As a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition, McKel Hill, founder of Nutrition Stripped, has dedicated her life to the pursuit of wellness—and nearly 300,000 people have tuned in to follow along. What started as her personal journey has now evolved into a mission to help others take control of how they feel every day. She’s on a never-ending quest to learn the science behind nutrition and share it with her society in simple ways that make sense and make a difference. Her goal is to empower people to live whole and feel their best, using food as a tool. We chatted with her to find out more about how she uses food as more than fuel.
You started exploring the world of nutrition because you yourself felt sluggish, and out of balance. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? What were you feeling, what symptoms did you have and what was the impetus for your investigation?
My catalyst into the nutrition world was sports nutrition and the fascination behind how literal food is fuel. I always say Nutrition Stripped truly started while I was studying nutrition. The NS lifestyle and philosophy developed through a combination of personal health challenges, mixed with science-driven results and research, and integrative medicine that helped uncover what was happening with my health from migraines, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, to what later developed as subclinical hypothyroidism, leaky gut and inflammation.
I’ve always been a guinea pig and I would test diets and lifestyles on myself while in graduate school in order to truly be able to empathize with what my “future” clients would be potentially feeling. I wanted to come from a place of knowing rather than assuming I knew how they felt or how challenging or easy it was to adhere to XYZ diet, benefits of, did it even work, etc. I’ll always have to practice what I preach regardless of having 10 years of expertise in this industry. The day I feel like I’m no longer a student is the day I should stop doing what I do! I always want to learn, expand, so I can help as many people find their balance and feel good.
When did you hit that “Ah-ha! I feel good!” moment?
This was a huge moment for me, hence why our mission at Nutrition Stripped is to help people Feel Amazing! I had my “oh this is what feeling amazing feels like?!” moment when I overhauled my diet and my lifestyle during early studies in nutrition (20 years old). The biggest offender for my health was uncovering I was intolerant to dairy and gluten, but also had to step up my game with stress management.
How did your personal journey impact your studying of nutrition?
From the start, I always appreciated the dietetic curriculum offering a science backed and evidence based medicine perspective, but it was missing something for me. It was missing the creative piece, the individual, the exploration, the experimentation and the open dialogue from other health professionals. This is why I spent all my free time researching integrative and functional nutrition, medicine, yoga, Eastern medicine, Ayurveda, etc.
I developed a unique perspective and practice between the two—the science and the self. Because of this interest and philosophy, I would incorporate meditation and yoga as part of my “plan” to better my health, or try more warming spices from Eastern cuisines which also challenged me to get creative in the kitchen! That’s when my artistic side came out through food, photography and marketing which you can see on the NS blog and in the cookbook!
What changes did you make to your nutrition first? Was there a “plan” you were trying to follow or did you make your own path?
I put myself through a strict food elimination diet and worked through the top eight food allergens and did a testing period. This is the same plan I put on my clients to give us insight on food intolerances and the connections between how they feel and what they eat.
What changes made the biggest impact on how you felt/how you feel now?
I feel amazing most of the time, but I’m also still human and have to practice what I preach! If I accidentally eat something that doesn’t work for me, I feel it immediately or it’ll show up days later in acne, bloating, digestive issues, poor sleep, etc. At first I viewed these physical or emotional manifestation as frustrating or as a roadblock, but now I’m grateful and amazed that my body sends me these loving messages that I veered off track and had something that wasn’t a great fit for me and it helps me get right back on what nourishes me most.
What one thing can we do today to help ourselves feel better tomorrow?
Keep it simple and don’t be too hard on yourself! I see this so often with clients. Focus on doing what feels right for you—there’s no need to follow strict diets or dogmas out there, but instead take a deep breath, slow down and listen into what serves you and leave the rest out.
Can you share a favorite fall recipe with us?
Warm Breakfast Cereal Bowl! I love this for breakfast or dinner sometimes, it’s loaded with fiber, healthy fats, protein and it’s very filling. Added bonus: You can make this dry cereal for the week ahead to have a quick simple breakfast on the go!
Warm Breakfast Cereal Bowl by McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped
- -1 cup quinoa flakes
- -1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
- -½ cup ground chia seeds
- -½ cup ground buckwheat
- -½ cup hemp seeds
- -½ cup ground flax seeds
- -Optional upon serving: pinch of sea salt, ghee, coconut oil, coconut butter, almond milk, almond butter
- 1. In a large bowl combine ingredients to mix a dry cereal. From that, to make 1 serving use about ⅓ cup to ½ cup of the dry cereal.
- 2. In a small saucepan, add 1 cup almond milk or you can use water, with ⅓-1/2 cup of the dry cereal. Gently heat on medium until the mixture is warm. Add more almond milk or water to thin to your desired texture.
- 3. Upon serving, add optional toppings and enjoy warm.
- 4. Store leftover dry cereal in a glass jar for later.