Building a business is challenging under any circumstances, but the learning curve can be even steeper when you are starting a new career in a brand-new field. Back in 2017, Shiru Macharia had little experience working in or knowledge of nutrition when she decided to join the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. Fast forward a few years later, she has established a successful online nutrition coaching practice along with a local keto-friendly snack company in her community of Nairobi, Kenya.
For most of her life, Shiru’s main interest in food had been a fun hobby: eating out, exploring new foods, and fine dining. After the birth of her second child, she had a hard time getting her health back on track. She persistently felt tired and weak, sluggish, and her frame stubbornly clung to weight no matter what she did. Shiru instinctively knew that nutrition had a role to play and began to look for a nutrition program that could help.
“I was very disconnected in my body. I really wanted to get it right – and to learn how to feed my children and my family,” she says. “I wanted a course that was practical. When I saw the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program website, I knew this was it. I had seen nothing like it before. This is one of the most comprehensive programs I’ve ever come across.”
Taking the leap into starting a new career
Shiru soaked up every bit of knowledge she could while taking the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. Her cooking skills expanded, she began to explore novel, fresh ingredients (ones she had frequently passed by at local markets), and learned how to adapt recipes based on what she could source locally.
“I had so much fun learning about new types of food I’d never had before and how to cook ingredients in delicious ways,” she says. “Your assignments were literally your dinner. I really enjoyed that. I could see the application of that nutrition knowledge in action, and I could see my family enjoy it and how good we felt after we’d eaten it.”
Shiru began the program with the goal of becoming a food blogger and recipe creator, intending to create a plant-based blog to showcase imaginative dishes that could make traditional Kenyan food more fun. Once she began her blog and started sharing recipes, she was quickly inundated with nutrition questions and requests for personalized nutrition coaching.
Based on this demand, Shiru decided to morph her business from blogging to online nutrition coaching.
“Your assignments were literally your dinner. I really enjoyed that. I could see the application of that nutrition knowledge in action, and I could see my family enjoy it and how good we felt after we’d eaten it.”
Filling the knowledge gap and cultivating community
“I was among the first people in this region to graduate from such a course, and because I had this knowledge and community, I stepped into the gap,” Shiru explains. “There is such a hunger for this information.”
Shiru runs group challenges and online group coaching programs for women – many of whom are postpartum. She helps them break free of diet culture, reduce and eliminate processed foods, and teaches them to cook nutritious foods from scratch to feel more energetic, balance their hormones, support gut health, and improve their relationships with food.
As her community grew, she began incorporating movement and fitness, as well as lifestyle practices to create well-rounded, holistic support for her clients. (Side note: you have to check out Shiru’s fun videos on Instagram. You will be impressed with how much she can weightlift!)
“I was among the first people in this region to graduate from such a course, and because I had this knowledge and community, I stepped into the gap. There is such a hunger for this information.”
Adding a side hustle to a growing business
As a busy entrepreneur and mom of three young children, Shiru is always looking for healthful and practical ways to feed her children at home and at school, as well as consume quality post-workout fuel. She noticed there were very few nutritious snack companies in her area for kids or adults – so she decided to create one!
Nutrisnack is a keto-friendly, gluten-free line of snacks that includes granola and trail mix. Production happens in Shiru’s home, with online orders available for pickup. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and Shiru would love to see her products branch out to local grocery stores.
“It’s never static. I’m always learning, I’m always trying to challenge myself. There’s no other way to grow,” she says.
In 2020, Shiru also became a Program Coach for the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program, working with students from around the world to help them flourish in their personal and professional lives.
“I really do feel proud to be part of that. I love that I get to meet students and keep in touch with them online,” she says. “I get to see what they’re doing and they see what I’m doing, and we inspire each other in that way.”
Next up, Shiru plans to create a signature program that integrates many of the principles of her group challenges, but for a longer length of time to help clients fully entrench healthy habits into their lives permanently. Shiru knows culinary skills and nutrition information practiced over time empowers people and makes it easier to implement daily – as she’s seen it firsthand with herself and her family.
“It’s pretty incredible that I don’t even think about it anymore. When we go to a store or a restaurant, it’s second nature to go for the whole, healthy option,” she says. “I don’t even think about it or struggle to make those choices.”