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Dangers of Diet Culture by Cynthia Boyede


We live in a society that places a lot of value on physical beauty. Whether through traditional media like TV, magazines, or radio or through social media, we are constantly fed the lie that thinner is better. If it’s not thinner, than it’s about being perfectly toned and shaped. We are reminded that thinner/more toned means healthier and that translates to worthiness. Even in our close communities and families, those messages are present. Our culture’s obsession with diet, health and fitness makes it difficult to have a caring and respectful relationship with our bodies, food and movement.

A poll conducted in 2014, showed that 87 per cent of Canadian women are dissatisfied with their bodies and 70 per cent of those women are on a diet to lose weight. Diets have been scientifically proven not to work and in fact, they promote disordered eating and put people at risk for developing a full blown eating disorder. Unfortunately, diets are so normalized that we often buy into them without realizing the risk they pose to our mental and physical health. Here are some diet culture red flags to be wary of: clean eating, Keto, cleanses and detoxes.

One in two Canadians know someone who has or has had an eating disorder. That means over 18 million Canadians know of someone with a history of an eating disorder!

As well as being under-reported, eating disorders are often misrepresented, underrepresented or in some cases overlooked. The most popular and widespread image of a person with an eating disorder is an extremely thin, young and financially-privileged white girl/woman who chooses to starve herself. This image perpetuates two dangerous myths about eating disorders:

1.   An eating disorder is a choice: An eating disorder is never a choice. It is in fact a devastating mental illness. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness (15%). Genetic makes up 50-80% of the risk of developing an eating disorder (ie. NOT YOUR FAULT).  

2.   Eating disorders discriminate: Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of race, weight, body size, body type, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

In a society where beauty and thinness are often seen as pathways to health and success, people with eating disorders who do not fit this mold are often prescribed weight-loss or a “make-over” of some sort. Stereotypes like these build a barrier to recovery for a lot of people who have eating disorders because it makes it harder for people who do not fit this mold to detect the eating disorder early.

The good news is there is hope for recovery. A good place to start is recognizing that you struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating and talking to a health professional or a community support organization like Body Brave, about your concerns.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you preoccupied with thoughts about weight, food, calories, carbs, fat, diets, or   exercise?

  2. Do you refuse to eat when you’re hungry?

  3. Are you terrified about gaining weight or being overweight?

  4. Do you feel uncomfortable eating around people?

  5. Do you feel extremely guilty after eating?

  6. Do you vomit after eating?

  7. Do you mostly or only eat diet/clean foods?

  8. Do you particularly avoid certain food groups e.g. carbohydrates, sugars, fat, etc.?

  9. Have you gone on eating binges where you feel like you may be unable to stop?

  10. Our Executive Director, Sonia Seguin says a good question to ask: Is your relationship with food, exercise or your body affecting your quality of life in any way?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is important to reach out. Body Brave offers free group and individual support. We also recommend speaking with a health care provider and checking out our comprehensive list of treatment programs on our website, here.

Check out Body Brave if you’re in the Hamilton Area and would like to be a part of a body inclusive and positive community. We’ll soon be offering online support so stay tuned!

Remember, full recovery is possible!


House of Commons, Canada, Eating Disorders among Girls and Women in Canada: Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, November 2014, 41st Parliament, Second Session,

Ipsos Reid, 2015. Half (50%) of Canadians Have Been Exposed to Eating Disorders, Whether It's Someone They Know or Themselves. (2015). Ipsos Reid. Retrieved 20 September 2018, from:

"The Role Of Genetics In Eating Disorders - F.E.A.S.T.." N. p., 2018. Web. 2 Nov. 2018.

LeBlanc, H. "Eating disorders among girls and women in Canada: Report of the standing committee on the status of women. 41st Parliament." Second Session). Canada: House of Commons. Available from: https://nedic. ca/sites/default/files//Status% 20of% 20Women% 20Report% 20Eating% 20Disorders. pdf [Links] (2014).

Australian Report

"Need For NIED | Nied.Ca." N. p., 2018. Web. 2 Nov. 2018.


Cynthia Boyede is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Body Brave.

Body Brave is an Eating Disorder, Body Image & Disordered Eating Resource & Support Organization in Hamilton, Ontario.

mindful ways to boost your energy by michelle cordeiro, cnp


I've been going through a slump of feeling quite lethargic lately. I always find that this kind of thing sneaks up on me gradually until I eventually realize that I've been purposely planning my day so I can sneak in an afternoon nap. DO YOU FEEL ME!?

And while I LOVE a good nap sesh, what I don't love is having to rely on it to get through my day without snapping like a sleepy child. But when this happens, it's often a good clue that I need to change things up and figure out how to boost my energy levels back up. And this often isn't hard, as just stepping back and looking into my lifestyle is enough to figure out why I've been so tired and what I can do differently.

Maybe you can relate? And if so, ask yourself these questions:


This is an important one, and something that took me way too long to realize about myself: I'm an introvert.

What I didn't realize (especially in my early 20's) is that being introverted doesn't mean that you don't like being around people, or that you're not a social human. The distinction comes from where you get your energy from:

Do you feel refreshed and energized from socializing or spending a day surrounded by people?


Does time spent by yourself leave you feeling renewed and back to normal.

For me, it's the latter.

Figure out where your energy comes from (I'm sure there's an online quiz for this if Buzzfeed’s your thing), and use that to your advantage. I no longer feel guilty about planning nights alone or  telling my friends that I need to recharge for the day. They get it, and yours will too. Because there's no point in further depleting your energy by showing up to something when you're only really half there and half wishing you were at home with your dog.

Own your introvert/extrovert label. Go out and eat up all the energy from those around you if that's what you need to do OR stay home and go for a solo run. Which brings me to the next question...


Sometimes I get copious amounts of energy from a nice long trail run, and other times it completely wipes me out. Finding what movement you gain energy from is a valuable tool to use towards boosting yourself up. And this movement will often change from day to day, even moment to moment, so exploring all the different ways to move and seeing where you end up is a great tool.

Sometimes a quick walk in the sunshine works wonders, sometimes you need to sweat everything out in a class, sometimes you want gooey yin yoga stretches to reset...explore, journal about it and be open to changing up your movement routine. Aside from keeping it fresh and interesting, this can also help you to gain insight into what really gets your energy levels up, or what absolutely drains you.

In Hamilton? My favourite energy boosting movements right now are:

  • Runs in the Bruce Trail: I recommend starting on the trail at Main and Wilson, running a good out and back using the trail markers and then finishing up at Fairweather Brewery, just East of the trail's start (trail runs and beer are a match made in heaven, I swear by it).

  • R&B Pilates at SousBas: I will never stop recommending this class, because it GIVES ME THE MOST ENERGY. EVER. Which is sometimes problematic when it ends at 9pm but I love it all the same.

  • Yoga in the Park: In Fine Feather Yoga Studio does a PWYC yoga class in Gage park on Sundays during the summer and it's the best community feels. 10am on a Sunday in the park is where to be!

Find what moves you (literally and figuratively) and go do it. Walk, run, jump, swim, bike, wiggle, whatever!


Follow up question: what foods make you feel bleh? It's nice to think about the foods we eat not in terms of 'good' or 'bad' but rather little acts of self lovin'. Like: "I love myself so I'm going to make sure to find Muskoka Mocha ice cream at the Parry Sound grocery store this weekend", or "I love myself so I'm going to eat more than just Roma Pizza today". Ya know? Food choices that are based on how the food makes your body feel and your mind feel is a great way to gain energy.

And the goods news is that the foods your body needs are often the foods you crave. Thinking mindfully about your cravings rather than labelling them as a weakness or lack of self control can help to bring this into light. Maybe you finish a sweaty workout and are craving a big bag of chips? Your body is probably looking for electrolytes to replenish the salt that you've lost through your sweat, so go for something salty! Craving sugar after you run? You've probably burned through your glycogen stores and need sugars and carbs to replenish what you've lost in energy.

Properly fuelling your body with foods that give you what you need can be the difference between feeling wiped out or energized after meals.

P.S. If anyone knows where I can find Muskoka Mocha closer to Hamilton PLEASE advise.

Michelle is an RMMTT student and Holistic Nutritionist (CNP) with a focus on digestive health and learning to love the body you're in through intuitive eating and self love over dieting, always. 

Michelle currently sees clients at Inland Island Wellness Centre. Contact her for more info on her practice or to book an appointment.
// @movewithguts

make your own: sauerkraut by michelle cordeiro, cnp


I'm all about the DIY, especially when it comes to fermented foods that are normally crazy expensive to buy, but crazy delicious to eat. 

We've talked kombucha on this blog before, and if you're interested in making your own check out that post here. But maybe kombucha isn't your thing or you're looking to branch out? Great! Because the feel-good bacteria don't stop there, and can be found in the best sandwich, salad or breakfast topper ever: sauerkraut. 

Not only is homemade sauerkraut much less expensive than store-bought, but in many cases it's also much healthier to eat. 

An easy rule of thumb is to never buy the sauerkraut you find on the shelf if you're looking for the gut-healing benefits. The ones on the shelf are often pasteurized, meaning heat is applied to allow the cabbage to stay fresher for longer. But when we pasteurize fermented foods, we're also killing off the good bacteria that is beneficial for gut health, and therefore removing the health benefits. 

The good bacteria found in properly fermented 'kraut help to keep our BM's regular, our immune system thriving and boosts our energy levels. It does this by taking up space that can otherwise by occupied by the harmful bacteria that suck nutrients away from us and create the perfect environment for illness to arise. 

To ensure you're making a safe batch, clean everything prior to use including your hands. Always try to use a mild, scent free soap to avoid any chemical contamination or contaminants from scented oils (I recommend Dr. Bronner's unscented baby soap for cleaning jars and tools). 

If you DO see mould, discard the entire batch, clean the jar really well, and start the whole process over. It's unfortunate, but it's always better to be on the safe side when fermenting! 


1) BUBBLES: we love bubbles! They show us that there is active fermentation happening and are a sign of a healthy batch. 

2) FILM/FOAM: it's normal to get a thin film collecting at the top of the jar, or to have a collection of foam as well. 

3) VINEGAR-Y SMELL: that's the acetic acid forming, and is 100% normal and welcomed (this is also what makes kombucha smell like old gym socks...), as it is great for our digestion and keeping the ferment free of bad bacteria. 

Now let's get to it: 


1 head of cabbage (you can experiment with different kinds) 

1 tbsp. sea salt 

Mason jar 

1 fermentation weight (or something heavy that fits in the mouth of the jar) 


Slice the cabbage thinly by hand or using a mandoline, and place in a large bowl. Add salt and begin massaging the cabbage with your hands, until you can squeeze out enough of the cabbage juice to cover up the sliced pieces (takes about 10-15 minutes). Slowly, the cabbage will begin to soften and the juices will be pulled out by the salt. 

Once enough juice is extracted to cover, tightly pack the cabbage into your mason jar as firmly as possible. Really pack it in there! Cover completely with the extracted liquid (if there is not enough liquid to cover, you can add a bit of water as necessary). 

Use the fermentation weight, or heavy (clean!!) object to weigh down the cabbage in the jar, keeping it below the liquid. Avoid anything plastic for the weight since it could leach into the jar as the fermentation process creates organic acids that can break down plastic over time. 

Cover the jar with a cloth and secure it with an elastic band. Leave the jar for 2-3 weeks, out of direct sunlight and in an area that stays close to room temperature. 

Keep tasting your batch between the 2-3 week mark until your desired flavour is reached: 

Not strong enough? Let it sit for a few more days. 

Too vinegar-y? Reduce the fermentation time on the next batch. 

Cabbage has just started it's season here in Ontario, so go grab some fresh from the farmer's market and try it for yourself! Get creative with added spices and ingredients based off of this basic recipe and be amazed (or maybe disgusted, some combos just don't work out...) at the unique flavour this ferment can create. 

E N J O Y.

Michelle is an RMMTT student and Holistic Nutritionist (CNP) with a focus on digestive health and learning to love the body you're in through intuition and self love over dieting, always. 

Michelle currently sees clients at Inland Island Wellness Centre. Contact her for more info on her practice or to book an appointment.
// @movewithguts

shifting body perspective: strong is not a look by michelle cordeiro, cnp


I don't know how I could write about anything other than tidbits from the past weekend of Ritual Movement Method Teacher Training. So many lessons. So many feels. This is becoming a common theme with this training month to month I tell ya. 

Something that has stuck with me since, was Jo Gale's message of STRONG IS NOT A LOOK because well, you know, it's not. 

Last week I wrote a post about the damage that restricting certain foods in your diet can do, and I was so moved by the response. Many of you reached out and expressed your support of the message by sharing your own struggles with food. It was really heartwarming to hear how much that post resonated with you, because that means we're slowly starting to shift our minds on what it really means to feel and be well. Let's get rid of the before and after picture #fitspo stuff, and instead make room for more compassion to others AND to ourselves. 

Because we all have our issues with body image or food anxiety to some degree, don't we? So let's speak up about it! 

In my early 20's I started to have some pretty concerning digestive issues that lead me to cut out certain foods from my diet that were doing harm to my body. But even just cutting out those foods, I still felt awful, and would often skip meals in order to ensure that I could get through a shift at work, or a hangout with friends without having to deal with any stomach pain until I was home. 

And I'm the kind of person who gets real hangry when I'm hungry, so it sucked for both me and those around me... 

And as a result of this restriction and elimination I started to lose weight in a very unhealthy way. I felt awful in my body: crampy, bloated and had such little energy to do anything I wanted to. Yet, on the outside, I was told I looked great, fit and thin. Because for some misguided reason, weight loss is almost always seen as a good thing, to be celebrated, to praise someone for. 

And you know what that's saying to that person? That they look great NOW. That before, prior to this weight loss, they didn't look as great. It tells that person that whatever they're doing to lose weight, no matter if it's restricting their food intake, working out excessively or obsessing over their body, they should stick to it, because it's working. 

I had a coworker ask me what my secret was, and when I half-joked that I had cut out most foods from my diet, he told me to stick to it... WHAT!? 


How your body looks does NOT define how you show up. It does not define how many elevator squats you can do at R&B pilates, or how long you can hold plank. It does not define how or when or where you choose to move (or not move) your body or how you TREAT other people, what you mean to other people or how important you are to this beauty planet we're all a part of. 

We are so much more than something as trivial as our looks, which is sometimes clouded by things like the world of social media. So this is a call to stand up and be okay with kindly asking others to shift their observations from the mere shape of your flesh to more important things. It is so inconsequential to who you ARE, so let's shift that focus to what really matters when talking about others and when talking about ourselves. 

I'm gonna end with this quote from Rupi Kaur, because she is SPOT ON with her words: 

“I want to apologize to all the women I have called beautiful
before I’ve called them intelligent or brave
I am sorry I made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is all you have to be proud of
when you have broken mountains with your wit
from now on I will say things like
you are resilient, or you are extraordinary
not because I don’t think you’re beautiful
but because I need you to know
you are more than that” 


Michelle is an RMMTT student and Holistic Nutritionist (CNP) with a focus on digestive health and learning to love the body you're in through intuition and self love over dieting, always. 

Michelle currently sees clients at Inland Island Wellness Centre. Contact her for more info on her practice or to book an appointment.
// @movewithguts

the foods you should be restricting by michelle cordeiro, cnp


I began studying nutrition wanting to know more about my gut and how I could better advocate for my own health with all the conflicting information floating around. But when it came time to learn what protocols were needed to promote healing for my clients, I was hesitant and became pretty turned off. The idea of clean eating, restriction, expensive supplements, diets and cleanses doesn't jive with me. 

But something still drew me in, made me compelled to learn more about why our bodies fall into disease and illness and what alternatives we have to fight against these things. Because I think it's really important to have options when it comes to our health and be educated on what's really going on. It's important to understand the role food plays in our wellbeing and what tools are out there to support a holistic view of health. 

But I knew deep down that I would never be able to tell clients to adopt a strict diet if I refused to do the same. I can't authentically preach the idea of clean eating (whatever that means) because I'm never willing to cut out the joys of pizza and happy hours from my life. 

And I've tried. 

My first introduction into holistic healthcare came from 6 months of a strict allergy elimination diet to figure out what foods I was intolerant to. A diet that normally lasts 3 weeks was given to me with no end date in sight, cutting out gluten, dairy, soy, night shades, alcohol, caffeine, cashews, corn and on and on the list went. I was very much all or nothing in this diet, and refused to stray as I waited for my digestive symptoms to go away entirely. 

In retrospect I know that this diet gave my gut time to heal, and I'm very thankful for that. But on the other hand it also created an intense need for control, putting foods into good and bad categories in my mind. I know this control did more harm than good when, after 6 months of restriction, I snapped and binged on all the 'bad' foods I wasn't allowed. 

Because restricting food is NO FUN. Summer BBQ's without your favourite foods on the grill? A birthday celebration without the cake? A late night pizza craving without the pizza? No. Fun. 

We love to use food as something we've earned after a long workout or a week of 'being good' when it comes to our food choices. It makes us feel crazy and out of control, like eating a piece of dessert means our diet is now shot and we may as well devour the whole thing so we can try again tomorrow. 

Restricting yourself isn't caring for yourself. If self care is eating healthy, vibrant foods, then self care is also honouring your cravings. Honouring your cravings by eating any and all foods that make you feel joy, community, celebration, comfort or just sane. 

And this culture of restriction is everywhere; even when we think we're steering clear of those messages they've become impossible to avoid:

Fast food restaurants include the calorie count next to their menu items. 

There's woman-focused advertising used to sell low-calorie beers. 

There's ice cream marketed as guilt-free because of the reduced calories pasted on the front label. 

Social media is flooded with 'before and after' images to celebrate weight loss. 

It's everywhere. And this means we're constantly being subjected to a message of food being something we should feel guilty about. But hey, guess what!? It's not! 

And not just because I said so, but because deep down you know so too. How boring would life be if we live it feeling perpetually guilty about eating certain foods!? 

And I say this to you because it's something I frequently remind myself. It's not easy to accept this message when we've been told to feel the opposite. But isn't it a little freeing to know that it's okay to feel guilt once you recognize it, but it's also okay to give yourself permission to just eat? And not feel the need to over analyze it all. 

The way I see it, if your body is craving some green things, eat the green things. If your body is craving some sweet things, eat those too. It's all about eating intuitively, and this is something I've been exploring more and more as a nutritionist, as a human and as an eater. 

If this resonates with you and you have questions, thoughts, concerns please reach out! Send me an email and let's work through some stuff, together.

your new potluck staple by michelle cordeiro, cnp


Somewhere there's a really old issue of Reader's Digest that includes a recipe for a roasted red pepper bean salad. Somewhere. But until I can find it again, I give you this recipe that is SUPER CLOSE to that salad. My sister has been making it for years and I'm in love with it, forcing her to make it for me whenever I had the chance. But one day I realized that I was totally capable of making it myself and the recipe is really quite simple... so instead of forcing her to make it for me for the rest of my life, I just learned the recipe. Because you know, I grew up a little. And I've been rocking potlucks ever since. 


This salad is versatile, fresh and such a crowd pleaser. It's gluten free, nut free and can be modified to also be dairy-free by omitting the feta, making it super tolerant to any allergies or diet preferences. Like I said, it's a crowd pleaser. But if you can include the feta, include the feta. 

I love having a good bean salad option when there's a big food spread because it ensures that I'm getting a hearty serving of veg, fibre and protein in one dish. It also stores really well and honestly gets even better with age as the flavours from the dressing sink further into the ingredients. Make it a day before your next BBQ or, I don't know, your next Canada Day party (topical!) to save yourself time and ensure it's at its maximum flavour potential. Maximum flavour potential of deliciousness. 

Okay I'm done blabbing, here's the recipe, hope you love it. 



2 red peppers, roasted and chopped 

2 (15oz) cans of black beans 

2 cups of corn 

1/2 cup feta, crumbled 

4 green onions, chopped 

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 

1 avocado (cubed) for serving 


1/2 orange, juiced 

2 tbsp olive oil 

1 garlic clove, minced 

1 chopped jalapeño (more or less to taste) 

Salt and pepper, to taste 


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place red peppers on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 20 minutes. Rotate peppers and roast for another 20 minutes until peppers are charred and skins can be taken off easily. Let cool, remove stem, seeds and charred skin and then chop into bite sized pieces. 

2. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside. 

3. Combine chopped roasted red peppers, black beans, corn, feta, green onions and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl. Cover with dressing, stirring well and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours (the longer the better!). Add avocado right before serving and adjust salt and pepper as needed. 

4. E.N.J.O.Y


How much is stress contributing to your digestive woes? 

How much is stress contributing to your digestive woes? 

Oh hello there. If we haven’t met, I’m Michelle! A Holistic Nutritionist from Hamilton who is no stranger to funky digestive issues LET. ME. TELL. YOU.

And I’m going to paint you a picture and maybe you can relate, because this was my story for YEARS.

You’re bloated (oh yes).

You’re gassy (are you ever).

But you're trying to eat well (isn't that frustrating!?)

Now what if I told you that this could have less to do with what you’re eating and more to do with how stressed out you are while eating...

Let’s talk it out.

Picture having your favourite meal in front of you while you’re propped up on the couch watching Game of Thrones (and if you don’t watch G.O.T, think “on the edge of your seat, freaking out, screaming at the TV” kind of situation going on). You. Are. Stressed. Out. And you’re barely looking at your food as you gulp it down in a stressed blackout.

Besides the obvious issue of not enjoying your food, there is an even worse chemical reaction (or lack thereof) going on.

When you're stressed, that’s all your body can focus on. Your sympathetic nervous system ensures that only the bodily functions that are absolutely necessary are utilized to their fullest. You become more alert, your adrenaline starts pumping and you are ready to utilize any quick energy sources your body has to offer - which does not include the slow and calculated process of digestion!

Being stressed out (deadlines, TV, traffic, kiddies, anxiety, news updates…whatever it may be that day) puts your body into immediate survival mode, pumping blood to allow you to run faster and produce enough stress hormones to deal with whatever’s going on; in your body’s opinion, digestion can wait.


Stress even has the power to reduce the amount of stomach acid being produced which causes the food to stay in your stomach longer than it should, resulting in fermentation in your gut. Fermentation that creates gas which makes you bloated, makes you burpy and can result in acid reflux (the worst!).

This is such a common story and so important to realize so you can focus on decreasing your stress especially around meal times. This doesn’t have to be a huge change either, just stay mindful!

Take a few deep breaths.

Just take a moment before eating to appreciate what you're about to eat. Give yourself some love for taking the time to make this food (or making the incredible choice if you're ordering out!). Appreciate the fact that you have access to this beautiful meal and nourishment. Appreciate whoever it is that you're sharing this meal with (human, pet or house plant) and give your body some time to prepare for this meal. Not only will this help your digestion but I promise your food will even taste better!

Put down the cell phone.

Whether it's answering texts, emails or being available for phone calls, this is stressful. Being available through your phone at all times is stressful. Leave it aside. Don't scroll through Instagram mindlessly, don't feel the need to respond right away, just let whatever you can deal with later, be dealt with later. I always think about my family growing up and letting the landline ring if we were eating dinner. When you eat, let that landline ring!

Turn off Game of Thrones.

Or whatever show it is that you're binge watching right now. Even if it's not the most stressful show in the world, watching it is still taking your attention and focus away from the food you're about to devour. Limiting the distractions is important, and especially if those distractions make your blood boil and your heart race for Shaggy Dog (last reference, I swear).

Chew your food until it’s absolute mush.

Okay this is kind of a weird one to get used to and you might look a little crazy, BUT TRY IT! Have you ever seen a WHOLE KERNEL OF CORN in your poop!? I have, and it's alarming and a true sign that you aren't chewing enough. And I know this may seem basic but you'd be surprised at how little we chew our food. Keep chewing! It helps break the food down to ease the burden on your digestion and speed up the process. Chew until you can't decipher what's in your mouth anymore. Chew until your food is mush and you think you've chewed enough and then chew some more. Eventually this does become more of a habit and isn't something you'll need to think about. But for now, chew chew and chew some more!

And then focus your attention and energy on the task at hand; eating the heck out of that delicious piece of food and allowing your body to use all it’s wonderful tools of digestion. It makes all the difference.

Reach out and let me know how you do! I love getting all the juicy details in my inbox: