All my life I didn’t have an understanding of the nutritional value of foods. I honestly didn’t think about it, I just ate the foods that I liked. I didn’t have a bad diet growing up, just a normal Irish diet and not much processed foods. To be honest, I really can’t remember much about food when growing up – just carrots will help you see better. I just got on with it and ate when I was hungry. I’d no knowledge about what macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins or minerals were, or what nutrients we needed to support our bodies. I had no interest in finding out about anything, and wasn’t into researching either, as I just did not do technology.
Becoming a mother
In 2005, I had my son. When it was time to wean him onto food, I made my own. I just did not like the thought of putting the packed or bottled foods into his body. I didn’t know what was in them and that frightened me – I didn’t know much about label reading. So, he got homemade food for all his meals. Apart from when his granddad gave him chocolate and thought. He was doing it secretly.
Fast forward to when my son started school. He was there a few months and he started asking why he was bigger than the other kids. Now he was no way overweight, just built bigger, broader shoulders, bigger frame. It was really getting to him so I brought him to our GP. He said it will not do any harm to get it checked out to see if anything was wrong. I went through the HSE system with visits to Crumlin children’s hospital. They were great but there was nothing physically wrong with my son and they wanted us to keep going back, it just highlighted the situation.
In 2019, I decided to do the Nutrition and Health Coaching programme to understand food better, so I could help my son. I thought about it for years but just never had the courage to do it as I was so long out of the education system, and I am dyslexic.
I loved it from start to finish and it helped me help my son with losing weight and supporting a growing, hungry teenager. He is 17 now and he is finally happy with his weight. He himself started home economics in school to learn for himself, so he can continue to support his body.
I learned so much for myself, as I’m vegetarian and have been mostly all my life. I learned what foods can offer all the nutrients I need to support my body. Two years ago, I went for a blood test and it was the first time in my life that I had a good ferritin level.
My Own Health
In 2019, I had an accident and it triggered an autoimmune disease (Psoriatic arthritis). As I did not know at the time what was happening, and I was no longer working. I have continued with my study with the IINH as a Nutritional Therapist student. I loved learning about the different systems in the body and how they interact with one another. The foods that can prevent illness, maintain, and heal the body for ill health.
I am now finished in my 3rd year, heading into my 4th year. I have incorporated so much into my diet to support me from the Psoriatic Arthritis progressing. There is very little about this disease, and support with diet etc. available in Ireland and going forward I would like to specialise in this area as I will know first-hand what It is like to live with it.
The IINH has given me the skills to help my son, myself and going forward others that need support to live their best life. The only regard I do have is that I did not take up the Nutrition and Health Coaching sooner, to support my son.
The staff involved in the course are amazing. No problem or inquiry is too big or small. They are so supportive. I was really stuck at one stage with an assignment and one of the NT’s arranged a zoom call with me to go through it. The college really does have a homely feeling about it, and in no way was I made feel out of place, especially with my dyslexia.
I had no intentions to go this far with my studies, I just wanted it for personal knowledge, but I am so glad I took the step as it has opened so many opportunities for me and has given me confidence to start my own business “The Nutrition Hut”.
Guest written by IINH student Cara Byrne