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ABOUT ME

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams

Have you always been interested in nutrition?

I was a child who loved to cook, initially baking but then as a teenager I became more interested in meals as a whole, I can't say that I would cook for the whole family but I do remember planning and cooking special meals for mum and dad for their wedding anniversaries.

However, it was doing O-Level and A-level Home Economics that I started to really learn about foods and their nutritional content.

I remember learning the specifics about vitamins and minerals and being amazed at the effect that they can have on your body. My first choice as a career was to go into catering.

What did you do before Nutritional Therapy?

Well, I didn't go into catering; my first career was as a nurse. I qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1990 at St. James's University Hospital, Leeds and subsequently worked as a Staff Nurse on the Plastic Surgery ward at the same hospital, this was where I really became interested in health promotion and disease prevention.

I went on to qualify and work as a Health Visitor, including a role as Specialist Health Visitor for the Elderly in Worcester.

For me, being a Registered Nutritional Therapist is a happy marriage between my passions of nutrition and health promotion.

What made you take up nutritional therapy?

When my first son was born I gave up paid work to concentrate on being a full-time mother.

When my second son was 2 years old he started to have digestive problems, numerous visits to the GP and paediatrician led only to long term medication with no diagnosis. Subsequently my third son was born and at the age of 2 years he too developed digestive problems.

I felt sure that there must be an underlying cause for their digestive difficulties and revisited my teenage interest in nutrition and its role in health. This led to the study of Nutritional Therapy.

Both boys later tested positively for non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. They commenced a gluten free diet and within weeks there was an improvement in their digestive function and mood.

Do you find it easy to be healthy yourself?

I have had people say to me that "It's OK for you, you're slim, you don't have to worry about your health", insisting that I must be blessed genetically and need not worry. The truth is quite different, the decision to take care of myself and my body is not always easy, I love chocolate and I used to have quite a bad biscuit habit. If I overeat I put weight on. My knees creak going upstairs and if I make poor food choices the aching in my knees reminds me that the first signs of osteoarthritis are there. Exercising every day isn't just for fun, it's to help keep the backache at bay.

Of my 3 siblings, parents and myself, 4 have type 2 diabetes. My mother has diabetes and osteoarthritis, my father had his heart bypass aged 63 and continues to have cardio-vascular disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. My sister has diabetes and my youngest brother has had diabetes since he was 30years old.

I know that the choices that I make will make a difference to my health and it is for that reason I am watchful of my nutrition and lifestyle choices. That's not to say I feel deprived, eating well still means eating flavoursome, satisfying foods; it gets rid of cravings and impulse decisions but means that I can still enjoy a slice of cake on the children's birthdays (albeit a home baked one!)

Why do you do what you do?

As you can tell from the above, I am far from being genetically blessed, but I have been able to learn the effects that different foods and nutrients have on us and the positive impact that certain food choices can have. I want to be able to guide others to eat well and make the choices that will support good health for them.

We are an ageing population but with that we can expect, on average, 16 years of ill health before we die. I don't think that anyone would choose to live their final years in a state of chronic ill health and there are actions that we can take to reduce our risk of chronic diseases.

Changes may begin to occur as early as our 40's and therefore, it is becoming increasingly more important for individuals to have an awareness of their health and measures that may be taken to improve it.

Who do you work with?

I work mostly, but not exclusively with people in their 40's and 50's to help them live as well as they can, to have the knowledge that can help them make informed choices about what they choose to eat. They may have specific health issues but doctors tests have come back normal or they may be just starting to feel those small niggles of not feeling 100% - fatigue, indigestion, bloating, hormonal changes etc.

Who is your ideal client?

Somebody who is motivated and ready to make the changes that they need, somebody who accepts that changes don't happen over night. People seek help when they are in pain, whether that's physical, say from IBS, or emotional - the pain of not being able to get into that favourite dress. To really maintain the changes and prevent relapse you need to be able to keep going when the pain is starting to ease and not go back to old habits. Bad habits take a while to break and it takes even longer to set new habits, we have to give ourselves time to make the adjustments.

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