Me&MyJob: Inspired by passion for healthy foods
Jane McClenaghan, Nutritional coach at Vital Nutrition which she established in 2001
What does your job entail?
I own and run my own business, Vital Nutrition Ltd, through which I offer one-to-one nutrition coaching for individuals to help people improve their health and wellbeing. I develop tailor-made nutrition programmes for individuals — a combination of dietary advice and nutritional supplements.
I conduct workplace health programmes throughout Ireland and have worked with some of NI’s biggest and smallest companies from the likes of Action Cancer, NI Civil Service and the Probation Board, to small community groups and start-up companies.
I hold nutrition classes and cookery workshops (in conjunction with Belfast Cookery School), such as my Six Weeks to Super Health programme, which operate at various times throughout the year.
I also have a regular, monthly slot on Carolyn Stewart’s lunchtime show on U105 and I provide health information for local publications such as Flavour and IN magazine.
I’m not into faddy diets and believe there is no such thing as a quick fix, so my advice encourages people to take control of their own health and wellbeing, simple practical changes that work.
Is it 9-5?
I am self-employed, so no way! Every day is different. I hold a weekly evening clinic at Framar Health and most of my workshops run in the evenings or at weekends. I also participated in this year’s food, drink, retail and hospitality show, IFEX 2012.
How did you get into this line of work?
I have always been passionate about healthy food, and the amazing effects (both good and bad) food has on our bodies. I remember coming home from school after my first ever home economics lesson and telling my mum to throw out the butter, it was about time we started eating margarine. Now I am telling her to eat butter instead of margarine!
Outline your career to date?
I’ve worked in a myriad of food-related jobs before setting up Vital Nutrition in 2001. I worked in a health section in a bookshop, and a nutrition laboratory amongst others roles.
I then got a job as a sub-editor with a trade publication called The Nutrition Practitioner, and was a lecturer at Raworth College in Guildford on its nutritional therapy course.
I came back home to Northern Ireland in 2001 to set up Vital |Nutrition and have never looked back.
Tell us about your qualifications/ training
After leaving school I attended Reading University to study Food Science, which I followed up with a three-year diploma course in nutritional therapy from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London.
I also undertook a one-year teaching course for adult learning. I continue to keep up to date with nutrition advances through journal reading and attending lectures every few months.
What qualities are required for your job — personal and professional?
I think most of all you require passion, excellent communication skills and you need to be a ‘people person’. I love what I do, which is what keeps me motivated.
Being self-employed requires a self-motivated person with drive and enthusiasm, as well as being confident in your skills and knowledge.
Keeping up to date with nutritional research, offering the correct nutritional advice, networking at exhibitions and keeping abreast of industry developments are all important in ensuring I give my clients the best possible advice.
What is the best advice you ever received?
There has been so much I am not sure where to start, but I think one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received was to listen to your gut instinct. I try to live by this philosophy and so far it has not let me down.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love being outside, running, kayaking or cycling ideally. I have just bought a new bike, so at the minute I am a bit addicted to cycling. I like live music and eating out. Family and friends are important to me too especially hanging out with my niece and nephews; they are a sure way to put life’s stresses into perspective.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself
My partner and I’ve just signed up for a three-day kayak from Antrim to Castlerock over the May Day bank holiday to help raise funds for a small cancer support charity called Eye Feel Good.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
I think that accolade has got to go to my family. My mum and dad have always supported and encouraged my brother and I to get the most out of life. My dad provides the sensible advice and my mum encourages us to think outside the box — a perfect combination I think.