Our Local Hero for May 2019 is 45 year old, mother of two, Karen Tillyer from Southampton. As an employee of Active Nation, Karen’s role is primarily to assist those who are inactive due to having a long term health condition and following a recent diagnosis are needing a start point to returning to being more physically active.
In order to assist people further Karen is currently completing a Level 4 Advanced Nutrition and Weight Management Diploma at The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), accredited also by the Association of Nutrition. Partnering with training organisation Future Fit Training, RSPH has designed this diploma to educate on the nutritional requirements of a healthy diet, giving those who complete the course specialist knowledge so that they can go on to advice on a range of diets for a diverse range of people: diets for sport and exercise goals, pregnancy and breastfeeding diets, diets for young children and additionally those who want to follow plant-based diets, both vegetarian and vegan.
Every body is different and just like exercise, it is important that people follow nutritional plans that suit their body and their goals. Without guidance, this can be a bit of a minefield…
“People will decide they want to follow specific diets simply because celebrities do, but it may not suit them nutritionally. For example, some choose to go gluten free when they don’t actually have any gluten intolerances. Choosing a diet that doesn’t suit your body can often lead to a lack of vital nutrients such as Iron, Calcium and B12, which can leave people feeling seriously ill. Completing this training means I can educate people who want to try these diets to make sure their diet is balanced and not lacking in any way.”
In addition to knowledge about nutrition, Karen will cover all areas of weight management, and the role psychology plays when trying to change behaviours and habits. She will also gain essential business skills and marketing tools so that she can one day run her own weight management clinics, if she so chooses.
Although a significant time investment, after completing the diploma, Karen hopes that she will be able to improve and enrich her work on the Physical Activity Referral Scheme:
“I’ve realised that the majority of people out there don’t understand what foods are good or bad for them, and why. I hope to be able to advise individuals on this, as well as appropriate portion sizes, how many portions you should be having in one sitting, and where to start when making dietary changes.”
Karen also plans on teaching people about the Eatwell plate, on creating a calorie deficit and what their minimum physical activity requirements should be.
“I have been asked to write specific meal plans for people, but without a qualification I’ve not been able to tap into this area of work. Having the knowledge provided by this diploma will be vital in helping others to achieve their health goals.”