It’s been awhile since I’ve introduced myself and much in life and business has changed over the past couple of years!
As a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Positively Nourishing Nutrition Consulting, I think it’s important you know where you’re getting your nutrition advice from. Of course you want to know that the guidance you get is credible! But you also want to have a comfortable connection with your nutrition professional … because when eating feels hard, you want to trust that your best interests are top priority.
So let’s start at the beginning
Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, I learned about cooking, food preservation and the many roles of food from an early age. Combining my deep-rooted love of all things Home Ec with a degree in Human Nutritional Sciences started my journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian.
My Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba both ignited and corralled my curious brain. I have more questions than I could possibly ever answer and more things I want to learn about than I could ever have time (or energy!) to. But this degree helped me learn how to use that curiosity in a good way. I learned how to question critically, how to find evidence-based answers and how to communicate them to different people in a way that would make the most sense to them.
After the U of M, I completed my 10-month Dietetic Internship in Manitoba with focuses on mental health and community nutrition. Throughout my degree, community nutrition seemed like a natural fit for me. That’s how I came to have the privilege of spending 6 weeks in a remote fly-in community in Nunavut. Internship in general has a way of imprinting itself forever in an intern’s brain, though this special opportunity was especially life-changing for me as a person.
My work in community nutrition didn’t have a chance to continue though as life took me to Ontario soon after completing internship. Enter the race to get a job (especially after 4 years of tuition and almost a year of unpaid internship)!
First role as a ‘real’ Dietitian
As luck would have it, I got my first position in long term care. I’ve loved working with and talking to older adults my whole life and this sounded great to me! At first, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t what I expected. It was busy and I wasn’t able to talk to the residents as much as I thought I’d be able to, especially when I was just starting in this role.
But over time, I grew to love and appreciate it. I got to develop relationships – with residents and with their loved ones. We worked together, tried things, tweaked the plan, checked back in. Then repeated as needed until we saw the results we were looking for. I knew the residents by name and face. We chatted about food of course, but also about living in war-time England, the family farm, moving to Canada and about how “they just don’t make ’em like they used to”.
I found long term care both challenging and rewarding. I usually didn’t have to be the ‘food police’ and if anything, I needed to speak up so other people wouldn’t be either! I got to work with individuals who wanted to live their best life no matter what their circumstances were now.
The people I worked with often had chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and/or other age-related concerns … in any combination! Talk about making a customized plan. There are no black and white ways to go about creating a balance between medical advice and a person’s own wishes, especially given all the factors at play during this time of life. Striving to keep quality of life in someone’s plan of care is something I continue to value regardless of my client’s age or stage of health.
During my time in Ontario, long term care work was my constant over 8 years. But I was fortunate to also have other opportunities that continued to feed my curious brain and allowed me to work with a variety of other groups of people. Which ultimately led to where I am now!
I continued to make learning a priority and became a Certified Diabetes Educator, allowing me to be more effective in helping people prevent or manage diabetes.
I also trained with the Craving Change® program. This has been a particularly enjoyable and beneficial program to offer clients! It’s so full of strategies to help people struggling with their eating. We explore the reasons why we eat, become more aware of our eating triggers and then learn how to effectively deal with these triggers.
One career highlight though was creating and providing nutrition counselling sessions with adults as part of a research study. The researchers were looking into a medication to help with weight loss in adults with sleep apnea. Although I had many memorable moments in that position, one that sticks out for me was when a client told me (in a surprised tone) that the nutrition section of the experience quickly became his favourite (hurray!).
This was around the same time I started seeing clients in a private practice setting. As much as I loved working with seniors, it felt completely refreshing and invigorating to work with people in this way. People who had ‘now’ problems, things we could change in order to prevent worse things from happening. Who had busy lives, families, commitments and a lot more choices to make each day. I had caught the bug for private nutrition coaching and it never left!
A time for pause and reflection
However, as it usually does, life happened and I chose to put private work on hold … though it never left my mind! With news of a little one on the way, it just wasn’t possible to keep the schedule I had built between long term care and private work.
During my time away from paid work, I found myself itching to get back to private practice. I spent so much time thinking of all the different things I could do, who I could work with, how I could make a difference for people. It felt very daunting from that perspective.
But just like a seed needs time to germinate, this dream of mine needed that time to sit and grow.
And here we are
When life happened again, it took us to beautiful British Columbia. And with the new home-base came an opportunity to relaunch my private practice. This time though with a focus on helping adults take back control over their health before their health controls their life.
More people are taking notice that preventative health is more important (and effective) than treating health problems.
- “I’m not 20 anymore”
- ”Fifty is coming fast”
- “I don’t want my high blood pressure to mean a heart attack like it did for my dad”
- “I want to reverse my prediabetes”.
These are the things my clients say when we first start working together.
Along with the new home-base also came the opportunity to work with outpatients at the hospital. What a fabulous chance to help people that I normally wouldn’t through my private work. I’ve learned so much! One of the less exciting things I’ve learned though is how limited my support can be in that setting compared to how much and how often I can check-in and lend accountability to clients in my private coaching.
And now that telehealth systems have caught up to speed (even before COVID but certainly after!), practitioners like me can offer more convenient and customized services that lead to better results for clients. (Head over to my services page to find out about the individual coaching and group programs I offer)
It’s a very exciting time to be working in private nutrition coaching – for RDs and for clients!
A growing profession
I’m really honoured to be part of this profession. Nutrition is one of the youngest sciences but has grown so quickly, probably because of the strong links between overall health and diet. Many innovative women (and men) helped to build up this profession over the years, despite the hurdles. So today, on Dietitians’ Day, I’d like to thank all of my dietitian teachers and mentors over the years who have helped me grown both as a person and a healthcare professional by sharing their views, experiences and encouragements.
When I’m not working with clients
… I’m planning so my next nutrition ideas can come to life! I’m also writing blog articles, sharing tips and tricks on Facebook and Instagram and answering your questions in my Facebook group, Nourish your Weight Community.
After hours I’m hanging out with my boys (playing Lego or convincing the little one to take a nap which is a full-time job) and finding ways to cook using the fewest dishes possible. And those times I have a free moment? Coffee/wine (depending on the time of day), Netflix, crafting, reading and music!
Although I am a person first and a dietitian second, there are reasons I’ve found my calling in this career. I get to use food to bridge the old ways and the new times. I get to be a teacher, a helper, a scientist, a coach, a trusted source of information, a listener, a guide, a writer, a cook. Best of all, I get to work with real people who have real struggles … and I have the honour of being invited to walk alongside them on their journey.
Thanks for letting me share my story with you. I look so forward to hearing yours!
Angela Hubbard is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) with 10 years experience working in the field of nutrition. Her work focuses on helping people take back control of their health & weight … before it feels like their health controls their life. In her off time she loves swapping recipes, creating and exploring Northern BC life with her young family.