Integrative Nutrition Blog

Tamar Henry Brings Nutrition Knowledge to Saudi Arabian Schools

January 21, 2012

With students and graduates in 88 countries, Integrative Nutrition is truly an international training program committed to making the opportunity to become a Health Coach accessible to people all over the world. One of the best parts of hearing from our alumni is learning about the state of health and wellness in different countries across the globe. Even better? Knowing that these Health Coaches are making a difference in places where it’s needed most.

2011 graduate Tamar Henry is an expatriate currently living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where she’s found a community in desperate need of attention to health. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease run rampant throughout the region, while a lack of knowledge threatens a younger generation. Tamar is tackling both of these issues by bringing her nutrition knowledge and business practices to schools, group wellness programs, cooking classes, and a community health ambassador role.

What led you to enroll in the Health Coach Training Program?

I had a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a focus in health and wellness, and I owned a small vegan muffins and cupcakes business. I had a personal interest in nutrition, and wanted to find a career that I could be passionate about, where I could help others. I wanted to learn more about the subjects that I was interested in and I wanted to connect with like-minded people.

How has your life changed since enrolling at Integrative Nutrition?

I’ve undergone personal change and growth, and I have a greater understanding of health, nutrition and lifestyle. I started my own health counseling business. I became a health and wellness advisor to a local school, as well as a health and wellness ambassador in local community.

I’ve learned A LOT, such as how to take care of myself and my family through nutrition and lifestyle changes, how to show clients through the six-month program, and how to help others through alternative nutrition and lifestyle practices. I now know that one is always learning and I educate myself on something new every day.

What do you love about the school?

EVERYTHING! The support; the current, up-to-date, ongoing information that is offered; the guest speakers; Joshua Rosenthal and all my classmates; the website; all the information offered to get you started; the list goes on and on.

I don't honestly know what I would have done with my health and wellness degree if I didn't also have my IIN training. It took me in a brand new direction and I feel like I have found a career for life.

Can you describe the current situation in Saudi Arabia regarding health care and nutrition? 

As an expatriate living in Saudi Arabia I have the good fortune of receiving private care and attention, which is really great here, especially among the international hospitals. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone, and even though there is free medical care in this region, I do not think that everyone receives the optimum attention that they deserve and at times, so desperately need. Obesity (among both adults and children), diabetes, and in particular heart disease are very prevalent here, and the fact that there is limited space made available for leisure activities is of huge concern when it comes to recommending exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. 

What sort of specialized areas could Health Coaches potentially work in?

More awareness has to be made to help this region in my opinion, particularly with the younger generation. I currently work with two schools, one international and one local, and the response has been overwhelming. Very often it is not the lack of enthusiasm, but the lack of knowledge that is missing. I have seen both children and their parents embrace what I have to offer in terms of nutrition and overall health and wellness, and this is encouraging for ongoing endeavors.

You already had a degree in health science before enrolling at Integrative Nutrition: how did the additional education enhance your existing one?

Studying for four years at a university gave me the information that I needed to conduct myself in business and as a health professional but it did not give me the enthusiasm, the tools and indeed the personal connection that I so desperately craved. As soon as I read about, and then joined IIN, I knew that something amazing was happening to me. I was able (for the first time) to be able to relate what I had learned to myself and then to others, and really make a lasting difference. IIN gave me the tools and the confidence that I needed so that I could concentrate on what was important: reaching out and helping others and in turn following my passion.  

What is your clientele like in Saudi Arabia? What sort of programs or services can you offer?

My clientele is varied. I work with expatriate families, women and children, and I have also branched out among the local community, in particular with women. My program focuses on teaching others how to incorporate nutrition and other wellness trends into their every day lives, in order to achieve the kind of peace and health that only comes from understanding, effort and of course from support.

It has been somewhat difficult incorporating cooking classes into my programs because here in Saudi Arabia I cannot always find the food items I am looking for. With this in mind I have learned (and am still learning) to use local products and to educate myself firstly on using ingredients that are healthy and accessible. After all, there is no point in teaching a method if the items cannot be located. When I leave the country I also bring many of the products back with me and make this part of my give-away package to clients.  

Describe your work as a school advisor and local community ambassador. Where do you see weaknesses in the school's food program and how are you working to change it?

One of the schools that I work for is a local school that is promoting new and innovative ideas and which has approximately 250 children (and growing). The founder and director of the school is a dear friend (and client) of mine and could see that adding in a nutrition program to the school would be beneficial for all. As well as executing the school’s lunch and snack program, which sees use of all natural and seasonal produce, I run a "health class" once a week. I send home a monthly newsletter and recipes to parents, I have an open forum for parents to contact me, and more importantly I work alongside the school and its teachers to help provide them with the education and information they require to assist the children in retaining all they have learned. 

What do you love about your work?

EVERYTHING! I can see from the very first meeting with a client that I am going to help them to change in significant ways and that they themselves are going to feel better from the work they put in and the changes they make. I love supporting people to become healthier and I love to hear them talk with knowledge and understanding as the weeks pass. I hate to say goodbye to a client but I know they have found their way.

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