Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist, raw food educator, college instructor, and an expert in plant-based nutrition. She is passionate about natural health and sustainable living. This interest led her to graduate with honours from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelors of Science degree in Food, Nutrition and Health, as well as the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition with a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition. As the founder of Synergy Nutrition, she is able to teach, inspire, and motivate her clients and students about the benefits of nutrition and natural health. Drawing from her background in both science and holistic health she is able to supply the inspiration and knowledge to support her clients’ health with a comprehensive programs including individualized diet, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations.
ALL ABOUT YOU
Who is Shawna, how would you describe her?
I am a life-long learner that is passionate about health, nutrition, food, and the environment. I love to inspire and empower my friends, family, and clients to take advantage of the benefits of eating more nutrient-dense whole-foods. When I am not writing, coaching, researching, or in the kitchen creating new recipes, I am traveling, enjoying the outdoors, doing yoga, boxing, and dancing to my favourite music!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I decided to change my diet when I was 10 years old, so my interest in health and nutrition started at a very young age. I always had an innate interest in science and nature so it really was a perfect fit that I started studying nutrition and natural health.
What core values do you bring from your personal life to your business?
Passion, curiosity, open-mindedness and the desire to always learn more. Also, compassion and caring for the environment and all living beings that we share this planet with.
Name a woman whom you admire and look up to and explain why.
My mother, because she has dedicated her life to activism and social justice. She taught me to not only care about my own wellbeing but the wellbeing of my community and the environment.
If you were given 5 more hours in a day what would you do with them?
I would spend more time in the kitchen making healthy food for my friends and family. I would also spend more time in nature, I think that is really important when we live in the city.
ALL ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
At what point in your life did you find an interest in Nutrition?
It really started when I was 10 years old and decided to become vegetarian. I had no idea what I was doing and wanted to be able to answer questions from my concerned family members. This was over 24 years ago so it wasn’t as common as it is now, there was still a lot of misconceptions about how to meet protein needs and different nutrients.
What really solidified my decision to become a nutritionist was in my first year of university, my organic chemistry professor was teaching us about trans-fats and what they do to our body at a cellular level and how they had been banned in certain countries – I could not believe that these man-made fats were in our food and I wanted to tell everyone I talked to about them!
How would you describe your brand to those who are being introduced to it for the first time?
Empowering and non-judgemental support for anyone wanting to enhance their health, gain more energy and mental clarity, all while eating delicious food.
I work with all types of diets but do specialize in plant-based diets. With the growing number of people interested in eating more plant-based and becoming vegan my services provide a vital role in their successful transition. As with any dietary change it is important to seek information and guidance from an expert in that field.
I want all my clients to know that it is never too late to feel the positive effects of eating a healthier diet and to know that we have so much power in terms of how our genes are expressed and how well we age. A little bit of guidance from an expert can go a long way in terms of adopting healthy, fun, and delicious dietary habits.
What are the benefits of eating a raw vegan diet? Is it hard to accomplish this type of diet?
The benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet are numerous. More energy, mental clarity, reduced inflammation, balanced hormones, better sleep, less allergies, effortless weight management, glowing skin, and the fibre in these foods help grow our inner garden (the balance and diversity of good intestinal bacteria – the gut microbiome – which has a whole set of additional benefits).
It is very easy to eat vegan, especially in Vancouver, but even while travelling I find it surprisingly simple. I do eat a mix of raw and cooked vegan foods, and the balance changes with the seasons or the climate I am in.
What are some of your favourite recipes?
I am such a foodie so it is difficult to name just a few. For raw recipes my favourites are pizza, lasagna, thai noodles, sandwiches with onion bread and cashew cream cheese, avocado pudding, and cheesecake. For cooked recipes I love pulled-jackfruit tacos, roasted cauliflower, soups, salads, basically everything!
What was the best compliment that you have ever received from a client?
A few years ago I was working as the nutritionist for a grocery store and one day I was leading a group around the store for a healthy eating tour. A year later I received a call from a women that was in that group and she said the information she learned during the tour changed her life and she had never felt better. She then recommended my services to a government organization and I ended up being hired to teach a seminar on healthy eating for those with high-stress careers. It was such an honour to hear that feedback.
I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing people as my clients, and the feedback they give reminds me exactly why I became a nutritionist.
ABOUT LIFE AS AN ENTREPRENEUR
What was the best business advice you’ve been given?
To have an in-depth idea of who my target market is and how I can provide the most benefits to my ideal client. How valuable it is to work with a coach. To create passive income streams from online program and products. Also, to take care of my own health and not ‘burn-out’ which is so easy to do.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me means being a positive influence in the world and to those around me, as well as having the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. Success also means balanced health and self-care, this is extremely important to me, if my life is not balanced then I don’t have the energy to run my business.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in business?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to just start, even if you don’t feel ready. If you wait until everything is perfect you will be waiting forever. Also, to just take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and to keep focused on moving forward.
What keeps you motivated to work long hours after your day job?
I have learned over the years how important it is to set limits on the amount of time spent working everyday. I’m happy with the work schedule I’ve created for myself in my business. When I was starting out it was definitely the excitement and knowing that I was following my passions that kept me going.
What has been your most useful tool in business?
Having a supportive network of friends and family, as well as always be learning about new online tools in order to offer my services to people around the world.