Graduate story

Lily Soutter tells us how, after graduating with a BSc in Food and Human Nutrition, going on to study at ION gave her the skills she needed to set up a successful business working one-to-one with clients 

How did you become interested in nutrition?

“I struggled with psoriasis throughout my childhood which at times affected most of my body, and no topical treatments or medications seemed to help. Upon seeking out advice from a nutritional therapist, I changed my diet and this was the first time that my skin cleared up and went into remission for a sustained period of time.

“Once I had seen how powerful food can be, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the science of food and health so I undertook a four-year Food and Human Nutrition degree at Newcastle University, which had a huge amount of research going on and so was especially exciting.”

What made you decide to study nutritional therapy after your degree?

“My degree included a compulsory placement year within the industry. During this time I worked with an amazing nutritional therapist and author, Sam Bourne, who inspired me to study nutritional therapy. My degree taught me about research methods and the science of human nutrition, however, we received no clinical practice and I was eager to learn about functional medicine and how I could help individuals to make positive dietary change on a one-to-one basis.

“ION was an essential part of my training for my career; it taught me fundamental clinical skills and I left feeling prepared to set up my own clinic in Chelsea.”

How did your career change after ION?

“I immediately began to see clients for nutrition consultations as soon as I graduated from ION. I definitely felt that all those hours of clinical practice left me feeling confident to start taking bookings straight away. After several years of dipping my toes in all areas of nutrition, I now specialise in workplace wellness, delivering nutrition-focused wellbeing programmes within offices across the UK. My main aim is to simplify the science around nutrition, to provide health hacks and smarter eating strategies that empower employees to live a healthier, happier and more successful lifestyle.

“I also am the in-house nutritionist at Hello Day, a leading company that specialises in developing unique supplements to support optimal health throughout each season. Together we carry out monthly educational nutrition talks on key topics surrounding their seasonal supplements. Recent topics have covered the science behind their clinically proven supplement which fights seasonal allergies, as well as their sustainable and totally vegan omega-3 algae oil. I also provide educational training for Hello Day’s wellbeing ambassadors.”

What does a typical day look like?

“Each day varies widely and no two days are ever the same, from writing articles for national papers to TV and consultancy work. I usually allocate Mondays for seeing clients for nutrition consultations in Chelsea; most days I will be carrying out a workplace wellness talk, usually within a London-based office. When working with Hello Day I host events and film education content for our wellbeing ambassadors.”

How did you juggle life and responsibilities outside of your studies?

“I was initially working full-time and had to be very disciplined with myself when scheduling time in the diary to complete the ION workload. However, in my final year, I cut down my working hours and took up a part-time role in a local health food shop, which was the best decision for me. By speaking to customers I learnt a huge amount and gained an in-depth insight into the current health and wellness products on the market.”

What is the best thing about being a nutrition practitioner?

“I am fascinated by the science of nutrition, and the wealth of new research means the nutrition industry is one which can never be boring. There are also endless exciting opportunities, whether that’s working as part of a team within a nutrition clinic, or even starting your own business within the food industry. My favourite part of the job is educating and empowering others to make positive dietary changes.”

What advice would you give to those considering a similar career path?

“I would advise spending some time shadowing a nutritional therapist, within a clinic or within the food industry, to gain insight into the areas you would like to work in. Try not to feel rushed or pressured into specialising in a specific area too soon. It took me a few years of dipping my toes into several areas of nutrition before I really knew what I wanted to focus my efforts on.”

Click here to visit Lily's website

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