We caught up with Michelle Cordeiro, CNP, a Holistic Nutritionist and movement instructor who encourages her clients to enjoy life with an emphasis on intuitive eating. A former athlete, Michelle's own experience with body love has been an uphill journey after a diagnosis with ulcerative colitis and learned the value of nourishing the body from a place of positivity and respect, rather than punishment.
I have always loved flow-y clothing. I was self conscious about my stomach, and I felt like I couldn't wear tight clothing because it didn't look flat, like it was "supposed to." Now I no longer focus on hiding my body, but I feel most like myself when I'm in something comfortable.
Q: Tell us about your body positivity journey.
Most people have some sort of issue with our body, and everybody talks about their bodies in a disapproving way. For me, I stopped playing sports and gained weight throughout University. I saw it as a really negative thing – the "Freshman 15," we all hear spoken about so negatively.
In my early 20s I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I can remember being in the doctor's office and him telling me that I would always have it. He listed the side effects, "this... this... and weightloss." I was so excited when I heard him suggest that - and that's SO MESSED UP.
I went to a naturopath, who put me on an allergen elimination diet until my symptoms went away. No dairy, gluten, alcohol, etc. for about 6 months. I started talking about food as Michelle-approved or not-approved. I became so obsessive about it - I was terrified that any food could make [my condition] flare up.
Because I couldn't eat all these things, I wouldn't eat at all if I was socializing. I was rapidly losing weight. Coworkers were commenting on how amazing I looked and how "healthy" I must be because I could turn down food.
I had never felt sicker.
My symptoms weren't going away, I was having constant anxiety, and I felt completely disconnected from my body.
I started to get pissed off when someone would say, "you're so lucky you can't have dairy," as if it was a positive sign of control. It helped me to realize how messed up the way we talk to other people [about their bodies] is.
After being on this extreme diet for 6 months, I broke it with Queen's pizza... and I didn't get sick. I slowly integrated other things, and began to feel normal again.
I went to school for nutrition to learn more about digestion, but everything they taught us was SO intense. After school, I took a big break from nutrition. I felt it wasn't for me. There are these insane protocols (candida, detoxes, diets), and I realized I couldn't talk to my clients and tell them to eat in a way that I didn't agree with. Social Media + nutrition is often diet-based, skinny-based.
Eventually, I learned more about intuitive eating. I realized, "oh, that's how I eat, this makes sense."My body acceptance went hand-in-hand with that.
Q: How do you incorporate body positivity in your work?
I work from an anti-diet framework. Nothing is restricted or taken out unless there's an allergy.
It's about giving people back the power. We all know how to eat, we just don't know how to listen.
My work is about empowering people to tune back in to the signals that we are all born with.
In my own life, body acceptance is a forever journey. I'm learning to be gracious and shut down those judgemental thoughts. I have the tools to recognize where they're coming from and why they don't serve me anymore.
Teaching movement classes at Goodbodyfeel
, we practice very conscious wording. we don't use any language around body image.
Q: Tell us about your capsule wardrobe.
My wardrobe is small and I always gravitate towards the same things. I love that Mettamade makes clothing I can wear lounging in bed, roll around, then wear it to teach a movement class, throw an accessory on and then wear it to dinner or to work at the clinic.
Q: What's one piece of advice you can give others on their body peace journey?
Be gentle with yourself. You're not going to wake up one day and stop feeling things about yourself. Step one is to notice your thoughts, accept them, and give yourself time to let them go.
Michelle works as a nutritionist out of Inland Island Community Wellness
. Her emphasis is on sliding scale appointments, and working within the client's needs. There's no starting or end point. Her focus is on meeting people where they're at, and making her services as accessible as possible.