Michele Chevally Hedge is a nutritionist, author and CEO of A Healthy View. Here, she talks to Robyn Foyster – the publisher of The Carousel and InProfile CEO – about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Robyn: I’m delighted to be here with Michele Chevalley Hedge who is a nutritionist. I first saw you doing TED Talks and thought, who is this amazing woman? I just love your food philosophy, you’re an amazing nutritionist and you have a great approach to food.
Michele: Well first of all, thank you. I should start by saying that people who love food are my favourite people. I love food, I come from a big Italian family so food is everything to us. It’s community, it’s connection, it’s energy, it’s all of those things and more. And I’ve worked really hard at positioning myself as the nutritionist that can build wellbeing or build health without hassle. I don’t mind when people introduce me as the modern day nutritionist, the one who likes a little bit of coffee and wine. I remember the first time I was introduced like that, at first I was shocked but then I thought no, I’m going to own that space because I believe there’s a way to wellness where you can have a little fun along the way. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, it can just be a series of tiny micro habits that lead to wellbeing.
Robyn: Right, it’s about moderation and incorporating it into your day to day.
Michele: Absolutely, I dislike using the word diet or detox in anything because both of these give a sense of deprivation. Wellbeing is not about a number on a scale, that number on the scale is a great measure of gravity but it doesn’t measure somebody’s good heart, their purpose, their ability to connect with one another, those are the things that define true wellbeing.
Robyn: Tell me your views on sugar, is it true we have too much sugar in our diet?
Michele: My first book was ‘Beating Sugar Addictions For Dummies’ so I’ve been researching the effects of sugar for over 12 years. If there were two things that people could start to embrace and change, it is firstly to move towards real, whole food, unpackaged and unprocessed food. Why? Mostly because real whole food doesn’t contain added sugar and it is the added sugar that’s the culprit in so many things, physically and mentally. So when we take sugar in (most of us are having six, seven, eight times the amount the world health organisation recommends), all of a sudden our gut goes ‘wow this is great, theres a party in my gut’ and we create something called dysbiosis. This creates symptoms such as burping, farting, constipation lack of energy and so on. Our gut makes 85% of our serotonin, our happy hormone, the very thing people are seeking when they have anxiety, depression and mood disorders. Isn’t it remarkable that it’s created here in our gut and not here in our brain. So that’s one big factor around sugar. The other big thing to know is about sugar is that we go from a high to a low in a matter of 90 minutes. So as high as your blood sugar goes up with a healthy smoothie or healthy muesli bar, is equal to how low it drops off and as we drop off people experience brain fog, low energy or tiredness, the inability to connect or communicate effectively. And often the result is that person will go looking for the vending machine, hoping to get that high again. It can be a vicious cycle.
Robyn: You often say, “we need to get curious”, what has been your own experience with food?
Michele: In the last few years my younger brother passed away from cancer. When he was diagnosed he had just had twin babies and even though I live here in Sydney and he lives in New York City, I travelled back and forth every 3 weeks to be the wingman. I initially said, “Greg we’re gonna have green smoothies, we’re going to do yoga, we’re going to bark at the moon at midnight.” And he said “Shelly we’re not going to do anything like that, I’m going to have a Budweiser and you’re going to have a cheeky Pinot and this is how it’s going to go down”, so that’s what brought me to write my book, Eat, Drink and Still Shrink, because there is a way to wellness without severe hassle or deprivation and I’m a firm believer that there’s things that we can choose and there’s things that just happen. Like Greg being diagnosed out of the blue and being told he only had three months to live, my point of the story is to say, don’t wait until next week to live, don’t wait until next month, or when the mortgage is done or your child finishes HSC. No, live today, live abundantly and start with small, tiny micro habits.
Robyn: What is your top three tips for a healthy life?
Michele: Number 1, eat real whole food, unpackaged, unprocessed as often as possible. If you can, choose seasonal, choose local and choose organic. Number 2, avoid added sugar, natural sugars are fine in your fruits and vegetables. And number 3, hashtag no guilt, this is the biggest issue facing the wellness industry, peaople feeling badly about themselves. If you have a bad night, no problem, pick up at your next meal.
Robyn: I want say the thing I’ve taken away from you is to get curious about your health, we all deserve to do that.
You can find out more about Michele Chevally Hedge here: A Healthy View