“To some degree, we all have control over our own health and this is a message I want everyone to know.” – Sharon O’Brien
Meet Sharon O'Brien, our newest Holistic Health Consultant to join the incredible team at our BePure Clinic Auckland.
With a degree in neuroscience, a master's degree in human nutrition and a postgraduate degree in dietetics, Sharon brings an impressive set of qualifications, vast experience and a warm and welcoming nature, appreciated by both our team and her clients.
On top of this, she's our mind-body connection expert, with a passion for how brain and gut health can influence our mood and reduce stress – two issues at the core of many chronic conditions.
Living a balanced life of optimal health is no easy feat – we all know how difficult it can be to say no to that sweet afternoon treat or get to bed on time.
In this blog, Sharon shares why she is so passionate about nutrition, how she overcame her biggest health and wellness challenge and her go-to recipe.
I talk a lot about people’s ‘health story’ or journey, can you share yours with us?
As I was growing up I became aware that within my family and community there were people experiencing mental health concerns.
"...I became fascinated by how the body and mind worked and I’ve been drawn to this ever since."
I became fascinated by how the body and mind worked and I’ve been drawn to this ever since. I went on to study neuroscience at university and it was there that I became really interested in the influence nutrition can have on our health and brain function.
When it comes to health and wellness what are you most interested in?
Improving it! And there’s a bit of a story to this one. While at University I was introduced to research by Professor David J. P. Barker. His findings showed that our genetic material is not fixed and that was something that I found really empowering!
"This means that we are NOT ‘stuck’ with the genetic material we were born with – our environment and nutrition can influence how our genes are expressed."
This is known as epigenetics and it means that we are NOT ‘stuck’ with the genetic material we were born with – our environment and nutrition can influence how our genes are expressed. To some degree, we all have control over our own health and this is a message that I think everyone needs to know. From what we consume, to how we approach life, to the lifestyles we choose to live – all these factors can influence how we feel both mentally and physically and the conditions our bodies experience. The interesting part is the individualisation of this for each person!
When did you decide you wanted to become a clinician?
I did my masters in nutrition and spent two years researching the effect vitamin D has on the body – everything from inflammation to mood to immunity and more. It was during this study that I became really passionate about helping others find the motivation they needed to change. I wanted to work one-on-one with people and so completed my post grad in dietetics.
"...I became really passionate about helping others find the motivation they needed to change."
As a clinician, what is the most rewarding part of your job?
I'm at the early stages with all of my BePure clients so right now I'm focused on supporting them as they begin their health journeys to optimal health. I love being able to give my clients individualisation and clarity on what dietary and lifestyle changes and testing would be most suitable for them. For some clients, I can feel it's a massive relief to finally get some direction.
'The most rewarding part of a client healthy journey is seeing the confidence of my clients grow!'
But the most rewarding part for me is seeing the confidence of my clients grow! As they are able to work on their food prep and make dietary and lifestyle changes suited to them, along with their nutritional supplements, we're already seeing fantastic results in improved energy levels and relief from some chronic symptoms.
Living a life of optimal health is a pretty big and often overwhelming goal – especially if you’re just starting out. What’s your top tip that someone can work on each day?
I’m very focused on the mind-body connection and the biggest thing we can all work on is reducing the negative self-talk!
"The biggest thing we all can work on is reducing the negative self-talk!"
We all have these internal conversations of, “I must do this” or “I’m not good enough,” so it’s really important on a day-to-day basis to start to override this with positive self-talk.
What does a day in your life look like?
My day starts the night before – getting to bed early is a must. We all have very busy lifestyles but sleep and making time to keep yourself balanced, really needs to be the priority.
To get into the flow of being in bed by 9.30pm each night, I do all my food prep for the week during the weekend.
"It all depends on how I feel and whether my body needs time to chill out and allow my cortisol and stress levels to align."
I base each day's activities on how I feel. Some mornings I’ll get up for a 6 am class and keep my breakfast items at work so I can eat it when I get there. Other mornings I’ll turn on some music and just take the time I need to get ready for the day without having to rush. If I haven’t gone to a morning class I’ll run home in the evenings (it doesn’t need to be a massive workout!) or I’ll go to the gym – it all depends on how I feel and whether my body needs time to chill out and allow my cortisol and stress levels to align.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how would you recommend someone get around the same challenge?
It’s still my biggest struggle! Sweet treats and chocolate. Instead of fighting this, I’ve reduced sugar in my diet and adapted my taste buds to really enjoy dark chocolate.
It can be really challenging when you’re out and there are no good options for you. A couple of squares of dark chocolate or chocolate covered nuts have become my saviour when I experience cravings at those times. They’re particularly good to have on hand at that time of the month.
What’s your go-to treat?
I have a thing for chia seed jam. Chia seeds are naturally high in protein and omega–3, plus when well soaked, they help your body retain hydration longer. Combining chia seeds with berries in this jam is the perfect way to add more of them to your diet and have a delicious treat at the same time!
Chia jam is one of those things that works with everything and it’s a great one to prep on the weekends for breakfast throughout the week. I make a big jar of it and it’s amazing, you can keep it at work and put it on coconut yoghurt, almond pancakes, in your oats, everything!
- 1.5 cups of your favourite frozen berries
- 1 tbsp honey (optional)
- 3 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp of chia seeds
- Heat the berries in a small pot for 2-3 minutes.
- Crush with a fork
- Add honey and water, mix until dissolved
- Add chia seeds and stir to combine
- Pour mixture into a jar, put the lid on and refrigerate for an hour.
If you'd like to make an in-person or Skype appointment with Sharon O'Brien, or if you have any questions about the BePure Clinic and our Programmes, please feel free to give our support team a call on 0800 52 54 52 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.