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

 

My yoga teacher training experience

I was in Bali recently for one month of intensive yoga teacher training. I didn’t quite know what to expect other than learning the asanas, pranayama, meditation, anatomy and yoga philosophy, the stuff that happened in between all of this made it a transformative process for me, there were spiritual experiences and an intense amount of self-study known as svadhyaya.

Meredith headstand yogaI’m thrilled to be a yoga teacher, the practise is so important to me and a part of my daily life, even if I can’t practise physically, I still meditate. Yoga has been a critical part of my journey to health; when I was in my darkest moments suffering from anxiety, or depression associated with having endo or gut issues, I knew I could turn to yin or restorative yoga to give me relief, in fact just the process of being more present (which yoga instils) helped me manage my symptoms. There are also specific poses that really helped with pain, there’s a post I did a few years ago that shows these.

My yoga teacher training experience really helped me explore my own behaviour; understanding our behaviour patterns and why we behave in certain ways helps us to develop, but it also assists in the healing process. I also feel my health improved over the month from an energetic and physical perspective, I was able to let go of pain I was holding onto; I was really surprised when I realised how much pain I was holding onto in my abdomen (even though I rarely get endo pain any more), but the pain was significant because you couldn’t even brush my abdomen without me flinching, strangely it’s just not there anymore. Pain is complex and can be different from person to person, the nervous system can hold onto the memory of it, I think this happened to me and lasted about 10 years. Pain, whether it’s physical or emotional can manifest in unusual ways, so ignoring it or thinking you’ve dealt with it but you’ve actually suppressed it will only allow it to manifest further. Once we start to identify and acknowledge the source of our pain, only then can we can start to let it go and heal.

I am now available to teach here in Brisbane, so I look forward to sharing with you when that will be happening. Keep an eye on my instagram for updates.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

 

 

My experience with the Fast Tract Diet for SIBO and IBS

I posted back in February about the Fast Tract diet for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). For those who aren’t familiar you can read up on the Fast Tract Diet here, you can also read my previous post here.

In summary The Fast Tract Diet helped me, but I needed to personalise it to my own needs; there were certain foods that just don’t agree with me and given that I have endometriosis I’m cautious with dairy – I only eat organic dairy and preferably made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, cheese is ok for me but yoghurt or milk isn’t.

The Fast Tract Diet

So I should share with you that I didn’t follow the diet extremely closely and didn’t add up the points manually, I just learnt the diet and scoring system then ate accordingly. I roughly eat anywhere between 30-40 fermentation points per day (my understanding is 25 fp points per day is recommended initally).

I think the Fast Tract Diet has worked well for me because I can eat many different high FODMAP foods including garlic and onion, which is why I wanted to give this approach a whirl as the low FODMAP diet wasn’t assisting me greatly. I think if you’ve tried a lot of different approaches for dealing with SIBO (such as low FODMAP) and aren’t getting anywhere, then perhaps The Fast Tract diet could be worthwhile trying.

I am feeling so much better since I’ve been on this diet, but it hasn’t just been the diet that’s helped, as I’ve also been taking prescribed nutrients and strains of probiotics and prebiotics (partially hydrolysed guar gum). I also meditate and practise yoga regularly as I believe the mind body connection is extremely important to healing.

For me personally I’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying different approaches to treat my health concerns and it can be isolating and confusing going it alone. I’ve learnt that long-term health issues such as SIBO and endometriosis warrant the ongoing support of a qualified health practitioner. I think if you’re completely confused about what to eat, see a nutritionist and let them take the complexity away so you can instead focus on healing and most importantly – enjoying life.

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