How to restore healthy hormones with your fork
There aren't too many diets that promote an abundance of food. Leading nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge has found one.
Originally from New York, Michele has lived in Australia for 27 years and worked for IT giants like IBM and Microsoft before finding her calling as a nutritionist and wellness practitioner.
"I've always been into health and wellness, particularly food," she said. "I have an Italian mother and a French father so food was always a big part of my life."
Michele always had ambitions to become a GP, but fell into the IT industry and found herself on the corporate treadmill.
"I had three children and was travelling a lot with Microsoft. I was interested in keeping healthy but like many people in that situation I became time poor. Your last priority is you. My weight was constantly fluctuating, my mood was constantly fluctuating. I remember I got to the point one morning where I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was sleep deprived and brain fogged, puffy, bloated and miserable. I knew I needed to make a change."
After she resigned from Microsoft, Michele decided to follow her initial ambition and began studying medicine. It was in the early days of this new career path that she found inspiration.
"I took my first classes, which were in biochemistry and nutritional medicine," she said. "I sat there and it was like a hundred lightbulbs went off in my head. I realised that if I could use food and nutrition and evidence-based research and the biochemical pathways to help people, then I'd be winning with my fork."
Today, Michele sees patients at her clinical practices in the US and Australia. Her business, A Healthy View, also runs online programs and works with corporates and associations and school bodies across the globe.
She has just launched her latest book, The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet, which is designed to help restore a healthy hormone balance within four weeks.
But how is this different to other diet fads we have seen over the years?
"We have seen sugar being a very big health issue," noted Michele, who is also the co-author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies.
"Then the next big evidence-based research to come out was around gut health and the relationship between the gut and hormones and neurotransmitters, particularly in relation to mental health," she explained.
"I think in 2018 we will see wellness professionals and medical practitioners talking about hormone health."
Years of experience has allowed Michele to see how people behave and respond to dieting. She's observed how most people are very quick to beat themselves up when they are gaining weight and they are moody and brain fogged.
"Some people find themselves gaining weight when they are eating like a bird," she said.
"They blame their willpower when they haven't really addressed the subtle things that are going on with their hormones."
The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet is a four-week plan that recalibrates hormones on a very subtle level. According to Michele, it is a repeatable, doable plan.
"I don't believe in depravation. I come from an Italian family where food is love," she said.
"It's about crowding in so much abundant good food that is tasty that people forget about the junk of the past.
"I would never want anyone to be starving themselves. You become cranky and moody, and that's no way to live. I want people to realise they can live in abundance and reset their digestion, sleep, weight and libido. There is never a period where you should be starving."
The diet also allows a little wriggle room: "At the end of the four weeks you want to be able to choose your poison. You can add a bit of wine or coffee back in."
Her new book explains exactly what hormones do, how they relate to our weight and what happens when they become unbalanced. Through case studies, Michele reveals how different hormones effect our energy levels, mood and appetite.
The 28-day hormone rebalance program also includes a "crowd-in" shopping list and guides to portion size, sugar, dressings and nutritional supplements.
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