My name is Victoria, and I am a nutritionist working within the space of women’s health and disordered eating. I consult privately as a nutritionist, work for The Butterfly Foundation (eating disorder foundation) as a recovery navigator, and currently am studying my dietetics honours. I live in Brisbane with my husband Zak, newborn son Lennon, and our kelpie Fang. I am currently on maternity leave and am really loving this time to bond, learn and grow with my son. Motherhood has been such a wonderful journey.
"It wasn’t until I began to study nutrition that my idea of what ‘healthy’ looked like was transformed"
This is my journey to health ... and a baby.
I decided to work in health and nutrition after years of my own struggles with diet and body image. I was working within the fashion industry at a young age which led to multiple eating disorders and a negative outlook on my health and nutrition. I feared food and deprived my body of what it needed to be healthy and ultimately to just survive. It wasn’t until I returned to Australia from working overseas and began to study nutrition that my idea of what ‘healthy’ looked like was transformed. My goal changed from ‘being slim’ to ‘getting my period back’, and it was this goal that really pushed me to change the way I was living to optimise my health.
Everyone’s journey to health is going to look different, but I hope that by sharing my story, it may reach someone who needs to hear that recovery is possible. The first step towards regaining my period was by coming off hormonal contraceptive medication. I was on multiple forms during my teenage years, which paired with a low body weight and poor diet, resulted in the loss of my period for roughly 6 years. My diet was very restrictive at this time, and by studying nutrition at university I began to see all the essential nutrients I was depriving myself of, and how key they are for health and wellbeing. My symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and mood swings all seemed to make sense when I looked at my repetitive and rigid way of eating. I began incorporating organic meat into my diet, starting with fish, and working my way up to chicken and red meats (previously I was vegetarian and vegan). I started to eat more carbohydrates and fats which I previously feared and focused on three meals a day with snacks in between. I remembered my childhood love of pasta, and instead of depriving myself of this food, incorporated it into my meals, realising how much pleasure it gave me to cook and eat it!
One of the hardest things for me to change at the time was my relationship with exercise. I had made all these positive changes with my diet and mental wellbeing, but still did not have a return of my period and my hormones still stayed at suboptimal levels (which I was monitoring with blood tests). I looked at my exercise routine and noticed I was pushing my body too hard, keeping my nervous system in a ‘flight or fight’ mode. I began to focus on my nervous system and prioritised rest and recovery. I decreased my coffee intake, instead enjoying cacao and/or chai (a great alternative is the Kintonik Rose Cacao Chai) and swapped my exercise from higher intensity exercises for leisurely dog walks in nature and the occasional yoga or pilates class.
My hormones and my period returned, and although I was thrilled, I knew I had to maintain the hard work I had put in, instead of reverting back to old habits. With the return of my period and hormones I regained a sense of hope, and I was ready to think about motherhood. I started taking a prenatal vitamin (The Prenatal by Moode) and began testing for ovulation. I also corrected nutritional deficiencies prior to conception (I tend to be low in iron) and focused on decreasing stress and increasing happiness. I had recently moved to QLD, so this involved lots of beach walks and morning ocean swims, which not only supported my health, but allowed my body to feel supported and in a relaxed state to conceive.
With the return of my period, my fertility journey started, and after being told by doctors that I would struggle to conceive, I was able to fall pregnant naturally in March 2022. My son Lennon was born 11th of December 2022. He was delivered via waterbirth with minimal intervention at our local birth centre. This was something that I had hoped for but was mindful that this may not be able to happen as childbirth is full of surprises!
Nutrition during Pregnancy
During pregnancy I had all these goals and ambitions to focus my nutrition and my Instagram platform - @waking.wellness on this new stage of my life. Reality was that I was mentally and physically exhausted, often feeling unwell, and only able to manage the simplest of recipes for the first two trimesters. This experience taught me that nutrition is often overcomplicated, especially during pregnancy where we now have the added pressure of eating to support not only our own health, but also now for our growing babies. “Eat this” and “not that” is everywhere on the internet and told to us by family/friends, and this can be really overwhelming.
I found that some days all I could eat was beige foods, some weeks it was pasta every night, and eating at unconventional times of the day my new normal. I learnt to be at peace with all this, and really enjoyed having no rules and no structure to how I ate and what I enjoyed eating. I hope other women can remove some guilt associated with this and learn to enjoy this also.
MY experience with negative body image shaped my career
I had recovered from my eating disorders for many years, but during pregnancy I was shocked to some days feel negatively about my body again. Pregnancy, we are told, is a time where women are ‘glowing’. Waiting for that glow to arise and feeling disconnected to your new and forever changing shape can be challenging. I wish I saw and heard more about women’s struggles with this and how they navigated this over time. I strive to be as transparent as possible in my personal and profession life about these topics, as I find honest conversation such an important tool for healing and helping others.
Working in the eating disorder space led me to upskill and study a certificate in health psychology. This taught me so much on how we perceive and experience health and disease. Becoming a nutritionist, I initially worked in the field of gut health and autoimmune diseases, which I do still treat, but my interest and passion now lies with body image, eating disorders, and women’s health including fertility. I find that working with clients who are going through something that you have personal experience with really builds rapport and a mutual understanding. I understand the struggles as I have been through something similar myself. I am passionate to help other women reach their goals, as I have done for myself.
If you're taking a new leap to improved whole-body health or are needing a little extra support with your wellness plan, Victoria is your gal. A mother having journeyed the road herself, works with women of all backgrounds to achieve the ultimate health outcomes. She seeks to rebalance your body through the power of food and high quality, holistic supplementing as well as emotional and mental support tools. Victoria opens her books for limited amount of clients every year.
Get in touch to harness your health recalibrate your reproductive systems and foster fertility today.
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