You may recognize the name Kristin O’Connor from her What IS Wellness? podcast where she interviewed Dr. Peter D’Adamo, but you’ve also seen her name with Dr. D’Adamo’s on the cover of our Eat Right 4 Your Type Personalized Cookbooks. Since almost a decade has passed since their collaboration on the cookbooks, we decided to reach out and get the scoop on what Kristin has been up to professionally and personally. From being a private chef for celebrities to starting her own food product company, she hasn’t forgotten how Dr. D’Adamo and The Blood Type Diet changed her life.
Our conversation, edited for length and clarity, is below.
DPN: How and why did you get into the culinary arts?
Kristin O'Connor: When I was a little girl, I was enamored with baking...or what I interpreted as baking. I would sit on the floor of my parents’ kitchen having pulled out all the baking supplies, flour, salt, sugar. I remember pressing my tiny, chubby hands gently on top of the container of flour — my mom kept it in a large rectangular container with a red top — and feeling the soft, airy particles press into my skin. I would scoop, stir and smoosh until I created some odd creation or another, bake them and watch with awe as they rose, expanded, fluffed in the oven. I think the love of cooking was in my blood. During my schooling, I studied education and art studio, and got a master’s in Art Therapy. After realizing that food and diet were negatively impacting my health, I started using that passion for food in a newly transformed way. My creativity around food spun into ways I could use (often unfamiliar) ingredients to heal me but also ensure I was never missing out on the good stuff. After that, my passion was ignited and I followed this odd path my career has taken from Associate Producer of a Food Network show, authoring the cookbooks with Dr. D’Adamo, becoming a private chef and starting my own food product company.
DPN: What was your experience creating the recipes for the Personalized Cookbooks with Dr. Peter D’Adamo?
Kristin O'Connor: Dr. D’Adamo had asked me to propose a concept for the cookbooks and my idea was that we create four cookbooks that have the same recipe concepts (i.e. chili) but evolve that recipe concept into four recipes that meet the specifications of each individual blood type. In that way, people in the same household could eat the same type of meal together while still meeting the needs of their individualized diets. Dr. D’Adamo took the time to privately tutor me on The Blood Type Diet, he answered all of my questions and helped me have a command over his findings in a short period of time. I ended up having a massive surgery on my knee right in the middle of writing the books and doing recipe development. There was a time I would prop my healing leg up on a stool and craft recipes on one leg, pushing out five new recipes a day (with the help of my mom!). It was an amazing time, and I was so grateful Dr. D’Adamo had enough faith in me to offer me the opportunity.
DPN: What have you been up to since writing the cookbooks?
Kristin O'Connor: After we published the cookbooks, I started working as a private chef for actors and athletes who were looking to transform their bodies for a role or after injury in their sport. It was a fascinating, but incredibly challenging job to take on. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started, I just knew I could not turn down opportunities like that. I was flown all over the world, lived in different countries on many occasions, and helped actors lose 20 pounds, put on 30 and back down again. I also started my own food product company that is still in the development stage — we are hoping to (finally!) launch in 2022. It is called Super Dirt Foods.
DPN: How have you incorporated what you learned with Dr. D’Adamo and The Blood Type Diet into your other works?
Kristin O'Connor: Dr. D’Adamo quite literally saved my mom’s life. She had severe ulcerative colitis and when she met with Dr. D. for the first time, she was on the verge of having her entire colon removed or worse… I took her to the appointments and got an understanding of the diet first hand as I helped to prepare my mom’s meals while she was still too weak to do it herself. Then I wrote the cookbooks with Dr. D’Adamo. Because of those two in-depth experiences with what Dr. D’Adamo does as a practice and for his patients, I became incredibly impassioned about The Blood Type Diet. I have used it as a main starting point with all of my clients over the years. Typically they have restrictions/advice from other practitioners, and of course, I adhere to their wishes, but I always keep the knowledge I have about The Blood Type Diet in mind and apply it as much and often as I can. I truly believe it has helped me to understand every single person I work for as an individual with extremely individual dietary needs.
DPN: What is the one piece of advice you’d give to a person starting out on The Blood Type Diet?
Kristin O'Connor: I believe I will join Dr. D’Adamo in my advice here. He always tells people to first focus on the green list foods — the [Beneficial] foods that we know are healing. Simply incorporate them as much and often as you can in your diet. That way you are naturally limiting the foods that are less impactful or negatively impactful on your health. It is a way to be less overwhelmed and familiarize yourself with the things that are going to be most beneficial to your overall health.
DPN: Do you have any tips for an easy transition into Blood Type Diet living?
Kristin O'Connor: Yup. Commit. We all have piles of excuses to do or not do the millions of things we do in our lives. Commiting to something that can revolutionize your health is about making that choice each time you reach for something to put into your body. I always clear out my clients’ pantries of all the processed foods/foods that are really unhealthy. (Most of the time these things are unopened and can be taken to a food pantry.) When you start with a blank canvas, you have the opportunity to fill it with the amazing colors of all your healing foods.
DPN: What has been your experience as a celebrity private chef?
Kristin O'Connor: Do you have three days of life to listen? [Laughs] It has had its ups and downs. I absolutely love cooking for people, especially when they appreciate the food and understand the effort. I am sure most of us feel that way about our jobs. I am insanely grateful my job has taken me to places I would never otherwise see or experience and introduced me to people I would never meet. At the end of the day, though, I really want to use my skills and passion for helping people achieve optimal health in a way that is accessible to everyone, not just the people who can afford to have someone travel the world with them, hand feeding them day in and day out.
DPN: What are some health obstacles you’ve had to overcome with your clients?
Kristin O'Connor: I cannot get into specifics with health issues I have seen/overcome with clients because of their privacy. However, needing to pack on 30 pounds of muscle through a 5,000 calorie diet with a perfectly calculated ratio of fat to carb to protein is a fairly massive challenge. I would start my day at 4:30 am and finish at 9:30 pm 7 days a week. My client was a champion in his dedication and I felt like a champion in my ability to wake up every day to the same grueling schedule! It is interesting working so hard for someone else’s goal. You are the invisible cog in the very grueling machine.
DPN: You have a catchphrase, “Use Everything, Waste Nothing.” Tell us more about that and what advice do you have for people who want to be more environmentally conscious?
Kristin O'Connor: I think the biggest thing people can do in their own homes is to evaluate what is possible in their own environment. Is it possible to grow any of your own food? In a yard or planters? Is it possible to compost vegetable scraps and organic items to reduce landfill waste? On a basic level though, we can look at each thing we do in our kitchens and see where we can “use everything” that typically gets thrown away. For example, berries go bad so fast in the fridge and the easiest thing to do is throw them away and buy new ones. But overripe fruit is super sweet and delicious. Throw any mixture into a little saucepan and simmer with lemon zest and a bit of agave or honey until it reduces and thickens. Save in an airtight glass jar in your fridge for homemade jam. It takes practically no time and is a great way to use everything.
DPN: Tell us a bit about your podcast. Why did you start What IS Wellness? What are some of the topics you discuss?
Kristin O'Connor: I started What IS Wellness? because I find that there are a lot of different voices around wellness. It has almost become a word that people say with very little real understanding of what it means to be well. Whenever there is a lot of information but little context, people tend to get overwhelmed and retreat. I liked the idea of hearing from varied voices in the wellness space — giving them an opportunity to have a platform and for listeners to resonate with areas of wellness they may not have known, understood or even considered to be part of wellness before tuning in.
DPN: In your podcast, you’ve interviewed a psychologist, an astrologer, an environmentalist, an acupuncturist, a naturopathic doctor and more. What have you learned from them about overall wellness?
Kristin O'Connor: With each wellness guru I have spoken to, I have taken little bits of inspiration away to incorporate into my own wellness routine/journey. I am never going to have all the knowledge that Aurora Tower has about astrology, but I can now recognize that there are cycles in our astrological orbit that I can tap into to help me zero in on powerful times to set goals.. Very selfishly, I love hearing from each of these diverse voices and stealing little gems from their unique, brilliant minds to help me approach my own wellbeing from a more holistic and well-rounded perspective. Something that the more I conquer, the better equipped I am to pass along to everyone I work with.
DPN: What does “wellness” mean to you?
Kristin O'Connor: Oh boy, this is something I ask everyone on my podcast and it is such a loaded question. I think to me, wellness is freedom. The only way to achieve true freedom is through knowledge. The more aware we are about our psyche, physical bodies, movement, what is happening in the universe, and so on, the more freedom we have to sculpt our own version of personal wellness. What is right for me, may be totally different for someone else.
DPN: Any advice for our readers who are on their own health journeys?
Kristin O'Connor: Absolutely. Take the time to really listen to yourselves. To clear out the fog of work, stress, life and hear what your body is telling you you need most. Start there and once you are comfortable with making a few little changes, so much so that they become routine in your every day, refocus, re-listen and add another one. For some people, their health journey may start with simply creating space for quiet. Stress reduction, mental clarity and personal time are most critical to taking care of themselves. That person may find five minutes when they wake up or just before lunch to sit in silence and let the waves of the day and thoughts wash from their mind. Other people may start with eliminating something from their diet like gluten or dairy and their focus should be on that, creating a joyful experience around it and once it becomes fully engrained, they can move on to adding a little exercise or whatever else is on their scope and journey to personal wellness. What works for your husband or best friend or kids may not be what works for you. This is an exceptionally personal journey, so remember to make it just that.
Like Dr. D’Adamo, Kristin O’Connor is dedicated to wellness. You can find her podcast “What IS Wellness?” wherever you get your podcasts. Learn more about Kristin on her website www.kristinoconnor.com or follow her on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube. Be sure to sign up for information about her new food product company (formerly known as Seia & Co.) at superdirtfoods.com and follow @superdirtfoods on Instagram.