I was fortunate enough to speak with Nutrition Guru: Tara Leong, from the Nutrition Guru and the Chef. Tara is a qualified Nutritionist from Queensland, whom started off as a personal trainer. She and her chef-hubby Jeff, are currently running a blog The Nutrition Guru and The Chef. The blog focuses on nutrition news and debunking nutrition controversies. Recently the pair were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. This inspired her to start a new blog: Baby Guru Nutrition, focusing on nutrition and food problems for mums and bubs.
Tara is an incredibly passionate and down to earth person. She does not shy from the truth and is 100% open not only about her opinions, but also her personal life. Running a blog can be difficult, but along with being a new mum and expanding business, Tara is kicking goals in all areas.
I asked Tara to answer to answer some questions for us about her blog; her bub; and her life a blogging qualified Nutritionist, as well as any advice she could pass onto passionate students.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your likes, dislikes, personal passions?
I’m a university qualified Nutritionist living with my chef-husband, in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. I used to be a dancer and personal trainer, but seem to have found my passion…nutrition!
What made you decide to go into the field of Nutrition?
I was a personal trainer and had to have a big surgery on my hip which made me have to think about a career that did not rely on my body, which I could do into old age. I always had an interest in nutrition, even as a child, and I loved to cook so I decided to get to uni and start a degree in nutrition. My first week was a huge shock as I didn’t realise the course was a science course. I thought I was just going to learn how to teach people to eat more fruit, not realising we had to study chemistry, biology and physiology. I had many melt downs in the first 6 months, and the whole degree really!
What is the idea behind The Nutrition Guru and the Chef and Baby Guru Nutrition?
When I was at uni, my friends kept asking me the same nutrition questions based around the latest fad diets: “Are carbs bad for you?”; “Will coconut oil make me lose weight” type questions. I decided to answer those questions via a blog, so that everyone could benefit from the answers. We love sharing our recipes with our friends and family too, so popping our recipes up on the blog became an easy way to spread the foodie love to all!
How has Baby Guru Nutrition changed your professional life?
At the moment, I am full time mum to Lucy-Belle because Jeff works double shifts every day. She’s my best little buddy. I try to keep up to date with the social media accounts and the website with articles, but not as much as I would like to because of lack of time, and sleep. Since having Lucy-Belle, I’ve started to move into the area of baby and childhood nutrition as there is such a huge need for information out there. Many mums are very confused as to how and what to feed their babies and children and where to get credible information. I’m excited to be able to provide that and the feedback from parents so far is wonderful.
What is your greatest challenge in your job?
Fighting all of the incorrect nutrition information out there. I think that as a nutritionist, our role now isn’t just to teach people about healthy eating. It has changed a lot and now includes having to counteract incorrect nutrition advice & trends made popular by people not qualified in nutrition, and help to clear up all the confusion.
What current nutrition trend to you love and which one makes your blood boil?
I do like the ‘locavore‘ trend which is really just about eating food sourced from your local area to support local farmers and reduce food miles. There are certainly a few that make me absolutely furious, because I see the negative effects of these diets and how they can negatively affect the psychological & physical health of people. It’s truly frightening.
I think any diet that has an ‘allowed‘ and ‘not allowed‘ list is dangerous because it sets a diet mentality for many and creates a lot of psychological harm due to the stress and guilt of following a rigid way of eating. Often these trends use scare tactics to frighten people into eating a certain way, and this way of eating doesn’t account for physical, psychological, social or economic factors of a person’s life, which are all core factors that need to be considered.
If you could have any job in Nutrition, what would it be and why?
I really hope to fight all of the ridiculous nutrition information out there which is causing harm. So, how ever I can do that by reaching the most people would be wonderful! Any ideas?
What advice would you give to students in the field of Nutrition?
You need to work very hard. You need to know your chemistry and physiology and all of those science subjects because they form the basis of your knowledge, but you also need to know about food and cooking. There is no use knowing your biochemistry if you don’t which muesli bars are gluten free at the supermarket. Because when you graduate people won’t be asking you to recite the Krebbs cycle or draw a diagram of the digestion of protein. They will be asking you which is the healthiest yoghurt to buy. You also need to know how to cook, not fancy-pants cooking but just the basics because one day you will need to be telling an overweight lady with Type 2 Diabetes how to reduce her calorie and fat intake in order to lose the weight needed. If you can’t tell her how to modify her meals at home, then you’re only giving her half the advice and she won’t have the knowledge to go and put your recommendations into practice.
Any other words about yourself, your job or words of wisdom you would like to share?
Don’t sit and wait for a job to come to you. If you have an idea, go and make it happen!