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:
- Stress hacks
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.-----
Podcast Episode Timestamps:
- 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
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Episode 54: The importance of staying healthy and positive while looking for a job - with wellbeing expert Susan Hunter
- Episode 74: The OG of career change: From Accountant to Mindfulness Consultant, plus a 10-min meditation for job-hunters - featuring Ilana Kozakiewicz
- Episode 47: Well-being, digital health, and startup jobs - With startup entrepreneur, Co-Founder & CEO of Mindset Health Alex Naoumidis
- Episode 26: Menopause and work: How menopause affects your career - Part 1
- Episode 27: Menopause and work: How uncertainty and stress impact women's career - Part 2 (COVID Series)
- Episode 81: A career coach's top tip for job interview preparation to guarantee your best performance.
- Download a transcript of this episode