We sat down with Amber for a Q + A to learn more about our lovely, new Dietitian.
I am an APD (Accredited Practicing Dietitian) and AN (accredited nutritionist). I completed a combined Bachelor and Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle, studying under academics such as Dr Clare Collins, and Dr Tracy Burrows. In this time I was also awarded first class honours for my thesis on food addiction, which is an area that I am passionate about. I believe that you cannot treat the body without the mind. I have written numerous recipes and short articles for nutrition blogs and newsletters. I also have clinical experience working at Blacktown and Mt. Druitt hospitals, including working in Stroke and Cardiovascular, Geriatric, Orthopaedic and Surgical wards to name a few. I have always enjoyed volunteering in nutritional spaces, having spent the past three years facilitating the Cancer Council Eat It To Beat It program: that assists parents and their children to eat more fruit and veggies each day. I have also spent time abroad studying public health in Mexico to gain understanding of what health and nutrition means in third world cultures.
Since I was a child I have always enjoyed food. I developed a full set of teeth by the age of ten months old, so from then on it was go time! I still have a fond memory of being four years old and my friends mum asking me what I wanted for dinner, myself replying, “beef and red wine please” so you can say I was enthusiastic about my grub. I have also always been surrounded by foodies. In fact, to my knowledge my great (or perhaps great great) grandfather actually opened the first health food store in Australia, so it all feels natural to me. As I grew up I started noticing how food affected me. Some foods would make me slump and feel fatigued or sluggish while others made my skin glow, my hair shine and gave me the energy to perform my daily tasks in a phenomenal way. Food was my medicine and my connection, and still is. I then decided that it would be my career. Finally in my later years I began questioning the impact of my food choices. Was I really eating the most nourishing foods as nature intended? And what affect did my eating have on the environment and the beings around me? This is what has led me to where I am today. Where I now live and breathe my passion and hope to pass it on to others.
I like to keep active, so in my spare time you’ll often find me hiking, bike riding, salsa dancing or practicing yoga. Being active to me is the other side of wellness. I also love to cook. I enjoy experimenting with the colour, flavour and aromas of food. I find cooking grounds me and is a way for me to share love with the people I care about.
I am a whole food plant based practitioner, meaning that I help people achieve nutritionally balanced vegan and vegetarian diets for a range of conditions and ailments. I work on debunking myths and helping people feel confident that they are getting all the nutrients and nourishment they need to thrive. This involves helping clients with mindful eating, vegan and vegetarian lifespan nutrition, weight management (gain or loss), diabetes, diverticulitis, arthritis and inflammatory disorders, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, as well as other chronic conditions. I work from a STRENGTHS based approach to build positive body-food relationships. I also have a passion for what is called nutritional cognitive neurology: a holistic, evidence based, mind-body approach to health and wellbeing. This includes the way the brain, psychology and neurology affect our gut, digestion and health and visa versa. Conditions that may involve gut-brain disorders include the role of nutrients related to hormone systems and regulating hunger hormone, methylation processes (involved in how we make energy and other bodily processed), food addiction and the gut microbiome. These are just a few of the areas I am intrigued with.
I believe key skills for any health professional are the ability to listen and not just instruct, to be STRENGTHS based (that is focusing on empowering and not degrading), to provide practical or meaningful advice and to offer individualised consults; no generic cookie cutter approach to health and wellbeing. I’m also a big believer in the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Food is not meant to give you a headache or rule over your life. Food is meant to be enjoyed, to give you nourishment and energy. Likewise it need not be overcomplicated or morphed with additives, processing and toxins to the point that it barely resembles food anymore. Natural, whole foods without an ingredients list is where it’s at. Because health is a natural state and so is real food.
I think the biggest thing I that am looking forward to is the opportunity to share my knowledge on plant based nutrition, offer practical advice from a place of experience and help people shift into a glowing, healthy and vibrant version of themselves. To help simply their lives, get back to basics and reconnect with natural, whole foods in a form that nature intended. Because I believe that food is the lynch pin connecting people with the earth, each other and to health. I’m also excited to be part of the Newtown community. It’s really great to be working in such a melting pot of different cultures and ideas.
I have a sweet tooth. So it’s a close tie between fresh medjool dates or nicecream. Fresh dates are on another level compared to dried ones; they taste like chewy caramel and offer a great natural energy burst during the afternoon slump. I also take great delight buying a whole box of super spotty organic bananas, peeling them and freezing them to turn into niceceam whenever I feel. The flavour depends on my mood at the time: mango weis, gooey fudge, matcha green tea, raspberry ripple, choc mint…just about anything you can think of can be made with natural whole foods.
I will be available Thursdays (4pm-7:30pm), Fridays (9am-5pm) and alternating Saturdays (9am-3pm). I will also be doing some community nutrition talks at local venues and markets soon, so keep a look out for future events.