal prep is usually done on a Sunday or Monday depending on what I have on and I keep it as simple as possible.meal prep

 

  1. Plan ahead. What day of the week are you going to dedicate a couple of hours to shopping and food prep?
  2. Create a meal plan for the week. Before you write a shopping list, think about the events you have on. Make a list of what you want to eat and when and roughly how many days of leftovers you can get out of a meal. Choose recipes that are not too complex and that you’ll get a few meals out of – using a slow cooker is a great way to do this. I’ll share some recipes I like to make further down.
  3. Create a shopping list. You may need to freeze some ingredients (such as fresh fish). Also include fresh ingredients you don’t need to cook such as salad ingredients like cucumber, lettuce and fruit (frozen berries are great for smoothies). Don’t forget to maintain enough kitchen staples such as olive oil, olives, smoked salmon and nut butters (such as almond butter).
  4. Once you have your groceries, spend a few hours preparing your food. Here are some general ideas to inspire you:
    • A batch of stock or bone broth in the slow cooker (for soups and to drink)
    • Roast or bake vegetables such as pumpkin, capsicum and cauliflower 
    • Roast a whole chicken or another protein
    • A curry or soup in the slow cooker
    • Slow cooked casserole or stew
    • Whip up a stir fry
    • Boil some eggs
    • Frittata
    • Make a healthy lasagne such as a Paleo style or one using brown rice pasta
    • Cook some grains and store them in the fridge (quinoa, buckwheat, rice)
    • Make some bircher muesli, granola or porridge and store it in the fridge
    • Have ingredients ready to make a quick and filling smoothie (such as nut butter, cacao, cooked pumpkin, avocado, berries, banana and a quality protein powder)
    • Snacks such as protein balls are awesome for an afternoon snack
    • Nuts and seeds are also great, a handful should be enough as a quick snack

Some of the above recipes are from the JCN Clinic website, there are some gorgeous ideas there so head on over and get inspired!

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

 

 

Healthy lunchbox ideas

For me, eating well means preparing most of my meals, that includes lunch. Taking home made lunches to work or school doesn’t mean boring and tasteless. It doesn’t mean you have to spend ages preparing your lunches either.

Usually on Sunday I will prepare a few dishes that I know will last a few days that I can take as leftovers. I also buy items that can keep in the fridge (or cupboard) for up to a week such as smoked salmon, cheese, salad ingredients, nuts and crackers.

I recently bought a bento box style of lunch box which I love as it has compartments that can be used for different foods.

healthy bento box
healthy lunch ideas

Here are some items I like to pack in my lunches:

  • Frittata
  • Boiled eggs
  • Smoked salmon
  • Flaked tuna
  • Leftover roast or poached chicken
  • Leftover slow cooked, shredded lamb
  • Leftover lasagne (I make a paleo style, as pictured)
  • Soup, depending on the recipe it can be a complete meal on it’s own if it has sufficient protein, fat and carbohydrates
  • Leftover stir-fry
  • Rice paper rolls or home-made sushi rolls (wrap tightly though as any air makes the rice tough)

To serve with:

  • Leftover roast veggies such as baked pumpkin (as pictured) or cauliflower
  • Chopped fresh veggies such as celery, carrot or cucumber
  • Roast vegetable salad
  • Steamed/blanched green beans or broccoli
  • Kaleslaw (shredded kale, cabbage, carrot, spring onions as pictured) with avocado, lemon and olive oil dressing (keep the dressing separate to avoid a soggy salad)
  • Chopped garden salad or Greek style salad
  • Zaalouk a delicious slow cooked vegetable dish that is almost a dip
  • Olives
  • Nuts or nut butter
  • Rice crackers (jasmine rice crackers are best with no additives)
  • A small amount of fruit such as melon or strawberries
  • Homemade dips
  • Organic goats cheese or yoghurt
  • Protein balls
  • Gummies (as pictured)
  • A small amount of chopped fruit such as melon or strawberries

Everyone’s needs for protein, fats and carbohydrates are slightly different; if you have SIBO you will probably tend to be lower carb than others, but I try to aim for my meals to be around 25% protein, 25% fats and get my carbohydrates by filling my plate with 50% of veggies.

If you’re vegan make sure you consume a combination of grains, legumes, seeds and nuts to ensure you’re getting sufficient protein and fats.

Health and healing,

Meredith x