Q&A with Jacqueline Alwill

You’re a well respected clinical nutritionist – what got you into this space?

I’d always had an interest in nutrition growing up however it didn’t always come from a positive place. I tried to move away from my obsession with it and as an adult build a career in a different industry, but it didn’t work. I felt too much pull toward nutrition and supporting others with theirs, so I took the plunge, retrained as an accredited nutritionist, jumped into the nutrition sphere with my clinic and wholefoods catering business to start and honestly have never looked back! I’ve worked in lots of different areas of the industry over the past decade, they’ve all taught me so much. I love what I do, I can’t imagine a life and career any different. 

Have you always been healthy?

I wish, but no unfortunately not. As a teenager, I was incredibly insecure and had developed anorexia nervosa by age 13. This went on for most of my high school years, and as many experiences with eating disorders was a roller coaster of healing and reverting to previous disordered habits throughout my twenties too. It wasn’t until I had my firstborn, Jet, that I put a lot of energy into healing. I wanted to be a good role model for him, but in the same breath, I had to own that it was time to start being a good role model for me too. 

Have you had any setbacks in your health?

A few yes, the above was most significant and then about 5 years or so ago I experienced total burnout. I hate admitting this being in the health industry, however, it’s important because I know so many of us to do but keep quiet / deny it’s happening. It was a huge lesson in what having no boundaries can do to you. I had spent the time leading up saying yes to everything / every opportunity, training like a beast (probably overtraining), working into the night and not sleeping enough etc and then my body collapsed. I cried every day for months, my skin went grey and broke out, my body had zero energy for anything, I couldn’t digest food effectively and felt physically ill, nauseated and I lost all of my zest. Fortunately with support and using my tools as well I restored my health with patience, good nutrition, supplementation and a new perspective on the importance of having boundaries in place and not trying to do it all. My / your health is the first priority. 

 In your clinic do you see a prevalence of a particular condition that troubles you?

I’m not currently in the clinic as I’m having my third baby soon, however, I am in the process of building an online education series on infertility (preconception, pregnancy, postpartum) and early childhood nutrition with my good friend and colleague, Brittany Darling (@wholefoodhealing). We’re so passionate about supporting people in this space as infertility is becoming increasingly prevalent and there just isn’t enough nutrition education and support out there for those walking this path – we’re going to change that. It’s going to be such a well resourced, evidence-based, but also incredibly practical education series – launching 2022, cannot wait! 

In your experience what do most clients come to you for?

Please see above. 

If you could encapsulate your nutritional philosophy into a sentence or two what would that be?

Good nutrition shouldn’t be complicated, confusing or time-consuming and it should be something we are all able to embrace. My mission is to make nutrition and health accessible for everyone. 

Are you positive about the health of future generations?

I want to say yes, but I’ll admit I feel pretty troubled about the lack of care that’s going into safeguarding our youth for the future of their health. There are more and more discretionary foods available at their fingertips, less activity encouraged, more screens everywhere, powerful advertising and parents (and we need to acknowledge this as parents too!) with less time on their hands to wrap their heads around all of it. As parents, mentors, coaches, people within this community we need to own what is happening now and so we set an example for our kids. We have to commit to working harder at it, or we’ll see a generation fuelled with more chronic disease than what we’re witnessing on our own. I believe we can do this but the message needs to be wide-reaching (mass media rather than niche) and constantly reinforced, something that it currently is not. I believe they stand a chance to change their health outcomes if WE put in the work now for them. It’s up to us. 

 Jacqueline Alwill
Accredited Nutritionist
@brownpapernutrition
thebrownpaperbag.com.au