Neil D’Silva – DipNutr(adv)
As a Nutritionist, I do enjoy a balanced and varied diet containing nutrient rich foods. However, please be reassured that the goal is progress not perfection and I do enjoy the odd glass of wine or two here and there, and chocolate now and again. Living like a saint is neither practical nor enjoyable or sustainable for the majority of people.
In my 20’s…
I ate and drunk with impunity. It appeared that I had a good metabolism and regardless of what I consumed, my weight hovered around 59/60 kilos with a 28″ waist. Life was good, I was not concerned about nor thought about the quality of my diet. I had no idea in my 20’s that the good times could not last forever nor that what I was eating could be affecting my general health.
Looking back, I now understand that when choosing foods to eat I tended to go for the sugary and refined carbohydrate based foods – those generally high in calories and sugar but low in nutrients.
My 30’s Were A Different Story Altogether…
During my early 30’s my weight gradually began to increase. In just a few years I had gone from a svelte 60 kilos to a slightly less healthy 75 kilos – but like many people I just put the weight gain down to just ‘getting older’ and was led to believe that this weight gain was ‘unavoidable’. I developed a keen interest in nutrition and weight management around this time, and started to take my diet far more seriously, but the weight kept gradually creeping up and the waistline slowly grew, inch by inch – sound familiar?
Bombshell No 1…
A few years ago, something completely unexpected and completely out of the blue was to change my life forever, and in more ways than one.
I was on day 2 of a family holiday in deepest France when I received a phone call informing me that my father had died – at 66. I had only been speaking with him 2 days before and he seemed perfectly fine, which added to the shock. With my father a widower and my brother living in Berlin, there was no-one else to deal with the situation aside from me. So the holiday was cut short, and we made plans to return to the UK asap. Despite the obvious distress and upset, I was keen to understand why my father had unexpectedly died and have bizarre memories of being with my family in France the day after the news, speaking with the Coroner in Maidstone trying to establish exactly what had happened. It turns out that my father died from a condition linked to high Cholesterol – although to look at him (he was not overweight nor unhealthy for a man of his age) you would never have guessed (I now know that believing there to be a correlation between body weight and Cholesterol levels is a myth, although being overweight can make a person more susceptible to high Cholesterol.)
I then began to appreciate on a deeper level just how precious life is, and indeed how important health is.
When people so close to you experience ill health, or indeed die in unexpected circumstances, it often is a ‘wake up call’ and you begin to question your own dietary and lifestyle habits. For many though, this deeper realisation of needing to be healthier is often short-lived, unless channelled and nurtured. I began to question myself: “Is there anything I could do differently to improve my own health” “Could I be at risk too?”, “Could I improve my own health and mitigate risk of a similar situation happening to me?”
Bombshell No 2…
We returned from holiday, and with a heavy heart I began to deal with the ‘administrative’ side of my father’s death. In so doing, I decided to have my Cholesterol levels checked as my weight had increased to over 85kg and my waistline to 36″. I recall sitting with my Doctor in anticipation of the results of the test, fully expecting them to be within normal levels – after all, aside from putting on a bit of ‘inevitable’ 30’s weight, I actually felt healthy.
My Cholesterol levels were high, dangerously high. In fact, my Doctor put me on Statins straight away. None the wiser I took the medication as advised (although even at that time I wanted to understand how to control my Cholesterol ‘naturally’, without the need for Statins – as I did not and still do not believe Statins to be good in the medium to long term), and decided to take my passive interest in health and nutrition far more seriously. I decided to eat better, exercise more and take control of my health, and turn this ‘inevitability’ – of getting unhealthier and gaining weight as I got older – around completely.
So at 80kg with a 36″ waist and being borderline obese I started to study health and nutrition on a semi-professional basis (I still had a ‘day job’ at that time), but very quickly it became apparent that I had indeed found my ‘vocation’, my purpose in life. By losing 15 kilos in weight and 6 inches off of my waistline, not only was I becoming healthier and likely mitigating risks associated with obesity, but people around started to notice too and I began to offer them advice on diet, nutrition and wellbeing.
And so my career direction took a new path – from the tragedy of losing my father, I changed my life for the better, and in changing my life for the better, I have now had the privilege of changing the lives of friends, family and clients around me too.
My New Purpose In Life…
I had found a new career path – completely unexpectedly and born out of personal loss. However this new path has proven to be far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined, and being able to help others to improve their health is incredibly humanising. I now am fortunate to be able to end each working day achieving something meaningful and changing the lives of the people around me.
Understanding how food choices we make can affect our body systems and how these choices impact different nutritional imbalances in the body is incredibly powerful. I take pleasure in seeing the improvements friends, family and clients make through a few simple changes – affirming that I have indeed found the career for me.
I discovered how to improve my own health and made the connection that all those food choices I made in my 20’s had impacted on my health.
And now I get to share all of my knowledge with others to improve their health, what a fantastic job I have!
I take my responsibility of being a Nutritionist very seriously, together with the responsibility to educate, coach and support my clients. I continue to develop my nutritional knowledge and appreciate that this is a never-ending process.
I can help you on your journey to better health too, helping you to understand how a few changes, coupled to your own personal nutritional needs, can improve your health and wellbeing. Remember: ‘Progress Not Perfection” – I can help you to reach your goals through a healthy, balanced diet and show you how to sustain these new habits for the rest of your life whilst at the same time not depriving yourself of the odd treat…after all you are only human!
My goal is to become the best Nutrition and Weight Management Consultant that I can possibly be, and in so doing becoming a Key Person of Influence in my field – the ‘go to’ person for health, nutrition and well-being.
Oh yes, and I plan to become an author soon – so keep an eye out for my book!
My Professional Qualifications
I have qualifications/diplomas in:
- Nutrition and Weight Management
- The Psychology of Weight Management and Client Motivation
- Pre & Post-Natal Nutrition and Weight Management
- The Prevention of Obesity in Children
- Nutrition for Sports and Exercise
- Applying the Principals of Nutrition to a Physical Activity Programme
- The Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Conditions
- Metabolic Weight Management
I am currently studying Clinical Nutrition and Microbiology
I am committed to keeping my knowledge and research up to date and regularly attend seminars, webinars and read articles as part of my Continued Professional Development.
In addition to all of the above I also work, on a voluntary basis, with a multi partnership Healthy Weight Task and Finish Group – and I assist the Group with projects that enhance healthy living, the reduction of obesity and smoking levels, and improvement of health and wellbeing in the workplace. The group reports to the Ashford Health and Wellbeing Board.