|22 Jul 2021|
When were you at Kellett?
I was at Kellett from 2006 to 2009 and was part of the first Year 7 cohort at the secondary school! We were still based in the Pok Fu Lam campus then, so It's amazing to see how much Kellett has grown since.
What are your strongest memories of Kellett?
We had a small cohort of 10-12 students, so we spent a lot of time together. One particular memory that still sticks with me today is having extracurricular activities like rock-climbing. We didn’t travel in school buses, but taxis! Being a young teen, that felt very special. The teachers that started Year 7 with us, including Mr Giddings, Ms Everett and Mrs Hills are also a big part of my Kellett memories.
What did you do after leaving school?
After leaving Kellett in Year 8, my family moved to Sydney, Australia and have been here since. I have completed a Bachelor of Science (Nutrition and Metabolism) at the University of Sydney and then a Master of Dietetics at Deakin University. Now I am an accredited practising dietitian (APD), working in both my nutrition practice at Four Seasons Dietetics and at the Sydney Adventist Hospital at a clinical dietitian.
As we did not have a Year 9 at the time, many of us went to different countries and schools, so it was challenging to keep in touch. However, we managed to stay connected online. Most recently, I caught up with Jemima Jones (OK 2006-09) (second left) at Mr Gidding’s farewell in 2018. It is amazing how time flies, but our Kellett memories stayed with us.
What made you want to be a nutritionist?
Science was always one of my favourite subjects in school, and I was also very intrigued by the human physiology. Together with my passion for food, it was a natural progression. I was undecided on my career until halfway through my undergraduate degree, but then somehow it just clicked. I started to do more research into nutrition, and becoming a dietitian made perfect sense. My mum revealed to me later on that she actually named me after a dietitian that my grandma worked with when she was younger, so perhaps it was all fate!
What do you like about your job?
I love educating and empowering people with the knowledge of nutrition, so they can make healthy, sustainable changes. We all know being healthy is important, but the barrier is often the lack of tools/knowledge to achieve it. Dietitians play a major role in this health journey, as we are trained in providing evidenced-based recommendations that are also tailored to the individual’s needs and goals.
I wouldn’t say there is an aspect I dislike about my job, as I love everything to do with it, but if I had to think one thing - perhaps when people come to me for a meal plan after finding out I’m a dietitian. I’m a strong believer that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so I’m reluctant to give out any advice without knowing the person and their background.
Why do you think some people seem to have a difficult relationship with food?
I believe social media has had a significant role in many people’s poor relationship with food. Influencers or celebrities are able to portray this ‘perfect’ image of themselves online through perfectly angled and photoshopped images. In many cases, they also share their ‘diet hacks’ or a ‘special drink’ that helped them lose weight/look a particular way, which often involves removing whole food groups and that is not healthy at all. People, particularly young girls, take up these recommendations in the hopes of achieving their “ideal” body or looks.
Do you specialise in any particular area?
My area of interest is gut health and preventative nutrition. I see many people nowadays experience digestive issues and is sometimes linked with stress and anxiety. The symptoms put a significant burden on their quality of life, preventing them from working efficiently, reduced confidence and self-esteem. Our gut is our “second brain” so this inspired me to become more informed in the area of gut health and help people find a good balance between food and life.
What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in following in your footsteps?
I encourage them to find opportunities to explore the different types of careers out there, whether it be shadowing someone for a day or interview them with a few questions. There are many careers out there that we are not regularly exposed to, so it's okay not know right after graduating from school. If you are interested in becoming a dietitian, I encourage you to keep your mind open on the type of dietitian you want to be. Besides the traditional dietitian roles (e.g. working in a hospital) there is actually many more paths out there, especially as healthy living is becoming more widely recognised.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
As an essential worker in a hospital, the pandemic has not affected me as much compared to others. Although during the initial months of the pandemic, I have to admit it was quite overwhelming and scary to continue to work in a high risk environment. On the other hand, with my private practice, I had to respond quickly by moving things online. However, I am very lucky to be living in Australia during this crisis, as we have had very low number of cases in comparison to the rest of the world.
Below are some pictures of Claire from her time at school (login to view).
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