Student Spotlight: Oliver McCabe

Oliver McCabe - Nutritional Therapist

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.

Oliver McCabe is a qualified Nutritional Therapist – Director of Hubble Health, independent Health Food consultancy, Chef, Nutrition Advisor, TV Personality, Writer & Speaker on Health and Nutrition.

When did you first become interested in nutrition and health?

I became interested in nutrition and health through suffering with acne and hay fever as a teenager and I went to see professional therapist & medicinal herbalist Joan Hanrahan up the road from me in Dalkey, who happened to be my pals Daniel’s Mum, and Joan ended up being a guest speaker at IINH funnily enough, it’s a small world, but anyways Joan advised me to come off Dairy as I drank dairy milk by the bucket load all of my child and adolescent life and I kept a food diary and before you know it, my acne and hay fever eventually cleared up within 3 months and I was so so thankful to her for helping me as the acne especially made me quite low self esteemed. So this is when I wanted to know and learn more about nutritional therapy regards health and wellness.

So what made you decide to study with IINH?

When I was running my parents greengrocer in Dalkey back 20 years ago I was reading nutritional books by Patrick Holford, Michael Van Straten and Dr. Marilyn Glenville and I felt very comfortable and fascinated learning so much about the behind the scenes of everyday food which I found so important to be transparent as an independent food retailer to be able to inform customers about what they were buying day to day. So in and around the same time I reinvented my parents store into an independent health food store I enrolled to the best nutritional college in Ireland – IINH, it was a close friend of mine Lorraine who had just qualified and she introduced me to Richard and I went for an interview and I began in 2003/2004 and I completely loved it and felt like this was my calling in life as I just soaked it all up and I felt confident to go forward to assist my customers at that time once I was qualified with nutritional info and advice. On the shop floor your whole day is taken up chatting, discussing what you believe in and sell on the shelves and to have learnt/ studied nutritional therapy at IINH made me so passionate about caring for others with their health and wellness queries day to day. So thankful to Richard, Maggie and all the team for where I am now in my career.

You have a very broad ranging career and have even written your own cook books. Tell us a bit about where your passion for nutrition has taken you.

Gosh!! It’s a 20 year ‘yellow brick road’ journey now.  I very much believe in serendipity and being in the right place at the right time especially when you specialise in nutrition and caring for others. I always loved cooking and using fresh whole food ingredients particularly as I was pretty much brought up over a greengrocer so I knew my fruit and veg. inside out especially after studying with IINH and running an independent health food store since 2001. So when I began a fresh juice bar in Dalkey I was given the opportunity by a customer Peter Gaynor to open a green juice bar concession at Brown Thomas which I was really proud of in such a famous high end fashion store which led to signing a book deal writing The Fuel Food Cookbook and then from there I was approached by Cheryl Thallon Founder of Viridian Nutrition to come on board creating the ‘7 day sugar detox’ product and promoting this through cookery events within independent health food store events in the UK & Ireland which linked me to getting to know all of the wonderful caring Health Stores Ireland independent health food stores leading to becoming an ambassador for the association which I’m really proud of as I promote independent health food stores always through events and all media platforms I’m involved with especially strong relationships with Virgin Media and Irish Independent news where I have guest appearances re Health Cooking, Nutrition and whole food ingredients.

Sadly, In 2017 I had to make the difficult decision to move away from the family business after 16 years in Dalkey as my journey came to an abrupt end as I was the youngest amongst my siblings and did not have a footing within the family business any longer. Since then, I’ve met with many individuals who have gone through similar circumstances within complex family businesses and we find this very therapeutic to discuss our individual stories openly to alleviate the trauma which can occur similar to bereavement. Thankfully, this led me to establish Hubble Health independent health food consultancy and discovery in 2018. I’m so proud and thankful to work with Independent Irish Healthfoods (with Richard Wilkins & Henry Bartlett whom I’ve known since Munster Wholefoods days way back when I started out in the independent health food store sector) based in Cork and their own brand True Natural Goodness whom are dedicated to providing organic health foods to independent food retailers of Ireland which I’m loyal too, as well, so it was a match made in heaven, lol. Currently through these covid times I connect with my independent store and brand clients remotely from my home office through on line, zoom, social media platforms and I love it. I love discovering new innovative organic health food brands that are exciting, sustainable and nutritious particularly during these challenging times and showcasing these to my independent clients.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

I’ve always said the reason I love my job and find it so rewarding is at the end of the day you are caring for others through nutrition and you’re playing an essential part in the health food chain from farm to fork looking after so many. I’m really proud of this and to all who work within this independent health food sector in Ireland who look after so many day to day passionately and with great empathy for others especially recently during Covid times as it has been so challenging for so many, we really are one big family checking in with each other day to day making sure all is ok.

Do you feel that nutrition and health is well understood by the general public?

I feel more than ever, yes, through the power of social media there is more of an understanding of general nutrition and health as there are so many influencers currently involved with nutrition and health which does lead hopefully to followers investing in their own nutrition and health by signing up for a part time or full time course with IINH etc..

What simple advice would you give people?

Firstly I’m an advocate for allowing children into the kitchen supervised from the age of 6 to create, prepare and make their own food or a family meal with much appreciation. It’s a life skill to have for life, no doubt about it, especially if they are having a bad day they know how to prepare their own meals from good ingredients so they do not turn to comfort eating the wrong foods as a crutch. From supervised food shopping to food prep and following simple recipes to eating the their own prepared food this procedure gains so much confidence in the kitchen for the child for their future.

Drink room temperature water as we are predominantly made of water so we require to be filled everyday – 8 glasses or 1.5 litres at least. I usually have a bottle beside the bed, in the car, on the office table, and so on… 3 healthy home cooked/prepared meals a day – a healthy breakfast being the most important so you remain focused and fuelled all day long.  Exercise every day – I hike every evening with my dog up the hills and he loves football so 2 games of football a day – morning and night. And Stretch your bones everyday. Read a book everyday. Keep Active everyday. Laugh everyday – see your friends. Smile – everyday. And Cook every day. These are all life skills to keep us going. And Love your work!! I eat mostly a macrobiotic diet so lots of whole foods fruit and veg but we do eat fish and meat in small quantities plus local and organic where we can supporting local independent health food and food stores. So important!

What is your personal nutrition philosophy?

‘Listen to your body’ was something Richard Burton would always advise during our studies which makes so much sense – we have the power to figure out ourselves when something is not right particularly when or after we eat food e.g. indigestion, sluggishness etc… so true.

If you feel tired after you eat food/drink or have indigestion after you eat food/drink, question it always, you may have too much of one food/drink or you may have an intolerance occurring.

Always have a good healthy home cooked/prepared breakfast to alleviate cravings and energy slumps throughout the day.

I come from the philosophy food first before food supplement, I do believe we should be able to obtain vitamins, minerals and trace elements from our every day food we prepare.

I feel a good food supplement is important if you are experiencing inflammation within the body – I do recommend a good Omegas essential fatty acids oil supplement for inflammation.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in living a healthier lifestyle?

Visit your local independent health food store and introduce yourself and your new health journey and ask the questions… where is my nearest registered nutritional therapist to advise on nutrition and health? which nutritional book would you recommend to read? Which foods would you recommend for let’s say for preparing a soup for the first time and have you a recipe? What nutritional course at IINH would you recommend for a beginner?

It’s a community and for those who are interested it’s a wonderful educational fun experience to be part of on a new health journey.

And what advice would you give to someone who is considering studying Nutrition and Health Coaching?

If you’re ready to discover yourself inside out entirely from anatomy to physiology to your everyday diet and what you should be eating and what not, to set you on a new journey of self discovery to begin with then to have the professional knowledge and care to support others on their new health journeys and day to day nutritional queries and plans then this is the course for you to become a more passionate person on the subject of every day nutrition and health. Your must discover yourself first before you can support and care for others, and you will because IINH is the most caring nutritional institute I know as Richard team and family only want the very best for you to succeed with your new health journey.

If you’ve been inspired by Oliver’s story and would like to start a new career, learn more about our Nutrition & Health Coaching and Nutritional Therapy courses.

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