Interview with Dr. Michelle May, MD

By Michelle May, M.D.

Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat, Repent, Repeat Cycle

One of the things I love to do is walk on the beach looking for sea glass. The waves toss broken bottles against the sand, wearing away the sharp edges until they’re smooth. As the tide goes out, the sea glass is dropped onto the beach among the shells where I discover the frosty brown, green, white, and rarely, blue jewels during my walks.  On one of those walks, I decided to write another book. Am I Hungry? had far exceeded my expectations as a text for our workshops – and through word of mouth, found its way into the hands of many thousands of you – readers, workshop participants, and health and wellness professionals.beach front

Based on your feedback, the lessons in Am I Hungry? haven’t worn out their usefulness. More importantly, the message has not yet reached the millions of people who continue to struggle with yo-yo dieting. My belief in the philosophy has grown stronger than ever: individuals can relearn to trust their instinctive ability to eat when, what, and how much they need in a way that is flexible, satisfying, and enjoyable without restrictive, confusing rules.

By the time I reached the end of the beach I had a pocketful of sea glass and a clear vision for my new book. Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cyclebegins where Am I Hungry? left off. Having been tossed around in the “surf” for the last few years, the concepts and lessons are even more refined.

That was several years ago, and Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat is available at bookstores (if you don’t see it, please ask them to order it!), on our website, and on Amazon  (please post your reviews!).

Interview with Author, Michelle May, M.D.:

QWhy did you write Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat?Michelle and Owen May

May – I struggled with yo-yo dieting for over two decades-beginning in my preteens, throughout college and medical school, while starting a family, and into my medical practice. I saw a lot of patients doing the same thing. When it finally dawned on me that the dieting itself was a major part of the problem, I discovered a new path for myself and became passionate about helping others find their way too. Eat What You Love is the culmination of the last ten years of work with thousands of people.

QWhy now? 

May – I think the world is finally ready to acknowledge that we’re heading down a road that just isn’t going to get us where we need to be. People are craving a positive, sustainable solution that doesn’t require deprivation, obsession, and punishing exercise.

QWhat’s wrong with the old advice of “eat less, exercise more”? 

May – Eat less, exercise more may work mathematically, but it implies that food is just fuel, and that exercise is for burning that fuel (and any extra we’ve accumulated).  It is an outdated weight management paradigm that doesn’t take into account the underlying reasons people eat more than they need, the counter-productive effects that restriction has on us emotionally and physically, and the unintended consequences of turning exercise into punishment for eating.

QSo you are suggesting a new paradigm altogether? 

May – Definitely; the old one is just too flawed to fix.  Eat What You Love takes us back to the fundamental truths: food is for fueling an abundant, vibrant life-and enjoyment of food is not only legitimate but critical for satiety. Exercise is for increasing our stamina, strength, flexibility, and health so we feel and function at our best-not to counteract the food we eat.

QWhat does “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat” mean? 

May – “Eat what you love” promises that you can eat the foods you really enjoy fearlessly-without guilt, without paying penance, and without bingeing.  “Love what you eat” teaches you how to eat the foods you love mindfully, intentionally, and attentively.

QThere is a beautiful piece of heart-shaped chocolate in gold foil on the cover. That is unusual for a book on healthy lifestyles!

May – Yes, but perfect because I wanted readers to know that this was not the same old diet-y stuff they had been reading for years. The chocolate is a symbol of all the foods we love, yet the image of a single piece wrapped in gold reminds us of the pleasure that is available when we truly savor those foods in moderation. In other words, if you love it, act like it!

QI love the subtitle, “How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.” 

May – I do too! My friend Dawn came up with that during one of our Facilitator Training sessions. We thought “Eat-Repent-Repeat” would be funny on a t-shirt. Instead, it became the perfect summary of the trap millions of people find themselves caught in because they’ve tried to make changes in their eating using outdated, restrictive, negative approaches that go against our nature. We break that cycle by smashing the old paradigm completely.

QIn the book, you talk about a pendulum instead of a yo-yo. Please explain what you mean. 

May – I’ve often referred to myself as a “recovered yo-yo dieter” which is a great description of the old paradigm. I was either wound up tight following the rules of my diet or unraveling back down toward the bottom again. The problem is that there is no in-between-no wonder so many of us get stuck in that pattern!  I realized that the way out of that trap was to find the middle. A pendulum still has extremes but it is easy to see why restriction usually swings back toward overeating. As you shift away from bad-good and all-nothing thinking, your swings become less drastic so you gradually settle into a smaller, more sustainable arc in between. In the middle, there is flexibility, enjoyment, choice, and balance.

QAs I read the advance copy, I couldn’t help but wonder about all the diet peddlers who are going to be unhappy about this book and your common-sense approach. Are you concerned about that? 

May – I expect and welcome the backlash from those who are invested in keeping us trapped in the eat-repent-repeat cycle (even those that don’t yet realize that is what they are doing). If this book isn’t rattling some cages then not enough people are reading it!  In fact, the early reviews have been fantastic with one notable exception from an obesity researcher who didn’t understand why I would write about yo-yo dieting. She just didn’t see it as the problem. Those who are blinded by their own paradigm may, at worst, ignore Eat What You Love. At best, it may force them to defend their outdated paradigm in the face of all the evidence that it isn’t working. Often that is the beginning of their shift-as it was for me.

QI have a copy of Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don’t Work. Should I buy Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat? 

May – Maybe.  If you loved Am I Hungry? and made meaningful changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, then yes! Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat will refresh your memory on key concepts, build on that foundation, and re-energize your life-change with new ideas, new strategies, and new ways to apply what you are learning about yourself.  If the ideas I shared in Am I Hungry? made sense and inspired you but you had difficulty implementing all of them (or it is still sitting on your bedside!), then the answer is also yes. Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat takes the concepts much further and builds in more strategies and specific processes to help you put them into play.  If you are hoping I’ve finally come to my senses and will tell you what and how much to eat, how many calories you’ll burn in everything you do, and how to sustain enough willpower to never eat chocolate again, then the answer is NO! I am more committed than ever to the belief that you can learn to trust yourself and tap into your expert inside-and I wrote this book to show you how.

QSo what are the differences between Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat and Am I Hungry?  What To Do When Diets Don’t Work?

May – Eat What You Love is also based on the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Cycle, which has proven to be a universal model that allows us to examine and understand the details of our eating experience so we can gradually change whatever isn’t working for us.  You’ll notice that Eat What You Love makes a profound shift away from losing pounds to gaining freedom-freedom from restriction, deprivation, obsession, self-loathing, and emotional and mindless eating. Ultimately, it is this shift in focus that allows each of us to discover our own optimal health in body, mind, heart, and spirit.  Eat What You Love also goes much further to address the issues that keep people stuck in old thinking and dysfunctional patterns. A story from my own life opens each chapter and I’ve included dozens of stories from people we’ve worked with so you can see how they did it. I reorganized it for better flow and we added a whole new recipe section created with my spa chef-husband, Owen.

Q – I want a copy! Where can I buy it?

May -Everywhere! Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle is available at bookstores (if you don’t see it, please ask them to order it!), on our website, and on Amazon .

 

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