We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Hillary Meisner, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and a Type 1 Diabetic. Hillary is a mom of three beautiful girls, a dog mom, and is passionate about health and wellness, specifically in the space of blood sugar management. In this interview, we learn more about Hillary’s definition of healthy, what led her to her career in health and wellness, and the biggest tip she gives her clients when they first come to her for help.
What does healthy mean to you?
Healthy means something different to everybody. For me, healthy is about being the best that you can be and living a life of moderation where you do what you can to keep whatever works for your body working properly. It means being active and enjoying where you can be in your life. Healthy involves lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, stress, and movement. When you can get these in balance with one another, you can lead your healthiest life.
What led you to your career in health and wellness?
I always loved health and wellness. I was active in sports in high school and loved everything about cooking. When my twins were born, one of them was allergic to everything but wheat, and I was newly diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. I had to navigate a whole new world with a toddler, and I had to find ways to determine what I could feed my daughter. It made me like a mad scientist in the kitchen. I found an opportunity to take the health coaching course at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which I did and loved, and I became a certified health coach there. Then I found the Nutritional Therapy Association and went for my nutrition certification, and my entire world opened up. I realized this is a great career that fits my passion, and I get to help people navigate in a way that they don’t feel lost.
What would be the biggest tip or tips that you normally give clients when they first come to you and they are struggling?
The one thing that is a commonality is people feel lost. They’re given a piece of paper or a prescription, but they’re not given a roadmap to get there. The biggest component that people miss is tracking what’s going on in relation to what their goal is. For example, if their goal is strictly to lose weight or if their goal is to get their A1C down in three months, we start with what they’re eating, when they’re eating, and what their body is telling them. Tracking helps us see the bigger picture, including what they’re feeling, such as tiredness, hunger, and headaches. It’s important to listen to the cues that your body sends you.
What do you wish more people understood about blood sugar?
The biggest thing is that blood sugar regulation plays a role in every aspect of your body as part of your physiology. It doesn't just affect people with diabetes or metabolic dysfunction. Every cell in your body relates to something that happens with blood sugar and your endocrine system, with your hormones. Understanding how to regulate your blood sugar is essential for living a healthy life.
What is your favorite food?
Pizza. I'm a New Yorker, and I love the sensory experience of walking down the streets of Manhattan and smelling the pizza. If I could only bring one food with me to a desert island, it would be pizza.
Is there any way that you make your pizza slightly more diabetic-friendly?
I have a strategy where I plan for pizza. I'll make almost like a zucchini pizza where I'll shred up some zucchini and use Parmesan cheese in the crust and a couple of other cheeses to bind it together with some egg. It's more like a zucchini cheesy bread than a pizza. Or I'll get a super thin crust pizza, which happens to be one of my favorites. When you can bulk up a pizza with some veggies, it helps.
What is your favorite nutrition hack?
My favorite nutrition hack is finding ways to enjoy your favorite foods without spiking your blood sugar. One of my personal favorites is chia seed pudding. I keep it in my fridge so I can have my treat when I want it, and I know that it's not going to spike my blood sugar.
Which health trend do you wish would end?
The idea that there's only one right way to be healthy or manage diabetes. There's no specific diabetic diet or protocol for anybody. Everyone's body is different, and what works for one person might not work for another. Instead of following trends or canceling out certain ways of living, we should find space in the wellness industry for everyone's unique needs. Another thing that should end is the stigma surrounding mental health. We need to start treating mental health with the same importance as physical health.
Hillary’s passion for health and wellness is contagious, and she truly wants to help her clients navigate their way to a healthier life. Thank you, Hillary, for sharing your story and tips with us!
If you would like to see more from Hillary or work with her she can be found on Instagram @TheMeisnermethod