Clinical Nutritionist and Certified GAPS Practitioner
Nutrition for Health, Tauranga

Diploma in Nutritional Science (Level 6)
Naturopathic College of New Zealand

A long history of allergies and gut issues prompted Catherine to enrol at NCNZ, eager to learn better ways to enhance the health and wellbeing of herself and her family. But what started off as a personal interest quickly morphed into a new career. Now Catherine runs a busy practice in Tauranga, specialising in gut health, allergies and autoimmunity – and her work as a GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) practitioner is changing lives in the seaside city.

Where does your interest in natural health stem from?
Like many people who enter this field, I became interested in nutrition after my own personal health crisis about 15 years ago. Originally, I had a career as a recruitment consultant, but when my son was a baby I began working part time at Health 2000. There I saw many customers struggling with their own issues and having no idea what to eat. This really helped motivate me to pursue nutrition as a career.

I had previously studied the Certificate in Nutrition and the Certificate in Anatomy and Physiology at the Naturopathic College, and loved the way they operate, so I decided to enrol to study Clinical Nutrition.

What were the highlights of the course?
I enjoyed the flexibility of studying by correspondence, and I also loved the workshops in New Plymouth. It was great to connect with other students and I always came away feeling so inspired and much more confident having put a lot of theory into practice.

We also had to do clinical practice with real clients. At times it was challenging finding enough clients and getting them to commit to follow ups, but it was also very valuable, as by the time you graduate you’re already confident meeting with clients and know what you are doing.

When did you establish your own clinic, Nutrition for Health?
I worked at Health 2000 throughout my studies and then in 2013 when I graduated I set up my own clinic, working there part time while also continuing on in the shop. In 2016 I left Health 2000 and start working at Health Haven part time. However, my practice has been getting busier and busier every year, so I recently took the plunge, and resigned from Health Haven to go out on my own full time.

What do you specialise in?
I am a nutritionist who specialises in gut health, allergies and autoimmunity. My specialisation in gut health really took off after I trained to be a Certified GAPS Practitioner with Dr Natasha Campbell McBride (author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome) in Sydney in 2015. I work a lot with children with allergies, autism, ADHD, anxiety and digestive issues.

As well as face to face consultations, I run regular community workshops to raise awareness of the GAPS gut healing protocol. Some of my workshops include: `Getting Started with GAPS’, `Getting Started with Gluten Free’ and `Natural Health for Children’, which I run at the local Parents Centre. I’m also currently looking at doing more with meal planning using a software system, as this is an area that many clients struggle with.

How did NCNZ help prepare you for success in your career?
The workshops were really valuable, especially the practice clinics.  The feedback and support from the tutors was really helpful to fine tune our clinical skills as well as the regular telephone support from key tutors.  Although I found it challenging at the time, the compulsory clinical practice we had to do out in the community really helped to develop my confidence and increased my knowledge of different health conditions. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love getting fantastic results for clients –  especially when their GP has told them nothing can be done! It’s very rewarding helping people and sharing my knowledge to enhance people’s wellbeing.