Local mum and CEO of The Healthy Eating Group, Kate Freeman was crowned Business Woman of the Year at the 2022 Synergy Canberra Women in Business Awards last Thursday, 27 October.
As a Registered Nutritionist with over 15 years in the field, Kate says this is a sustaining win after trying to convince Canberrans of the fallacies of fad diets for over a decade.
“I am still feeling very blown away by it all,” the Canberra Business Woman of the Year tells CW.
Accepting her award, Kate spoke to the QT Ballroom filled with her fellow women in business, empathising that in their journeys, success can feel elusive, and it can be difficult to feel like you’ve “made it”.
“After constantly tackling one challenge after the next, an award like this really makes you stop and reflect,” says Kate.
“Nutrition is a complicated space with a lot of misinformation. This is a real win for our industry.
“This is a message for others in the field who might be feeling disheartened, which is so easy to do with the strength of marketing from fad diets and social media influencers. Sometimes you feel like a broken record trying to get through.”
Kate’s journey towards building Canberra’s largest nutrition and dietetics practice began when her now 14-year-old daughter was born.
“She was such a good baby, she just slept all the time and never cried.
“So, I was exposed to a lot of daytime television while sitting at home, and it was full of ads for wanky diets and I just thought, ‘This sucks. This is the information we’re being flooded with?’”
In 2008, Kate started ‘The Art of Eating Well’ on Blogger – known as Blogspot back in the day – sharing recipes, healthy eating advice, and dispelling myths.
She started writing for a local website in 2011 and soon readers began asking for consultations, which she was able to facilitate in her home after her son was born.
“When he turned three and was ready to go to preschool, I had to decide whether I was going to give this business a crack or go back to my public service job.”
Kate, who received her Master of Nutrition from Deakin University, was inspired to help people feel that healthy eating is achievable and to continue busting “food rules” that informed unhealthy relationships with eating.
“I’ve heard some weird ones over the years. The most common ones are about carbs, like not eating them after 4pm, and having to cut out bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes to be healthy.”
Kate laughs, “As a nutritionist, I’ve been talking about carbs for such a long time now, I can’t believe I’m still having that conversation.
“The weirdest one though was a client whose personal trainer had told her that if she gets hungry, she should drink acup of oil. I was like, WTF?”
“It’s not actually the public’s fault; there’s so much information out there they don’t know what to believe. Stories like that keep me going, but also cause a small amount of rage,” she laughs.
The Healthy Eating Group is now two brands in one: The Healthy Eating Hub and The Healthy Eating Clinic.
The hub is an online habit-building platform that encourages genuine change by walking users through key nutrition principles one at a time – the antithesis to changing your diet all at once, which, Kate explains, is what fad diets are.
The clinic is a face-to-face and virtual dietetic clinic, consisting of eight registered dieticians who provide individualised nutrition therapy across Australia.
Today, Kate unabashedly says that she’s had plenty of failures, “I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded.
“It was very scary, taking those risks. I spent a long time not earning much money, especially compared to if I hadn’t left the public service.
“But what the business is today is result of all the risks that did pay off, and the risks the failed ultimately don’t matter.”
To any up-and-coming business women trying to find their footing, Kate’s number one piece of advice is to learn to trust your gut.
“They might not at first, and that’s okay, but be committed to learning to trust your instincts is key in the early days. Follow them and trust yourself.”
The 2022 Synergy CWB Award winners are:
- Chamberlains Law Business Woman of the Year – Kate Freeman,The Healthy Eating Group Pty Ltd
- Parbery Consulting Young Business Woman of the Year – Rae Knopik, GREN and the CBR Gals Network
- Synergy Indigenous Business Woman of the Year – Dixie Crawford, Nganya
- Clover Canberra Small Business Woman of the Year – Amanda Snashall, Digital Design Partners Pty Ltd
- Synergy Innovation Business Woman of the Year – Chaturica Athukorala, Aurabox
- QT Canberra Social Impact Business Woman of the Year – Jo Farrell, Kane Constructions Pty Ltd & Build Like a Girl, and Kristine Hewett, Adamas Nexus Ltd
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