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Interview with Freelance Nutritionist of the Year Dr Laura Wyness   

Dr Laura Wyness, Registered Nutritionist, was awarded the title of ‘CWT Freelance Nutritionist of the Year 2019’ at last year’s CWT 30th Anniversary and Awards Reception for her outstanding and distinctive work in promoting public health and advancing standards of food and nutrition.

The judges were thrilled at how Laura’s work echoed the variety of work that Caroline Walker herself carried out.  Similar in many aspects of Caroline’s Walker own work, Dr Laura Wyness has worked in a variety of roles from nutritionist, writer, author and campaigner for better food.  Just like Caroline experienced, the journey has been one of surprises and fulfilment, and as the road curves, dips and turns there are many ways to make a contribution to improve the food we eat and the understanding of the effects on our diet.  Laura has certainly demonstrated how she’s followed in Caroline’s path.

Laura’s work as a freelance nutritionist involves researching and writing nutrition content for publications and company websites, providing workplace wellness talks to businesses and personalised nutrition advice to staff.

She is part of the team of coaches at Edinburgh’s InsideOut Personal Training, where she provides nutritional support to members in the form of ‘Ask the Nutritionist’ sessions online and has developed menu plans and healthy recipes.  She regularly assesses catering establishments for the Health Scotland’s ‘Healthy Living Award’ and provides advice on how to improve menu options.

Laura also regularly provides comments on nutrition for the media by working with journalists on articles, speaking on the radio, and writing nutrition tips for the recipes in the Ocado magazine.  She has helped build up a network of nutrition colleagues through volunteering as AfN Scottish Regional Rep and co-founding the @AfNutr twitter chats.

Since winning the CWT Freelance Nutritionist award, Laura has joined the expert team at Ocado magazine, and has featured in The Telegraph, NutraIngredients, Happiful magazine and Delicious magazine.  She has also spoken to nutrition students at various universities on nutrition careers and using social media as a nutrition professional.  She is continuing to grow her consultancy business and client base.

We caught up with Laura to see what life has been like since winning Freelance Nutritionist of the Year 2019 award.  Here’s what she had to say…

How did you feel when you were awarded Freelance Nutritionist of the Year 2019?

I was delighted to be invited to London for the Awards event.  I loved being in the same room as so many talented nutritionists and getting to meet and chat to others working in such a variety of nutrition roles.  It’s not often that the work of a Freelance Nutritionist is acknowledged, so I feel extremely grateful. To be recognised by the Caroline Walker Trust is such an honour.

Have you found your role as a Freelance Nutritionist a comfortable journey?

I worked in a variety of roles for several years before becoming a Freelance Nutritionist.  The experience I gained from working in academic research, policy development, supporting the food industry and nutrition communications provided such a useful insight and understanding of the role of nutrition in health and wellbeing.

When I first started as a Freelance Nutritionist almost 4 years ago, it was a very steep learning curve and quite a lonely experience.  However, I soon started to make use of the support available by going on business courses, attending networking events and joining groups like SENSE for self-employed nutritionists.

I love the work that I am able to do now and enjoy the opportunities that freelance work brings.   The recent lockdown situation has meant revising my business plans and ‘pivoting’ some of my services so I can now offer nutritional consultations and workplace nutrition talks online.

I wouldn’t say the journey into Freelance nutrition has been comfortable, as the growth (or magic) usually happens when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.  It’s certainly been an enjoyable experience and one that I continue to relish.

What is your advice to other Freelance Nutritionists?

Starting your own business can be hugely rewarding although quite scary at the same time.  I have found regular networking to be a vital part of growing my business and have learnt a great deal from connecting with freelancers in nutrition and other industries.

Seek out the support that is available.  The Association for Nutrition and the Regional AfN Facebook groups offer great support, and there are also lots of other useful Facebook groups for business advice, or for nutritionists working in specific areas where you can share advice and experiences.

It is also useful to give back and help others.  Being a Food and Drink Ambassador, mentoring early career nutritionists, volunteering as an AfN Rep, and delivering career talks to nutrition students are all ways to support other nutritionists and improve our profession. It can be a hugely rewarding experience.

What is the most rewarding part of your role as a Freelance Nutritionist?

It is an amazing learning experience, not just about nutrition, but also learning about running a business and your own self-development.  I feel is really important to communicate evidence-based nutrition information. I love being able to translate nutrition science into clear and practical messages and, above all, being able to pursue work that I find most interesting.

What have you gained from the award ‘Freelance Nutritionist of the Year’?

Winning this Award has boosted my confidence.  I feel I am still learning (and making mistakes) every day working as a freelance nutritionist, so to gain this recognition has given me a great sense of achievement.

What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational Nutritionist?

As a freelance nutritionist herself, Caroline Walker was passionate about improving public health through good food.  With the increasing issues we face in food security and inequality, Caroline left an inspiring legacy for nutritionists to continue.

I am extremely grateful for the support and recognition from the Caroline Walker Trust.  It has greatly inspired me to continue to promote the importance of public health nutrition.

 

Written by Kathy Lewis, R.Nutr., 2020

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