My interest in health
My interest in health and wellbeing began at an early age, due to a lack of it! I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease prior to my teenage years, and so began a long journey of doctor’s visits, hospital stays, absences from school and then work, and thwarted plans and ambitions. During all this I had a passion for cooking (when I was well enough!), and couldn’t seem to stop buying recipe books!
Fast forward many years after multiple surgeries including stomal surgery, complications, side effects from medications and corporate burnout (not a good combination!), and I found myself drawn to study Nutrition. I was beginning to understand the connection between what I was eating, how I was feeling, and how my body was responding. I wanted to know more!
Looking back, I can see that this was the start of my journey towards health. I learnt that we build and repair our bodies from the nutrients in the food that we eat. I learnt how to supply and nourish the body with the right quantity and form of these nutrients for greatest healing effect. And I applied everything I learnt to myself, which I still do to this day.
Focus on gastrointestinal disorders
My own journey and experiences led me to focus on gastrointestinal disorders once I finished studying and went into private clinical practice. It was an area I had a particular affinity and empathy for. It was also an area I had examined in detail throughout my studies, which I continue to do to this day. I believe that the gastrointestinal tract is the gateway to health, and if it is not functioning well and absorbing nutrients optimally, then overall health is compromised and the whole body can suffer.
Over the years, both my personal experiences and clinical focus have exposed me to the area of stomal surgery in particular, where I have come across a common and frequent dilemma – a lack of specific nutritional support that is tailored to the varying needs of the Ostomate.
My multi-faceted approach
In my opinion, in order to provide adequate nutritional support to an Ostomate after stomal surgery, many factors need to be taken into consideration. These include: the age of the patient, specifics of the surgery, current medications and other illnesses, to name a few.
I also believe there are multiple tiers to the nutritional treatment plan, such as ensuring dietary intake is adequate and appropriate and the gastrointestinal tract is healthy and functioning optimally.
All adults and children are advised to adhere to dietary guidelines, which provide advice about the types and quantities of food that need to be consumed regularly for health and wellbeing. For some Ostomates, however, it may not be possible to consume adequate quantities of many of the recommended foods due to issues with increased output or a potential blockage, with the result being that general dietary intake can become inadequate and nutrient status may be compromised.
On top of that, for those Ostomates who are struggling with their health after stomal surgery, the need for certain nutrients can be greater than the general recommendations. Therefore particular strategies need to be put in place to ensure there is the greatest possible diversity in the diet to meet nutrient requirements without added issues.
In addition to achieving optimal nutrient intake, however, is the added requirement of ensuring the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is healthy to support optimal nutrient absorption. The small intestine in particular is the major site where nutrients pass from the GI tract across the bowel wall into the blood stream, so any disease or surgery that reduces function in this tissue has the potential to reduce absorption of nutrients. This can lead to compromised nutrient status despite adequate dietary intake, because many of the nutrients consumed in food are not absorbed and are consequently lost down the toilet. I believe it is therefore imperative to consider the health of the GI tract in addition to dietary intake to fully support the wellbeing of Ostomates.
Your nutritional representative
I have spent the best part of the last 15 years attending lectures, seminars, conferences and now webinars on the requirements for health and wellbeing, always with an ear out as to how the information is relevant to or different for Ostomates. Many general dietary recommendations or strategies are not applicable to Ostomates, for example to achieve weight loss or to address diabetes or cardiovascular disease. At these events, I have been your representative in the field of nutrition, always on the lookout for ways to adapt information to support the health and wellbeing of Ostomates.
Nutritional Consulting is my profession and what I do for a living, with my focus being to provide the missing nutritional links for Ostomates in order to support overall vitality and wellbeing. My mission is to provide a greater level of nutritional support to Ostomates than has previously been available, and therefore enhance general feelings of freedom and fulfilment.
Associate Nutritionist and Owner
Nutrition For Ostomates
Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition (Deakin University)
Bachelor of Health Sciences (Nutritional Medicine) (Australian College of Natural Medicine)
Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA)
Australian Association of Stomal Therapy Nurses (AASTN)
Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA)
Golden Key International Honour Society (Deakin University Chapter)