Growing up in a family of doctors, Karyn Duggan was drawn to medicine and nutrition. But she didn’t feel a career in nutrition was a viable option in Ireland in the early 1990s, so after earning a degree in business and Spanish, Karyn embarked on a successful career in advertising. So how did this experience prepare her for her current role as Certified Nutrition Consultant at One Medical in San Francisco? Read on to find out, and discover how Karyn found the career she’s so passionate about.
When did you first consider working in primary care?
My grandfather, uncle, and godfather were doctors. Diet and a healthy lifestyle were paramount for us growing up, and exercise was a given. We had a vegetable garden and always made food from scratch. But it wasn’t until 2000, when I was living in London and met a practicing nutritionist, that I realized I could actually have a career doing something I truly loved.
What were you doing for work up until then?
I worked at two advertising agencies in New York, and one in London, and had a lot of fun doing that, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I worked on the account side of the business, convincing our creative teams to do whatever our clients needed, and then convincing clients that we were doing everything they wanted. I met a lot of very famous, interesting people. Without that experience, I would have missed out on a key piece of the integrative medical approach at One Medical: understanding how we all work as human beings.
Please name drop?
One day I met E.T. on set, along with Steven Spielberg! I also had the honor of working with Mohammed Ali, Joan Rivers, and Tommy Hilfiger. One of the highlights, though, was a business lunch with John F. Kennedy, Jr. when he was working on George magazine.
Where did you go to school?
I started my nutrition studies at the British College of Nutrition and Health in London (BCNH), a sister college to London’s Institute for Optimum Nutrition, popularized by Patrick Holford. I chose BCNH because it offered an online component that I thought would be handy, as I moved between Europe and the US. In July 2002, I moved back to San Francisco and continued my second year online. I had to fly back for live consultations as part of my exams–no phoning it in by Skype!
On completion, I signed up for the Nutrition Educator course at Bauman College in Berkeley. Meanwhile, my husband said, “If you’re going to tell people what to eat, you’d better learn how to cook, because your prescriptions will be menus!” At that point, I literally didn’t know how to scramble an egg! So I signed up for Bauman’s Natural Chef course. One of the prerequisites was a six-week culinary externship. I completed four weeks at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and the remaining two at Greens in San Francisco. Sitting in early morning meetings with either Cal Peternell or Russell Moore (depending on the day), and listening to them review and evaluate the produce deliveries, and decide on menus for the day was truly inspiring–and mouthwatering! At Greens, Annie Somerville allowed me to get some firsthand experience finishing and plating the food for customers. In short, I garnered a renewed sense of appreciation for all the hard work involved in a restaurant career, and learned to love cooking. But I didn’t grow up cooking, and I still use recipes!
What led you to One Medical?
I had my daughter the month after I finished Bauman, so I focused solely on our own nutrition for a while, but then I got a business license and started consultations from my home office while my daughter slept or was entertained by the babysitter. It was great, but I wanted more structure, and One Medical had an opportunity that was a fit.
Why do people seek out nutritional help at One Medical?
Weight loss is probably the top reason, but we also see a lot of pre-diabetics at One Medical, as well as patients with cardiovascular risks such as hypertension or cholesterol. Fatigue and stress are very common themes of each of these conditions.
How would you describe your approach?
I take a holistic approach to treating my patients’ conditions, and address all the various lifestyle factors that appear to be impacting a patient’s health. This might include exercise, stress reduction, or enhancing sleep patterns.
From a food standpoint, a lot of my work focuses on two main agendas: one, enhancing patients’ palates, and two, ensuring that they’re making satiating food choices.
It’s astounding how many people start their day with a measly bowl of cereal, cold milk, orange juice and coffee and think that will sustain them. It’s a recipe for feeling sleepy by lunch time and/or starving by mid-morning. Instead, I recommend eating something like oatmeal, but make it more satiating by adding a little more protein and some healthy fat–for example two tablespoons of almond butter – it will keep you full for longer, and it tastes better! It’s a double win compared to the breakfast cereal.
Want more of Karyn’s tips? Don’t miss 10 Healthy Eating Rules from Our Nutritionist!
What would you say to those who doubt the usefulness of nutritional advice?
Nutrition is scientifically proven. At One Medical, we review your labs and monitor how much progress you’ve made, examining factors such as your blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and weight.
I firmly believe that a healthy diet is vital to living and feeling your best for the long haul, but also moment-to-moment. Every time we consume anything, we’re essentially programing our bodies for how we’re going to feel in the future–not only in the years to come, but also hours and minutes after consumption.
We only get one go at this thing we call life. Shouldn’t we give it our best shot?
Editor’s Note: Karyn Duggan sees patients at our Financial District – Sutter, Pacific Heights, and SOMA offices in San Francisco. Which One Medical provider should we profile next? Drop a line to community[at]onemedical.com!