Originally from Sweden, we take a peek at the varied life of INC president: Malin Garemo, mother of 3, who despite having left school with no desire to continue further education, went on to acquire a PhD in Nutrition and has made a career out of it in Denmark, Abu Dhabi and now Madrid as well as trekking across deserts and mountains, cooking up a storm and devouring copious books.
You have made a career out of nutrition, what prompted you to study Nutrition at university?
I am fascinated by the power of food and its capacity to prevent, cause and heal diseases. Studying nutrition gave me a chance to learn more about the interaction between the body, the mind/brain and food, all equally important for our health.
You are originally from near Malmo and in your 20s you moved to Denmark, are the two countries less similar than outsiders think?
On the surface Denmark and Sweden are very similar but the more I got to know the former the greater my appreciation of their differences became. Both the Swedes and the Danes are grounded, genuine and sensitive to the environment and once you have made a friend, that person can easily become a friend for life. When we left Denmark, I felt we´d really had an expat “living abroad” experience.
What did you learn about women´s and pediatric health when you set up a health consultancy in Denmark?
Loads! Women are powerful and the impact mothers have on their children’s life is immense and vice versa. What we know from research today is that children who grow up with mothers who have a positive body image are happier with themselves, if a mother is doing sports it has a more positive impact on the children than if their fathers are doing sports. By empowering women we give children a better chance to thrive. For me it is a privilege to support and enable women and children to be their best.
After 9 years in Denmark how did you find life in Abu Dhabi?
Super interesting. The desert is beautiful and people are friendly, curious and generous. I was lucky enough to work at the university, teaching young women from a very different culture than my own. I think I learnt more from them than they did from me.
Do you have any stories about adapting to life here in Madrid after 9 years in Abu Dhabi?
Moving here I could only say Hola and Gracias. Getting help from my children (who knew some Spanish) to sort out the internet, deliveries etc was a pretty humbling experience. It really reminded me about the power of knowledge (and innovative speaking J). I was very happy when I found INC- a tribe that understands my language.
As an expert in nutrition and holistic health, do you practise what you preach?
Well, yes to the point that my children once asked the host at a party why she was serving Coca Cola and then promptly informed all the children there that Coca Cola is a medicine that is only fit for consumption when you have a stomach bug at both ends!
On a bit more of a serious note, yes, I try. I am lucky to be surrounded by people that I admire and love. We eat with joy, I have been meditating for many years and I also move a lot in my daily life. All of those ingredients are important for a happy, and thus healthier life.
What research papers are you writing up for Zayed University in Abu Dhabi? Why did you choose that particular field?
Right now I are working on 3 projects all related to children: one focusing on infant feeding, one about pre-schoolers and their overall heath and finally young athletes, their performances, drivers and how they can be utilised as role models in their social circles.
As a specialist in paediatric nutrition I want to understand what is happening with kids when they are young in order to support them, and their mothers, to create healthier family units. Working with kids is fun-they are completely honest and that has always appealed to me.
Not content with your PhD, why have you decided to study world history at Gothenburg University?
It is something I have wanted to do for a long time and coming here, the stars finally aligned-I have the time and Spain reminded me about how little I know about this country. The course is a way to help me learn more.
You are a keen hiker and traveller, across mountains and deserts – tell us about any interesting stories on your trips
Early on I got a taste for travelling and my kids came too since a very early age. I remember once, on our way to the Philippines, carrying my youngest in a Babybjorn sling , while asking the boys to be patient and wait for our luggage. All of a sudden one vanished into thin air, until my eldest, then 6 years old, delightfully pointed him out “ Mummy, look, Wilhelm is whizzing around on the luggage belt”. Fortunately I managed to get him off the belt before he disappeared with the luggage… There have been times when I wished I was an octopus.
What other hobbies do you enjoy and how do they enrich your life?
Reading, puppy training, gardening, summer house DIY, running and doing nothing …Does that qualify as a hobby? I am very good at spending time with family and friends doing absolutely nothing!
Reading has always been a big part of my life. I am now a member of the INC area 1 Book Club, coordinated by Irlanda. We have read some great books and the meet ups afterwards are always equally stimulating. We are honestly having a real blast!
I am keen hiker and one of the most memorable experiences was to cross the desert between Al Ain and Abu Dhabi together with 40 other women –walking 30-35 km a day in 40-55 degrees Celcius in the sun and no shade. Talk about girl power!
I have also been on a lot of hikes with the children and it is such a great way to hang out. You talk, you are silent, you are together and the pace is soothing, once you get into it. And of course, a nice picnic along the road is the big reward. I have also done some amazing hikes around Madrid and can’t wait to do more together with INC.
What´s next for Malin Garemo?
Short term I want to improve my Spanish, get back to running nutrition courses, and run a half marathon with my son. Long term I am dreaming about my own retreat place with hikes, meditation and nutritious food.
What do you hope to bring to INC under your presidency?
The success of INC is built on team spirit and enthusiasm for the club. In my opinion the stability by long-term members is crucial, as is the inclusion and diversity. By always being equally welcoming and grateful to new members and their ideas INC remains dynamic as well. Isn’t that a great cocktail?
As the president I will always have a listening ear, an open mind and I will also back the team. I will strive to bring out the strengths in each of the board members to ensure that we can build continued success both by our traditions and also by incorporating new events that are relevant and interesting to our members. I am utterly grateful for all the support offered by everyone. It means a whole lot when you embrace on a new journey.