Decolonise From Diet Oppression: Founding Story of Neet Nutrition, By Ravneet Panesar

Bridie Houlihan

Bridie Houlihan | Founder & CEO of Female Health Founders

Embark on an insightful journey as Bridie Houlihan, the founder of Female Health Founders, engages in a profound discussion with the award-winning entrepreneur, Ravneet Panesar, the heart and soul behind Neet Nutrition. This exclusive interview spotlights Ravneet’s entrepreneurial odyssey, where Bridie delves into the motivations and pivotal moments that have moulded Ravneet’s profound impact on women’s well-being. Ravneet is empowering women to decolonise from diet oppression through the understanding of food psychology and nutrition as influenced by ancestral lineage. 

Ravneet brings a unique blend of professional expertise and personal passion to the world of health and wellness. At 42, her journey has been rich with experiences that fuel her dedication to holistic health. With her open and honest approach, Ravneet has helped hundreds of women with their physical and mental body image and self-worth.

She has featured on multiple media outlets including the Independent and BBC Asian Network and recently published on Tiny BuddhaHer favourite achievement in 2023 was winning a She Award for her Health and Wellbeing work. Join us as we navigate through the founding journey, discovering the insights and passion that define Ravneet Panesar’s remarkable journey in the field of women’s health entrepreneurship.

Founding Story of Neet Nutrition, By Ravneet Panesar

How did your journey as a female health founder begin? What inspired you to venture into this specific niche within the health industry?

It wasn’t a straight forward journey.  Childhood with a parent struggling with severe mental health is not easy. I developed very unhealthy behaviours and coping mechanisms that came close to ruining and taking my life. It was not an easy journey to get here. To becoming Neet Nutrition. I battled my body as much as I was battling my mind.  After my 1st son I realised the years of disordered eating I had been living with since childhood. Motherhood was overshadowed with my desperation to lose weight so that I could fit into an outfit for my sister’s wedding. Weight loss became an obsession until I fell pregnant a 2nd time. It was then that a breakdown led to my breakthrough. 

I was diagnosed with anxiety and post-natal depression after having my 2nd son in 2016 and when we lost my brother-in-law to cancer aged 39, shortly after – I decided it was time to change my life. At almost 40 years old I studied 2 qualifications whilst juggling a full-time job and my responsibilities as mother, wife and daughter. I was going to help people prevent cancer and live better-quality lives. As I began health coaching, I attracted women, just life me, who had struggled with their body image.  It was time to free women from the oppression of diets.

As a woman in the health sector, what obstacles did you face when establishing your company? Could you share some key challenges and how you overcame them?

I had no idea how to setup a business. I did what many women do, I asked my husband for help. Looking back, I can see how few businesswomen I knew. I didn’t have or know anyone in person to turn to for advice or support. 

I joined a female entrepreneur online community which became a blessing. But let me tell you, spending £300 on an annual membership felt so hard! I genuinely questioned myself over and over to make that commitment. When I realised that the community would talk through the legalities of starting a business, I opted in.

Still, I had a lot to learn and still struggle with this aspect: spending too much time on social media! I put my energy into using Instagram as my main business marketing. Social media has a lot of benefits, however a solid SEO performing website is still on my To-Do list! I’d have prioritised this sooner because your website and search-ability have a better guarantee than a social media platform that can be taken away from you in an instant (this has happened to my business friends).

Top Tips for Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs:

If you have the dream of supporting women, go for it. Don’t let the idea of a “saturated market stop you”. The connections and satisfaction from doing what you love are priceless. What you do and how you will do it, will be unique to you! There are women waiting to hear what you have to share

  • Get a mentor in the specialism you’re in. Find someone who has done what you want to do and ensure you cover the legals; business and public liability insurance. Brush up on GDPR and information governance. Have the back office tip top! You will also feel less alone on this journey with a mentor who ‘gets it’.
  • Google reviews/optimisation. Get your testimonials on google. These reviews help people see that your business deliverables are credible and google offers timeless searchability that will help your business be recognised and seen.

What advice do you have for other women looking to start their own ventures in the health and wellness space? Any particular lessons or insights you would like to share from your experience?

As above – Don’t let fear stop you! There is only 1 of you in this world. Your journey is unique and enables you to deliver your work in that very unique way that will resonate with women who are ready to work with you. You will never please or attract everyone and that’s okay – it’s healthy. Know who you are here for and who not. You won’t lose clients, in fact it will help people with a specific health need turn to you.

Collaborate! Don’t be afraid to ask people to test your services and products for their time and honest reviews.

-Ravneet Panesar

I slowed down on my collaborations in 2021 and saw a huge dip in my business reach. Keep those connections nurtured and nourished (see what I did there!) as you’ll always have more impact working together versus alone.

Invest in support and delegate things you’re not great at. There are lower cost ways to do this than I had initially thought when I started. You can pay per hour or ‘skill swap’ services that would take you far longer to do yourself. I spent a lot of time doing things myself that I could have delegated and that actually led to burnout and losing passion in my coaching because I didn’t have the energy left for the work I loved. There is also the world of AI that can help you. More on that later! 

Boundaries! Manage your time or you’ll end up working 24/7. Most entrepreneurs will agree. Find a way to set your phone on focus time to complete tasks. Limit time on apps to stop the doom scrolling; it’s doom when you end up comparing with other coaches and that is natural but is best limited!

How do you see the landscape of female health evolving, and how has your company adapted to stay ahead in this dynamic industry?

I feel the online space is rather dangerous for women’s health. You have unqualified influencers leading the younger generation and confusing the others! 

To mitigate this risk, I think its important accredited and qualified female health educators are posting across all social media platforms (with support because again, don’t tired yourself to do this). I am also going to start sharing on TikTok as this is a platform with a lot of miseducation! 

There is also the benefit of using AI, not to generate content, but to create professional documents from ‘Plain Text’. Using AI can save you a lot of time and money!

-Ravneet Panesar

Eg Searching specific businesses you’d like to send outreach messages using Bard. Or asking Chat GPT ‘what can I include in a brochure to advertise my services’ can provide you some direction if you get stuck.

In what ways do you believe being a female founder has influenced your approach to addressing women’s health needs? Are there aspects that set your perspective apart?

I am extremely passionate about bridging the gap for women of colour accessing health guidance. There are numerous studies that still demonstrate the reality of health inequity.

People of colour experience very different standards of care and outcomes, whilst also having the higher rates of certain illnesses and long term health conditions. 

-Ravneet Panesar

My passion to decolonise diet oppression and reindiginise how we eat is very unique and sets me apart. It’s taken me a while to bring this voice forward but it’s imperative if I want to help create a better future for women’s health.

I would challenge that starting a business requires some degree of privilege, that I couldn’t have made it this far (4 years) without often needing the financial support of my husband, I owe it to others to encourage you to be prepared. Be ready to do what it takes to be seen, have strong why and passion otherwise you’ll want to give up. I think women face more challenges due to our societal roles, expectations for us as mothers and housekeepers!

I want more than ever for women to know true self care and have access to reliable advice so they can prevent burnout like I did.

Can you pinpoint a few strategies or decisions that have been pivotal to the success of your business in the female health sector?

Taking a paid part time role within the NHS! I have been able to continue my personal development and education which is paramount when others rely on your for their health guidance. The Health and Wellbeing Coach role is a perfect compliment to my private Coaching through my business. Initially I felt I was ‘cheating’ on my business which was far from the truth. It’s okay to be in paid income in the same niche, or to find a role that enhances your experience in your business niche.

Collaborating with other coaches in the same industry has been a godsend. We share the same passion and we share similar messages to reinforce best practice! These peers keep me sane, I can turn to them and also work alongside them. Showcases good work and personal ethic too. You don’t need to compete to get ahead! Collaboration over competition. It’s great when these coaches can support your clients with things you’re not qualified to do!

In the fast-paced world of female health entrepreneurship, technology often plays a crucial role. Could you share some of the key technologies or tools that have been instrumental in the success of your business, and why you swear by them?

  • Coach Accountable: I host my coaching programs on this web platform and it’s a godsend. You can on-board clients (book them in), take payment, have them sign their contract, deliver your courses and communicate with them. This isn’t even the half of it. You can use your brand colours and personalise it too. 
  • Stripe/Paypal: To take payments these are great. They can also integrate with other services
  • Systeme: Newsletters I sent via mailchimp often bounced into junk. Since sending emails using Systeme newsletter function I have better deliverability. You can also run courses and take payments on this platform but I haven’t explored this
  • Canva: The free version is still GREAT value. You can design posts, templates, documents, and pretty much anything using Canva.
  • Zoom: for video calls I adopted using Zoom (versus MS 365) because of the integration with Facebook etc. 

Reflecting on your journey, what has been the most gratifying or rewarding moment in building and growing your female health-focused company?

I can’t lie, being recognised for my work can feel as rewarding as when my clients achieve their health success goals. In March 2023, I won a She Award in the Health & Nutrition category. This encompassed not only my health coaching work, also my charity and free initiatives to support women of colour. 

Making health advice more accessible to those who only understand Panjabi, Hindi and Urdu has been a personal goal which I began to deliver last year too. 

-Ravneet Panesar

Finally, something I am intending to do more of in 2024 is speaking with school age children at schools about body acceptance, understanding stress hormones and not giving into dangerous fad diets. I genuinely believe that connecting with the younger generation as well as working with adults in crucial if we want to live in a world where body diversity is the norm. 

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your business and the impact you hope to make on women’s health? Any exciting developments or projects on the horizon?

I’ve probably covered some of this in the earlier questions however I would like to be more involved in community outreach work around health literacy and health equity. Something I am passionate about is working with marginalised communities and people of colour. 

When considering impact, it would be great to become one of the lead Health and Wellbeing Coaches supporting food behavioural change in the South Asian community, and for that it means increasing my reach to create genuine impact and sustainable change. 

A rebranding is in the pipeline at Neet Nutrition. That feels pretty exciting – watch this space! 

Top 3 Tips For Female Health Entrepreneurs 

  1. If you have a dream – don’t give up. Take a chance and reach out to someone who resonates with you. Don’t be afraid to send that DM. ‘Worst case’ they may not reply, and ‘best case’ they will respond! 
  2. Collaborate and Network! Follow the energy and where it feels aligned (gut instinct is real). It’s ok to be selective in this ? because that’s where true connections are formed. Even better, create your own local community. It may take time but some of the best things do…know this is the long-term vision.
  3. Invest in good tech to save you time! Automate tasks using coaching / business platforms. Get the paid versions of apps/platforms for better functionality and ease. Keep your energy for where it’s best used eg serving the community you dream to improve! 

How You Can Connect With Ravneet & Neet Nutrition