Saturday, 25 March 2017

Meet Claire - another new Dietitian!

We are so lucky right now! We have not one, but two new Dietitians joining us. 

Last month we met Amber, our passionate, plant based dietitian. This month, we meet Claire. 


Claire specialises in disordered eating patterns and is looking forward to being the dolphin at Newtown Nutrition. Say what! Read on to understand what we mean!


How would you describe the work that you focus on as a dietitian?
At its most basic level, I work with people who have a difficult relationship with food.  I have worked for six years as a specialist eating disorders dietitian at Wesley Hospital Eating Disorders Unit on the inpatient and day program settings.  People coming through this clinic will usually be working to recover from a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder.  This area definitely forms the bulk of my dietetic background, however I’ve also seen many patients in general hospital settings who don’t have eating disorders, yet who I still find to benefit from the skillset I use in my eating disorders work.
I came up with the term 'mind-body dietitian' to cover my approach to working with this other range of patients: the people I’ve worked with who don’t actually have an eating disorder, yet they have a negative relationship with food which impacts upon their lives and wellbeing.  Sometimes these people identify themselves as being 'emotional eaters', sometimes as 'yo-yo dieters'; sometimes it’s simply that they’re aware that the negative emotions they experience around eating or thinking about food, or weight, are too strong to be normal.  Anxiety, fear, anger, distress – all of these emotions in response to thoughts of food or body shape are indicators that something is not right with a person’s relationship with food.  Sadly, I find that many people haven’t ever questioned whether this situation could actually change – but the first step is talking about it with someone who has experience in this specialised area.
What qualifications do you have?
A have a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Psychology, and I have a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Well, I have young children, so… resting?  That’s more of a dream to aspire to, I guess…

What skills do you believe are essential for working with people who have an eating disorder, or a difficult relationship with food?
Open-mindedness, patience, compassion, knowledge.  
I think a lot of people have had invalidating experiences talking to health-care professionals about their eating disorder, or eating difficulties, where they’ve felt they weren’t listened to, that the health professional just didn’t understand them, or that their experiences and fears were minimised.  This is definitely an area where it really is best to stick with people who have a genuine passion and experience in working in this field.  
My favourite analogy for how eating disorder practitioners should strive to work is to be a 'dolphin'.  Specifically, those mythical dolphins who guide stranded sailors into shore: they swim alongside the sailors to show them the way, but they don’t push the sailors along, and they can’t swim for the sailors.    

What do you see as some of the issues that can have a negative influence on people’s relationship with food?
There are lots of influences, but if I had to choose one for brevity, I’d say the media, certainly.  Most people are aware of the influence of media on body dissatisfaction, but I think it’s sneakier these days with social media being so pervasive and non-stop.  I’m also noticing a lot more males being drawn into having worries about their bodies, which I think is partly driven by the fitness industry images everywhere. 

What are you looking forward to most about working at NN?
Being a dolphin!

What is your favourite snack?
It varies depending on my mood, how hungry I am, where I am, who I’m with and what we’re doing… maybe a handful of toasted nuts… maybe a slice of birthday cake… maybe fruit salad with yoghurt….

When will you be available for clients to see you? 

I will be available Mondays (8am-2pm), Tuesdays (1pm-7pm), alternating Fridays (8am-12 noon), and alternating Saturdays (9am-1pm).

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