A few years after Celestine Mouton completed her honours degree in Dietetics at the Western Cape University in South Africa, she embarked on a journey to Europe working for Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss in the United Kingdom. Upon returning home, Mouton decided to further her studies in the medical field. Today, as a dietician of note, Mouton works with individuals as well conducts company wellness presentations.
In an interview with Confidente recently, Mouton tackles misconceptions surrounding her profession, malnutrition, her love for food and travelling.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
I’m an entrepreneur, a wife and a mother of two. I love to travel and I love food. I believe I’m a kind hearted person but can be strict when needed. I don’t believe in handouts but rather to teach and empower someone to take control of his/her own life.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
Everybody’s upbringing plays a role in who they are as a person, however we can choose whether we want to stand up from our circumstances or wallow in our own misery. My entrepreneurial spirit comes from my father. He worked hard and started his own business when I was in primary school. My mother was a teacher and is retired now. She was very strict. I was never in need of anything. We were raised to appreciate everything we have, because nothing comes for free. You work for what you wanted in life. My upbringing taught me values, which I still carry with me today. It taught me to respect myself and others and to have empathy with my fellow beings.
What triggered your interest in becoming a dietician?
I studied in South Africa, Cape Town at the University of the Western Cape for an honours degree in Dietetics. However I studied that as a mature student. I finished my studies at the age of 31. Directly after school I did a three-year diploma in Food Service Management at Cape Technicon Hotel and Catering school at the Waterfront in Cape Town. I was introduced to nutrition in this course. I worked at Kalahari Sands Hotel and Casino as their banqueting manager until 2001. I also started doing my LLB degree through Unisa whilst working at the hotel. I did two years. In 2001 I packed up everything and went to the UK where I worked for Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss perfumery. I travelled a lot and saw as much as possible of Europe. I had to make a decision about my future, I decided I did not want to go back into the hotel industry. I came h o m e and decided to go back to university and study in a medical field because you can work all over the world in a medical field. The travel bug bit me pretty hard.
In layman language, what is a dietician?
It’s someone who specialises in the nutritional therapeutic treatment of a person using the science of food and its effect on the body. Our treatments are based on science research.
Would you say Namibian’s are conscious about the importance of diets/nutrition?
I would say the literate few of our country are showing an interest, but where it really matters is in the illiterate communities where about 30 percent of our children are suffering from chronic malnutrition. It’s a scary situation, because that puts these poor kids already at a disadvantage in the job market. It’s also not just about knowledge but also the availability of food.
What is the biggest misconception people have about the field?
That one can go on a quick diet and lose weight, but what happens after that? You go back to your old eating habits and pick up all the weight again. It’s not easy, it’s a lifestyle change and it’s a conscious decision you have to make. Weight loss and keeping it off is in the mind. You have to get your mind set right first.
What do you enjoy least and most about your profession?
It’s a constant battle with people who think that they can fix all their diseases with medication and not wanting to take responsibility of their own health. The success stories are obviously the best parts, but I enjoy doing company wellness a lot where I do presentations for employees.
What advice would you give someone aspiring to become a dietician?
I always wanted to do community work or work in the state hospitals, unfortunately there were no jobs available when I started. There are a few now. Try to get into community work that is where the need is.
What is your secret indulgence?
I have sweet tooth, but food in general. Especially when I travel, I want to taste all food around the world.
Just what do you do for a little fun?
I try to travel as much as possible, other than that it’s spending time with family and friends. Braais and hanging out. I use to read a lot but I get very little time for that nowadays with two young children.
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