Nutritionist Spotlight – Karina Churchill

Nutritionist Spotlight – Karina Churchill

Karina Churchill

Bachelor of Science in Nutrition


When did you know you wanted to study nutrition?

“I hopped around with different sciences I thought I wanted to end up in from a fairly early age: Archeology and Genetics. As I got older, my health wasn’t the best, [I had] a lot of digestive problems, food and environmental allergies, and realized diet was really key for my health. I heard about Bastyr University from a friend in another program and that really sealed the deal. I think with all the tasty-but-horrible-for-you foods out there, there will always be a need for guidance.”


What was your favorite course during your nutrition studies and why?

“There was actually two that I really loved. First was a culinary course based around cooking for disease states. We learned how to treat food like medicine to support everything from colds and immunity to food that can support mental wellness, such as Chicken Mirabella…one of my faves to make. Learning how food isn’t just fuel is an essential part of being a nutritionist. The other class that I think everyone in the medical field needs to take was about obesity and obesity related diseases. I think a lot of the medical community is quick to call obesity the cause and not an effect of disease states. It isn’t just a ‘calorie in and calories out’ game like they always say in popular media and diet books. There are genetics, genetic defects, hormones, and even gut biota that play a huge role in homeostatic balance of the body. Put any one system out of balance and see it across all of them. Understanding that is a first step into truly seeing the full picture of who you are trying to help.”


What was one academic accomplishment you are proud of?

“Part of my degree program included a community related externship. I had the pleasure of volunteering at HopeLink foodbank. They gleaned from the surrounding community for products. Local farms provide fresh fruits and vegetables, surrounding grocery stores gave donations, and even Panera Bread made sure they didn’t waste products and could give back to their community. I helped to create a program that took away some of the fear of vegetables. I was the ‘veggie pusher’ and got people to try things they wouldn’t normally try. It is amazing how many people don’t eat free healthy vegetables because they don’t know how to use them. I would look in their carts and tell them how to add in something to what they already had. I would say, ‘Oh, I see you like pasta… did you know you can add fresh veggies to that box meal?’ Seeing people week after week, building relationships with them, and having them come back saying ‘I tried your suggestion and it was good’, felt like an accomplishment that I could be proud of.”


If you could expand your expertise on one topic, what would it be?

“I really think that nutrition has so much prevention potential. From things people know are related to diet and exercise, to other disease states that can be avoided or lessened from getting the right nutrients. I, like many people I’m sure, have really been affected by cancer in my family and close family friends. Whether it is prevention or helping people who are going through treatment, nutrition is key. I would love to see myself really making a difference with people who think they don’t have a way to help themselves with something as simple as food.”


Even nutritionists love junk food – what is your guilty pleasure?

“I think the rule of 80/20 applies here. I choose not to say anything is ‘bad’ or ‘forbidden’ because that only creates over eating. That being said… I do love me a good quality, rich, super sexy chocolate cake.”


What do you like to do in your free time?

“I recharge with family time and love to cook and feed people. Just taking care of people in general gives me joy. Best nights are a shared meal and laughter with some sort of board or card game. In perfect spring days, cool mornings of summer, early fall … I couldn’t be happier than out hiking in the beautiful Washington forests. My secondary ‘happy’ is anything involving being in water. Family time by the pool, vacation to the sound or ocean, hike ending near a lake I can jump in, or camping by a river. All are 100% true bliss for me!”


What is the scariest thing you have ever done?

“Indoor skydiving. Worst best ever.”


What is the coolest thing you are ever done?

“Indoor skydiving. Worst best ever haha!”


If you weren’t a nutritionist, what else would you be doing?

“Mycologist. I think mushrooms and forests hold a lot of potential for the future. Paul Stamet is doing amazing work for the future with his mushroom research. Not just for health of humans but bee health and environmental health… and I mean… my second joy is all of the outdoor time.”


What motto do you live by?

“Do it anyway! We all make excuses and life can often get in the way of progress, so just go ahead and make the excuses…then do it anyway.”


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This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

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