Key milestones

“I wanted to share a creative way to educate the public around gut health”

Clinician-scientist and business director, Dr Sunni Patel, tells OT  about bringing his passion project, Dish Dash Deets, to life

sliced green fruits

1. I have suffered from Crohn’s for over six years.

I have battled the physical, emotional and mental issues that surround chronic conditions as well as the stigmas associated with a GI condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I felt it represented an element of weakness; if people came to know about my condition, they would categorise it as an inability to function or to bring my best.

Having completed my PhD in risk factors for diseases like diabetes and heart disease, I felt a need to start looking into gut health and was surprised by the amount of research about how much the gut influences the body and physiological functions. I made the courageous step to go plant-based alongside my daily regimen of tablets for my condition and found a positive effect in terms of pain management.

I wanted to share this experience in a creative way and educate the public around gut health but also conditions like IBD/IBS, as well as raise awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. From that starting point Dish Dash Deets was born. It brings food and science together with a modern twist, exploring the art of gut health with plant-based dishes made in a dash with all the deets (scientific, recipe and blog articles).

Sunni Patel

Dish Dash Deets is online through Instagram (@dishdashdeets) and a website. Celebrity guests join cook-a-longs, nominate a plant-based ingredient, and we cook a dish live and talk around gut health, body and mental wellbeing. It also covers issues pertinent to everyday health and mindset such as therapy, diversity and inclusion.

2. I reached out to a series of people that had experience in social media and online influence to pressure-test my concept.

I wanted to see whether there would be an appetite for my ‘passion project.’ I also have been lucky to have worked in a number of roles and amassed a network of people who work in strategy, and creatives who came on board to help bring the idea to life. From then on, it’s been meticulous planning on content, engagement and reaching out to people to not only make them aware about Dish Dash Deets, but to engage and make the content more relatable to them by also sending in their own plant-based nominations.

Having done my PhD in risk factors for diseases like diabetes and heart disease, I felt a need to start looking into gut health and was surprised by the amount and wealth of research around how much the gut influences the body and physiological functions


3. The first day of launch was incredibly nerve-racking.

I have worked to make projects for companies come to life, but never my own. I remember telling myself I might have made a big mistake doing this and wondering whether it would be worth it. But after the launch and the first cook-a-long, I realised I call it my ‘passion project’ because it allows me to escape and bring a new message to the world that I am proud of.

4. As a former optometrist, I know that the profession is the first touchpoint to a lot of patients.

As we have been doing with AMD and nutrition, we can really help to make the public aware of issues such as gut health – especially when it comes to condition like IBD and IBS. The gut is linked to so many aspects of health and we know inflammatory conditions lead to conditions like uveitis and dry eye. Personally, I am proud of the optometry community and the pivotal role we play in eye health within the community. To have a high level of engagement from that community on Dish Dash Deets would make it all the more worthwhile.

5. I know I need to keep creating content and make lots of noise about gut health.

I have some things that I am exploring and creating on the side as secret projects to expand the reach, but for now it is really about enjoying the value the project can bring and engaging with the positive comments. I am hopeful that it can grow so readers can expect more celebrity cook-a-longs, and lots more recipes and articles with the dream to collaborate with industry to educate the wider professional community.

  • As told to John White.