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Fueling for the work at hand with Dr. Kim McQueen ND

We met up with Dr. Kim McQueen to talk about athletic performance, nutrition, the University of Victoria, and taking tennis lessons.

What’s your favourite way to keep active?

I run a lot, usually I do Elk lake and Beaver lake on Monday mornings. I do a tennis lesson once or twice a week. I love that it’s so multi-generational, I can play with my kids and with my father-in-law. I’m also learning to golf which is fun!

Favourite place to get food?

So many places! Zambri’s, classic Italian. Nourish in James Bay, great fresh food. I also love to cook interesting dinners, mostly because I love to eat interesting dinners. I look at food as fuel, but also as nourishment, something a bit deeper. I love making healthy snacks to have out for my kids. 

So how did you end up practicing naturopathy at Arbutus?

Well originally the path was physio, my dad was one. He also worked with sports teams actually– which wasn’t what I’d set out to do, just a funny coincidence now.

I grew up here and went to UVic for my undergrad in Bio. After that, I applied to do the physio program at UVic. It’s super competitive and small, and I didn’t get in. I know I could push myself and work hard, then get in the next year.

In the meantime, after I graduated I worked at a senior’s home. One day a naturopath came to speak to the residents. Everything she said really resonated with my view of health, and I was kind of hooked.

What was it that captured your interest?

At UVic I really enjoyed taking classes on physiology of both plants and animals, which has translated well into both herbal medicine and understanding the human body. But also, I loved ecology, which is sort of about how all these systems interrelate with one another. I’d already been feeling a bit disillusioned with certain aspects of mainstream medicine, treating symptoms instead of considering the underlying cause. So when I heard about naturopathy, it really resonated with things I’d already been thinking about.

Like a lot of folks at Arbutus, you specialize in working with athletes. How did that come about?

After I finished my naturopathy program, I worked in Atlanta for about a year, then moved back to Victoria. I was running and training, and started getting pulled in to do a talk here, work with an individual athlete there. 

There was a lot of work to convince people how important nutrition is but nowadays athletes and organizations take it more seriously. Years ago I’d be working with a sports team for a few hours a week, now the same org employs a full health team that includes naturopathy. Things have come a long way with that– the full view of an athlete, and of how vital nutrition is for both body and mind.

If someone doesn’t know much about Naturopathy, what can they expect from an appointment?

The first appointment generally includes a lot of discussion. I find out more about the patient, their activity, lifestyle, diet, any issues they’re having, and what their goals are. I usually do a guided physical exam if we’re in-person. Physicals aren’t so common anymore, but that’s part of why I think they’re important to do. If they’re having digestive issues for instance, I’ll listen with a stethoscope and palpate the area. Describing symptoms is important but there are some things that a physical exam does better.

There are also tests we can run, for hormone imbalances or food sensitivities among other things. The tests tend to be a bit expensive so I try to have other methods available, but some people prefer to have the objective data. I find that athletes especially love the concrete data. It gives another way to measure progress.

What’s your favourite tool/technique to use with clients?

[laughs] It’s probably my calculator! I really love helping people understand nutrition and what will work best for their body and their life. There’s so much info out there, it’s confusing for most people. When you add in the high demands of athletic training schedules, nutrition really needs to be matched or there can be consequences, whether it be digestive issues, fatigue, or mental health. All of which affect athletic performance.

It may not be the fanciest technology, but with my calculator I can help clients make a plan that’s tailored to their life and gets them where they want to go.