Get To Know Our Dietitians!

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For Dietitian’s Week 2022 we have interviewed our current Dietitians in the Dietetically Speaking Clinic about what led them to where they are now, what work they do and more.


Elle Kelly, Eating Disorder & Sports Specialist Dietitian

1. What inspired you to become a dietitian originally?

I think it started with my home ec teacher and when we started learning about different nutrients. I’d always been a very sporty child, so I began learning a bit more about nutrition to support my performance and found it really fascinating, which lead to wanting to do sports nutrition originally, but I changed it to dietetics after having my own experience with a dietitian as a teenager.

2. Tell us your specialist areas and what led you to this speciality?

I specialise in eating disorders and disordered eating and finished my masters in sports nutrition last year too. I have experience working in acute settings with adults with eating disorders, and now work virtually with clients to improve their relationship with food or improve their sports performance.

These two specialities often overlap and I love to support athletes who struggle with disordered eating too.

I experienced periods of disordered eating throughout my teens and like many young people, I was a victim of diet culture, being suckered into diet trends and had a pretty black and white outlook on food. My dietetics degree helped me to see that balance is actually a thing, and that nutrition is a science, not an opinion or a fad!

My passion has always been to provided evidence-based eduction around nutrition so that people could rely on a source of nutrition information and hopefully not fall victim to the diet industry. I also feel as though there has never been enough support for eating disorders, and I want to be part of the change in that!

3. What experience or training have you found most valuable to your career so far?

I was involved in the start-up of a specialist ED unit, and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity as it gave me the foundations of working within eating disorders, and also because it was a totally blank canvas!

I created the meal plan frameworks, recipes and nutrition group programme which I felt was one of the best learning experiences for me as it allowed me to see what truly helped patients and adapt my practice and systems to support them to the best I could.

4. What does your working week look like at the moment?

Busy! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday-Thursday are usually busy clinic days, and Wednesday and Thursdays are my days at the Dietetically Speaking Clinic. I offer early morning and evening slots as I like to be able to make services accessible to clients, but I try to block out some time for myself and personal errands throughout the day, which I am super grateful to be able to do.

I like to keep Fridays for admin, checking in with clients, catching up on emails, MDT meetings, and content and resource creation – which I love to do too as I am naturally quite creative.

Being self-employed means that it can be hard to switch off and I often find myself getting ahead of things or catching up on work at the weekend, because there are just not enough hours in the week! But I love what I do, so it never feels like a chore (except for doing accounting stuff, I don’t like that!).

5. What part of your job as a dietitian do you enjoy the most?

As cliche as it sounds, seeing a change in peoples lives is why I do what I do!

Working in eating disorders, and also when working with clients to improve their relationship with food and overcome disordered eating behaviours is a long-term process which doesn’t have overnight results, and often clients take a few steps back to go forward. This all makes the wins so much sweeter!

I get goosebumps when clients tell me how they’ve had meals with no guilt, they’ve enjoyed a meal out or how they have noticed how their mindset has changed.

6. Is there anything that you found surprising about being a dietitian or your career so far?

I always remember when I started my degree and said I wanted to work privately and in a specialist area, people would look at me funny and tell me that I was dreaming because the general pathway for dietitians is to work in NHS settings and specialist roles are hard to come by. All of my placements were in NHS settings too, so it was certainly geared that way.

However, it wasn’t until I started doing interviews for jobs and looking for jobs that I realised the world of dietetics is so vast and I was so relieved to see it (because I don’t like hospitals and never wanted to work in one). Dietitian’s work in industry, in outpatient settings, privately, free-lance, self- employed, as locums, in media… there are so many options!

7. Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring dietitians?

If you have an idea of where you want to end up in terms of specialist area, go for it! Don’t let the belief that you have to do X years in general dietetics or gain certain experience hold you back.

Attend as many courses as you can (there are so many great free courses) and do plenty of CPD in that area, and reach out to dietitians (we’re often friendly!) who work in those areas to see how they got to where they were, because you’ll see that there are so many routes, and you don’t need to do it the traditional way!

8. Where do you see the dietetic profession going in the next few years?

From my experience, I am starting to see that locuming is becoming a super popular option for dietitians. I am also seeing that more and more dietitians are working privately and even self-employed, which I think will continue to grow.

9. What non-nutrition related things do you enjoy?

I love strength training and most kinds of outdoor activities. I also love driving so I’m always up for a road trip to explore places. I’m so close to my family, so making time to fly home when I can is really important too.

10. What are your 3 favourite foods/meals?

This is so difficult as I love cooking, eating out and trying new cuisines!

  • Proper Italian gelato
  • Pesto pasta
  • I love spicy food too so anything Mexican and all kinds of curries!

Kirsty Wood, Food Freedom, Gut Health & Fertility Dietitian

1. What inspired you to become a dietitian originally?

I used to work in an office and talk about food all the time with my colleagues, increasingly I realised I didn’t want to crunch numbers in accounts anymore and wanted to make talking about food my job.

Looking back, the diet culture in the office was rife! Going to university was hands-down the best decision I ever made.

I love what I do, I look forward to ‘work’ and feel privileged to meet so many diverse people in both my NHS role and work as a private dietitian too.

2. Tell us your specialist areas and what led you to this speciality?

My specialist areas are:

  • Intuitive eating – Intuitive eating resonated with me on a personal level many years ago. I grew up in a low-income family and had an uncomfortable relationship with food which heightened during university. When I discovered intuitive eating, I used the framework to rebuild trust with food and my body. 5+ years on, the passion is still strong! I am grateful that I am better equipped to support people on their journeys.
  • Gut health such as IBS, IBD and a whole host of other gut conditions – I enjoy this area because it’s like a puzzle, lots of gut symptoms can overlap and I enjoy helping people to feel better and improve their quality of life.
  • Pre-conception nutrition – After seeing some friends struggling with fertility, I wanted to learn more about how nutrition can play a part in optimising egg and sperm health. Now I feel privileged to be able to help people on their fertility journeys.

3. What experience or training have you found most valuable to your career so far?

As well as university, my work in NHS roles and ongoing professional development, I’d say that learning more about Intuitive eating after having been through my own journey was hugely valuable in terms of being able to apply and “practise what I preach”.

I have a real passion for helping people to stop yo-yo dieting and as such have sought out training opportunities from a range of sources to further develop my skills.

4. What does your working week look like at the moment?

At the moment, I have a diverse variety of roles: I work for my local NHS Trust 3 days a week, where I’m involved in multiple projects to support my local community. I run most of my private clinics in the evenings and have client spaces available with the Dietetically Speaking Clinic on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings.

Outside of clinics, I’m working on other projects and important admin tasks that come with running a business.

5. What part of your job as a dietitian do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy helping people to find out what is holding them back in terms of their nutrition goals. People are individual and what works for one person may need tweaking or overhauling to help someone else, there’s no cookie-cutter approach that suits all.

I like to work holistically, which means looking at the whole person and linking in with what is important to them; it’s never just about the diet.

6. Is there anything that you found surprising about being a dietitian or your career so far?

I think I am most surprised by how little people know about dietitians and what we do. Quite often when I’m introduced to people and they find out what I do, they think that they must shield me from seeing them eat a cookie – we aren’t the food police and we are humans too, haha!

7. Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring dietitians?

As a ‘mature student’ who switched professions, I felt like it was a big leap returning to education in my mid-twenties. It was a large time commitment (in my case 4 years at uni + 1 year of a science access course), despite my worries, it’s the best thing I ever did and I met lots of other aspiring dietitians who were in the same boat.

My advice is, if you’re genuinely thinking about it, look for ways to make it happen. For the RD2Bs out there, when on placement, ask your supervisors as many questions as possible, they really don’t mind.

8. Where do you see the dietetic profession going in the next few years?

This is a great question! Even if we look back over the last 10 years, the dietetic profession has grown and there are so many amazing specialities now! I am hopeful that the profession will continue to expand and show our value as evidence-based healthcare professionals who can help people to live healthful lives that are meaningful to them though nutrition and lifestyle advice.

9. What non-nutrition related things do you enjoy?

I really enjoy being outside and being able to move my body. Lots of my role involves being at a desk for long periods of time so any opportunity to stretch my legs is welcome. I dance regularly and enjoy spending time with friends and family. I also enjoy watching programmes on Netflix and Disney+ but never watch a show that is released weekly – I’m impatient and like to watch things on demand.

10. What are your 3 favourite foods/meals?

Roast dinners

Chocolate peanut cups (anything chocolate and peanutty really)

Burritos – MMmmm mmmm!


Maeve Hanan, Disordered Eating Specialist Dietitian & Founder of Dietetically Speaking

1. What inspired you to become a dietitian originally?

I’ve been interested in food and nutrition since I was young. So when I was deciding what I wanted to do when I was in secondary school, that was high on the list. But I was also interested in psychology and teaching, so when I found out what a dietitian does it seemed like the perfect combination of all three of these interests!

2. Tell us your specialist areas and what led you to this speciality?

I specialise in helping people to heal from disordered eating, which is a spectrum anywhere from eating disorders to chronic dieting and food worries.

I love supporting people on this journey to a more free and peaceful relationship with food.

Working as a dietitian and sharing nutritional information on social media for years really opened my eyes to just how present and harmful diet culture is. Like most people, diet culture has also impacted me and people close to me.

Discovering intuitive eating was so liberating, so I wanted to support others in achieving the joy that is total food freedom!

I was also finding that the work I did to support those with disordered eating was the most rewarding and impactful, so I decided to specialise in this area and it was the BEST decision as I really love it. 

3. What experience or training have you found most valuable to your career so far?

Of course my dietetic degree and placement laid important foundations for my work, and I’m very grateful for the varied experience I gained in the NHS, in private practice, online and on social media.

As I mentioned, discovering intuitive eating was quite a game changer for me both personally and professionally, and I found the intuitive eating and nutrition counselling courses from the London Centre for Intuitive Eating really helpful in increasing my skills in this area. 

4. What does your working week look like at the moment?

This can be quite varied, but it includes working with my one to one clients in the Dietetically Speaking Clinic all day on Tuesday and on Wednesday afternoons. I also do a nutrition writing job for a few hours on Wednesdays.

The rest of time I tend to be checking in with clients, creating content, managing the business, providing webinars and courses and keeping on top of my ongoing professional training etc.

5. What part of your job as a dietitian do you enjoy the most?

The most rewarding part of my job is definitely working with clients and being alongside them as they work on healing their relationship with food.

It’s such a privilege to do this work, and I love learning from my clients’ wisdom and experience as we discuss their reflections and progress.

I also really enjoy group teaching and running online courses and working with my lovely colleagues.

6. Is there anything that you found surprising about being a dietitian or your career so far?

I definitely didn’t expect social media to be such a big part of my job when I was a student dietitian! I also didn’t know that I’d be running my own business and able to work fully remotely, so that was a very nice surprise.

A less positive surprise was how many people don’t know what a dietitian is or how specialist our role is, when so many non-nutrition experts are trusted for nutrition advice! 

7. Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring dietitians?

You don’t have to have your entire career mapped out already, you can get some experience in different areas to see what you enjoy the most and specialise once you have a clearer idea of this.

Always remember the importance of client-centred care and that our clients are the experts of themselves and their own experiences.

8. Where do you see the dietetic profession going in the next few years?

I think more and more remote and online opportunities will emerge. I also really hope that the popularity of weight-inclusive nutritional care continues to grow and becomes a more common part of our profession and student training. 

9. What non-nutrition related things do you enjoy?

I like going for walks and hikes, yoga, eating out, listening to good comedy podcasts and I’m a big fan of musicals and musical comedy.  

10. What are your 3 favourite foods/meals?

This is always a tough one to narrow down! I’d say:

  • Really good tacos
  • Halloumi gyro with tzatziki, salad and chips (all wrapped together)
  • Coffee cake

If you are interested in getting support from one of our wonderful dietitians, you can book a free discovery call here and find FAQs about our clinic here


Testimonials

Maeve has been consulting on The Food Medic Educational Hub for 12 months now and has been a huge asset to the team. Her ability to translate some very nuanced topics in nutrition into easy-to-follow, informative articles and infographics is really admirable.

Dr Hazel Wallace

Founder of The Food Medic

Maeve is incredibly talented at sharing scientific information in an easy to understand way. The content she shares with us is always really interesting, clear, and of very high quality. She’s one of our favourite writers to work with!

Aisling Moran

Senior UX Writer at Thriva Health

Maeve has written extensively for NHD magazine over the last few years, producing a wealth of dietetic and nutritional articles. Always evidence based and factual, Maeve creates material that is relevant and very readable. She provides high quality work with a professional and friendly approach. Maeve is a beacon of high quality knowledge and work within the nutrition writing community; and someone NHD magazine is proud to work with.

Emma Coates

Editor of Network Health Digest


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