- Tell us a little bit about you – who you are, and what you do
I am Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian and a senior academic at La Trobe University in Melbourne. I am head of a large department called Rehabilitation, Nutrition and Sport which includes dietetics and human nutrition, physiotherapy, podiatry, prosthetics and orthotics and exercise science. I also lead the Mediterranean Diet Research group at La Trobe.
- What was the ‘uh ha’ moment that made you get into health and wellbeing?
I was doing a science degree at University during the 80’s and I was thinking about my career options and a very close friend suggested dietetics – which was ideal because it combined my interest in working with people, nutrition science and therapy. That was almost 30 years ago and I have not looked back!
- How important is our relationship with food?
Very important and for me it is about the science of food. The power food has to help prevent disease and help manage health problems or “heal”.
- What does a typical day on your plate look like?
A typical day on a plate for me is starting the morning with a wholegrain cereal with sliced banana (or strawberries) and milk, a few tablespoons of natural Greek style yoghurt (on the run), followed by an orange or apple as a snack, then leftovers for lunch (today it was lentil soup), a handful of nuts in the afternoon, and evenings are often a casserole with lots of veggies and small portions of meat or baked fish with lots of wild greens drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. A small glass of wine for dinner and 3-4 cups of coffee throughout the day.
- What inspires you and keeps you motivated each day?
Creating a special meal for family and friends motivates me and I love to take photos of healthy and colourful meals and sharing on social media.
I start my day with a brisk walk in the park with my husband and dog (Japanese Spitz – Fuji), then have a healthy breakfast and head off to work with a clear head.
- What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Everything in moderation – this is a common Greek saying.
Once we abstain from the foods we love we [humans] will be unhappy and eventually seek those foods.
- What are the top 3 foods you can’t live without?
Natural Greek yoghurt
- What are some cafes in Melbourne you are loving right now?
Miss Marmalade in Union Street Brunswick – they have the best breakfast options (I love the Farmer’s Market).
Wide Open Road on Buckley Street in Brunswick – best coffee and gluten free bread – great breakfast and lunch options (very Middle Eastern influence).
- What is your life motto or mantra you live by?
Seize the Day!
I am to achieve something each day – and make sure I pack in lots of things on weekends (with family and friends).
10. What is it that you wish to achieve by entering the health industry – what do you hope to change/improve?
I have been in the industry (health and academia) for a long time and I hope I have influenced people’s lives (my patients’ health and my students’ careers) positively.
11. Any tips or advice for those just starting out on their health journey?
Focus on what YOU wasn’t to achieve and taker small steps and make sure to reward yourself for every small achievement.
When making changes to your diet focus on one thing – for example change the type of fat you use in your cooking and on salads (to extra virgin olive oil) – and then move on to the next step.
Make lifelong changes to your diet and lifestyle habits.