Interview with Therese Kerr
You are clearly quite passionate about nutrition and health. Was it always that way?
I have always, or rather thought I had always been really healthy. In 2002, my body, after giving me signs which I chose to ignore, developed tumours in my spleen. That was a turning point in my life. Going through an experience like that is such a highly personal experience, I have never felt so alone, although I had the support of my family and friends, it was an extremely personal battle that I had to endure myself. The insight into my body, spirituality and life itself was incredible at this time. I nurtured my body to wellness, after having a splenectomy (my spleen removed) and have since lived an organically rich life – living and breathing all things healthy.
What are some of the things you value most in life?
Above everything else: family. Family and having great family relationships is the foundation for a happy, healthy life.
Friends: I am extremely blessed to have several groups of friends, most of who have known me for most of my life. I have three girlfriends who I have been friends with since I was eight years old. I have another group of friends who I have been friends with for half my life – every year we go away together for a girls weekend and it is such a joy to experience such incredible fun times together.
Health: our health is so important and having experienced a health crisis it is so important to value our bodies – most of us don’t and we take our body so much for granted and that is not in anyone’s best interest. We only have one life (in this body anyway), it is all about nurturing the body mind and spirit. We don’t have to grow old expecting to get frail and ill, the more we nurture and look after our body now, the more it will reward us in years to come – see healthy lifestyle practices on www.theresekerr.com – I share a lot of information on health and wellness from myself and an array of people as my goal is to educate. When we are educated we can make informed decisions as to our health.
Happiness, peace and joy: It is so important to me to feel content and happy and at peace in my life. I am releasing a book in the not too distant future as to how I have achieved this and I share incredibly personal experiences in the book in the hope that people who have experienced similar things get to understand that their past in no way defines them or what they are capable of. I have a peace that radiates through my being now and it is such a magical place to sit in.
Can you share with us the benefits you and your family experienced once embarking on a focussed, healthier, more holistic lifestyle?
Personally, I have never felt as fit and healthy in all my life. Energy radiates from my core and my cells feel as though they are alive and vibrant and as a result I am truly living an active, balanced life. My skin glows, my hair shines, my body feels strong and vibrant and that was not always the case. I had a live blood analysis not that long ago and most people’s blood is about 12-14 years older than their physical age, the practitioner told me that my blood “age” looked about 12 years younger than my physical age and I don’t have a spleen (your blood filtering organ so that in itself is testament to the benefits of living a healthy life.
Miranda is the epitome of health, she lives and breaths health and nutrition.
None of our family, including John’s parents, Peter and Anne are on medication. Peter is 82 and Anne is 77 – not a bad result to be medication free at that age – testament to living a good healthy life.
Is organic produce best, and why?
“Certified organic” is the only true organic product. There is a huge misrepresentation in the world over in the use of the word “organic”. A product only has to contain one carbon to be classed as organic yet can contain a thousand or more chemicals. Certified Organic is the consumers guarantee of quality of product, their guarantee that the products don’t contain the nasty chemicals so commonly found in foods, chemicals such as food additives, pesticides, insecticides, preservatives, colourings, msg, etc. On average women put around 200 chemicals a day on their skin. Chemicals like sulfates, parabens, TEA’s, DEA’s, glycols, formaldehyde, formaldehyde derivatives, ethoxylates, artificial colours, flavourings, etc etc and we wonder why we don’t feel alive and lit up by our presence here.
I believe most people in our society are not giving their bodies the adequate nutrition needed in the first place and then they place the additional load both in and on their bodies by eating nutrient depleted, chemical laden foods and by applying a concoction of synthetic substances to their skin.
We like to use the analogy of a bucket, There is only so much water a bucket can hold, right? When the bucket reaches 99.99% capacity it only takes a few drops of additional water to overflow the bucket and inevitably there will be a mess to clean up. Likewise, we believe at some point the body will not be able to handle additional chemicals, without some adverse reaction, illness or disease resulting.
How important is it have a healthy diet and lifestyle from a young age?
A healthy diet from an early age is vitally important. Avoiding sugar is a must for parents with children and for every person. Sugar will cause bone, fertility, obesity, pancreatic and all sorts of challenges so it is vitally important to eliminate refined sugars from the diet. As a family we don’t eat sweet things that often. We live by the 80/20 rule where we are mostly healthy and a little indulgent. The funny thing is, the more healthy you eat, the healthier you want to be and you don’t put bad, highly processed, highly refined, high sugar content foods into your system as you don’t crave them.
By starting early with living a healthy life, you are giving your body the best chance not to age and to remain healthy and disease free. The World Health Organisation (WHO) state on their website that one of the critical concerns faxing the world today, even in Western culture is malnutrition – malnutrition meaning the lack on nutrient-rich foods. We can eat all we want but there is a big difference between “diet” (what we put in our mouth) and “nutrition” (what nutrients our body absorbs from the food we put in our mouth). Education is the key and that is what I am all about and I surround myself with people who are wellness focussed and want to share the benefits of living a healthy existence and living that through to a ripe old age – it totally is possible..
What are the must have ingredients in your kitchen, and what types of food do you regard as poor choices that we should avoid, and why?
• Certified Organic Coconut Oil is by far one of the ingredients I must have. It has a high heat resistance and is the only oil I cook with.
• I use Olive and Macadamia Oil in my salads as well as coconut oil as they are some of the most nutrient-rich oils as well as Chia Oil from the Chia company
• Fresh healthy certified organic green leafy vegetables, eg Kate, Spinach, Silverbeet, lettuce, Bok Choy and all greens generally – they are a high alkaline food and are so beneficial to the body. I put all of these in my healthy shakes, see my recipes at www.theresekerr.com. Each day I include a heaped handful of raw kale and spinach, silver beet in my shakes – you could not ever get a child to eat that amount of raw green leafy vegetable so by adding this to a shake, they get super nutrient rich food in something they will love.
• Avocado – a super food and one I include in my shakes as well.
• Chia Oil and Chia Seeds, along with Acai, Maca, Mesquite, Cacao, Spirulina, Vital Greens, nuts and more nuts – these are superfoods and fill the body with incredible nutrients, support the digestive system and 60-70% of the immune system operates from the digestive system so I cannot overemphasize the importance of looking after your digestion
• I use Quinoa, Almond or Hazelnut Milk instead of dairy – low GI, (Quinoa is a high protein alternative), fantastic alternatives to dairy
• Fresh baby coconuts are the base for most of my shakes – I use the coconut water and the flesh and it is incredibly nutrient-rich. Coconuts are one of the understated superfoods – coconuts should be in everyone’s pantry
• Broccoli is a superfood – but only eat certified organic or farm fresh from the markets (as long as they don’t use pesticides and insecticides)
• Homemade Bioactive yoghurt – I make it myself from Progurt starter and it is so great for your tummy and digestive system
• Rejuvelac – I make my own fermented grain products including fermented rejuvelac (grain juice) and then use the grain to make fermented porridge – great way to kick start your day is by having high enzyme, sprouted porridge and rejuvelac – these become a broom for the intestines.
Can the foods we choose to eat impact on our moods, behaviour and energy levels?
Without question our diet or rather our nutritional intake or lack thereof impacts every part of our life. Having adequate nutrition in our body and not having chemicals in our foods, personal care and household products impacts every part of our lives, including moods, behaviour and energy levels. Our foods are filled with chemicals, additives, preservatives and we wonder why the incidence of ADD, ADHD etc has escalated. We are eating nutrient deficient foods and to add further insult we are adding toxins that our body then has to eliminate in some way. In our society today, I believe our liver spends so much time detoxing that it doesn’t get the opportunity to perform other vital roles, one of which is breaking down fat.
An example of how the food we consume impacts our mood, etc… The higher the sugar content is in the food we consume, the higher the energy peak will be but it is only short-lived. As our body craves more energy, we get agitated, can’t concentrate, we crave more sugar there begins the continual roller coaster ride because we then beat ourselves up because we had that extra lolly or cake. Anything containing high levels of sugar is what we call quick releasing energy food, but the challenge is if we have too much “sugar” or highly refined, highly processed foods, high carbohydrate foods, anything in excess of what our immediate needs are, our body converts that sugar to fat as opposed to burning it. It is estimated that in America, for example, people are consuming four times as much sugar-type foods than the pancreas can actually handle. Frightening statistic.
Filling our body with nutrients is essential for mind as well as body health. Our bodies need vitamins and minerals and essential oils to function effectively. Our body also needs adequate rest and downtime as well a high quality filtered water.
Your new book, Lunchbox Solutions, incorporates the ideals of healthy living you describe above, and the graphics are yummy on their own! Do you feel that families let themselves down nutritionally when it comes to lunchtime?
I feel that families do the best with what they have and what they know. One of our goals as authors or Lunchbox Solutions is to educate people, because it is only when we are educated about nutrition and/or the lack thereof in our foods, that we have the ability to make informed choices as to our health. We wrongly presume that what is in our foods is healthy and will provide us with everything our bodies need, that is certainly not the case. With a lot of the foods currently available on supermarket shelves, you might as well eat the packaging because the nutrient-content within is so depleted.
Buying quality fresh produce, produce that doesn’t contain all of the nasty chemicals is one of the best things you can do for your body and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Go to the local farmers markets (see www.theresekerr.com for local farmers markets around the world), as certified organic is usually reasonable at the markets and/or if you can’t buy CO product buy farm fresh produce.
Avoid sugar and any foods that rapidly convert to sugar, eg pastries, pasta, anything containing sugar and/or anything that is highly processed. Avoid trans fats (found in a lot of our foods), they are poisonous to the body. Use certified organic coconut oil as your cooking oil (certified organic) and avoid tinned or packaged products wherever possible. Also avoid low fat, low sugar. We, including our kids, need healthy, low GI, sustaining meals and Lunchbox Solutions provides those answers. See http://theresekerr.com/books/lunchbox-solutions/ to access some incredibly healthy, nutrient-rich, low GI, sustainable alternative lunches – great for all the family!
How easy is it really to prepare healthy lunches for ourselves and our children, and what are some preparation tools you find useful?
It is easier than you think. Like everything it is all about preparation.
Sometimes it seems a whole lot easier to just give into children and throw into their lunchboxes that vegemite or jam sandwich, packet of chips and a cupcake. There is no doubt that this type of approach to lunches is quick, simple and easy. But the question is: Is life simple and easy when we have tired, angry or unwell children? Isn’t it easier to get through the day when our children are vibrant, happy and healthy.
What we eat directly influences our health, our energy, our capacity to learn and our relationships. If we can see value in this then we will be able to find the extra time we need to create nourishing food.
The reality is that everyone is busy and yet we naturally prioritise whatever activity we value. If we value exercise, then we organise our day so that we have time to visit the gym or go for a run. Our choices are always influenced by the value we place on them. That said, there are plenty of ways to economise your time in the kitchen. Even though preplanning menus, sourcing and purchasing high quality food and preparing nutritious meals may take more time, we can assure you that once you get used to creating a few meals and snacks at the same time (best done on the weekend) and making larger quantities of a meal (so that you have pre-planned extras) you will find that making lunches in the working week becomes a breeze.
Here are a few tips:
• Think ahead and plan – If you know what is on the menu for the week ahead you will save countless trips to the shop as well as the stress of having to decide what to create for lunch and dinner each day.
• Cook pre-planned extras – Sometimes when you make your evening meals, double the recipe so that you have plenty of leftovers or what we call “pre-planned extras” – for lunch the next day.
• Keep your pantry well stocked with staples – these might include healthy grains, flours, pasta’s, rice, beans, cans of coconut milk, healthy tuna, salmon and sardines, and rice and nut milks so that you always have ingredients to make meals and nutritious treats when time allows
• Keep your kitchen well stocked with snacks – the simplest being fresh certified organic fruit and vege’s. You can also buy a selection of dried fruits, nuts (preferably activated nuts) and healthy crackers, all of which can be used as quick additions in lunchboxes.
• Consider lunches the night before – make sure that everything you need is ready. Sometimes nutrition gets left behind in the moring madness and we focus on simply getting “something” into the lunchbox, as opposed to getting “something healthy” in there.
How do you deal with picky eaters?
Children observe everything we do, they always have. If we truly want them to participate in life in a healthy manner, then we have to be an inspiring example of that. In order for our children to develop broad, healthy palataes they need to notice how we honour our body – there is enormous power in role modelling. When our children observe us eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, choosing to drink water or eating a nourishing breakfast every day, they will follow suit – Monkey see, monkey do.
Become the “Health Guru”. Because you can only teach what you know, the onus is on your to become knowledgeable. We say, elect a food captain, someone who is in charge of the household’s “food culture”. This person not only researches and sources healthy food but also monitors the family’s diet, ensuring adequate intake of fruit, vegetables and water, for example.
A powerful way of teaching is to invite your children to help you plan and cook meals. Explore healthy recipe books together and have them select what they would like to eat. While cooking or shopping you can teach them about wholesome ingredients and how to prepare food; these are wonderful life skills and their participation will encourage commitment to new lifestyle habits.
Talk your kids up – everyone loves praise especially our kids! Develop the habit of giving your children praise about how healthy, strong and vibrant they are, here are a couple of examples:
“You are a powerhouse, look at those muscles… It must be all the good food you eat.”
“You are one of the best eaters I know.”
“I love seeing you look after your body like that – you are amazing.”
“I am so proud of the choices you make.”
Be a stand for what’s possible for your children’s health. Take out sugar and highly processed foods, highly refined foods. Flynn, for goodness sakes is only two years old yet he loves olives, grapefruit, paw paw, eggplant and foods that you wouldn’t expect a two year old to eat. When we are a stand for our children’s health, they only know what we know and therefore accept what we accept as normal.
What’s next for Therese Kerr?
Breakfast Solutions will be released around April this year and I am so excited about that. I am also releasing three other books in addition to Breakfast Solutions this year so stay tuned for that. I have moved out of the GM role of KORA Organics to undertake more public speaking and to take on the event management role as I love more than anything sharing the benefits of living a healthy life with others. I have sat in an office for most of my life and my heart sings more when I am out with the people hence making this very exciting change.
I am also releasing my own certified organic household products – again another exciting venture and I am creating programs for health and wellness so this year is going to be an exciting time for myself and my family and I am so looking forward to what lies ahead for us all.
More than anything though I also intend to take more time for myself and my family, to spend quality time with Matty, Flynn, Miranda and Orlando and Johnny.
I will be giving more of my time to Kids Helpline as it is an incredible organisation that supports all children in Australia. A child phones Kids Helpline every 60 seconds in Australia, and on average, Kids Helpline receives between 12-14 youth suicided related calls every night. I am off to Peru in November for Kids Helpline, fulfilling my own personal dream of trekking Machu Picchu and in the process raising much needed funds for KHL – to put it bluntly, 40% of all kids aged between 5 and 25, who phone Kids Helpline can’t get through and we need to change that. If you would like to help me help the kids of Australia by donating to this non-government funded organisation you can do one of two things or even both if you feel inclined:
• Participate in the Peru trek with me
• Donate to my fund-raising initiative to help raise the money for KHL
To do the above please go to: http://kidshelplineperu.gofundraise.com.au/page/ThereseKerr and together we can make the difference to many lives.
Would you like to share one of your nutritional kids’ lunch box ideas plus its health benefits?
Roast two chickens at dinner time – one for the meal and one for leftovers. Use the drumsticks in the lunchbox (ensure you have the adequate insulated bag to keep the food in the lunchbox cool and safe). Add to the lunchbox ½ a sliced cucumber, some grapes and an apple. You may also like to make in advance a mini quiche or falafel balls with our dipping sauce and include. You could even add a healthy fruit spelt bun – all of this information can be found in Lunchbox Solutions.
In Lunchbox Solutions we provide so many healthy lunchbox options for you to make and you can make them on weekends and then freeze them – even frozen they are a much better option that the high GI, high fat, highly refined and processed food options currently filling the lunchboxes of today.
Most of all, enjoy the journey on taking your kids on a healthy adventure – the rewards will be enormous – you will have happy, healthy, children who are equipped to learn more efficiently and are less likely to get bored, hungry or even anxious at school.
Enjoy and let your little lights shine.
Love Therese xxx