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Natural Leaders: Growing many good things from a love of food as medicine

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | Monday, 7 June 2021

natural leaders nutrition

Nutritionist and Endeavour Clinical Supervisor Heike Hohaus is no stranger to starting again. She recently moved from the Melbourne suburbs to the seaside, where she’s relishing the opportunity to create a garden from scratch, organising a new local farmer’s market and sharing her belief in food as medicine.

“You will rarely find me in a supermarket because I’m quite self-sufficient when it comes to food,” Heike said. “But if I’m there, you’ll probably catch me chatting with someone about why they should buy produce from Australia rather than from a foreign country. I have huge admiration and respect for the people who grow our food.”

Heike grew up in the country in Germany, and her family always had a huge vegetable patch. After high school, she did a three-year apprenticeship and spent years working in hospitality and strengthening her passion for food. While on a backpacking holiday in Australia, she met her first husband. They married and had children in Germany, but in 1999 they moved to Pakenham in Victoria, Australia.

Heike helped her family settle in Australia, volunteered at her children’s school and learned English. She knew she wanted to study nutrition. Seven years after arriving in Australia, she enrolled at Endeavour. Heike finished her degree in four years while separating from her husband, raising her children and working part-time. “I loved studying at Endeavour. I found a great friend at my children’s primary school. Melissa and I would look after each other’s children while the other one studied,” Heike said.

Before she had finished her degree, the local health service asked Heike to run healthy cooking classes. “I waited until I was ‘fully cooked’,” she laughed. I knew I wanted to practice, but cooking classes are a practical way to teach people simple recipes to improve their health.”

Once Heike graduated, she built up her practice, Ambrosia Nutrition, through word of mouth. Not long after Heike had left from Endeavour, one of the clinical supervisors invited her back to be a tutor.

“I didn’t feel like my English was good enough or that I had enough experience, but the team had faith in my belief in nutrition and my enthusiasm,” Heike said. “I was very nervous, to begin with, but it turned out okay. I realised I could do it and got roped into lecturing nutrition as well.” More than ten years later, Heike still supervises in the Endeavour Nutrition student clinic but declined to do online lectures.

Heike also volunteers with the Cardinia Food Movement, giving free cooking demonstrations to help community members learn basic cooking skills. She has run cooking classes and workshops with schools, libraries, men’s sheds and the Country Women’s Association, modifying classic recipes to make them more therapeutic. During the Covid-19 lockdown, she recorded 12 practical kitchen medicine lessons for Endeavour.

“Now that I’ve raised my children, I’d like to work with my local community to grow an informal food movement in the Bass Shire, with organic, serendipitous cooking sessions that nurture people’s knowledge of food as medicine and apply the SLOW principle: seasonal – local – organic – whole.”

Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture Therapies and Chinese Medicine, Undergraduate Certificates, a Diploma of Health Science and massage courses.

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