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A career in nutrition with TV host Zoe Bingley-Pullin

There are so many RULES when it comes to healthy eating. I’m tired just thinking about them all.

Don’t eat carbs after 6pm. Don’t NOT eat carbs before 10am. Don’t eat processed sugar. Don’t NOT eat natural sugars. The list goes on.

Well, rather than beating yourself up every time you ‘slip’, maybe all you need is to fall back in love? With food, and with what you do.

Watch our interview with chef, nutritionist and television show host, Zoe Bingley-Pullin, as she shares both her nutrition and career advice for making it in the nutrition world as a business woman, and a consumer.

“I was terrible at school, I got 15/100 for my HSC, had dyslexia, and was never in the principals office for the good reasons.”

Ok, so maybe she wasn’t born with the academics, but Zoe proves that good grades do not equal success, and if you’re able to find your positive outlet and somewhere to passionately channel your energy into (hers being food), then there can be no stopping you. Your calling may not be obvious to you from day dot, so just don’t lose hope.

Upon finishing high school, “a bit lost” and without the marks for university, Zoe shipped off to London, England to study at Le Cordon Bleu. From here, Zoe was off on a culinary holiday trip to Italy as she moved to work with a family friend’s company, A Taste of Provenance, working with guests that came from all over the world- cooking for them, visiting Michelin-starred restaurants, food markets, and local farms. For Zoe, this is where her passion really fermented, and she fell deeper in love with food as she learnt not only how to cook it, but of its provenance.

There truly is something to say here for it being okay to take your time to work out where your passion lies. If travelling, working or furthering your studies is going to help you find it- do it. Don’t wait for the spirit to move you.

Turn your passion into your livelihood and stand out- insincerity shines just as bright.

Returning to Sydney and working in a high pressure, fast paced catering job surrounded by food, Zoe struggled like we common people- eating well but gaining weight. Wanting to work in a holistic environment, and discover the missing link to why we have so much information and still have bad relationships with food and don’t know how to apply it, she began studying an Advanced Diploma of Nutrition at Nature Care College and getting top grades (even in science!)- adding an extra year of counselling studies to ensure her consultancy skills are top notch.

We know that nothing is worse than the ramblings of someone who has NFI, so Zoe’s belief that, “the best advice comes from personal wisdom and personal experience coupled with knowledge” is right on par with our Footnotes ideology!

Zoe prides herself on never really giving advice unless she has experienced it on some level, so while an advocate for embracing every food group, she has tried vegetarianism and veganism among others, so that she could understand how the body is affected and the changes it would undergo before advising on it.

Answering a newspaper ad while studying, Zoe started consulting as a health practitioner selling food products and doing brief health consultations with customers. Upon graduating, without many other options or qualifications but to give high quality advice to people on how to change their lifestyle and diet, Zoe started her own company Nutritional Edge.

Making it in a make-or-break industry.

“I believe in offering everything for free when you start out.”

“I created my own program, and went into gyms and gave free consultations until I slowly built up a really good database. At the peak of my business I was fully booked across four days, and was really strict to dedicate one day to growing the business, not seeing clients.”

On getting into TV, telling people you are eager, passionate and available seems to definitely be part of it. Put yourself in a position to get the break! Zoe’s first TV break was through a friend who worked at Channel 9. At 25 years old, Zoe approached her friend for a role working with Geoff Jansz, and has since had regular segments on The Morning Show, Today Show, Kerri-Anne, Studio 10 as well as her ‘Good Chef’ co-host role on Channel 10’s Good Chef Bad Chef.

“I love the format of being a host and getting my message out there, encouraging people to get in the kitchen trying different foods. I am really strict not to demonise any trend or food group. It’s all about finding the perfect balance for you and your body type.” Zoe tells us that to be successful, you really need to know what your point of difference is, otherwise you will flounder pretty quickly!

Clearing misconceptions about the glamorous perception of media and the TV world, Zoe shares that you will face a lot of rejection. “It’s work like any other job, but when you see it all come together at the end, that’s the magic.”

Spread yourself thick and wide.

With her father an entrepreneur, she came from a family that thinks outside of the box when it comes to business. “I am here to make a successful business, as well as help people. My drive might be due to my lack of success in school, but I love what I do and am excited by the level of change in my business.”

Zoe who has been consulting for 12 years, running cooking classes for seven, and co-hosting television show Good Chef Bad Chef for three years, tells us about the need to “cross-pollinate and work holistically- that’s how you run a successful business.”

While fundamentally Zoe’s business is consultancy, her TV work and books leverage other areas of her business. While loving her time on TV, Zoe is a realist to this industry, seeing that “there’s no guarantee I am going to be on a cooking show for the rest of my life, so it’s really important to keep building on your brand and business- stay current and relevant, understand the market and what people are talking about.”

After facing a number of challenges over the years, including six rounds of IVF, Zoe believes her daughter, husband, family and career is what has kept her grounded, and it is, “a fear of losing it which drives me to stay relevant.”

Stand out. Getting the job should be about passion, not qualifications.

When we chatted about standing out among the bloggers and the ‘gurus’, “I love what bloggers are doing- some may not have the qualifications, but these are the consumers, and they are really pushing a good lifestyle and appreciation of food.” While Zoe pushes a balanced lifestyle, she says she doesn’t mind all the talk of trends and fads, as long as they care about health and start a conversation.

Zoe’s go-to tips for gaining a profile in the nutrition industry:

1. Know what your product is
2. Be vivacious
3. Find a contact and exhaust a contact- don’t let your connections go to waste
4. Offer things that people aren’t already doing- know the market
5. Represent what your brand is. If your thing is fermented food, send it to every blogger out there.

And finally, on what Zoe wishes she had of known starting out, she’s actually glad she didn’t know any of it, or have expectations. She believes it is best to deal with things when they happen. “The times when I would freak out was when I had no choice and it pushed me to do it. I didn’t want to let myself down or let anyone else down. At school I had always felt like an idiot and wanted to prove to myself, and everyone else, that I wasn’t one. I just kept going and didn’t let failure be an option.”

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