Diet for Job-Hunters
Episode 85 - The best nutrition for job hunters, featuring Michele Chevalley Hedge
The Best Nutrition for Job Hunters
Can nutrition play a part in your career success? Is sugar bad for your career?
To answer these and many other questions, I have invited Michele Chevalley Hedge, a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, to be my guest on the podcast. I wanted Michele in particular because she worked as a corporate executive for Microsoft before becoming an international nutrition expert. Her experience means she truly understands the needs of time-poor corporate executives who want health but not hassle.
We have previously talked about caffeine and how it can boost your performance in job interviews in episode 81. This time, we take it a step further and talk about nutrition and how it can affect your career and all aspects of your life.
According to the World Health Organization, the average person should have a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar a day. However, the average Australian is having 30 to 45 teaspoons of sugar per day!
This is a global problem, which Michele is very passionate about. According to Michele, cafe-bought chai tea can have up to ten teaspoons of sugar, and a muesli bar, up to six. Snacking on a banana muffin and vitamin water can give you 15 teaspoons of sugar.
And when we take this much sugar in our body, our blood sugar level rises and falls, leading to inflammation, mood, and energy swings.
When you hit low blood sugar levels, you may experience brain fog and exhaustion. And you may find yourself mid-afternoon reaching out to the vending machine and getting more sugar into your body. Michele explained that “when people’s blood sugar levels are low, they are not zesty, they are not vibrant, and they are not doing their best strategic thinking.”
Michele’s take on coffee
“Some people metabolize it quickly, and it won’t affect them, while for others, it will wind them up like a knot.”, Michelle explains. And this will not be good for showing up as your best self in the work environment, an important meeting, or a job interview, where you need to be calm and communicate well.
On a day-to-day routine, Michele believes most people are okay with two cups of coffee a day, drunk before mid-day, and preferably not together. She recommends having one coffee in the morning and another around eleven o'clock in the morning.
If you lack energy in the afternoon...
Check if you have fed yourself a good lunch: You should be able to get energy from your lunch. Or
Check if you have slept well the night before: Ensure you sleep between seven and nine hours every night.
Michele’s #1 diet tip
Michele believes that the best diet is to eat real food. “Eat real whole food, unpackaged and unprocessed, as often as possible,” she says. She also believes this is a perfect combination on your plate:
A great source of healthy fat, such as avocado, nuts, and olive oil.
Always have a source of protein.
A smart carbohydrate, such as sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa, and root vegetables.
Michele says that a common mistake is giving yourself a bird-like lunch. “Once we start to eat like this for breakfast, lunch, and a light dinner, you will notice that you start to crowd out the desire to be snacking and to have sugar.”
The importance of sleep
There are four things that people with excellent well-being protect, and this is what Michele calls the quad factor:
If you are having trouble sleeping, Michele believes that moving to a low-sugar diet will help you get better sleep. So it’s all interconnected! And sleep is the key to unlocking the quad factor:
When you sleep well, you tend to eat better and make time for exercise.
When you sleep more, you can better implement stress hacks.
Sleep has a knock-on effect on all of your hormones, as well as your insulin.
People can get blood sugar dysfunction due to lack of sleep, even if they have a great diet.
The Lancet, one of the largest and most influential medical journals, published an article in 2020 listing shift work as a carcinogenic activity. Why? “It's because those people that are doing shift work have broken sleep, poor sleep quality month after month, week after week, year after year leading to the knock-on effect and the biochemistry underneath that's creating all this inflammation and connections to cancer. So that is an enormous finding, “ explains Michele.
About our guest, Michele Chevalley Hedge
Michele Chevalley Hedge was previously a marketing manager, so she truly understands the needs of time-poor corporate executives who, family or not, want health but not hassle. Health magazine editors often introduce her as “the modern-day nutritionist – the one who likes a bit of wine and coffee.” She is not Paleo Pete, or I Quit Sugar but perfectly placed somewhere in the healthy middle.
Michele’s clinical practice and experience allow her to share stories of patients and their nutritional transformation, which give the audience goosebumps – the kinds of stories that can only be heard if you are at the coal face with clients. Women who say their addiction to food caused their divorce; executives who say they don’t like going to the boardroom without her five top tips; and politicians, and their families, who come to her wellness retreats. Recognizing her sensible approach to nutrition, four years ago, Wiley Publishing commissioned Michele to write Beating Sugar Addictions for Dummies.
Every week, Michele works with major banks in Australia – Westpac, CBA, ANZ, HSBC, and corporations like Apple, Dropbox, Dexus, News.com, MFAA, Women in Focus, ACCOR, Westfield, Department of Defence, Tourism Portfolio, Heart Research Australia, Cure Cancer, and schools and education events. She is the keynote speaker for the Heads of Schools of Australia and the Positive Schools Conference in Hong Kong. Michele is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and the launch of THAT SUGAR FILM.
Michele is the Nature Care College Ambassador, Cure Cancer Ambassador, and Heart Research Institute Ambassador and consults for 100’s on international corporations. She recently sat alongside the Dalai Lama at a conference where she presented on ‘Vitality, Energy, and Serotonin – It’s all in Your Food.’ Mental health and nutrition research is her passion, and she often declares, “It makes the New Yorker come out in her.”
Corporate professionals who need to perform at high levels and make critical decisions at work day in day out operate very much like high-performing athletes. Furthermore, job hunting activities are an added stress, similar to an athlete in recovery mode. I hope that this conversation with Michele on The Job Hunting Podcast helps you take steps to take care of your overall health so that you can perform at high levels at work and in your personal life.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Timestamps to guide your listening
04:58 - Two ex-pats stuck in Australia: there are worst places to be, but it still hurts
08:22 - Renata explains The Job Hunting Podcast to Michelle
10:55 - Michelle’s career story
14:37 - Michelle's career transition
17:53 - Studying for a career change
19:36 - The truth about sugar
27:36 - Renata shares her experience with food, bad nutrition, and what it did to her mental health
30:26 - Michele's recommendation: when you are grieving the loss of a job
34:52 - Michele's recommendation: to help you perform better
39:55 - Michele's #1 tip: the best diet
45:11 - How does healthy fat help you?
49:42 - The importance of sleep and the quad factor
Transcript of this episode
Renata: It's been a while since we had an interview here at The Job Hunting Podcast. So I was super excited when Michelle Chevalley had had time to do a chat with me and record this episode. Michelle is a nutritional medicine practitioner. But before that, she worked for Microsoft as a corporate executive. It was her love of food that was the seed that enabled her to eventually do a 180-degree change in her career. Go back to study with three kids and all, and become a well-known author of three books, an international speaker, and a practitioner who helps thousands of people reconnect with their food and help you.
Renata: And she helps you make tweaks that will make your nutrition much better and enable you to have a better life. Because Michelle was previously a marketing manager, she truly understands the needs of time-poor corporate executives who want health but don't want the hassle. That's why she so popular here in Australia and also overseas and works with all of Australia’s major banks and corporations like Apple, Dropbox, Women in focus with the CBA - that's how we met - Acore, Westfield, and so on. There are so many organizations that I can think of. She's the keynote speaker for the Heads of School of Australia and Positive Schools Conference in Hong Kong and consults for hundreds of international corporations. She's also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and was the ambassador for the launch of that sugar film. If you haven't watched it yet, it's a great film, and you can watch it on Netflix.
Renata: She's an ambassador for the Nature Care College for Cure Cancer and the Heart Research Institute here in Australia. One of the highlights of her speaking career was when she sat alongside the Dalai Lama at a panel at a conference and presented on her work in vitality energy and serotonin. Michelle loves to write, and she has written three great books. One of them is a number one bestseller, ‘The Healthy Hormone Diet.’ She has a new book that has just come out, and I'll put the links to all of her books, her website, and her handles on social media in the episode show notes. So you can go to the episode show notes, or you can go to the podcast website, it's www.renatabernarde.com/podcast, and you will find the information on this episode show notes. This episode is number 85.
Renata: So, without further ado, please listen to the wonderful Michelle and her amazing energy. And she's so passionate about food and nutrition. And we have focused in this episode is talking about how it can help job hunters, people that have lost their jobs, people that are going through a career transition, how they can remain healthy and focused using food and nutrition. We start talking a little bit at first about our lives as migrants in Australia that are unable to visit our family overseas. And then I, you know, go on and ask Michelle a lot about her career transition. And finally, we deep dive into nutrition. So I hope you enjoy this chat.
Renata: Remember, if you haven't yet subscribed to The Job Hunting Podcast, do that now. I will wait, go click that button, and subscribe. Also, remember to check the episode show notes and sign up for the newsletter because you will never miss an episode, and I will send you extra content in the newsletter as well.
Michele: How are you?
Renata: I am great.
Michele: Excellent. I love your backdrop.
Renata: Thank you. It's my home office, and I love working from here. But frankly, life has changed so much.
Michele: Absolutely, so much, so much. Particularly for people who have families overseas.
Renata: I know I was about to ask you, how is your family?
Michele: They're all good, but it's just, it's so interesting Renata, I just got off the phone with a whole bunch of my American family in New York, and they just have no concept of why we have our borders closed, and they can't understand the fact that I can't go to visit them. I can, and I will, but it's with an enormous amount of effort, an enormous amount of money. And then also, going into quarantine when I returned home, which I will do all of that. But, Americans are like, what is going on with you Australians? So, it's a really funny world, right?
Renata: Really funny world. And you probably have noticed as well that the way that we have managed is so different from their way. I have family in America have family in Brazil. They can travel without any quarantining. It's really strange. And for them, this concept of being locked in. Now, you're saying, you can go, you do have to apply. And I don't know, and maybe it's because I'm from Brazil, which is in a very dire situation, but I have friends who have applied and have been denied, Michelle.
Michele: Yes. Yeah, I know. So you either have to go for three months, and you have to have a stat deck to say that you're going for three months, and that's for family reasons, and you have to submit lots of paperwork.
Michele: Or you can say you're going for business and go for two weeks. But yeah, it's very dependent, I guess, on the person who gets the application. So, yeah.
Renata: Really hard, and you know, I just hope everybody from your family is doing well, and they're healthy and
Michele: Yes. And your family?
Renata: Okay. Yeah. My immediate family's fine. And now most of them have been vaccinated, the older ones. But it's always, it's tough. And they have lost friends and family. So it's tough for them. I think because they've been in lockdown, they haven't yet grieved because they're missing everybody. But once they start going out again, that's when they will realize, oh, that person passed away. You know what I mean? Yeah. It is tough. And Australia is definitely a bubble. Our domestic economy is so amazing. You know, I'm just so surprised. Like you can not buy a house in this country. They go, the banners go up, and they sell before auction. Porsche is saying they have never sold as many cars in this country as now. Like it's amazing.
Michele: Absolutely. It's such a, is it the word irony? Dichotomy? Of what is going on in the world. Just, yeah. So Renata, just give me a bit of a summary. I mean, I can talk underwater about health and wellbeing. So just give me a short elevator pitch, which I know I've already read, but I just like you to say it in your language to me on who I'm speaking to today.
Renata: You’re speaking to job hunters and professionals in the corporate sector, which I know is your thing. And you have, you know, a great presence in that community. And the podcast is called The Job Hunting Podcast. And the people that listen to that podcast are usually mid to senior executives. And we have some, you know, up and coming rising stars in their late twenties, early thirties. But I find that most of the people that reach out to me that have listened to the podcast are in their forties and fifties. And they're from all over the world. Most of my listeners are from America. So they will be really happy to hear your accent. So it's about 40% Americans, 40% Australians. And then the 20% is really spread over, you know, 48 other countries. We have had in the episodes guests from a wide range of professions.
Renata: So I like to interview other coaches and other recruiters and headhunters, but I also like to get naturopaths and you. I haven't had somebody like you before, but people can come in and give a more holistic view of what it actually means to be in a race, to be in a competition that's stressful. That is more a marathon than a sprint.
Renata: That means you have to manage your wellbeing, you know, during a time of stress, if you are in between jobs, if you're unemployed, it can be very stressful. And also, for those who are currently working but are thinking about moving to a different job, that's an added stress from wanting to leave to starting something new. I find it personally. My IBS plays up whenever I am stressed. Right? Yeah. So I thought, well, you know, Michelle has been such a great supporter of the Women in Focus Program, which were both, you know, alumni of and, you know, be great to hear what you can say to help those professionals that are stressed at the moment and, or about to go into a very stressful situation if they decide to leave their jobs or are made redundant.
Renata: But I like to always start with, you know, your career. So tell us how you ended up doing what you do. How did you make that decision, and what makes you great at it? Well, what are your top strengths?
Michele: Okay. So, why did I originally become a nutritional medicine practitioner? So, I came to Australia in 1990 and thinking I was coming for 24 hours. I was a speaker at a conference, and I fell in love with the man and the country. And I returned, and I had the very good fortune to work for Microsoft in a very specialized area of education. And I loved my career at Microsoft. And in fact, my career at Microsoft has given me much more empathy to be speaking to people who are sitting in corporate shoes. I wish that there were many times when I was working at Microsoft that someone had given me tips on health without hassle. So, my current role as speaking to corporates and doing corporate wellness or speaking to people who were about to re-enter the workforce or transitioning into new careers, it's quite easy for me because I sat in that corporate wellness space for many years.
Michele: And then after I had my babies, I decided I really wanted to do something that really, made me feel very purposeful, and I'd always wanted to become a GP, but I also have a mad love of food. I come from a big Italian family, so my mother's maiden name is [inaudible], and my father is French. So food is our world. And, so I thought I would start to study medicine, and I took a nutritional medicine class. And it was at that very first class that I thought, wow, this is the way that the future will eventually be in terms of preventative wellbeing. And I love that concept of using food to be that preventative step in our life to protect us from cognitive dysfunction, from metabolic dysfunction, from just vibrancy and zestiness of life. And, we certainly have seen that during COVID and the research that will be coming out of COVID. The winner of COVID is going to be well-being because there'll be a lot of money spent on people's mental, emotional, physical wellbeing and what we can do for prevention rather than being in reactive mode.
Michele: Yeah. So, I went on, and I became a nutritional medicine practitioner and then a speaker, an international speaker. And then I wrote a few books. I’ve written three books, ‘Beating Sugar Addictions for Dummies’ was my first book. My second book, which I love, is called ‘The Healthy Hormone Diet’. And that's about a lot of things that we can talk about today, which I think will really resonate with some of the people on here. So, you know, a lot of people come to us, and they'll be so beating themselves up about, about what's going on with their health when they don't actually realize it could be their hormones that are wreaking havoc. It's not their decision. It's not a consequence, and their health often isn't a consequence of necessarily what they're doing, but what their hormones are doing and how we can tweak them nutritionally and make them feel a whole lot better. So we'll come back to all of those things.
Renata: Oh, I have so many questions for you, but before we move into the nutritional questions, I want to ask you about your career transition because when you speak like that, I'm aware that some of my listeners may think it was very smooth. But was it hard for you to give up on your corporate career and then move into how did you make that work during those transitional years? Did you have to, you know, study and make some sort of financial adjustments to make it work?
Michele: Absolutely. Both. And financially and the time when I think about it because I still want to go onto my Ph.D. or even become a medical doctor. I'm not sure which one I will do. I've just finished another degree in positive psychology, but any kind of study, I think really taxes your family, you know, it taxes your free time. And even when you're not actually engaged in the study itself, you're thinking about the study and the assessments you have to do. So you have to, I feel you have to be very passionate about that topic. And for me, going into medicine, and studying biology, and organic chemistry, and all of those things were very difficult. And I had three young children, but I felt very, very passionate. I always felt very passionate about medicine. I always felt very passionate about food.
Michele: So, for me, it was where I probably always belonged. I happened to get very lucky at university. And, I did a double degree. I came from a family that didn't have much money. And so I did a double degree in a very high profile university in America. And then they paid for a fellowship for my masters. So, that transition that happened with my career happened to be a lot of grit and happened to be a lot of luck because then I landed with Microsoft, which was just Microsoft in its early days. But in my heart of hearts, whilst I loved and was very grateful for my career, my heart of hearts, it wasn't my passion. And so, going on to study, even though it was difficult with three young children, was so difficult, and I was failing some classes, and I had never failed classes before.
Michele: You know, I'd always been a good student, but it also was a very humbling experience and wonderful for motherhood to know that you can fail things. So, you know, my kids always laugh when they turned up with, you know, difficult assessments or poor grades. And they'd go, mom, remember when you were doing biochem, and you failed? So, that was wonderful, but I really encourage anybody if it's in your heart if it's deeply in your heart, then why not pursue it? When there's a will, there's a way. And, I'm so grateful. I love what I do now. I would do what I do now for the rest of my life for free. Thank goodness I do get paid for it. But there will come a time when I have paid off all of my debts and my website and all it takes to run a business where I do all of my speaking engagements at schools for free. There's no doubt about that.
Renata: Lovely. And you know, I think that the example of your life and what you've decided to do is a great example of how to sign up for additional professional development and study. It's when it is that meaningful, important career transition, where whereas many professionals just think they need to do it, you know, like, oh, what I really need is an MBA, or, you know what I mean? It's a very different mindset that I like people to recognize the difference. And I think your example really is the best example we've had in this podcast of why you would sign up for such an amazing amount of study time. It's because it's not only a big career change but also one that you feel very passionate about. And that's the easiest way to do it. And even though I say easy, it was bloody hard, right? So imagine if you're not passionate if you're spending a whole lot of money to do something that you don't, even if it's going to work for you.
Michele: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more on that topic because I see lots of colleagues inside the corporate spaces that I speak as well as just amongst my friends, ticking boxes to get additional degrees. And what I see happening with that is whilst they may have ticked the box and gotten the degree or the diploma, if you're not passionate about it, and you're not feeling purposeful about it, you're not going to be as effective as you can be. So I say, you know, spend the time all of it we're all time, or spend the time investing in something that, you know, really sings to your heart.
Renata: Yeah, absolutely. Well, now let's talk about the things that sing to your heart. I love everything you said, and you know, you had me at sugar, and then you had me again at hormones. You’re talking to somebody who is obsessed with sugar. I'm trying really hard to eat less and less than I have made big improvements over the years. And I'm also menopausal, right? So I love both topics. Why don't we talk about this explanation from you about sugar and what it does to your body that is detrimental to you working with high performance?
Michele: Oh, fantastic. I love to. I could talk about this topic forever. So, let's talk about evidence-based truths. I think it's very important as an author, a writer, speaker that, you know when I'm talking about this, that it's from an evidence-based. Because there's a lot of white witchcraft in the area of nutrition, right? So, let's talk about high-performance individuals on sugar. But let's just talk about all individuals on sugar. So let's start with the World Health Organization talks about for maximum, for optimal health, optimal well-being, mental, physical, and emotional. The average person should be having a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar a day. But the average Australian is having anywhere between 30 to 45, even people that are healthy. And the reason for that is because there are lots of healthy-looking things that are full of hidden sugars. So, for example, I'm just going to throw out something to you. In a chai tea, right? Sounds healthy. How many teaspoons of sugar do you think might be in, like a Starbucks or a cafe-bought chai tea? Just give me an idea of what you think.
Renata: Oh no, I don't want to know! Two teaspoons?
Michele: About 10.
Michele: So you see what we're looking at. So, okay. Let me just give you another example. Right? So some of these healthy-looking muesli bars that say gluten-free, buy me, I'm organic, I'm going to make you look skinny and shiny. In just the average muesli bar, what do you think might be like lurking in that?
Renata: Well, I'm going to go from more now just because you're scaring me. Four?
Michele: Usually about six. Well, we've got lots of things, it's global. It's not just an Australian or American issue. Globally, we have lots of products with hidden sugars in them. So, for example, just a banana muffin and vitamin water might give you 15 teaspoons of sugar a day. You know, in that one little hit, you know, when people are thinking, ‘Hey, that's healthy.’ Or let's say a muesli bar with chai tea. So just that alone might give you 16 teaspoons of sugar. So what happens is your blood sugar rises, blood sugar falls, blood sugar rises, blood sugar falls, right? And it's the spiky bits on the top bits that lead to the inflammation that's created in your body. So that's number one, sugar is creating inflammation. So, but it's not just the inflammation. The same way your blood sugar is going up and down is often similar to the path that your moods will take.
Michele: Not only your moods will take because when you're coming down off that sugar high when you're going to the bottom of that dip, it's often where brain fog sets in. It's often where exhaustion sets in. It's often where the thought goes, ‘I'm so hungry. I can't think I'm going to bang on the vending machine and hope a piece of chocolate comes out.’ I know this because that used to be me. So when some people's blood sugar is dipping, right? Because they've been up really high, the same amount of height will be the same amount of dip on the other side. When people's blood sugar is dipping, all sorts of things are happening to them. They are not zesty, and they are not vibrant. They are not doing their best strategic thinking or creative thinking, or just this, their ability to communicate effectively, which is what everybody who is listening to this podcast wants.
Michele: If you are looking for a new job, or you’re looking at transitioning, or you're just looking at being your best self, you want to be all of those things because well-being is not about the number on the scale. That is just the number of gravity. I want you for true well-being to be zesting, sparky, vibrant, cognitive thinkers, strategic thinkers, to be able to communicate with your families at six o'clock at night. These people really matter after you've been your productive self during the day. Okay. So that's my little bit of rant, but let's just go back to sugar. So let me just give you the sugar 101. Okay. So, that just gives you a little bit of a dip into it, but sugar, really. These are what I call sugar truths. The first one that I think is the most important.
Michele: When we take sugar into our gut, it creates this, what we call dysbiosis or the gut bacteria. It goes, ‘hey, this is a party from all the bad gut bacteria.’ So what happens in our gut is we all of a sudden have something's like, oh, why am I burping? Why am I farting? Why am I bloated? What do I have IBS, like symptoms? What do I wake up with a flat tummy and all of a sudden have a puffy tummy? It could be as a result of excess sugar, right? So we get lots of this dysbiosis in the gut. I won't get into the biochemistry of it. I'm going to speak in layman's terms. So now here you are with this upset gut, the doctor says to you, ‘Hey, sorry, I can't really help you because I can't give you a full medical diagnosis, but you know, I’m sorry, take these pills.’
Michele: And when the reality is you really just need to come off sugar and stop that whole IBS, vicious cycle that's going on. But, if that's not enough to scare you, this is what should scare you. When you've got this type of dysbiosis in your gut, where you've got IBS, like symptoms, think about this - serotonin. Your happy hormone is made in your healthy gut. When your gut is compromised, we are limiting the amount of serotonin that is created. The very thing that we get prescription drugs for, for anxiety and depression, we create in our gut. If we are eating a diet full of hidden sugars, processed foods, trans fats, we are not giving our ability to maximize the amount of serotonin created in our body.
Michele: And that is one of the biggest key findings in the world under nutritional psychiatry over the last six years. And that research has come out of Deakin University, and a randomized control trial called the Smiles trial, which studies food and its connection to anxiety and depression. And if you could all see me right now, even though I've said that a million times, I still get chicken skin when I talk about it because I think how powerful is that! Let's clean up our diets. Give ourselves the opportunity for greater mental wellbeing. And that greater mental wellbeing has a direct knock-on effect on our physical wellbeing. Boom.
Renata: Yeah. When I look back on my corporate life and the bad decisions I made with my diet because I was so busy, it just makes no sense, but it's also not easy to make good decisions when you are so overwhelmed at work. Today I think, oh, I'm very busy, but at least I have my own business, and I'm working from home, and it's easier for me to put, you know, healthy food together. When you're on the run, it's so much harder. I remember coming back from my job in the city at maybe 9, 9:30, 10:00 PM. And before hopping on a train, Michelle, you're going to die. I used to go to the vending machine, and that was my dinner. My dinner would be a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, and a diet soft drink of some sort or Gatorade or something. And I would choose, look how stupid I would choose the healthiest version of the bag of chips.
Michele: There was something subtle going on there in the back of your mind.
Renata: I knew it was, but I knew I was exhausted. I was so hungry. I was so tired. And I remember being in the corporate sector and having that. I think that COVID, because so many people are working from home, will allow us to have more time to prepare meals. And they're better options now than, you know, this was maybe six, seven years ago. But I also remember going to my GP and saying, I want you to give me a referral to see a psychologist because I feel so unwell. And I'm so unhappy, and there's something wrong with me. And she looked at me and blessed her heart. She said, let's do some blood tests and a full checkup because you actually look sick.
Renata: And she was absolutely right. I was, you know, people found out that I was allergic to gluten. I'm not celiac, but I have an intolerance to gluten, probably a bit of lactose intolerance, and all sorts of things. And that's when I became much more aware of what I eat and that link between the brain and the tummy. Because once I changed my diet, all of a sudden, I wasn't unhappy anymore, and I'm naturally a positive person. So my dial, you've done positive psychology. I'm dialed to be always, you know, happy. And so for me to be in that stage meant that I knew that there was something wrong and I to seek help.
Renata: So I think that when you are, all of a sudden overcome with grief, which happens when you're made redundant when you're terminated from a job, it's really hard to make those choices for your diet and for yourself. What would you recommend people do when they are grieving the loss of a job?
Michele: Yeah. I think that that's excellent. I love everything that you just said. And I'm not sitting in an ivory tower because I was that person too when I was working at Microsoft. So if you've read any of my books, particularly my current one, ‘Eat, Drink, and still Shrink.’ I talk about having three different dress sizes, moods that were all over the place, and a life of absolute chaos. So I thought I was, you know, ticking goals, climbing the corporate ladder, and my moods, my brain function, my sleep was all over the place. So I can very much empathize with that. And I love the fact that you've gone through what I call nutritional transformation because it is so powerful. And, before I talk about the grief, I'll just say one comment that Peter Joseph, he's the head of Black Dog.
Michele: He's the founder of Black Dog. He's gone through many of my low-sugar lifestyle programs. He's read many of my books. He's done lots of things with a healthy view. And he said to me, one day, ‘Michelle, do you know how transformative, how amazing your program has been for people with mental health and for my own family, my own personal journey?’ he said, ‘it's extraordinary.’ And I said, ‘Peter, I know.’ And he said, ‘you really know?’ And I said, ‘I know because that was me.’ And now we have a hundred clients a week that goes into the same journey, and it can start in a very dark spot, and you come out just because of food. Wow. That's powerful.
Michele: So with that said, I want to say firstly, to anybody who is going through COVID and having a really tough time, it is a tough time for sure. But I would like you to think about this and take a deep breath and maybe even close your eyes when I say this. There are so many things that you cannot control right now, but control what you can control. We can't control what's going on with vaccinations. We can't control being made redundant on jobs. We can't even control being hired at a new place, but what we can control is how we feed ourselves and how we show up to something. Feeding ourselves has a direct knock-on effect on our energy, to our desire to exercise, to our ability to sleep better. All of the things that will make us show up in our best selves. And that's really anybody who's listening to this, that's really the reason why you're here is so that how you can transition to that next new journey of your life.
Michele: It doesn't have to be big steps. In fact, I don't encourage anybody to create a big step. I encourage you to do all these things, all these tidbits, to be really small so that they are not painful, that they are easy, tasty, and doable for you.
Michele: Because when things are easy, tasty, or doable, you're going to repeat it the next day, and you're going to go, ‘oh, that wasn't so bad. I'm going to repeat it again.’ And then all of a sudden, a week goes by, and you go, ‘Hey, I'm kind of doing this healthy thing. I’m gonna keep going.’ And then the next week you're doing again. And all of a sudden, you're like, wow, wait a minute, people. Like, everybody on the road today's really nice. Nobody on the road is really nice. You're just nicer to yourself. So all of a sudden, this whole self-like thing happens. All of a sudden, you're thinking clearer, you're feeling more zesty, you're a bit more vibrant. So whatever steps, and I'm going to talk about specific steps in a moment, take them slow. Really important. But I would encourage all of you to think of nutrition and food as something we can control and do it slowly because it has a knock-on effect on everything.
Renata: Excellent! You know, I took a leap of faith and because even though I haven't studied anything, I see myself as an expert in coffee. I am Brazilian, right? So I am Brazilian. And I recorded an episode about caffeine intake and performing job interviews because it's a double-edged sword. It can help you, or it can really be unhelpful if you take too much of it, if you take it at the wrong time. And interview preparation is something that I take very seriously. I asked my clients to do a lot of work because it can really push you towards actually getting the job, and people, sometimes, don't know how to prepare for an interview. And caffeine management is something that I can talk with experience and knowledge about to make sure that I help my clients during that time.
Renata: And even if they are in transition and even if they want to, make sure that they wake up, and they are ready, and they feel that they can perform. They can sit down and do the work that they need to do to find their next job. I also find that caffeine can help. But I'd love to hear from you. Well, your take on caffeine, but also your take on the foods that will make you perform better. You know, the tips that you want to give, because what I have said to my clients when they do consultations with me for interview preparation, for example, is, well, if you're anything like me, you will want to reach for carbs. Now, avoid carbs, like the plague, because you were going into an interview. And I'm just worried that if you eat too much cookies or ice cream or anything like that, that may soothe you because you're so anxious, but that will not help you perform better at the interview. Am I right in saying that?
Michele: Oh, absolutely. But we're going to define good carbs and bad carbs. I love the fact that you love coffee because I love coffee as well. In fact, I'll never forget, I think it was on the Today Show. And, the person who was interviewing me said, ‘and here we have Michele Chevalley Hedge. She is the nutritionist that loves a bit of coffee and wine.’ And the other nutritionists that I knew were watching, and I thought, ‘oh, no!’ You know what? I'm going to own that space. It's okay that I like coffee and wine.
Michele: Particularly again, to the audience that I'm speaking to. So let's just talk about coffee for a quick second. So the thing about coffee is you're right. For some people, they'll metabolize it quite quickly, and it won't affect them. For other people, that will just wind them up like a knot.
Michele: And it will definitely not be good for showing up as your best self in a calm, grounded, communicative sense. So what I say to most people is two cups of coffee a day are fine before midday and preferably not together. So, you know, let's say you have one coffee in the morning, and then you might have another one, let's say at 11 o'clock, that should be enough for you. I love the taste of coffee, so I don't have coffee necessarily to pump my energy levels. But what I would say to people is if they're a person that is reaching for coffee at two o'clock in the afternoon, you need to ask yourself, have you fed yourself a good lunch? Because you should be able to get energy from your lunch or have you gotten to bed early enough the night before?
Michele: Because you shouldn't be using coffee as your crutch, you should be using coffee for enjoyment. So you need to be thinking about why you're reaching for that coffee. If it’s for the enjoyment, I say, go for it two before midday. Fine. Now what I'll just extrapolate on that and also say to you, if you are a regular coffee drinker like me, I would like you to consider where your beans are coming from, right? So this takes it a little bit down a rabbit hole, but I'll just explain. Coffee is a very heavily pesticide crop. And here in Australia, we're mad coffee lovers, as you are in Brazil. And, what we want to do is just make sure if we are having regular exposure to that, we're having the cleanest beans possible. So, you know, this isn't an everyday thing for me that I have organic coffee, but when I can seek it out, because I know I have a coffee a day, I try to.
Michele: So just put some level of awareness around that. So what we're talking about in terms of heavily pesticide crop, and we're looking at those pesticides in research in terms of what is going on with our neurological function. So, you know, all those, whenever I see a yellow flag or research happening around something, I always like to talk about it and say, ‘Hey, okay, let's just be aware of that.’ Okay. So let's talk about my number one tip for everybody, and this will segue to carbs. I want you to be thinking about this. The best diet in the world is not the five, two diet. It's not the chicken soup diet. It's not the breatharian diet where you breathe your way to a hotter body. It's this, it's just this, just eat real food. Unpackaged and unprocessed as often as possible.
Michele: Does it need to be organic? Well, that would be a super-duper bonus if it could be. But even in my own family, I don't buy everything organic. I want you to be thinking, eat real whole food, unpackaged and unprocessed, as often as possible in a combination of three things.
Michele: I want you to say to yourself when you're looking at your meal, where's your fat, where's your protein, and where is your smart carb? Meaning your smart carb is your sweet potato, your brown rice, your quinoa, or your root vegetables. Why do we want those smart carbs? Because it is those smart carbs that feed and fuel this thinking brain of ours. Can people do well on a keto diet or a no-carb diet? And is there a time and a place for those people and those things? Yes, there is, but it is along the path of doing that in consultation with a nutritionist.
Michele: And there's often a reason for it, let's say diabetes or a glucose metabolism issue or an insulin-resistant issue, right? When you are wanting to show up as your best self and to be productive, energized, vibrant, all those types of things, I really want you to have some smart carbs on board. Amazing for fueling your adrenal glands and amazing for fueling your brain. Now, I would assume that many people on this podcast are women, and women are very, very good at burning our adrenal glands. And when our adrenal glands get burnt out from trying to nourish everyone in the world, except you, our adrenal glands love smart carb. So I want you not to fear the carb, but if you were making a big thing of roasted vegetables or rice at night, then perhaps not indulge overly in those smart carbs at night, give them to your family cause you're good at nourishing them, but keep the excess for you for the next day to have with some of your boiled eggs or to have with your salad.
Michele: So always cook in abundance. That is a huge must because we're all time-poor. So double your recipes. And usually, your evening meal is usually your most well-thought-out meal. So double your recipe. But for you personally, as a middle-aged woman, or let's say above 30, right? If you are watching your weight or concerned about your weight, just don't have too much carbs at night, but use it during the day for feeling yourself. Now notice I talk about the smart carbs, right?
Michele: But let me just go backtrack again. When you were eating each meal, I want you to say, where's your protein, where's your fat, where's your smart carb. When you start eating like this at breakfast, lunch and dinner would be the same, except for the smart carb. All of a sudden, you start to crowd out the desire to be snacking and the desire to have sugar.
Michele: So for most people that go, Michele, you don't get it at three o'clock. I’m ready to chew my knuckles off. I'm going to bang into that vending machine. And I go, no, no. I do get it. I used to be that person until I started to eat a proper lunch. And when I started to eat a lunch that didn't look like bird food. That was just a salad.
Michele: When I started to have a piece of chicken and some avocado with lots of vegetables, or maybe a little bit of brown rice, all of a sudden at three o'clock in the afternoon, I was the one needling around the office. I was the one that was feeling good. I was the one that was connecting to people or even having some amazing strategic thoughts. Right. And people are like, ‘Hey, what kind of vitamins are you on these days?’
Michele: I'm like, ‘well, it's not vitamins. It’s food.’ And so that is one of the biggest mistakes that females make is they give themselves a bird-like lunch. So they are exhausted, and they're going for sugar in the afternoon or coffee. And when people make the shift to start eating a proper breakfast and a proper lunch and maybe a little bit of a lighter dinner, right? So let's say they have protein and they have lots of vegetables at night. All of a sudden, they go, ‘wow, wait a minute. I feel like I'm eating a lot of food, but wow. My energy is like going through the roof.’ Does that make sense?
Renata: Well, it does. And it, I think it explains why I gained weight when I came to Australia 20 years ago because, in Brazil, lunch is a big deal. In many Latin countries. You take a long time to go through your lunch. And some people, you know, some countries have the siesta. And even at my house, my mother would do a little beauty nap right after lunch because it is quite a heavy meal in the sense that you have the rice, the beans, the meat, and the salad. And that's what people eat for lunch. I came to Australia, and nobody ate lunch in 2001 in 2002. I think now things are changing a little bit. But for a long time, lunch was really, really small. And I really struggled with that. I wasn't used to such a big breakfast. I still am not used. I think breakfasts are really like too many eggs and stuff. Like, I mean, you're French and Italian. So I like that French breakfast a little bit smaller than the Australian breakfast.
Michele: When I'm talking about having protein fat and a smart carb, I'm not talking about a lot of food either because when you start to eat those types of things, right, your brain, if it's working properly in a healthy body, what actually happens is you send signals to your brain called leptin and ghrelin. And they are neurotransmitters that turn on, ‘wow, I’m satiated.’
Michele: So one boiled egg on a piece of good quality grain bread with some avocado will do a thinking brain or a middle-aged woman or a woman over 30, just fine normally to lunchtime. I’m not saying you don't have to have morning tea and afternoon tea, and we can talk about snacking, but it doesn't have to be a lot. In fact, I don't want anybody to eat too much food because too much food is massively zapping on your energy. Anybody that's overeating knows that boy that will suck the life out of your thought processes and your energy.
Michele: So, but when you're eating good quality fats, and I really encourage people to be eating avocado and olive oil and olives and salmon and trout, those things that are really, seeds and nuts, because those types of things send that satiation message to your brain. And all of a sudden, when people start eating like that, they’re like, ‘Hmm, I don't actually need that morning tea. Actually, I feel quite full and well. So lunch is going to be like a big salad with a piece of chicken or a piece of fish and some avocado and boom. Wow. It's three o'clock. I’m still kind of, you know, kind of jumping around and okay, four o'clock I have a handful of nuts and a really nice cup of tea. And so when I get home or when I leave my office desk and I'm showing up for my family, I'm not hangry. I'm not grumpy. I don't have low energy. I'm actually connecting to the people that are so important to me rather than showing up with zero in the tank.’
Renata: Yes, that's absolutely right. And sometimes I call mom and dad, and they're having dinner. I'm having breakfast here, and I see their dinner, and it's usually a soup, and it could be a fish soup or chicken soup. And it's light because I know they had a bigger lunch and they organized their lives so that they can have a bit of a rest after lunch, which is what many people in South America like to do. Just have a bit of a rest, which I think is very healthy, especially if you're used to having a bigger lunch, but I like that spread of your nutrition and your meals in that way. And I never felt comfortable with being in Australia and having such a bigger dinner. I'm very glad that now I work from home and I can have, you know, a better lunch than I used to when I worked in the office.
Michele: Yeah, absolutely. And I feel like a lot of people are feeling that way, and I'm hoping lots of people are getting the message that at dinner, you know, cook once, eat twice. So, you make your meal double the recipe. It saves you money and time, and then you have something for lunch the next day. Now, are you going to eat that every time? No, but when you start to do that, you go, wow. Okay. I've saved time. I've saved shopping time. And I also have saved money, and I'm eating something really nice for lunch. So I think that's really important. Would you mind if I just segue, just for a quick second to sleep?
Renata: Oh, yes, please.
Michele: Right. Okay. So, by eating a really heavy meal at night, that's not good for your digestion or for your sleep either. Right? So, it's not that I'm saying that I want people to eat a bird-like dinner, but often if you were eating a proper breakfast and a proper lunch, your evening meal could be lighter. So ideally, that's really, when I wrote my book, ‘eat, drink, and still shrink.’ I say this is not a secret. This is an easy way to live and still enjoy a glass of wine with your evening meal. But I really want to emphasize the importance of sleep to everybody on this podcast.
Michele: Because as a nutritionist, I like to talk about the quad factor. So I like to talk about nutrition, sleep, exercise, and your stress hacks. So those four principles, if you look at people that have excellent wellbeing and again, not talking about a number on a scale, I'm talking about bright, sparky, wonderful, kind-hearted people that have a big brain, they will protect all four of those things with their life.
Michele: They protect their nutrition. They don't say to somebody when they're ordering a meal at a restaurant. I don't want those chips. I'd like some, you know, sweet potato mash. They say it quietly to the waiter or waitress. They don't say it in front of people. They guard their nutrition with their life. They don't say to people, oh, I'm sorry. I just can't eat that because gluten bothers me. No, they do it quietly and humbly, and they learn to navigate. So mark my words on this.
Michele: With regard to sleep, they don't say to somebody, oh, I'm sorry. I need to get into bed early. Or I'm really protective of my sleep. Again. They do it quietly, and they protect their sleep. So sleep. So let me just go onto the next thing.
Michele: Exercise. They don't say to people, oh, I'm sorry. I can't do that podcast at that time because I'm going to a spin class. No, they protect all of these things because they know that's what makes them high-performance people. So last year, just before COVID hit, I'm going to do a little hashtag bragging here. I was invited by Richard Branson to attend his leadership summit. I actually thought it was a joke. I thought somebody was joking with me. And at that, there were 20 leaders from around the world. There is no doubt in my mind that they protect those four things with their life. They don't tell people, they don't compromise. They know that's what gives them the leading edge.
Michele: So let me bounce back to sleep. I would say sleep is probably the most important of all of those things because when you sleep well, you tend to the following day, eat better, make time for exercise. You then have the ability to stress hack more. So how do you get better sleep? One, move to a lower sugar life, right? So when you're eating the way that I just talked about your sleep will improve just through that. The second thing, coffee before midday. Third thing, hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. If you want good-looking skin people, you want to be drinking lots and lots of water, but for those of you on this podcast, share this with everybody. Stop hydrating after four o'clock in the afternoon. Yeah, I know. Right. Why is that? There are so many people who are waking up at 12 o'clock at night, one o'clock to go to the toilet and then while they're on the toilet because they drank so much during the day, all of a sudden the monkey chatter starts, and it's oh my goodness. Do I have a zoom meeting tomorrow?
Michele: Am I going to show up as my best self? What about that interview with that other person? How do I connect with that person? All of these things start happening. So whilst I'd want you to have an abundance of water, maybe with a little bit of lemon and lime for vitamin C, because that underpins your collagen and your good, good skin. I want you to stop drinking an abundance of liquids after four. So people do that tiny little tweak, and they go, wow, you're kidding me. All of a sudden, I'm sleeping, you know, seven hours straight. So that's really, really important. And with, with sleep, you know, of course, there's supplementations that you can take and any of, you can reach out to me, direct message me on Instagram, and we can talk about supplements. But you know, if you're not sleeping properly, then perhaps you have to look at a magnesium glycinate or melatonin.
Michele: But sleep is really, really worth prioritizing because it has a knock-on effect on all of your hormones, as well as your insulin. People can get blood sugar, dysfunction, even being amazing eaters just because of poor sleep. And let me take one step further. So I'm one of the Cure Cancers ambassadors. I have a big speaking engagement tomorrow for Cure Cancer. If all of those things about sleep aren’t enough to encourage you, think about this. The Lancet, one of our largest medical journals last year, came out with how people that have shift work and how to shift working has been called a carcinogenic activity. Why? It's because those people that are doing shift work have broken sleep, poor sleep quality month after month, week after week, year after year leading to the knock-on effect and the biochemistry underneath that's creating all this inflammation and connections to cancer. That is an enormous finding. So remember, let's just go back to these things, control what you can control. We can control what we eat when we eat and what we consume for liquids. So just, you know, picking up on some of these tiny tweaks.
Renata: Oh wow. Michelle. I had no idea about some of these things, and I consider myself, you know, somebody who's educated. So I think that there will be lots of great tips here for the listeners to take. And remember that your career is what's going to make your life complete, and taking control of the career steps. If you're in your thirties, forties and fifties are so important so that you can have the future that you want to have. The corporate experience that you want to have. Or, if you want to have a career change at whatever age you are, it can be done. And if you can have that backbone of wellbeing supporting it, it makes it so much easier to achieve those career plans, as ambitious as they are. It's so much easier to do if you have your health. And if you have, you know, the clarity of mind to make important decisions for your career. So this is why I wanted so much to have you on this podcast. And I know I've been stalking and insisting, but I'm so glad that it happened. Thank you so much. I know you're busy.
Michele: I'm so pleased. And as I said earlier, please, there's a whole team of me. We're all qualified nutritionists. Please reach out to me for any questions. We're great on social media. We're great with anybody sending us an email. Michele@ahealthyview.com, our Instagram, and our Facebook are @ahealthyview, like a healthy view on life. And yeah, reach out to us for anything.
Renata: So in the episode show notes, sorry to interrupt Michele. But in the episode show notes, I want to add the link to your website, the link to your books, and the link to your programs because I know you have programs happening in the coming weeks and months. I think there is the sugar one. What's it called again? Can you?
Michele: It’s called ‘No sugar lifestyle’, and I'll actually send you a code for all the listeners to get 25% off. So we run it about every six weeks, and the next one is coming up in, I think it's May 24th, but I'll send you a code specifically for the people listening to this podcast. They can use it. Yeah.
Renata: Thank you. That will be fantastic. That's such a great project to have because when you're looking for work if you're in transition, you shouldn't be just job hunting all the time. And it's, you know, a nice side project to do. Right? To keep yourself busy and not think about the job-hunting and just do something good for yourself.
Michele: Yes. Think about nourishing yourself. Yeah, absolutely.
Renata: Thank you so much. I'm so happy that we finished on time because you have something else happening.
Michele: Yeah. Excellent. Yes, I do. Again, preparing for tomorrow for a big event. We're excited about which is Cure Cancer, but thank you so much for having me on. I'm so glad you stalked me. Do you live in Sydney?
Renata: I go to Sydney from time to time. I’m about to go in a couple of weeks. I was booked to go, and then there was a bit of a scare last week, and I'm like, oh, maybe I should postpone it. So I postponed it for now, but I'm hoping to go, if not at the end of this month, the beginning of June, and just for work meetings and stuff like that.
Michele: Yeah. Reach out to me for anything else. I will send you that code through as well as links to everything. And that's just a win-win for all of us. And, you know, as you know, as we started this conversation today, I love doing things like that. Like if one person feels better about themselves, then I'm winning, right?
Renata: Yes. Oh, thank you. I'm sure this will be a great topic. And you know, I usually get messages back and comments, so I'll let you know when I do.
Michele: Great. Excellent. Okay. Thank you so much.
Renata: Thank you, Michele!
Michele: Take care.
Renata: Isn't she wonderful? Wow. I was so excited to speak to Michele. We tried a few times, and finally, we were able to book a time that suited both of us. She's a very busy woman, and I was so grateful and thankful for her to have the time to speak to you, to my audience, here in The Job Hunting Podcast. If you don't want to miss other episodes, please subscribe and sign up for the newsletter. I will always send you the new episodes every week.
Renata: And I will send you a curated list of articles for you to read as well. If you're job hunting, or if you are planning and advancing your career, in the episode show notes, I just thought of this. I will add all of the other episodes that I've done about health, nutrition, and well-being. So we have an episode with Susan Hunter, who is a naturopath, and we have an episode with Ilana, who is a kinesiologist. We have an episode with a menopause specialist. It's a two-part episode with Fatima Khan. And I will link those in the episode show notes. So go there, and you can learn even more about how all of these holistic and important strategies can help your job hunting and help you advance in your career. Bye for now.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, , on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.
My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com