Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a Brisbane-based Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) and Nutritionist and founder of The Naked Truth Australia – a nutrition consulting and communications business devoted to ‘baring’ the truth on all thing’s food and nutrition.
I founded my business after recognising the need for a trustworthy source of food and nutrition information in the health and wellness industry. My business is quite diverse, so I find myself working in a number of different roles.
I see clients privately for one-on-one dietetic consultations online via Skype, I am involved in a number of projects where I act as a nutrition consultant, and I also engage in various opportunities through my Instagram account @rachelhawkinsdietitian such as recipe development, writing educational blog posts and brand collaborations. I can wear many different ‘dietetic hats’ in any one day but that is why I love what I do.
It usually surprises people when I tell them that I am a new-graduate dietitian. I graduated from a Masters in Dietetics from The University of Queensland in July 2018 and then started working for myself a few months later.
I decided late in my degree that traditional dietetic work just wasn’t for me. I am a creative at heart and felt that I would be more successful and fulfilled working in a role that combined both the creative and science worlds (I actually studied fashion and textile design at university in Sydney before making the switch to dietetics). There are many pros and cons to the path I have chosen for myself and I certainly have a lot to learn professionally, but I am excited for where the future will take me.
I am incredibly passionate about being an active presence in the online health space and aspire to correct nutrition misinformation and transform the way people think about food by sharing food and nutrition information in a fun and relatable way through my social channels and blog.
Do you think there is a role for dietitians in the weight loss space?
Absolutely. It cannot be denied that Australia has a rising obesity problem which of course brings with it an increased prevalence of chronic disease. So, I think it is important for dietitians to be active in this space… we are the nutrition experts after all!
With this being said, I think it is important to highlight that there is no one ‘healthy’ body size. Some people thrive in larger bodies, whilst others thrive in smaller ones. It is very much individualised. So, when we are talking about weight loss, it is important to recognise the difference between clients needing to lose weight for health purposes and clients wanting to lose weight to conform to the ‘thin’ ideal body image society is constantly highlighting.
How we manage these clients would be different, and there is certainly evidence behind the psychology of eating, weight and body image that could be applied to the later. I think the weight-loss space is quite a complex one, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Do you think people should be focusing on consuming portion sizes that are appropriate for goals/needs, or instead basing it on their appetite?
I think this depends entirely on the person and their individual goals. I quite like the principles of intuitive eating which teaches people to become attuned to their body’s hunger and fullness cues but I recognise that this isn’t for everyone. A focus on portion sizes can be useful when working with clients who have a history of restricted eating patterns and lack the food knowledge and general understanding of how much they should be eating in a sitting. Portion sizes would also be important for people such as athletes or those with body recomposition goals where macronutrient targets are involved.
Are there any snacks that you find yourself consistently recommending to clients?
Whole fruit, nuts and seeds, Chobani or YoPro yogurt, Carman’s high protein muesli bars, Rice Cakes/Vitaweats/Ryvitas with toppings such as cottage cheese or avocado and tomato, hummus with vegetable sticks or brown rice crackers and edamame beans.
Do you have any nutrition advice that you feel is underrated?
Never start a way of eating that you can’t maintain for the rest of your life. I often see clients who are looking for a quick fix but unfortunately that doesn’t exist. Focusing on the quality of the diet someone is eating produces better results than a restrictive diet or meal plan in the long run.
Is there anything you feel you do better than most other dietitians that helps clients to get results?
I can’t really comment on this because I work by myself. I also don’t like the reference to being ‘better’ than my colleagues. I feel that everyone, regardless of their experience level, can learn from others to enhance their skills and knowledge. In terms of my strengths though, I feel that I have a strong ability to translate complex science into messages that can be easily understood by the layperson. This is why I enjoy working in the online health space. I also like to think that I am able to build effective relationships with my clients and online audience.
Any helpful strategies for people who struggle with eating enough vegetables?
If you are a smoothie drinker then I recommend freezing some veggies and adding them to your smoothies. Zucchini, spinach and avocado make great additions! If you’re not into smoothies then you could try grating some vegetables and adding them to your main meals. Suggestions include spaghetti bolognese, shepherds pie and burger patties.
Is there anything else you would like to add to wrap it up?
I’d love to connect with your readers! Follow @rachelhawkinsdietitian on Instagram.