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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Mushroom quinoa pilau

I recently reintroduced mushrooms after removing them for SIBO treatment and am so happy to have them back in my life! They have such an amazing flavour all of their own and are good sources of B vitamins, chromium and selenium and offer modest amounts of protein. I’ve used oyster, wood ear and shiitake mushrooms in this recipe, if you’re on a low FODMAP diet swap the shiitake for shimeji mushrooms, or just omit the shiitake mushrooms.

Quinoa is a seed that I love as an alternative to rice and other grains – it’s gluten free, a complete source of all amino acids (protein), it’s also rich in fibre, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and other trace minerals. Quinoa doesn’t have a great flavour on it’s own, so it’s important to rinse it thoroughly before cooking and I also cook it in a broth or stock. I’ve used an amazing mushroom broth in this recipe by Nutra Organics. You don’t have to use this brand for the broth, but I’d highly recommend it for the flavour and the health benefits.

I’ve used goats cheese, but it’s also lovely with a fried egg on top. You could always replace the goats cheese with a vegan cheese (a nut based cheese) to make this vegan.Mushroom and quinoa pilaf 2

Serves 3-4

You’ll need:

  • 150g mushrooms sliced (I used oyster, wood ear and shiitake)
  • 1 cup quinoa washed
  • 4 teaspoons of Nutra Organics Immune Wellbeing vegetable broth combined with 2 cups of boiling water to make a broth / stock
  • 2 zucchinis chopped
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • 1/2 cup of goats feta to crumble on top OR a fried egg placed on each serve
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil

Method:

Place quinoa and broth in a saucepan, bring to the boil then turn down heat to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a larger saucepan / frypan add the olive oil on a medium heat, add the zucchini, salt and pepper and saute for about 3 minutes, add the mushrooms and cook for 30 seconds, add the spring onion cook for a further 30 seconds, then add the quinoa and combine all ingredients, stirring for a further minute. Serve in bowls and top with crumbled feta or an egg.

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

 

 

Overcoming SIBO

Following my diagnosis of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) in 2015 after surgery for endometriosis, I made it my mission to learn as much as possible about this gut condition; I’ve read scientific literature, listened to interviews with experts, spoken to countless health professionals and am gaining knowledge through my nutrition degree.

Initially I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis, but then the super strict treatment regimen combined with round after round of treatment not working took its toll on me. I started to lose hope and became exhausted and malnourished. However, following my last round of treatment in January 2018 I’ve experienced a turnaround in my health.

Meredith overcoming SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)

Because of my experience (and that I’m feeling a whole lot better), I wanted to share what I believe are some of the most important things to consider when trying to overcome SIBO:

 

STRESS

This is number 1 on my list of things to address as it’s key to helping your nervous system and gut functioning optimally. It doesn’t matter how dedicated you are to your treatment, if you aren’t coping, are struggling with anxiety or depression or think you might be, it’s essential to address it. Anxiety or depression can be due to nutritional deficiencies so it’s important to get this investigated. Otherwise, gain healthy habits that you can fit into your life; practise yoga, learn to meditate, have coffee with friends or spend time in nature.

Diet restrictions can cause their own anxiety, be conscious and acknowledge it if this happens to you; my suggestion is to not worry if you ate those chips or that piece of cake, what’s more important is how you eat the rest of the time. Remember to chew your food and eat slowly, it seems Grandma did know best with that one!

FIND THE ROOT CAUSE

Find the root cause if you can, consider the possibility there may be other conditions co-existing with SIBO (or even causing it). You need a good, thorough health practitioner to help with this (an integrative doctor or naturopath is helpful here).

PERSONALISE AND TWEAK IT

Personalise your diet and your treatment – it may look different to others, try out different approaches and see what works for you. See a qualified nutritionist who understands SIBO to help you work through your individual needs. Also remember that when you start to reintroduce certain foods you’re likely to have a reaction; it’s not necessarily a bad sign, more just an adjustment period, just go slowly when reintroducing foods.

SUPPLEMENTS

Don’t dismiss pre or probiotics, they might just help. I know it’s controversial when it comes to SIBO though. For the last 4 months I’ve been using hydrolysed guar gum (a prebiotic) and specific probiotic strains after avoiding them for years, but I feel like they are helping. I also tried FMT (fecal microbiota transplant), but I wouldn’t recommend FMT unless your gastroenterologist recommends it specifically for you as it’s not really used for SIBO. It’s also important to tackle the issue of low stomach acid if that’s a problem for you and slow motility by using a pro-kinetic such as ginger (again, only if this is relevant for you). There are loads of other supplements I could talk about here but it’s best to chat your health practitioner about what’s right for you.

LET IT GO

Let go of the outcome, it’s important for your mental health. This one ties into to my first point about reducing stress. Letting go isn’t about giving up; if you’re really attached to an outcome it can make you anxious and then disheartened if the treatment doesn’t work exactly as you hoped. Remember that most people require rounds of treatment to get better, not just one.

Health and healing.

Meredith x

 

 

 

Yellow vegetable curry

I shared a picture of a yellow veggie curry in my slow cooker on Instagram and had some requests for the recipe so here it is. It’s on repeat in my house!

This curry is low FODMAP, endo-diet friendly and vegan. It’s not a complicated recipe and can definitely be tweaked, so feel free to use whatever veggies are in season or add some chickpeas if your gut can tolerate them.

Yellow veggie curry

Serves 4-6,

Requires a slow cooker, or a setting on your stove top that allows you to cook at a very low temperature.

You’ll need:

  • A 400g tin of coconut milk (without additives)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ginger finely grated
  • 1 tbsp turmeric ground
  • 2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp cardamom ground
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • A sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 medium sweet potato chopped (or pumpkin)
  • 1 white potato chopped
  • 2 zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cauliflower chopped into small florets (use broccoli for low FODMAP)
  • 150g of chopped mushrooms (use oyster mushrooms for low FODMAP)
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves to serve
  • 1 lime to squeeze over when serving

If you’re not on a low FODMAP diet or don’t have IBS or SIBO, try adding some chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove.

Method:

Take a slow cooker pan and add the coconut oil, heat it over the stove top on a medium heat, add the spices (including the fresh ginger) and when they are fragrant slowly add the vegetables and cook stirring for about 2 minutes. Next, add the coconut milk and heat through (but don’t let it boil).

Place the pan back into the slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours.

Yellow vegetable curry

I like to sprinkle hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and almond flakes on top when serving for added protein and healthy fats.

Serve with rice of your choice, I use jasmine but brown rice is best if you can tolerate it.

Meredith x