As part of the IINH Student Spotlight series, we will be visiting some of our alumni from both our Nutrition & Health Coaching and Nutritional Therapy courses to see what sparked their interest in nutrition, discuss their nutrition philosophies and find out what they’ve been up to since studying with IINH.
Ilona Madden is a qualified Nutritional Therapist. She passionately believes that you can be fitter & stronger and have more energy at any stage in your life. She aims to make people feel empowered to take charge of their lives and health through nutrition & lifestyle.
When did you first become interested in nutrition and health?
I suppose I’ve all my life been interested in health to a certain degree, but it would have mainly been within the fitness area, although I did some reading on nutrition when I became vegetarian for animal welfare reasons. I had no idea though about the nutritional values of food, was more concerned about calories and the food not being an animal product.
I was a very unhealthy vegetarian though – and in hindsight, I can see how nutritional deficient I actually was and what I’ve been doing wrong. I know in hindsight, that my life could have been completely different and that I could have avoided about 10 years of feeling miserable – had I known what I know now.
I met a Nutritional Therapy student by chance who took me on as a case study. We worked on blood sugar balancing, which completely transformed my energy levels and mental wellbeing, but also the way I was able to deal with stress.
So what made you decide to study with IINH?
Firstly, because that’s where the other NT studied and also because I live in Bray. I also liked the idea that I’d have a qualification after the first year already and could then decide whether to continue or not, rather than having to commit for 4years.
The reason why I wanted to study it was because what I learned was so valuable to me and my transformation was so profound. While I became fitter, more energised and in great form, I saw my – esp female – friends of my age, on a downward spiral, complaining about lots of aches and pains, no energy, menopausal mood issues, etc.
I felt this information and knowledge about nutrition was too important not to share.
You own your own company, Right Food 4 U. Tell us a bit about that.
I knew right from the start that I want to help others learn about the power of good food, and my dream was to have a clinic room where I’d see clients on a 1-2-1 basis. I also wanted to do group sessions and presentations. From my previous job, I was well used to dealing with groups and standing in front of an audience.I started with small groups in my house while I was still in college and I helped some of my friends and family in 1-2-1 sessions.
However, when I got an opportunity to work for Dr. Eva Orsmond in her diabetes and weight loss clinic, I thought it a great opportunity to get work experience. I did that after I had the Health & Lifestyle Coach completed, but while I was still studying NT. Having a regular income financed my college fees.
The job was absolutely perfect for me and I learned loads, it was a great experience and learning opportunity. I wanted to use what I learned from college and from the work experience to put my own stamp on programmes and decided to give it a go on my own.
I now do a mix between offering group programmes, individual 1-2-1 programmes and presentations to companies and associations or groups.
Covid has shown me that I love doing it all online via zoom. Many of my clients prefer it as well, not having to worry about organising a babysitter and not having to travel. Many seem to feel happier to share confidential or sensitive issues via the screen than in person. And I now have clients from all over Ireland and can offer the service to my friends and family in Germany as well. It gives me more flexibility to achieve that work-life balance as well.