Hey there! My name’s Tash, and I’m a second year Nutrition and Dietetics student at the University of Newcastle. I moved to Newcastle last year from Sydney to start this degree. In Sydney I studied and completed a degree in Fine Arts at UNSW, but whilst doing it realised that my heart lay in the dietetics field.
I first became interested in dietetics after experiencing some gut problems. I found this super disheartening, as I wasn’t sure what I could and couldn’t eat anymore (I love all food, so I didn’t like this!). I met a dietitian in Sydney and started on the low FODMAP diet. I found this helped immensely, and I was grateful and touched by the support I received from my dietitian during the duration of the diet. Throughout this time I became interested in the impact food has on our body, the other factors that come into play (such as mindfulness and exercise) and all the millions of bacteria wandering around in our gut! I became fascinated by the gut-brain connection and was excited that I was coming into this field at a time when there was so much research to be done and big ‘unknowns’ to be answered.
I had been doing work experience for Beth and Ellie for a couple of months before they offered me an internship position. I found them back in 2020. I was walking around the area I used to live in when I noticed their clinic. I gave Beth a call and asked whether she was looking for anyone to intern or do some unpaid work for them. I went in to have a chat, and continued to assist in cooking classes with her and Ellie after that!
The cooking classes with Ellie and Beth at Meals on Wheels have been a huge opportunity for learning. It’s been so exciting for me to have so many conversations about diet with like-minded individuals – dietitians and clients alike – who are so interested and engaged in topics of conversation around health. We’ve made dishes including curry, spinach and ricotta lasagne with bruschetta salad and quiche, all of which are healthy, simple and delicious. It’s been very warming to see Beth and Ellie educate the attendees of the cooking class on health and their genuine happiness that they’ve learnt something new that is going to add to their quality of life. It has reiterated the reasons why I’m going into this line of work, and the passion I have for it.
There are many areas of dietetics that I would be interested in specialising in for the future. FODMAPs and Oncology Dietetics are a couple that come to mind. I also strongly believe there is a space for merging art and dietetics through a holistic approach to health, and am looking forward to exploring how they might interact.
The best advice I can give to any dietetics student looking to gain some work experience: just ask! From the research I’ve done and the dietitians I’ve spoken to, internships are rarely advertised in this line of work and can be difficult to find. The best thing you can do is put yourself out there with your best foot forward and show how passionate you are.
I’m very grateful to have this opportunity and am looking forward to learning more as I continue with this internship!