November 2016; the time when I really started to kick-off my quest to go out and meet other dietitians from around the world. Two days after my 33rd birthday I was on a plane to Dublin, Ireland on a mission to walk in the footsteps of my late Grandma Marilyn Moore and to meet with a local Dubliner dietitian. Paddywagon tours helped grant my first wish, and Aiofe Hanna was so gracious to agree to my second wish.
AH is originally from Drogheda Ireland, and currenlty resides in Dublin. She has worked in public healthcare systems in Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand, which has provided a well-rounded international experience in dietetics. AH decided to expand her services away from the traditional inpatient clinical dietetics work and into the boardroom at both Google and Microsoft. With a profound interest in gut health, it was at this time that she observed how the effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) negatively influenced the workers’ productivity and quality of life. These observations combined with the pain point of a lack of access to registered dietitians in the workplace, My Gut Solution was born.
Besides our Irish ancestry, Aoife and I have a few other things in common, such as the strive for balance. Since we last met 4 years ago AH has gotten married and had a baby. She knew from her work and experience that an unhealthy diet can (and most likely will) impact one’s body and mind negatively while regularly consuming an über-healthy diet can stretch a person emotionally thin. For example, the pressures on a new Mum may make instances such as not having an organic garden in the backyard for family meals or not consuming that IGTV promoted 20 ingredient breakfast smoothie that costs $30 every single morning appear much more troublesome than it is in reality. The mixed media messages regarding nutrition and wellness are 1. conflicting and 2. too often delivered by social media influencers and celebrities that lack the knowledge and credentials to be an expert in the field. It can all be so overwhelming leading to greater, not lesser, postnatal depletion, which is another reason why AH build My Gut Solution on the basis of delivering a dietetic service that was convenient, fit into different individual lifestyles and, above all, provides the services of trusted evidence-based experts in nutrition.
What does a nutrition expert’s knowledge and experience library look like? Take a glimpse at Aiofe’s:
- Registered with the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI). Membership number 1453
- Registered with the Dietitians Registration Board, CORU. Registration number DI016776
- Postgraduate Certificate Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Coventry University, 2011
- B Sc. (Honours) Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Chester, 2009
- Nutrition Tutor and Team Lead UCD Volunteer’s Overseas, Summer 2017 Kisiizi Hospital, Uganda.
- Clinical Dietitian Google 2016 – 2017, and Microsoft 2016.
- King’s College London – Low FODMAP trained
Now that we know a bit about Aoife, what about the culture she lives in? The following is a paraphrased dialogue between AH and myself when we met in Dublin.
Me: “Dublin is such a beautiful city! Often in cities, there tend to be other cultural cuisines that are popular. What are some of these cuisines you find many locals enjoy?”
AH: “People enjoy Indian and Italian cuisines for eating outside of the home or take away.”
(my brain): “just like NYC!”
Me: “What is a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Ireland?”
AH: “A typical breakfast is porridge and toast during the week. On the weekend is when one might have a full Irish breakfast including sausages, black pudding, (<– not what you are thinking- click the link to discover what this “pudding” really is), white pudding (no blood), rashers (Irish for a thin slice of bacon), a fried egg, brown bread, mushrooms, and tomatoes if they have are available.”
“For lunch one may have soup, a sandwich, and crisps (that’s chips in American), and dinner may include pasta or rice, a meat/protein, and vegetables.”
Intermission comment by Me to the reader: “The older traditional dinner was called either “tea” or “supper” and is eaten earlier in the evening around 6 pm, after a day’s work. ‘Tea’ was the main meal of the day for people who worked all day and was more common outside the city. ‘Supper’ is known as a ‘working-class’ term pertaining to a casual snack, again in the early evening including brown bread and cheese, for example.”
Me: My Aunt and I would often have a full Irish breakfast in the Upper East Side of NYC. I always loved the Irish soda bread and scones too. Speaking of bread, I notice the Irish soda bread here in Ireland, in particular, to be much different from what I eat in the States where it tastes sweeter.”
AH: “Yes, here Irish soda bread is simply made with a wholemeal flour mix, baking soda, salt, butter, egg, buttermilk, (and oats).” (check out this great recipe for traditional Irish soda bread).
(my brain): “No added sugar at all, and I am hungry now…”
Me: “I bet that bread is a great source of energy for exercise. I see that Rugby is popular here, and in the US we cannot help but to think of boxing when we think of Ireland. What are some other ways Dubliner’s stay fit?”
AH: “People do go to the gym, but this is not as popular as playing sports such as football (soccer), or camogie.”
(my brain): “Camogie??!”
AH: “Camogie is sometimes called hurling and similar to Gaelic football.” (Camogie appears to be a mix of lacrosse, field hockey, and baseball.)
Me: “So now the question that I get a lot as a dietitian in the US, and as it becomes more of a global world I am sure you do. What are your thoughts on juicing?”
AH: “I think that drinking a juice that uses greens (vegetables) as a base and making it yourself using a nutribullet* for example, is fine. Generally, I promote eating fruit, however, if you are basing the juice on vegetables while adding a fruit for more flavor then it may help as a kick-starter to weight loss for some people. On the flip side what I have observed is that the weight tends to come back, but people also tend to feel better in the beginning.”
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It’s always great to speak to a local to really get to know the culture of wherever in the world you may be. This combined with simple observations is a great way to do some qualitative self-research. Some of my own observations during my trip around Ireland were as follows:
- They eat dinner a lot earlier then New Yorkers do, around 6 pm.
- AFTER eating dinner they meet outside with friends to catch up over a pint (and maybe some music).
- The traditional American meat, potatoes, veggies meal appears to stem from the traditional Irish dinner.
- Ireland has some of the best menu labeling laws I have ever come across (see below).
- The quality of meat and dairy is just different. If the animal grazes on the grass that animal is eating more omega 3s, so maybe this is one contributing factor. A girl I met, who was also from the US, told me she could never eat the dairy in America, but in Ireland, she consumed it and felt fine. Again, QUALITY over quantity.
If your gut feeling about your own gut isn’t so good, no worries, you are in luck. You can reach out to Aoife here and find out how she and her company may be able to help you. Cheers!
- Traditional Irish Soda Bread. Bigger Bolder Baking. March, 2016. https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/irish-soda-bread/
- My Gut Solution website. https://www.mygutsolution.com/
- The Spruce Eats. The Different Meals and Mealtimes in Britain. https://www.thespruceeats.com/meals-and-mealtimes-in-britain-435329#:~:text=Tea%20(when%20meaning%20dinner%20and,on%20returning%20home%20from%20work.
- Discovering Ireland Vacations. The Full Irish Breakfast. https://www.discoveringireland.com/the-full-irish-breakfast/
*I am an affiliate for Mosaic Foods and Blender Parts USA. I research all companies with whom I an affiliate to ensure their mission aligns with my brand’s values.