Conversation With . . .
Having worked in the corporate world, she felt something was amiss and went on to pursue a career in Nutrition, dedicating her time and effort to receive qualifications so that she could enlighten others about their nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. Her columns on the Daily Nation are immensely educational, along with her blogs that always have a message from her life experiences are a delight to read. This month in Conversation with Sona, the Nutritionist, Writer and Blogger talks about nutrition, writing, looking out for dragons and unicorns in the clouds to relax.
What made you decide on a career in nutrition?
It all happened during an Oracle Financials training I was conducting. I was giving health advice to one of the students. It was something I did regularly, and it was suggested I pursue it as a career. The rest, as they say, is history!
What qualifications are required?
Since I already hold an undergraduate degree (albeit in Economics from the LSE), only a diploma was required. I completed this over 4 years, flying back and forth from the UK to complete my clinical hours.
What does nutrition mean to you? An overview of what it involves.
I approach nutrition in a very different way to most of my peers. While nutritional therapists do look at things holistically and look at the root cause, for me, looking at the root cause involves going much deeper. In yoga, we talk about five bodies or “sheathes” and the food is just the first of these. My clinical practice explores the others too. Part of this is also looking at the psychology of eating.
According to you, what is the most important quality a nutritionist should have?
Being a good listener is paramount. I am normally able to diagnose someone in the first few minutes of seeing them, but it’s the deep listening that helps me to figure out how the solution is best implemented. Different people respond to different methods.
What does your consultation involve? Aspects of nutrition that you address.
Rather than food and lifestyle, the first thing I look at is when someone’s issue began. Whether it’s a migraine, a digestive disturbance or a skin condition, I first ask what was happening 18-24 months before its onset. This root cause in hand, my job is much simpler after that.
But simple doesn’t mean easy. For a lot of people, it can involve a traumatic event which can be difficult even to acknowledge. This is the point that we move forward from. I have literally witnessed miracles with patients with “incurable” illnesses seeing a complete recovery in a very short period of time.
What types of ailments do clients approach you for?
I see everything from infertility and autism to stomach ulcers and cancer. It never ceases to amaze me how much allopathic medicine isn’t able to treat.
How do meal plans differ for someone who is trying to lose weight and another who is trying to put on weight?
It’s very much about listening to your body, once I outline the basic plan. Most problems come because we don’t listen to the signs that our bodies give us. Once we do, it’s actually very intuitive.
Photo by Rupi Kandola
Having read your blogs, where do you get your inspiration from?
The words “inspiration” comes from the Latin inspirito. It’s means when the Spirit is within us. When I write, very often, I don’t feel as if it’s coming from me; it comes from this deep wisdom within me, my Higher Self, from the Divinity which is inside all of us. I know this because, when I try and write myself, nothing very good comes!
What is it like to write columns for the Daily Nation?
It has been a really great learning opportunity. When I started in 2006, I was still very new and I really didn’t know very much. As I wrote and explained the etiology of different ailments for the layperson, I had to get very clear on the concepts that I knew. I also had to do a lot of research in those early days and that’s how I ended up getting so good at my craft.
And what topics do you cover?
I explain how nutritional medicine can help various ailments. By explaining exactly what they are and how they manifest the body, I then go on to show how the holistic approach can help.
What other media platforms do you write for?
I write for the Precision Air and Kenya Airways magazines.
What do you like least about being a writer?
Writer’s block! It happens from time to time, when my mind is so preoccupied that there is no space for the magic to happen.
What do you like most about being a writer?
It sounds like a cliché but touching and changing lives. I recently received an email from a young suicidical man, who told me how much my piece had helped him that day. I also really like reading my own piece many months later and feeling like it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.
What is your way of contributing to the community?
I sing and chant for a community group. It makes me really happy to think that something that I can do can inspire someone else.
How has the pandemic affected you?
My kids and I had COVID about a month ago. It was an excellent lesson in slowing down and being grateful for my garden and the beautiful weather.
What do you do for relaxation?
I write! Also love hanging out with the kids in the garden, looking at the clouds and seeing dragons and unicorns. We are also huge fans of cards and board games (we don’t own a TV).
If you were not a nutritionist and writer, what would you be doing?
I would be cleaning out people’s closets! I love Marie Kondo and would gladly go help a friend in need of a spring clean!
How can people contact you?