Kirsten Beynon is a registered clinical nutritionist and health science geek who is passionate about helping people find and maintain their best possible health through sustainable diet and lifestyle changes.
She has many years of experience in the medical field, and has a broad and deep knowledge of medications and complex medical conditions that she can apply to my practice of nutrition.
Kirsten holds a BSc (Honours) in Biomedical Sciences, a Masters degree in Toxicology and a Diploma in Nutrition. These complement each other to provide great background knowledge of health and nutrition along with strong research and problem solving skills.
We interviewed Kirsten so you can get a bit of insight into why she does what she does.
1. What is your professional background?
I have always been fascinated by medicine and how bodies work, including self-diagnosing a burst appendix at age 14! I studied biomedical sciences at university in the UK, which included training in clinical haematology and clinical biochemistry. When I finished my Bachelor's degree, I wasn't quite done with studying, so I launched straight into a Masters in Toxicology. Fascinating but hard! Once I had a travelled a while, I started working in clinical trials - the final stages of testing medications on people before they are licensed for the market. I loved this work - varied, interesting and methodical. I particularly loved the complexities of how medications worked and seeing the positive effect that study participants experienced as a result. I was lucky to work in a wide variety of different environments and therapeutic areas, learning fast and working with expert medical consultants. I moved to New Zealand and carried on this type of work for a few years. A few not-so-desirable life events prevented me from working for some time, and launched me into the medical system as a patient. Part of my recovery from this was to totally overhaul my lifestyle, way of thinking, diet, health philosophy and how I exercise. I was wonderfully supported by some amazing nutritionists and other complementary health professionals, and I felt that it was my calling to pay that forward. So I enrolled in a Diploma of Nutrition and set off on this adventure. I have been in my own private practice for two and a half years, specialising in medically challenging clients, who are often taking multiple or life-long medications. I like to blend medicine with nutrition to get the best outcomes for my clients. I have some wonderful alliances with schools, ACC, community health groups, gyms and, of course, as an advisor and content creator for HPN.
2. What drives you to do the work that you do?
I love helping people to fulfil their amazing potential through good health and lifestyle. I particularly love it when client's GPs state that their health improvements are 'impossible' with the changes that they have made.
3. How would you describe your philosophy about ‘healthy’?
This is a big question. Healthy movement - moving your body in a way that makes life better for you. Healthy thoughts - positive and enriching thought patterns, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude. Healthy food - nutrient rich, tasty, desirable food that supports your body to feel and be the best that it can be. Healthy relationships - where everyone is safe, supported, accepted and loved. Healthy environment - fresh air, healthy home, warm and comfy. Healthy rest.
4. Picture this, you’re living your most perfect day- what does this look like?
A perfect day? Tricky. Probably mid summer. Up early for a sweaty work out followed by brunch, the beach for a swim, some time for a good book and then a barbie with friends. And a beer, of course.
5. Now, what’s your actual typical day look like?
I usually get up early and head to the gym. Then home and down to the business of running a nutrition business or seeing clients. I love working from home, and often have a furry companion in my office. I always spend some time in the kitchen, rustling up something tasty. In the summer I love heading out for an evening swim. Piha life is good!
6. What’s your typical meal for….
First thing: Decaf filter coffee with cream and collagen
Morning: Brunch around 10:30-11. Big veggie omelette with goats cheese
Dinner: My winter favourite is organic chicken liver and onions fried in duck fat, broccoli and green beans. In summer, it's a big tasty slaw with my slow-cooked St Louis pork ribs
Snacks or sweets: Occasionally dark chocolate, fruit, peanut butter, cookies from Little Bird (one or two a year), cinnamon brioche from the Piha Cafe (a very rare treat!!)
8. What’s one of the biggest health misconceptions in your opinion?
That being healthy has to be complicated and expensive. Working with ACC clients gave me the challenge of helping make sustainable healthy changes on a very tight family budget and limited cooking skills
9. What things do you do to keep up to date with your profession?
I had the great pleasure of attending the Ancestral Health Symposium NZ in Queenstown last year. Three days of wall-to-wall experts and leaders in their field. I met one of my professional heroes, made some great contacts and met new friends. I love hanging out with my colleagues in Auckland, at social and training events. I also spend time with the members at HPN and learn a lot from them. For more technical things I do online training and read a lot.
10. If you use your toxicology background to give one piece of health advice, what would it be?
That's an easy one.
Minimise use of plastics with food and water. Glass, steel, ceramics, silicon and bamboo food containers don't have any of the issues that plastic do.
11. Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?
Research and popular science articles by the members and faculty of the Holistic Performance Institute.