Are you tempted to try a new diet or a new program before the New Year? Do you feel pressured to change your body? How can you stop dieting once and for all? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about a new, New Year’s Resolution with expert Dr. Michelle May.


Dr. Michelle May is the award-winning author of the book series, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, which teaches mindful eating for yo-yo dieting, diabetes, binge eating disorder, bariatric surgery, and students. Dr. May is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University where she teaches Mindful Eating. She is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), the highest earned designation from the National Speakers Association. Dr. May founded Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training in 1999 to share her compassionate, constructive, and life-changing approach to eating through health and wellness professionals, corporate wellness programs, and community-based programs. Visit Dr. Michelle May's personal website, and see also Am I Hungry? Connect with Dr. May on Instagram and LinkedIn.


  • The eat, repent, repeat cycle
  • Be in charge
  • Work in unison with yourself
  • Eat what you love!

The eat, repent, repeat cycle

Many people make light of it, but they’re probably stuck in a yo-yo dieting cycle of eating whatever they want, feeling bad about it, trying to change with a quick fix (that was designed to fail), and then starting the process over. This often happens over the holidays too - people eat a lot, make a plan to suddenly change everything in the new year, fall short of their almost impossible expectation to make overnight changes, and then just keep continuing the same cycle.
Unfortunately with that sort of mindset, I think it really causes people to move from one extreme to the other. It’s not a good place, because when you’re eating everything and feeling stuffed and regretful all the time, that doesn’t feel good. And then anticipating restriction and deprivation, that doesn’t feel good. So, at either end of the extreme, we’re not feeling that great. So, I’m all about trying to find the middle. (Dr. May)
It’s really about finding the middle ground because any extreme approach is going to have you swinging back and forth like a pendulum. When you can practice existing in that middle-ground space, without trying to overachieve and then punishing yourself, you can exit in harmony with your body. You can honor your body’s needs, and cravings, and have a healthier relationship with food and your body image. Everyone does this, but it doesn’t mean that it’s correct, right, or healthy. Don’t give in to what the crowd is doing - be intentional and mindful of your life and daily choices.
It’s diet culture, for sure. This is the problem, it’s so prevalent that actually people have begun to think of this as a normal way of being, but I’m here to tell you … This is not normal. It’s disordered eating, it’s yo-yo dieting, it’s weight-cycling, and it’s not necessary. There’s a whole different way to approach eating that isn’t about one extreme or the other. It;s really about the middle. (Dr. May)

Be in charge

So much of the dialogue around weight-cycling sounds like:
  • “Falling off the wagon”
  • “I’ll do XYZ in the new year”
  • “I might as well … ”
Being in charge and making intentional, conscious decisions about what and how you eat - from a place of love and self-care, not restriction - is a way to let go of allowing yourself to slip into this discourse of, “not being in control”. Making conscious decisions means that you know your limits, you can prioritize your health, and let yourself enjoy your favorite foods without labeling them or making a big deal about it.
If you feel like this is your only opportunity to eat foods you love, then you end up overeating, then you feel terrible, physically and emotionally … So, who wants to move from one feeling of terrible to the other …? When in fact, we can make decisions every day that are on balance, and literally allow us to eat the foods we love. (Dr. May)

Work in unison with yourself

1 - Listen to your body cues: honor your hunger cues, your cravings, and your satiety. 2 - Learn to distinguish between hunger and emotions: learn when you want to eat for reasons other than for hunger. Notice if and when you are using food as comfort, and practice some other self-regulating strategies so that food doesn’t become a coping mechanism beyond a small enjoyment. 3 - Stop giving food moral values: food is food. There are no “good” or “bad” foods.

Eat what you love!

Remember the extreme pendulum swing. You may be nervous about allowing yourself to eat the foods that you love if you have been restricting for a long time, and you may worry about binging on all the “bad” foods that you haven’t allowed yourself to enjoy. If this is you - consider working with a therapist through this journey. However, as you begin to trust your body and yourself, eating the foods that you love will become just about foods that you enjoy and that make you feel good. Eating foods that don’t make you feel good will become less of a novelty because you aren’t restricting them.
What I’m suggesting is that there are a series of conscious decisions that you can make about your eating … Once you know those questions about yourself, you will never ever have to diet again! (Dr. May)
When you truly understand and trust yourself that certain foods will never be restricted again, the urge to binge on them kind of goes away, because you can have them when you want them! So tune into your body wisdom, because it will tell you when you want it and when you have had enough.



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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