Kirsten is a wealth of knowledge. She has a degree in Biomedical Sciences (where she was awarded the University of Hull Biomedical Sciences Bursary), Masters in Toxicology (with distinction) and ten years experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology company clinical research, administrating and managing Phase II-IV studies in humans. Kirsten is adding to her extensive qualifications as she currently studies for a Diploma in Nutrition at Wellpark College. Just sit down with her for 5 minutes and you will soon realise that you are in the company of a genius- and a lovely one at that!
We asked Kirsten a few questions to see what she is all about:
When and how did you first become interested in nutrition?
I've always loved food and cooking, and have loved being in the kitchen since before I can remember.
I spent a long time working in the late stages of drug research, clinical trials. A critical part of that is reading patient notes in their entirety. I only ever remember seeing diet or lifestyle advice in the hospital notes once. Really? Once?! These people had cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis, or inherited diseases and no-one had discussed any food or lifestyle changes with them?!
I left that industry and all its demands to concentrate on my own journey to start a family. Unfortunately, circumstances dictated that we needed medical intervention with this, and with that there were unpleasant drugs, gruelling schedules and several tragedies for us. We crawled out from under the wreckage of that time unhealthy, unfit, overweight, traumatised, depressed and directionless with broken hearts and broken dreams.
Our lives were saved by a friend suggesting that we join her on a lifestyle retreat. No technology, fresh air, great organic food, exercise, meditation, an amazing spa, seminars and an army of people dedicated to you being and becoming your best self, with space to be and process and fall apart and grow in a beautiful environment.
We made many changes as a result over three years - a radical change in diet, yoga, meditation, counselling, stress management, job changes, a house move. We have found happy and healthy.
I started work again in a hospital department where all the patients are facing dire health decisions and treatments, with only limited chances of survival. I suggested to the clinical director that maybe, as there was a three month run up to treatment, the patients could take some control back and do some work on their wellness (diet, stress, appropriate exercise etc.) so that they had the best chances of surviving the treatment and keeping their emotional selves as healthy as they could be. The response was 'Why?'. When I closed my mouth from the shock, I didn't know what to say. But I did know that I could do something more useful than staying.
I decided that I was working on totally on the wrong side of health for my values, so I took the plunge and enrolled in a Diploma of Nutrition. Possibly my best decision ever. I complete in 2015, and can't wait to get out there and start helping people and continue my learning.
What is the silliest nutrition myth you’ve ever heard?
There are so many. The 'low fat is good for you' myth seems to be the one that people can't wrap their heads around. Another that drives me crazy is 'They wouldn't be allowed to put it in food if it was harmful'.
What is your go-to easy mid week meal?
Steak with something green and white bean mash.
What are your top 3 tips for staying healthy and happy?
Keep company with people who make you feel good. Stop and look at the view (drive to find one if you have to). Nourish and move your body every day.
Perfect Sunday morning?
Walk on the beach on the West Coast followed by a hearty brunch.
Biggest food weakness?
Cheese. Any type of cheese, but particularly hot cheese
Favourite way to sweat?
I like throwing myself down snowy mountains, flinging myself under huge waves on the West Coast and tramping my way up any hill I can get my feet on. Also a devoted yoga student.