Graduate Story

"Passionate foodie" Diana Warrings explains how starting a food blog during her studies with ION led to a full time career in recipe development

What drew you to nutritional therapy?

Unlike a lot of my fellow students, my motive for studying nutritional therapy had nothing to do with my personal health journey; it was that I always loved good food. I grew up on home cooking. My mum taught me how to cook, and she encouraged me to try out new foods — escargots with big chunks of garlic and herb butter being one memorable dish. Not your typical kid’s dinner, but for some reason I just loved them.

Nutrition itself, however, became my passion after reading Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Bible. I was so fascinated by how food worked on a functional level that it completely changed my view on the subject. I began to cook with more than just the purpose of delivering delicious dishes. I wanted my food to be good from a health perspective too. Many years after, I felt the need to deepen my knowledge beyond the book and signed up for the course.

What did you enjoy studying at ION?

I really enjoyed the [science] access year, especially biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology. The access year really prepared me for what was to come. In years two and three, the one thing that repeatedly fascinated me was the functional medicine approach; identifying the underlying root cause first and then aiming to work back to a state of health made so much sense. If I had to reduce it to one topic, it would be the microbiome. What a magical new world!

How did your career develop after graduating?

I initially started practising nutritional therapy. However, I graduated around the time of the Brexit vote — I am German — and began looking for jobs outside of the UK. I accepted a position as a nutrition content writer for a start-up in Berlin. My role involved writing blog posts on food and nutrition, editing recipes, and writing nutrition concepts to be used in the health app they were developing. Over time, I took on more clients, writing nutrition content for other health apps as well as producing social media content for small businesses within the food, health and fitness sector.

One of these clients, meal kit start-up Marley Spoon, became my full-time employer. I initially started out as a freelance recipe developer for healthy recipes but within a few months, I was offered a contract to manage the culinary team for the German market. This meant I had to give up my freelance work and blogging for a while, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. Once the contract came to an end, I went back to full-time recipe development.

Did you always know you wanted to go down the culinary route?

No. I embarked on the food and nutrition venture without having a real plan other than wanting to learn as much about nutrition as I could. A couple of years into the course, I started a food blog because I missed the practical element of learning how to make good healthy food. I used the blog to share what I was learning from the course and from the many food preparation courses I was attending alongside my studies.

For me, it was important to be able to create delicious dishes and come up with practical recommendations in order to help clients and readers to adopt a healthy way of life. I enjoyed doing the research for my blog posts and coming up with ways to turn my favourite recipes into healthier versions. It was only then that I discovered my love for writing, food styling, and photography.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day of the week is slightly different, which I like. Mondays are filled with meetings. On Tuesdays I have to deliver recipe ideas for the weekly changing menus. Wednesdays and Thursdays are test cooking and editing days, and Fridays are recipe briefing and research days.

If you were hosting a dinner party, what would you make?

I would probably make something from my blog; the Mexican black bean soup with lime, chilli and coriander salsa and freshly baked cornbread, for example, or the summer rolls and the pho with homemade kimchi are always a winner too. As a dessert, I would either make a chia, cherry and almond crumble or a raw coconut and vanilla crème brûlée.

What would be your advice for those thinking about studying nutritional therapy?

I would definitely advise them to go and see a nutritional therapist — an experience I didn’t seek out beforehand. It would have been beneficial for me in the sense that I would have chosen to go down the ‘wellbeing chef’ avenue a lot earlier than I did. Therefore, I would recommend finding out about all possible career options beforehand.

I do not regret a single moment of my studies. However hard they were, what I learned during those four years is invaluable to me now and has given me an understanding [of food] on a deeper level than I could have gained elsewhere in the same stretch of time.

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