Graduate story

Lorna Rhodes tells us how, after many successful years as a cookery writer and food stylist, she launched her new career in nutritional therapy - and the benefits of maturity

What drew you to nutritional therapy?

Since the early ‘80s I was attracted to the world of alternative medicine, having fallen out of love with traditional medicine. I switched to a naturopathic GP who did kinesiology [principles of movement] — very radical in the ‘80s... and I read [Patrick Holford’s] The Optimum Nutrition Bible (1997) avidly.

I made enquiries to the Institute to study, but didn’t feel I could manage the course, as I was so busy writing cookery books at the time. But I did get there about 15 years later!

How does your experience as a cookery writer and food stylist fit into your practice?

To help clients make dietary changes they need support, and giving them easy, tasty recipes helps support them with their programme. My clients love my recipes and I get great feedback; they feel confident trying them, knowing my background.

I still develop new recipes and have been writing for the Waitrose Weekend paper, in the Healthy Everyday section.

Being an older ION graduate, what do you think that you have been able to bring to your practice as a result of your age and experience?

I am finding there are some benefits to being older. My personal experiences of life allow me to relate to some of the problems my clients face, whether it is stress from work, juggling a family and work, developing interpersonal skills and generally accumulating considerable information and knowledge along the way, all relevant to nutritional therapy.

In consultations, being mature does have some gravitas, as I feel I can speak with confidence and develop the rapport very quickly with clients, and build trust.

What do you incorporate into your daily life from nutritional therapy?

Food is fundamental, it has always played a big part in my life, obviously in my long career as a recipe writer and cookbook author. Cooking every day is therapeutic, I enjoy the whole process. As well as enjoying the taste, I know the food will nourish my body. I couldn’t live without delicious, healthy food on the table every day.

What was your favourite or the most surprising part of the ION course?

The most surprising part of the course was how complex the human body is when it comes to biochemical imbalances. Fortunately, we have many ways of looking for the cause, using functional testing, which I had no idea existed before the course. My favourite part was clinical practice, as my goal was to set up my own clinic.

How has your career path changed since graduating from ION?

It took some time to call myself a nutritional therapist rather than a cookery writer. But now [I’m] established, it feels good and I am proud to be part of this community helping clients with their health problems. I still write recipes!

What’s the most rewarding aspect of having qualified?

Firstly, it felt like a huge achievement coming into the profession, may I say quite late in life, qualifying at a time when most of my friends were retiring, and I found the studying was challenging.

Now I love to research medical conditions I had never heard of and even referencing is second nature — never thought I would be able to say that!

Professionally, the rewards are endless, when clients feel better or weight is lost, or a condition clears up, it makes it all worthwhile. It is also a privilege [for me when] people put their trust in me to help support them, as well as a responsibility on my part.

What is your favourite food/ ingredient?

I love eggs, they are so versatile and nutritious. I can’t survive without salad and veggies.

What five things would we always find in your fridge?

Plant-based milk, salad ingredients, omega-3 eggs, glass containers with different seeds, home-made hummus.

What would be your go-to, quick, healthy meal?

Home-made soup with a base of chicken stock — or should I be calling that bone broth these days!

What are your hopes for the future of nutritional therapy?

That the profession is accepted within the medical arena and we can work with doctors in an integrated way. This was brought home to me when I went through cancer treatment four years ago, and realised that many oncologists and doctors do understand the power of nutrition in supporting cancer patients.

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