We’re excited to be kicking off our Wellness series with Internationally-acclaimed Functional Medicine Practitioner, Speaker, and Consultant, Karin G. Reiter. Karin’s experience spans two decades, during which time she has helped thousands of individuals and employees at global, household-name, organizations make small but profound changes to their nutrition and wellness.
At the age of 18 she was diagnosed with her first autoimmune disease, Hashmito’s Thyroiditis,.and after having her first child she was diagnosed with her second autoimmune disease, Celiac’s Disease. Having been told by Doctors that she would never lead a “normal” life, Karin made it her mission to discover the healing properties of food, and through healing herself developed the D.N.A Program (Delicious, Nutritious, Available) which she claims is the ultimate formula for balancing nutrition and flavour. On top of this Karin has designed a whole series of workshops covering topics from brain foods and mindfulness to clean eating and fussy eaters – to name a few. More recently, she has launched the sold-out “No Guts, No Glory” workshop where she teaches everything gut-health related and brings you on a journey of self-discovery where you learn to really “trust your gut”.
We sat down with Karin to talk about her beginnings, from how she starts her day to how she got to where she is now, her philosophy for healthy eating and wellness, and what being gluten free means to her.
Good Morning Karin! Before we get started, could you share with us how you started your day this morning? (we love hearing about morning routines!)
Good morning! I start my day by drinking a big glass or two of filtered water, followed by a green tea which I drink on my morning walk around the neighbourhood with my dog Elvis. I’m a huge morning person so I try to get my fitness and most important work done in the morning hours.
What is your story and how did you get into the work you are doing?
My journey into nutrition started when I was diagnosed at the age of 18 with my first autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease). Not seeing much improvement in my symptoms or antibody levels following the conventional medicine approach, I started to learn about the healing power of everyday food. I made small, micro changes in my diet and immediately saw an improvement in my symptoms. That was when I enrolled myself in university and studied Medical Nutrition, all while working as a banker.
Nutrition had really helped me at that point in my life and I decided to quit the corporate world and devote myself to helping others heal through food. Following the birth of my second child, I was diagnosed with my second autoimmune disease (Celiac Disease). It was then that I discovered that nutrition alone was not going to help me and I needed to dig deeper and find the root causes of my autoimmunity. I embarked on my second nutrition degree and studied functional medicine with an emphasis on culinary nutrition. Once I had addressed my own root causes (which took years by the way) and felt healthy again, I realized that nutrition is just part of the puzzle – although a big part and often the part that we start off with. I’ve found that we always have to address the root causes of our illness if we want to be blessed with health.
Can you expand a bit on the other parts of the puzzle?
I think there’s four pillars, nutrition is definitely one of them. Sleep is also very important but a lot of people disregard it, especially where I come from, we actually have a saying that says “We’ll sleep in our graves”. And as you know, there are often a lot of distractions, especially with running your own business, it’s hard to just put the laptop down at 9pm because you’ve got emails to answer and things to do, it’s really hard. So sleep is one, emotional/spiritual stress is another one, and then also exercise. But I think that it has to be fine-tuned to you, it shouldn’t be something that’s like, “Everybody should be eating like this, or exercising like this”, there’s no real formula, you just have to find what works for you.
For example, something I’ve found that has helped me is the ice bath which I use as a hormetic stress. I only do it for 2-3 minutes at a time and only when I feel strong enough for it, not on my cycle for example. It helps me increase circulation, strengthen my immunity, and feel stronger.
From your experience, what do you feel are the biggest health challenges people are facing today?
Wow- where do we start? We are the sickest we have ever been. Mostly with chronic lifestyle conditions like Auto-Immunity, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Heart disease, Depression, Anxiety, ADD, ADHD, Gut problems and so much more. Just to name a few of the most common issues that I see in the clinic regularly; fatigue and low energy; low mood (so depression and anxiety); low libido; weight gain and slow weight loss; unbalanced hormones (PMS, Thyroid dysfunction, PCOS); weak immunity (asthma, eczema); gut problems which consist of bloating, constipation, runny stool, reflux and so on; brain fog meaning they’re forgetful, confused, having memory issues and in kids you see behavioural problems and attention issues; and also cancer and other chronic health issues.
I see people who are at the very beginning of their journey, people who drink tap water, coke, they’re eating processed foods and they’re very sick, and on the other side I see people who have made all the changes and are still very sick. I’d say probably around 98% of the people that I put on a diet, it’s a gluten free diet, even if they don’t necessarily need to, because they’ll just feel better. I take them off grains, I put them on things like quinoa, wild rice, buckwheat because of the resistance starch in it.
With the diets I put people on I see that the healthier people start to get, the more they want to continue on this journey.
What does gluten free mean to you?
Being Celiac means that you have to read every label of every single thing you eat and ask tons of questions when you eat out. Because of that I love cooking and eating home when possible and getting to know brands like The Whole Kitchen that I trust and are minimally processed.
It’s a constant journey though, I think what happens is, when you get diagnosed with Celiac Disease or you need to go Gluten Free for a health reason, you don’t necessarily understand that it has to be a healthy Gluten Free. The first step people take is that they say “Oh, I have to buy everything that says Gluten Free on it”, but people don’t really pay attention to what’s in those products. I don’t think many people read the labels properly or know how to read them. They don’t always know what foods they’re eating and they don’t have the knowledge they need to make good choices.
I talk a lot about avoiding vegetable oils and sugar which is found in almost all of the gluten free products, so really when you’re choosing a gluten free product you have to be very picky. That’s why I don’t usually associate with brands unless I really believe that it’s something I would eat or give my kids. It’s also why I love The Whole Kitchen’s products because they’re non processed, low in sugar and super tasty. They make buying gluten free products easy and still healthy, because most gluten free products are just processed sugar traps.
What’s your food philosophy?
Everyone has individual dietary needs and intolerances which vary according to their health and lifestyle. The important thing is to find out what works for you and remember that there is no cookie-cutter approach. That’s why I build each individual an ongoing personalized wellness plan.
I base my recommendations on a whole food diet that is minimally processed and as close as possible to nature.
On that, what does your typical day on a plate look like? Do you have any go-to, family-favourite recipes?
I actually do not have a typical day. I eat intuitively, according to what my body needs and according to my monthly cycle and or how I feel. But I love eating the following foods:
- Avocado toast (with The Whole Kitchen’s Country Loaf Classic 7-Seed) with my home-made purple kraut (sipping on my medicinal mushroom coffee)
- Home-made soups with bone broth bases (loving roasted garlic soup at the moment)
- Roasted veggies – anything in season I love the flavour.
- Dark dark chocolate and berries in the afternoon
- And for dinners we love a good pizza, Shepherd's pie with cauliflower mash, maybe an Asian curry, or simply Salmon with sweet potato chips and salads.
What are your top three tips for healthy living?
- Spending time outside in the sunshine and in nature
- Good sleep
- Mostly, eat foods that do not have an ingredient list, foods that you can grow; they come from trees or from the ground and not from packages, jars, boxes and cans.
How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?
OMG hugely! I finally took the plunge and went online. All of my consultations now can be done via video conferencing and my workshops too are migrating to be available online with my first one “No Guts No Glory” taking the lead. I am also working on my immunity workshop where I teach people how to boost their immunity.
My workshops are now all online. You can take them whenever you wish, wherever you are in the world. They are short- to the point and aim to educate on certain topics, such as Fussy Eaters, Brain Foods for Children, Immunity, and Gut Health. They’re short format, to the point, and easy to digest.
Take a look for yourself!
For someone wanting to learn more about wellness/nutrition, what resources would you recommend?
There are so many cool resources, but I always send people to my teacher Dr Mark Hyman who has amazing books and a great podcast called Broken Brain.
Do you have any affirmations, quotes, or mantras that you turn to regularly?
"There are very few things we can control in life- but one thing we can control is how we nourish ourselves.”
How can our readers connect with you further?
The best way to say connected with me is via:
- My newsletter which you can sign up to on my website here https://nutritiousndelicious.com/contact. Every month I send tips, recipes and relevant advice on health and wellness.
- My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karingojiberry/
- My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Karinnutritionist
- On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karin-g-reiter-0714471/
And finally, for a bit of fun just say the first thing that pops into your head!
Three things I always have stocked in my fridge are...
- Almond butter
To relax I...
- Go out into nature
I’m most grateful for… My life and my journey, the good and the bad – it got me to where I am now.
If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life it would be… AvocadosKarin has kindly shared two of her favourite recipes with us, family favourite Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies and a Gluten Free Pizza just how her kids like it.