National Nutrition Month Spotlight: Teymi Herring and Renee Wiggins of the Diabetes & Nutrition Center

Teymi Herring and Renee WigginsMarch is National Nutrition Month, so we sat down with Teymi Herring and Renee Wiggins, two of our outstanding staffers in the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center here at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center. Learn more about their career paths, and about how people can begin their health journeys. (Spoiler alert: when they say “one step at a time,” they mean it literally — walking makes a huge difference!)

(Interview modified for clarity and length).

What made you passionate about pursuing a career in healthcare?

Teymi: I was surrounded by family members who were focused and interested in health, so that naturally drew me to the field, and specifically, the nutrition part of healthcare.

Renee: I never understood why I should eat certain foods, like if my father told me to eat more vegetables. I took a quiz on the basic food groups and failed. I thought I knew more about nutrition than I actually did! So I started with a nutrition class at my local community college, and eventually graduated from Howard with a degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics. 

Tell me more about your roles with Luminis.

Teymi: I am the contact person for our Diabetes Self-Management Education Program, and I do diabetes prevention program (DPP) coordination. I make sure we meet all of our requirements from a documentation/accreditation standpoint. From a patient side, I meet with patients and discuss their needs.

Renee: I am a Registered Dietitian. I help individuals with meal plans, medication support, weight loss, and diabetes education.

What can a patient expect when they come to visit you?

Teymi: We see patients by referral. They will fill out a questionnaire so I can understand their needs better, and what they are interested in. That will help them on their journey of achieving their health goals. We are patient-focused and centered — our patients drive their care and we support them. We mostly get requests for meal plan assistance, and many patients want to really understand their diagnosis so they can take control of their health.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give people on their health journey?

Teymi: The theme for National Nutrition Month is “Beyond the Table.” We want to enjoy life. Wellness is beyond the table and what we eat. Change can be difficult. Get your family and support system involved! Something like trying a new vegetable once a month can be fun. Small steps will lead us to more long-term, sustained, healthy choices.

Renee: You have to start where the patient is at. If they are only eating one or two vegetables, teach them new and healthy ways to cook with them before adding more to their diet. 

What are some common misperceptions that you’ve heard when it comes to diet and food?

Renee: That all carbs are bad. If you have a patient on insulin, they may need to have at least 15 to 20 grams of carbs per meal. You can have carbs, but check your blood sugar to determine portion sizes. If you start eliminating foods, you may be losing the nutrients your body needs.

What is one easy tip you can give people to improve their health?

Renee: Exercise! Even small things like wall push-ups during commercial breaks or arm circles in a chair. Walking is accessible for most people, and they don’t have to be long walks. Every minute adds up