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Leeds dietitian supporting people to live well with diabetes

Ellouise Simpson is a specialist diabetes dietitian supporting people living with diabetes in communities across Yorkshire. 

 

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Ellouise, who lives in Leeds with her husband and children and was brought up in Birmingham, knew that diabetes was the area she wanted to focus on, even while still studying for her degree.

The mum of four, whose parents are Jamaican says: “I grew up in the Black Caribbean community in Birmingham and although diabetes didn’t directly affect my family, I knew so many people in our community who had been affected by the condition and specifically type 2 diabetes. I’d heard people talk about diabetes in such a fluid way, like it was just a part of life and was inevitable. It got me interested in why people felt this way.”

That curiosity has played a big part in how Ellouise approaches her role as a diabetes specialist dietitian. For Ellouise, who currently works in the NHS, supporting people with diabetes to live well is about understanding who they are and their relationship with food.

The 39-year-old says: “It’s important that we make lifestyle changes practical and manageable and that we understand where somebody is coming from when we offer advice. Living with diabetes is just one element of their life but there will be lots of other things going on in someone’s life that might impact their ability to manage their condition.”

She adds: “I want to make sure everyone feels welcome to come to clinic. Sometimes talking about diet and diabetes can make up just a small amount of somebody’s appointment. Taking time to talk about life in general, helps people to open up and helps me to understand what’s happening in their lives, so I can offer advice that’s manageable and right for them.”

Ellouise also supports the Black Health Initiative, a community engagement organisation working towards equality of access to health and social care services across Leeds and the surrounding areas. Ellouise volunteers delivering talks, advice and support to local communities on diabetes and diet.

She says: “What my job has taught me, it is important to see a person’s culture, listen to their experiences, encapsulate their identity and meet them where they are in their life. We are all different therefore how we help someone improve their life when living with diabetes will be different. I believe it is important that dietary support and health advice is tailored to the person as one size can’t fit all. 

“Food is often at the heart of communities and plays a big part of who we are and our culture. Often people are disappointed when they discuss their cultural foods due to the lack of understanding and it can often be deemed as unhealthy. However, this is not the case and as we continue to raise awareness of the rich diverse communities we serve, the goal is for the healthcare landscape to become more diverse and inclusive which will then begin to reflect the communities we care for.

Ellouise adds: “I’m proud to be a Black woman in my field of work and I believe that diversity matters. I’ve found that who I am often helps to bring down barriers and helps patients from diverse backgrounds to feel comfortable enabling then to freely talk to me about their health and lifestyle, as they feel I’ll understand.”

Ellouise also supports Love in Action, an initiative run through her church’s food bank, which provides a well-balanced bag of food for people using the service. For Ellouise, it’s a common-sense approach to help make a healthy lifestyle accessible to everyone.

“A healthy, balanced diet is a vital part of living well that should be available for everyone. It plays such a big part in preventing and managing long term conditions like type 2 diabetes and also supports people who are living with other health conditions to manage and live well.”

Ellouise shares recipe ideas and tips for a healthy balanced diet and diabetes management on her Instagram page. You can follow her @dietitianellouise.

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