Dr Mayoni Gooneratne, founder of The Clinic by Dr Mayoni, tells us why she decided to add nutrition to her skillset with ION’s Graduate Diploma in Integrative Functional Nutrition


Why did you decide to add nutrition to your skillset?

“I’m a colorectal and pelvic floor surgeon. I qualified in 2000 from St George’s Medical School and basically went straight into surgery as it’s my passion. I set up my clinic, which at the time was very much an aesthetics clinic. Within that, I had conversations with my patients where they would talk to me about lots of other things, including their physical health, their mental health and their hormone health. I created this embryonic version of human health, which is skin fit, mind fit and body fit. This is still part of our thinking, but it was a very disjointed set of offerings.

“Then lockdown happened and I had a lot of time to think. This thinking generated ‘Human Health’, which for me is a range of services that are designed to help people look towards their health, rather than look towards illness.

“For me, it’s really about root cause and looking at what we can do in a really simple way, pretty inexpensively, [instead of] throwing loads of pills at people. There is always a bigger conversation we can have with everyone, even if it’s just a casual, ‘Are you taking enough omegas?’ or ‘What’s your vitamin D status like?’

“I think every doctor has got a duty of care to know about nutrition. It’s almost negligent not to talk to patients about their lifestyle now. And it’s so achievable. So much chronic disease – if you’re going to go to the stats – has got a foothold in nutrition and lifestyle. We can make such a difference [as doctors].”

Why did you choose ION’s Graduate Diploma?

“It was actually on the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine’s [BSLM] website. It popped up and I thought ‘oh, this will be interesting’. It’s been fascinating. It is a lot of work, probably more than I had anticipated, but maybe that’s because of the disparity between my baseline knowledge and what I had to learn.”

How has your practice changed since starting the Graduate Diploma?

“I’m having to relearn how to consult with my patients. That’s huge. But I wouldn’t go back. For my [female patients] who come to me wanting to talk about their hormones, I know it needs to be a 360 degree conversation. I know we will end up having to talk about their gut health, their sleep and their stress, because they will all have an impact.

“There is so much power in what we do, and it doesn’t have to be medicine led at all.”

How have your learnings influenced yours and your family’s health?

“My son has had the most horrendous six weeks…a lot of this, we now think, is post viral. [Without my knowledge] I think I would have been left floundering. It gives me an element of proactiveness which is really important.

“My children are much more conscious about eating and why the fruits and vegetables are on their plates.

“My husband also has severe back pain, and we’ve been talking about his health in a very different way. That is all driven through [the Graduate Diploma].”

What would be your advice for others considering the Graduate Diploma?

“Do it. I remember thinking ‘What do I have to lose?’ I think if you’re genuinely learning something out of a passion it becomes integrated into your day and your life. Don’t underestimate it – it’s a big topic – but I don’t think you’ll look back.

“For doctors out there, I can’t believe you’re helping your patients if you’re not talking to them about nutrition. I think you’re almost duty bound.”

Want to add nutrition to your healthcare skillset? Click here to find out more about the Graduate Diploma in Integrative Functional Nutrition