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Q&A with dietitian Sasha Watkins

This week is Dietitian's Week and we asked our co-founder, Sasha, some questions about her life as a Field Doctor dietitian.


Tell us about the Field Doctor story. Why did you as a dietitian get involved?

 

We started working on the idea of Field Doctor at the beginning of 2020 with the aim of creating convenient, tasty meals packed with flavour and nutritional benefits to help support a variety of dietary requirements. I joined co-founders Martin and Alex because I was enticed by the challenge of making a ready meal range that was truly healthy, i.e. based upon peer reviewed scientific research. I also saw an opportunity to use the brand to help raise awareness of what dietitians do and how they can help with dietary advice. We work with several dietitians for blog posts and instagram lives to provide evidence-based nutrition information across all social media platforms.

Why did you create meals for IBS?

 

So many people have IBS in the UK and we did some research together with The IBS Network in 2021 and discovered just over half (54%) live in constant fear of eating something that will trigger their IBS symptoms and 42% felt they would never be able to eat normally again.

 

IBS sufferers will be the first to tell you that it is a minefield to work out what triggers IBS but the low FODMAP diet has been a fantastic dietary intervention to help people to manage their symptoms better and to identify their personal triggers. The diet can be hard to follow so we decided to create these convenient nutritionally balanced ready meals to help them with the elimination stage of the diet. People with IBS are often tired and in constant pain so a convenient safe meal option ticked lots of boxes.

 

We also wanted to provide meal options such as curries or pasta dishes that many people with IBS would naturally avoid out of fear of debilitating symptoms. And the meals taste incredible without onion, garlic or wheat - so no compromise!

What is currently on offer now?

 

Since January 2021 we have launched 18 low FODMAP meals. They have all been assessed and certified low FODMAP by Monash University to ensure they were suitable for the elimination stage of the diet. Considered to be the first low FODMAP ready meals in the Europe, they are made in small batches and containing zero nasties, each dish is rooted in freshness, goodness, flavour and appeal. They include Teriyaki salmon, Smokey chipotle meatballs, Aromatic chicken tagine, Goan fish curry, Sweet potato + spinach korma and many more. Once made the dishes are flash frozen to lock in goodness and are delivered in recyclable packaging to people’s doors. Most dishes can be cooked in eight minutes in a microwave but can also be cooked in the oven.


We also have another range of 10 meals based upon the Mediterranean diet so packed with vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, fish and only small portions of red meat. Most dishes can be cooked in eight minutes in a microwave but can also be cooked in the oven.

Challenges along the way?

 

Starting a new business is roller coaster ride. It’s extremely demanding and no two days are the same. I have found myself covering different roles such as customer service and social media and I have mastered many new skills. We also built this business during the first lockdown and only met as a full team in person 7 months after we started it.

Highlights so far?

 

There have been so many such as tasting my first field doctor, it was amazing to see and something I had created, or getting a Food Matter Live Award in 2021 for most innovative product of the year.

 

Without a doubt, the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I can make a difference to the health journey many people are on. The frequent emails and positive feedback from customers have been fantastic. We recently received this email from a customer last year and it still touches me deeply.

 

“Before Covid I led a very active life and tried not to let IBS rule my life. Being house bound this last year has been particularly difficult as I live alone, at a distant from my three children and not able to bubble with anyone. Finding Field Doctor has been liking finding a nice friend who will provide me with delicious food, delivered to my doorstep which are tasty and lets me get on with normal life. Thank you so much for all your efforts. You have made a new friend and I feel like I’ve found one.”

What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

 

Don’t do the entrepreneurial journey alone. There is lots of evidence to show that 2 to 3 co-founders are more successful than a solo-founder as you motivate each other to cover more ground quicker and bring a wider range of skills to business from Day 1. It is important to have full trust in your co-founders and a shared vision, as you will end up spending more time together than your family and your future success is dependent on each other.

What are the key takeaway for dietitians?

 

Dietitians need to shout more about what they do e.g. get onto social media and signpost people to dietetic services. It was a surprise to find out that over half (53%) of the people in our survey had never seen a dietitian despite a diagnosis of IBS and that 59% of those do not know how to access to a dietitian.

Sasha Watkins

Registered dietitian and co-founder of Field Doctor

IG: @sashadietitian

Abit about Sasha

 

Sasha Watkins is a registered dietitian with a First-Class BSc (Hons) in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Kings College, London. Sasha also has an MA in social psychology, a Masters in Allergy (with distinction), and is a member of the British Dietetic Association. She is a big advocate for good nutrition coming from natural, unprocessed food and has spent years working with healthy eating education for the whole family, nutrition research, gut health, allergy, and weight management.

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