"There is so much false nutrition information widely available – especially with the rise of social media", reflects Egheosa Abifade RD, a Dietetics and Nutrition BSc graduate whose long-term aim is to specialise in nutritional information for the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community – now ever more urgent with COVID-19. She explains how she arrived at London Met and how she hopes to progress her career.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to London Met?
I was born and brought up in east London. I completed A-levels in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and German and went on to study Medical Biochemistry at Royal Holloway. In my final year of my degree, I realised that l didn't want to pursue the "lab life" long-term. I wanted daily patient interaction. I’ve always had a passion for all things food and I also wanted a career that enabled me to utilise my love for science daily. My research then led me to dietetics.
The next step was making my application, I wanted to stay in London and was nervous about going back to university as a mature student. London Met was the answer to all my concerns. I initially applied to study the postgraduate diploma, but competition was extremely tight. I was then blessed to be offered a fully-funded Nutrition and Dietetics BSc place. That was the start of an amazing four-year journey at London Met.
What’s your biggest passion in life?
My biggest passion in life is to heal the relationship between people and food. There is so much false nutrition information widely available – especially with the rise of social media. Food is so often villainised. There are no bad or good foods.
I also have a big passion in making nutritional information more accessible to ethnic minorities. The current COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted this. Statistics have shown that if you are South Asian, African or Caribbean in the UK, you are more at risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, hight blood pressure and stroke. I want to empower this community to incorporate healthier food and lifestyle habits. I want to be able to start a conversation around food and share evidence-based information. I want to educate people that food is so much more than fuel for our bodies – it reflects our culture, genetics, medical history, emotional state and how we socialise!
What was your favourite project at London Met?
It's hard to list just one. My top three I would have to say were:
- Working in the kitchen lab, planning and creating recipes for different patient groups: low-calorie options, texture modified meals, allergy specific and ethnic specific recipes. Best of all, the glorious food tasting that takes place afterwards!
- The Microbiology module in the Superlab where I was able to make, or shall I say, ferment my own live yoghurt – it's one of my favourite memories.
- The practical experience I gained during the course – I had three placements in total – a two-week, 12-week and a 14-week placement. I was able to gain valuable knowledge and practical experience in the acute and community NHS and in a private setting, as well as working in public health for Age UK in Kensington and Chelsea.
How do you think your study at London Met prepared you for your work today?
We were always given real-life patient case studies to work on during lectures. Throughout the four-year course I was fortunate to be taught by current NHS practising dietitians. I had OSCE exams where actors were brought in to play patients and access to a simulated mock-NHS hospital ward in our placement preparation modules. The course really prepared me to go straight out into the working world.
Can you tell us about how you used the Science Centre or our superlab for practicals?
Yes, I loved my time using the superlab / Science centre. In the Science Centre, I also loved utilising the simulated NHS mock ward with dummy adult and kid patient models as well as the nutritional physiology and food technology labs.
My favourite piece of equipment would have to be our superlab’s portable radio devices that I could use to listen to the lecturer from across the gigantic lab and the computer screens at each station. It really made teaching feel accessible to all and I never felt left out! London Met gave me access to amazing facilities.
What was your favourite spot at the University?
The library – mezzanine floor – as you get to look down onto the ground and see the hustle and bustle of university life but still have quiet areas to get on with uni work.
Favourite of all would have to be the study rooms on the third floor where I used the interactive whiteboards to practice for my various presentations throughout the years!!
What were your lecturers like?
Lecturers in the nutrition and dietetic teams are so approachable and friendly. I felt like I could always ask them for support and advice when I needed. They were always willing to help me out and find time within their busy schedules to assist me. Surgery hours are your best friend, trust me….
Were you in any clubs or societies at the Uni?
Yes – the Nutrition Society, where I was able to attend talks/sessions by external speakers – dietitians and nutritionists. As a student I felt up to date with the industry and NHS practices.
How has COVID-19 affected your work/studies?
It was difficult to complete my dissertation without that face-to-face support from my supervisor and switching to online lectures for my final lectures was disappointing. However, with the help of my lecturers and the University, I was quickly able to adapt to new ways of learning and interacting with my peers and lecturers – using Microsoft Teams for group presentations and Blackboard for the classroom.
Did anything surprise you about your course or London Met?
The workload can be overwhelming at times with deadlines and exam clashes. However, when all is said and done, the dietetics course at London Met is extremely rewarding.
If you could choose one word to describe your experience here, what would it be?
How would you describe the culture at London Met?
Friendly, there’s always a smiley face around – whether that be the students walking in the corridor, the on-campus Costa Coffee barista, the security personnel at the tower building receptions or library entrance... It’s a culture of love! Being at London Met allowed me to meet people from all walks of life.
What’s next for your career?
The next step for me is to get a job as a graduate rotational dietitian, likely working within the NHS. My interest currently lies in nutrition and health within the Black and Ethnic Minority community – especially the Black African community. One day I’d like to become a valuable resource within this community by also working as a freelance dietitian. I also love research so I wouldn’t rule out further study…
Any tips for students thinking about this subject here?
- be organised from the start – it’s essential!
- utilise the support system around you – surgery hours, placement tutor
- create pro-forma for common conditions you are taught in lectures, eg Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, IBS etc
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your time at London Met that isn’t covered above?
The facilities are brilliant, I absolutely loved every single minute of being there. I look forward to coming back for my graduation ceremony in 2021.
"My favourite piece of equipment would have to be our superlab’s portable radio devices that I could use to listen to the lecturer from across the gigantic lab and the computer screens at each station. It really made teaching feel accessible to all and I never felt left out!"