2013 – the year of chronic sleep deprivation

So following a month long sabbatical from blogging, I’m hoping to get back on the wagon!

I took a bit of a break because four months of getting up at 5am to write blogs and do client admin everyday (including holidays, weekends etc), took it’s toll and I was getting burnt out. Existing on 5 hours of brokenimages sleep is doable over the short term, but chronic sleep deprivation was not compatible with looking after 3 children, a husband, shopping, cooking, cleaning and trying to build a business! Husband Dec works long hours (today, New Year’s Day when most have the day off, he’s leaving at 7am and home 7/8pm…..ish) so I’m on my own with the kids pretty much all the time. I’m not complaining, just telling it how it is.

Chronic sleep deprivation was making me tired and a bit (!) cranky with the kids, leading to a vicious circle of them and me being grumpy and stressed. Getting three children out the door to school on a cold winter morning with packed lunches, school bags, coats, hats, gloves, scooters and to the gates ON TIME with no tears on the way is a major achievement!

I was also becoming dependant on coffee fixes. I LOVE coffee, but was having up to 5 cups most days. I don’t think coffee is a bad thing as it does have health benefits. However, for me 5 cups a day didn’t feel right (although could be considered within recommended limits). ‘Needing’ the coffee fix was probably purely psychological……..I was telling myself that it would get me through, and that coffee was good for me. If I had stopped and asked if I really wanted it in the physical sense the answer was ‘no’. Although I love the taste, it made me feel a bit bleurgh and with a dull headache.

The Nutrition Business

From the business perspective, tiredness meant I was losing sight of where I was going. My original plan about this time last year was to stay broad with the types of patients I would advise and to see where the road took me. I have 12 years experience of working with both children and adults in most dietetic specialities within the NHS. But the chronic tiredness meant a fuzzy head and I couldn’t see the woods for the trees. Any business advisor will tell you that you need to focus on your niche. Over the last month, with 7 hours sleep under my belt each day, the fog has cleared and I have been able to identify that my speciality is becoming digestive health. About 70% of my clients contact me for help with gut problems, usually a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

A recent development in treatment of IBS is the low FODMAP diet. It sounds gimmicky, but I shutterstock_52604065can assure you it is not another fad diet. One in 5 people suffer, and the scientific evidence is proving that it is extremely successful for 75% of people. Results are fast (symptoms can be resolved with in a few days) and although it doesn’t cure IBS, the change to people’s lives is wonderful to see. Professionally, helping people with IBS using this method is truly the most rewarding thing I have done.

My plan for 2014 is to set up a dedicated private IBS Clinic in Kingston where I can devote my time to helping people with IBS. Skype appointments are also a definite possibility too giving access to consultations for people unable to travel to KIngston. Currently there are very few NHS dietitians experienced in the low FODMAP diet (it is quite a complicated to start with) and waiting lists are long. The big hurdle is letting people know about the clinic and the effectiveness of the treatment. Advertising, marketing and publicising my service is very new to me. As a dietitian working in the NHS it is not something I had to think about! I’m working with Sue at B1 Creative who is helping me with the marketing side of things…..firstly a nice poster to put up in GP surgeries, libraries and anywhere else that will oblige!

Today, New Year’s Day, we’re having Dec’s family this evening for a turkey dinner. It’s a Danaher family tradition to have a repeat of Christmas Day, minus the presents. Wish me luck……..I’ve never done the turkey before. Here’s the menu:

  • Tomato Soup with wheaten bread

    It all got a bit much for Sarah while cooking the turkey

    It all got a bit much for Sarah while cooking the turkey

  • Turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, gravy
  • Christmas Crumble with vanilla ice cream and custard

How hard can it be?! If I’m not losing the plot, I’ll post some pictures of the preparation. Wish me luck!


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