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Busting Diet Myths & Breaking Down
Common Fears with Dietitian Jen Hoult


Busting Diet Myths & Breaking Down
Common Fears with Dietitian Jen Hoult

Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen.

Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my Wellness Warriors Podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications. Through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.

My podcast is dedicated to all the people past, present, and future who has helped shape my journey and continue to, by me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia in both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy it.

Welcome to my Wellness Warriors Podcast. Today, I would love to introduce to you one of the dietitians who works at WeightLoss Solutions Australia, Jen Hoult.

Welcome to the Wellness Warriors Podcast.

Jen Hoult: Thank you. Good morning, everyone.

Felicity Cohen: So, I’m really interested, first of all, before we get onto the subject of wellness, your journey as a dietician and where that started?

And where did you first get the idea that you actually even wanted to become a dietitian?

Jen Hoult: Well, that was my mom.

Yeah. I’ve always been interested in sport and health and, and everything to do with that. So growing up in quite a sporty family and I had no idea what I wanted to do and I floundered for a little bit, and then it was my mom who said, what about dietitian? And there you go. That was it.

Felicity Cohen: So she was right in terms of giving you that direction and had that mother’s intuition that understood exactly what your skillset looked like and directed you in the right way.

How awesome is that?

Jen Hoult: Yeah, it was good.

Felicity Cohen: Fantastic. Where did you actually do your studies.

Jen Hoult: At Griffith.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah. So here?

Jen Hoult: At Griffith.

I did my masters there, so that was good. And then, and then I went back to Sydney. All my family are in Sydney and then I worked clinical. So I was at Nepean Hospital, and Royal North Shore Hospital and got my good grounding there.

So I learnt heaps and did cover every single area in ward and it was just great for building your skill set

Felicity Cohen: And a really good foundation to work in a hospital network and hospital environment. Lots of mentorship I can imagine working with others.

Jen Hoult: Yeah, and just working out that multidisciplinary team and what everybody does and how it all works together. And, yeah, so it was, it was a very good foundation.

Felicity Cohen: So, what are some of your early takeaways in terms of being part of a multidisciplinary team, managing a patient, no matter what their disposition or their issue was in terms of their overall health, how did you actually evaluate that and see that it was important to have that connection with a team?

Jen Hoult: Well just seeing that everybody has their specific parts in that patient’s journey. And we all met as a, as the multi-team together every week. And we’d discuss all each, each patient and making sure that everybody was on the same page and knew what was going on. So when it’s got that rounded focus, it was obviously a great benefit to the patient.

Felicity Cohen: I think that’s really interesting in terms of overall patient outcomes, health, and wellbeing, that in a multidisciplinary team environment, no matter which specialty you’re actually looking at in medicine, it’s critical to that patient journey and pathway to get good results. And I think often it’s ignored in the bariatric space as being one of the critical components.

So you’d see it in a, in a cardiac setting or no matter what other health discipline or surgical, medical discipline that that’s a critical part of how, how hospitals function and how our health system functions. And I think it’s so valuable, but then translating that into a bariatric surgical environment, I think we’ve taken a lot longer to catch up.

And, you know, for me, the focus has always been about really promoting the benefit the need and the successful outcomes for patients comes from having a multidisciplinary team. And it is so, so important to the longterm results. So yeah, really great foundation and great lesson for you to translate that into this space as well.

Jen Hoult: Absolutely, and just seeing what, what exactly all of those disciplines actually do and what they can cover and how they can help. And so it was a great foundation and appreciating everybody as part of that team for that patient, patient’s focus and welfare. So yeah, and it was great. And, and in every position that I’ve held trying to do that in a multi kind of disciplinary way.

Felicity Cohen: So post hospital environment, where did you go to from there?

Jen Hoult: Okay. Then hubby was offered a job in Singapore and I was six months pregnant and we just went, “Why not?”

So we left.

Felicity Cohen: Wow.

Jen Hoult: Yeah.

Felicity Cohen: What a big step.

Jen Hoult: We went for one or two years and we stayed 11 years in Singapore. So it was excellent. We loved it.

Felicity Cohen: 11 years away from Australia and in that time you ended up having 4 children?

Jen Hoult: Yeah, my four babies.

Felicity Cohen: Wow, so a massive culture shock.

Jen Hoult: It was.

Felicity Cohen: And obviously the environment and everything about, you know, lifestyle would have been so different for you. What was it like for you working as a dietitian in Singapore and how different was it for you?

Jen Hoult: ] It was, it was another great learning experience.

And I, my visa allowed me to have a sole proprietorship. So I worked by myself, but I also connected in with, because of my foundation with a lot of the physios and the OTs and social workers and everybody else. So I could provide my patients with all of that fat rounded focus. I worked with people from all over the world, experts and locals.

I did a lot of volunteer work as a dietitian with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance over there, which is a very low socioeconomic, local Singaporeans and Malaysians. And that was fascinating. And yeah, it was a bit of everybody from all different cultures and all different religions and trying to work out what’s important to everybody and understanding their cultural preferences and foods and what they can eat and what they don’t eat. And, yeah, so it was excellent.

Felicity Cohen: So fabulous to have that exposure to diversity in general and how that dictates you know, needs in any patient, and understanding all the different cultural implications as well. And when it comes to food, did you actually, were you exposed to patients who did suffer from being either overweight or morbidly obese in Singapore?

Jen Hoult: Yes, I did, probably more the expat community. And, yes, with blood pressure problems and cholesterol and overweight and all the comorbidities that came along with it. Yes we did.

Felicity Cohen:And we know that with a, you know, in a Southeast Asian population that we see the incidents of some of the medical comorbidities that we’re exposed to a lot in our western population. You know, who, when we’re talking about obesity and morbid obesity, but those, issues become a lot more prevalent in a lower BMI range.

Jen Hoult: They definitely do. They’re also very aware of that too though. Yeah. So they know that kind of from a BMI of 23, a lot of the comorbidities do come about.

So the Asian population are aware.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah definitely with things like type two diabetes that the incidence is so prevalent in a much lower BMI than we’re used to.

Jen Hoult: Yeah, absolutely.

Felicity Cohen: So is the focus on treating through, dietary change and modification? Is that number one?

Jen Hoult: Same.

Felicity Cohen: Always. So no change, no difference in terms of treatment modalities?

Jen Hoult: No, it’s the same, increasing your vegetables and you know, all of the healthy eating and lifestyle factors as well, and trying to get everybody out and exercising and all of those things too.

So, yeah.

Felicity Cohen: So you talk about, you grew up in a family that was very focused on sport, and what kind of sports were big in your family?

Jen Hoult: Tennis.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah. Oh, wow. Were you a tennis player?

Jen Hoult: Once upon a time, but not anymore.

Felicity Cohen: Now you’re just a runner?

Jen Hoult: I am a runner. I love my running.

Felicity Cohen: We love that we have a few runners on the team in here. So we’re really big into our running. So your, your favorite distance? 10Ks?

Jen Hoult: 10Ks, is it. Yeah,

So I get up at five and off I go for my 10K and it keeps my mind peaceful and happy. It’s my time out. And you know, solve the problems of the world at 5:00 AM.

Felicity Cohen: I could not agree more. And I think when we’re talking about wellness overall, physical activity exercise, and what you choose to do is such a big part of how you manage your own personal mental health and wellbeing.

How you deal with your day on a day to day basis. You know, as a mum with four kids that you get up and do that before you have to tackle everything else for your day, probably sets you up for success, right from the beginning of the day at 5:00 AM.

Jen Hoult: Yep. Well, I am a morning person, so, and I’m awake. So I got out and have a, and it does, it really is important for my healthy mind in order to just have that time out in that exercise.

Felicity Cohen: I’m so on the same page, I love it. And I love, I’m an early riser I’m right to being up early, running, being out in nature. Absolutely. It just energizes you. So for me, when I look at my own personal health and wellness, exercise and running are a big part of that.

Jen Hoult: Absolutely.

Felicity Cohen: It just gives you so much more. Focus, clarity, energy and definitely calmness of mind and the ability to deal with whatever comes your way in the day. So I know for me, if I’ve had a good run in the morning, the day will flow and it will be great. So today was one of those days.

I had a great run. I did finish it and you just feel great.

Jen Hoult: You do and I’ve run on the beach in the mornings.

Felicity Cohen: Beautiful.

Jen Hoult: And so I don’t think you can get a nicer landscape, really. It’s such a beautiful, and I see the sunrise.

Felicity Cohen: It is stunning isn’t it

Jen Hoult: It’s pretty special.

Felicity Cohen: We’re so lucky.

Jen Hoult: We are.

Felicity Cohen: Today was a really good day. It wasn’t too hot.

Jen Hoult: No, it’s a bit windy. That was it. And it was lovely.

Felicity Cohen: Beautiful. You must love the climate change, after being in Singapore with that extreme humidity.

Jen Hoult: Yes.

Felicity Cohen: So coming back here and re-acclimatising back to Australian weather, lifestyle, what are the things that you love most about living here?

Jen Hoult: You can’t actually beat the Aussie lifestyle really, can you?

So the kids who are into nippers and you know, we go to the beach as a family and yeah, I don’t sweat every single day like Singapore, I did get about six months breather. It’s nice mild winter here. So yeah, oh we absolutely love being back.

Felicity Cohen: I think it’s the best place on the planet for me to raise a family and to have kids, they are so so lucky.

Jen Hoult: Yeah, absolutely. I agree.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah fantastic.

So tell us a little bit about your, you’re fairly new to the team here and we absolutely love having you at WeightLoss Solutions Australia, as part of our dietician team.

What are some of the things that you’ve learned so far from, patients? And I think, you know, they’re the greatest barometer and how we learn.

Things that you’ve learned about the patient journey in terms of your practice as a dietitian. Tell us a little bit about what that looks like.

Jen Hoult: I think, so I often tell my patients that I’ve got the best job in the world because I see everybody come in, in their initial before surgery or their procedure, and you know, we have a lot of tears sometimes and people are not in probably, well, they’re not where they want to be. And helping them through that journey and seeing that transformation of their health, of their mindset, of just having a healthy, a happy mind after that, their progression throughout that 12 month period initially.

It’s pretty magic and it’s really nice to be a part of. So, and I’ve learned so much from, from them. And I, hopefully they’ve learned a lot from me that and just trying to help them to establish all of those healthy habits to set them up forever and for this to be successful for them forever.

Felicity Cohen: [00:11:57] And I think surgery is the catalyst to create positive behavioral change, lifestyle change. And especially when it comes to food and nutrition and, you know, better behavioral practices that they can implement into their day to day lifestyle. It’s such an important part of the journey and how our patients connect with the dietitians, I think, is so unique.

You know, building that relationship rapport and creating a relationship where change is consistent over a period of time is so important. I think many people come into this space and they’ve had experiences with dietitians and they, it may have failed in the past. And when you combine it with a surgical solution, then we’re setting patients up for success.

Jen Hoult: [00:12:41] Absolutely.

Felicity Cohen: And their health and wellness overall is consistently changing. So monitoring and seeing those changes over time is pretty impressive.

Jen Hoult: Yep, whether it’s like the blood pressure or type two diabetes medication or, cholesterol is coming down, like there’s so many medications that they can come off and their quality of life improves, they feel better within themselves, their knees don’t hurt. You know, there’s so many different outcomes, healthy outcomes that come out of the surgery.

And you’re right, it’s a tool, the sleeve or the surgery that they have. And, but the, it’s such, it’s also such a motivated population to work with too. Everybody is so keen to do the right thing and make the most of the situation.

And what more can you ask for, being a dietitian to have a motivated or patient base to work with.

Felicity Cohen: So let’s talk for a moment about diets. I think that one of the biggest issues for patients you know, even before we start thinking about overweight, obesity, morbid obesity, is the fact that there is this very confusing platform out there of far too many, multitude of diets.

And people are, the messaging that people are exposed to on a daily basis is full of, which diet is going to be best, whether it’s a shake diet, whether it’s a keto diet. I came to you the other day and said, what do you think about a vegan diet? Because we’re seeing all these, there are documentaries on all of the, on Netflix, on Stan, on so many different platforms.

And what we’re exposed to, I think becomes incredibly confusing not even to take consideration for whether it’s scientifically presented as an argument that is convincing, but just the fact that there’s just so much. Like we’re in overwhelmed mode right now. How do, how do you respond first of all, to the fact that there’s just so much out there in the space of diet?

Jen Hoult: It’s the same with everything though, whatever topic you want to come up with there’s just so much out there. And they don’t necessarily, the confusing part is they don’t necessarily have to be you know, research based and evidence-based, for them to be out there. So, all you need is a bit of great marketing and a great slogan to go with it. And that, you know, some people saying, “this is the best”, and then it’s out there.

So it is very confusing. Even I get confused sometimes. So you just have to wade through it all and work out what’s the base of it, and really it comes down to, is it healthy and balanced? Are there, lots of it. We know what’s important. We know vegetables, lean protein, and drinking lots of water, like we all know that.

So when you come back with you know, just the cauliflower diet or whatever it is, then, you know, just have a, a good think about it, just with common sense and think, is it balanced? You know, is it, does it actually tick those healthy boxes?

Felicity Cohen: And I love the word balance, because I feel like that really does fit into what we’re trying to convey, when we’re talking about wellness, overall.

Our podcast, Wellness Warriors, it’s all about being healthy and well, and, you know, getting ourselves to that level or that platform where wellness is the pinnacle of, you know, good health. And I think, you know, when we’re looking at diet, it’s so important, what we’re ingesting, what we’re eating every day is critical to how we feel, how we move, our health overall, whether or not we’re creating an environment where we’re potentially going to be sick.

Jen Hoult: That’s right.

Felicity Cohen: You know, so it’s such a critical part of how we live our lives.

Jen Hoult: Absolutely.

Felicity Cohen: And how we, you know, approach that is vital.

Jen Hoult: Yup. And so often with my patients, I always say, “Just make your everyday base of your food intake, excellent.”.

And then we all have sometimes foods, we all have celebrations and different things where, but it is a “sometimes” thing, but just have that every day as, as, as good as you can get it, you know, take the sugar out of your coffee, if you’re having coffee every day, just those little things to make everything successful and be able to carry it all on for, forever.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah, absolutely. I personally grew up in a family where everything in moderation was probably the best approach to how you deal with food. I remember seeing a pediatrician with my daughter when she was little and, you know, the philosophy then was, look at the diet across the week, don’t analyse a single day.

And you know, don’t be so fixated on that one particular day, but look at your week.

Jen Hoult: Absolutely. Yep. Yeah, that’s right. So, but we, you know, food is also an enjoyable thing and a social thing. So as long as that’s not happening every day, then it’s okay.

Felicity Cohen: Balance is good.

Jen Hoult: That’s right

Felicity Cohen: Love that message. What about for you?

You know, you’ve got a really busy lifestyle. You’ve got four children at home, you work four days a week and they’re pretty full on hectic days where you’re involved in all sorts of aspects of patient management. What are some of the things that you do to make life easier and to make sure your kids are also getting the best of you as a mom and getting really good nutrition. How do you work that out?

,p>Jen Hoult: I’m organised. I have a rough meal plan. I’m not very good at planning every single day, but I’ve always got the healthy staples in the cupboard and in the fridge. And so I can always, I know that the healthy things for our base and for our everyday are always there. So yeah, and I have a rough idea of what meals I’m going to cook at home for the dinners.

And I know what’s going in the lunchboxes and they have the same breakfast every morning, but yeah, so it, it is purely organisation .And we all know that if you’re not prepared and organised, then things just fly out the window and you just choose what’s easy and quick. So it is key to having a healthy intake

Felicity Cohen: And I think time management, hundred percent organisation.

And that’s where I think for patients before they get to us, work life balance is one of the things that just goes out the window because we live in a world where everything is hectic. You know, we work long hours, often extended hours. We travel further to work often. We’ve got families, we’ve got a social life to try and fit in, you know, and time is one of the things that we’re poor. We are poor on time.

So making the most of every minute, I think, you know, when we’re talking about wellness, time management is really, really key. Valuing your time and making the most of it and prioritising those things so that you do get a good diet. You know, it’s part of how I think we should all function and teaching our patients to function better in that way is so important.

Jen Hoult: A lot of the time with patients, the main thing that they need help with is how to, on that everyday basis, how to maintain that healthy intake. And so it is teaching them about just tricks of, you know, tricks of the trade type thing in terms of how to keep your salads going for, for lunches and being prepared with boiling up your eggs.

Also, maybe having some tins of tuna in your drawer in case you get stuck. And just those little things, having those staples ready and easily that are, that you can go to. If you’re caught out.

Felicity Cohen: What would you say is the single highest level of fear for a patient coming to see you the first time? What are they most worried about when it comes to food? Is it, will I be able to eat again? You know, probably they worried about?

Jen Hoult: “Are you gonna make me just eat carrot sticks forever?”.

Felicity Cohen: Okay. So we can get rid of that myth. Tick that off the list.

Jen Hoult: I think, will I, because everybody seems to be aware that the portion sizes are very small post-op, and maybe it’s more about, “Will I be able to enjoy food again later on?”, “How does it look socially when I’m out with friends and family?”, “What can I do?”.

So all of those things we, we talk about, yeah.

Felicity Cohen: I think it’s important to understand that patients are not going to be deprived, that restriction in terms of portion size doesn’t mean, “I’m deprived of enjoyment, of a good social life, and having all of the things that I enjoy.”.

Jen Hoult: That’s right. Absolutely yeah, so it is, it’s more teaching them about yeah, being mindful and enjoying that food that you are actually eating. So, yeah.

Felicity Cohen: Beautiful. I have a question for you. So if we’re talking about wellness, what to you personally, would you say, what does wellness mean to you?

Jen Hoult: I think there’s so many different aspects of wellness and trying to, I think the importance of those different aspects is different for everybody. So for me, it is being able to, wellness is a happy family. And that, that is probably key for me as well as being healthy and, in terms of intake and exercise.

And I know that’s important for my mind health as well. And so prioritising the things that make me happy, and if I’m happy, then I can be a better mom and a better partner. So, I do think that it is actually a little bit different for everybody.

Felicity Cohen: Oh, absolutely, I agree. And how you embrace those various pillars of wellness that’s talked about before, how you prioritise them, which ones, which values amongst those are more important for you is definitely very personal, but I couldn’t agree more that, having your home run well and function well, that’s going to make sure that, you know, you can flow on, and everything else, hopefully will work well.

Jen Hoult: [00:22:45] Exactly, yep.

Felicity Cohen: Thank you so much for coming on my Wellness Warriors Podcast. I’m sure we’re going to hear from Jen again in the future, and let’s get together again soon and talk about some other exciting things in the world of dietetics and your role here as a dietitian.

Thanks so much for joining me.

Jen Hoult: Thanks Felicity.

Felicity Cohen: Thank you for joining the Wellness Warriors Podcast. It’s been a pleasure to have you online with us. If you enjoyed the series, please leave your review, subscribe and follow, and we look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

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