It’s Not Just What You Eat, But Why

This is a great article that really sheds light on the fact that it is not always about the food.  We eat for MANY reasons.  Worth the read to see if you might have an ah-ha moment like I did!

By Michelle May, M.D.

Many people have the mistaken belief that their problems with food are caused by what and how much they eat. Those are important but they only tell part of the story. In fact, what you eat and how much you eat are strongly affected by why you’re eating in the first place.

The Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Cycle will help you see how each decision you make can affect your other choices.                                                 AmIHungryMindfulEatingCycle
From Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat

As you review the Mindful Eating Cycle, ask yourself the following questions to help you recognize and better understand how you make conscious or subconscious decisions about eating. More important, use these questions to discover possible steps you can take to become more mindful about your decisions.

Why? Why do I eat?
• Why do I think I eat?
• Am I aware of any situations or emotions that trigger me to want to eat when I’m not hungry? Examples: Mealtimes, social events, certain people, stress, boredom, buffets, getting ready to start a diet…
• Have I tried a lot of diets? Did they work for me long term? Why or why not? What happened?

When? When do I feel like eating?
• How often do I feel like eating?
• Can I tell if I’m hungry?
• How could I redirect my attention away from food until I’m hungry?
• What could I do to cope better with my emotional triggers for eating? Examples: Manage stress better; tell someone how I really feel; find a hobby; treat myself to a hot bath; ask for more help around the house…

What? What do I eat?
• What do I eat in a typical day? Would a food diary for a few days help?
• Do I restrict myself from eating certain foods—then later give-in and overeat those foods?
• What health issues do I need to be aware of when deciding what to eat? Examples: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of diabetes.
• What kind of beverages do I drink?
• What types of foods do I feel like eating when I’m eating for emotional reasons? Why?
• Are there any areas of my diet that I could improve right now?
• What specific change would I like to make at this time?
• What kind of foods could I keep on hand to eat when I’m hungry?

How? How do I eat?
• Do I eat while I’m distracted? Examples: Watching T.V.; reading; driving; working; talking…
• Do I eat fast?
• Do I really taste my food?
• Do I eat differently in private than I do in public?

How Much? How much do I eat?
• How do I typically feel when I’m done eating? Do I like that feeling?
• Do I usually clean my plate?
• If I’m not hungry when I start eating, how do I know when to stop?
• What situations or emotions trigger me to overeat?
• What could I do to address those triggers more effectively? Examples: Order less food; ask for a to-go container; get up from the table; turn off the TV; say “no” to food pushers…

Where? Where do I invest the fuel I eat?
• Am I physically active?
• Do I watch too much TV or spend too much free time in front of computer?
• Do I exercise? What do I like to do?
• What else do I do with my energy? Examples: Play with my children; work on my hobbies; volunteer; travel; spend time with friends…
• Is there anything else I’d like to do with my energy that I’m not doing now? What are my goals for my relationships, my career, and my life?

The first step to changing the way you eat is awareness. As you become more mindful of each decision point in your Mindful Eating Cycle, you’ll discover small changes that can make a big difference in why, when, what, how, and how much you eat and where you invest your energy.

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Download chapter one at

Copyright MMXIV, Michelle May, M.D. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, email

The Day A “FAT”Label Was Put On Me – At 5 Years Old

As I go through this process of leaving the diets behind (and I have been on MANY of them) in lieu of learning how to listen to what my body requires for fuel and eating for hunger vs. eating for emotional reasons, many things flash back through my mind.  I am feeling so blessed to have gone through everything I did regarding food issues and yo-yo dieting because it has led me to where I am today and not only am I helping myself, but I am helping others as well.  I want to share my insights in the hopes that it reaches those that can relate to my own struggles so they can know they are not alone and there is hope.

What is on my mind today is I am wondering if we realize what putting labels on children does to their self esteem?  You see, when I was 5 I definitely was a chubby girl but I was happy and had plenty of energy.  I remember playing outside constantly, playing hopscotch, making forts in the woods, climbing the ladder to our hayloft to jump all over the bails of hay, etc.  Life was all about going to kindergarten and coming home to play.  So, what happened?  An adult happened.  Now, I don’t blame this person as she felt she was doing my mother a favor by telling her, but it put a label on me and I remember because I was right there.  This adult told my Mom that the last time she saw me I was chubby but this time I was down right fat and I needed to lose weight.  Yes, those are her words verbatim.  They are forever carved in my brain.  Well, no doubt as to what happened next.  My Mom kicked the woman out of our house and told her to never come back and I haven’t seen her ever again.  My Mom consoled me because I was crying. You see, you think kids don’t understand things but we know that being called fat is not a nice thing and it made me feel different from other kids; like I wasn’t as good because I wasn’t thin.

My wish for all adults out there that when dealing with overweight children is to choose your words and actions carefully.  What adults say and do can truly impact a child’s life.  I have struggled through a life of obesity, dieting and eating disorders and maybe would have anyway, even if it wasn’t for that day.  I will never know and that’s ok.  I am where I am now and I’m good with it because it made me who I am today.  I know I am more than a label; we ALL are!

If you find yourself struggling with eating issues or yo-yo dieting and you truly want to break free of it all, reach out to me.  I’m here to help!

Fear of food vs. Food freedom

I had a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment mid 2014 when I was attempting to go out to a nice dinner with my husband.  I had just come off a 3 day juice cleanse because we were getting ready to go to New England to see family, and well, it just made sense to go with a flat stomach, right?  I mean, isn’t that what everyone was going to pay attention to after not seeing us for 2 years?  It’s so egotistical that I felt it was all about me, but I did, and I digress.  Back to the story.

So we are out to a nice dinner within walking distance from where we live and right by the water.  It was a nice night out and people were walking around enjoying the evening.  We sat down to order and my husband, who has absolutely no fear of food, dives right into the menu and picks out what he wants.  I, on the other hand, take ample time reviewing my options knowing I am looking for something light.  I must have flipped through the menu at least 4 times until I finally decided on the hummus with roasted vegetables and even then I wasn’t too sure.  We place our order and continue on with our conversation.

A while later the food comes out.  As the waitress starts to serve us my heart starts to pound. I’m looking at my plate and its hummus with some type of fried chips things and a baby spoonful of roasted onions. At this point I’m starting to tremble.  I can feel the anxiety building up inside me.  I take the menu and look at it and I was the one who made the mistake.  It said it came with roasted vegetables and whatever the proper name for these fried chips things is. Knowing I had just worked 3 days to “detox”  (ya, right) my system on this juice cleanse, I was not about to eat fried chip things.  I was in a panic inside by this point, but apparently the panic also crept up to the outside.  The manager of the restaurant came over and asked me if everything was OK.  My hands truly shaking, I told her of my mistake and that I couldn’t eat it.  She politely asked if there was something else they could get me (they didn’t have any raw veggies to go with my hummus), and by this point I was too worked up and politely declined and said I was fine. Knowing I was not in a good frame of mind at the moment, she took my plate away and left me to my anxiety.  I looked at my husband and I was so embarrassed that I just wanted to leave.  However, he told me to take a deep breath, relax, and he proceeded to enjoy his truffle macaroni & cheese while I watched.

I look back now and even though this was only about 7 months ago, it feels like a lifetime.  I knew in that moment that something was wrong with my feelings around food.  If I could get so worked up over a chip then I needed some help in overcoming (or at least learning how to deal with) those fears.  You see, I had created so many foods that fit into the “bad food” category that my dieting brain could not see past it.  I am not trying to say fried chips are good for me nutritionally, however, the anxiety and stress that I caused my body by being so afraid of them is not good for me either.  There has to be balance.  And I am finding that.

Thanks to the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Program I have begun to take the leap to food freedom vs. fear of food.  If you also want to learn how to stop the yo-yo dieting and break the restrictive/overeating food cycle, drop me a line and check out for great resources and information.  We are worth it!

What is the goal of “Healthy Habits, Balanced Life”?

I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for everything I have been through in regards to weight and food.  As a child I was obese and then went on to develop an eating disorder as a pre-teen/teen and from there struggled with yo-yo dieting, restrictive eating and overeating behaviors.  So why do I say I am thankful?  Because every single thing I have been through – every struggle, every tear, every obstacle, every success – has led me to where I am at this very moment – healthy, happy and free of diets and food restriction.  It is my dream to be able to spread the word of Mindful Eating so that people can break their own chains in regards to emotional eating behaviors and yo-yo dieting and starting living the life they were meant to…happy, healthy & prosperous!

This is my vision and why I created Healthy Habits, Balanced Living:

“Ready to be done with yo-yo dieting and regain the healthiest, happiest version of you possible? Balanced, healthy living is my passion and I would love to share it with you! Personally having struggled with yo-yo dieting and weight issues from a very young age, it has been a blessing to find Mindful Eating and truly become free of the hold food had on me and the time it was consuming from allowing me to live my life to the fullest. I have gone onto educate myself in all aspects of healthy living, including obtaining certifications in areas of nutrition, personal training and wellness coaching. However, it is the real life experience using the Mindful Eating strategies that have helped me to become in charge of my overall health and weight management and it can (and will!) do the same for you. Please join me in learning how to let go of restrictive and overeating behaviors and be with dieting forever. Allow yourself to truly start living – healthy, happy and prosperous, in body, mind and spirit.”