Renewing your relationship with food is not just about what you eat, but how you think about food. It’s a journey of self-discovery that can lead to improved health, a loving relationship with yourself, and a life filled with energy and vitality. In this episode, Bobbi Giudicelli, founder of Read The Ingredients, delves into the topic of abuse, addiction, and relationship with food.
Bobbi tells her story of transformation, starting with her sister passing away from cancer, her father’s heart disease and worsening dementia, and her own struggle with severe chronic fatigue. These events prompted her to look beyond traditional Western medicine and explore the impact of nutrition on our health and well-being.
Bobbi also shares gold nuggets and sneak peeks from her book, Freedom From A Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back. Bobbi discusses why diets always fail, the significance of comprehending the foods we consume in relation to our health and weight, and her personal journey toward a positive relationship with food. Tune in to learn how to transform your relationship with food.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- The three personal events in Bobbi’s life that served as a dramatic wake-up call.
- Bobbi’s personal experience with severe eating disorders and how it has affected both her personal life and her relationships.
- The psychology of eating and food addiction.
- Healthy lifestyle and aging.
- How Bobbi transformed her relationship with food from toxic to loving.
- The inspiring message from Bobbi’s book Freedom from a Toxic Relationship with Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back.
- What Read the Ingredients has to offer.
- The healing role animals have played throughout Bobbi’s life.
- Bobbi’s advice on finding joy in life.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS BOBBI:
- What was your experience with severe eating disorders?
- What is the psychology of eating, and how does social media impact what we eat?
- Is it true that as we age, it is normal to accept that our weight is going to go up and our energy level is going to go down?
- Why don’t diets work?
- How do the foods we eat impact our health and our weight?
- Would you say getting older in any situation in life is more of a mindset?
- Who did you write the book, Freedom from a Toxic Relationship with Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back, for?
- How did your journey to change your relationship with food from toxic to loving impact your relationship with yourself?
- What is “gluten-free” all about?
- Tell us about Read the Ingredients. What are your popular items and where can people purchase them?
- Would you please tell us a little more about the spiritual side of who you are and how this new lifestyle change has led to your desire to be of service to others?
- What is your message about the importance of healing?
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Bobbi Giudicelli: Renew Your Relationship With Food In A Journey To Better Health And A Better Life
I hope this finds each of you so very well. I’m speaking to you from my studio in West Orange, New Jersey. I am delighted to have this opportunity to interview entrepreneur and author Bobbi Giudicelli, whose book is titled Freedom From A Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back. He will be speaking to us from Grass Valley, California. Three personal events in Bobbi’s life served as a dramatic wake-up call, prompting her to look outside traditional Western medicine and begin a life-changing journey to understand nutrition.
She was grieving the loss of her sister to cancer. Her father was in the throes of heart disease and advancing dementia, and she was struggling with severe chronic fatigue. Her transformational journey to understand nutrition led Bobbi to a plant-based gluten-free nutritional lifestyle that resulted in renewed energy, far surpassing how she had felt even twenty years earlier, and inspired her to co-found with her older son, a company called Read The Ingredients.
I’m looking forward to talking with Bobbi about her intense struggle with her relationship with food, why diets never work, and how the foods we eat impact our health and our weight. She transformed her relationship with food from toxic to loving and more for an enlightening interview that will highlight the ways people can take better, more loving care of themselves by releasing their toxic relationships with food. Bobbi, a warm welcome to show and there is no way you come across as a low-energy person anymore. It’s so great to have you here.
Thank you, Irene and that was awesome. I’ll try to live up to all of that.
It’s all about who you are, which is amazing. I’m a fan. Let’s help everyone get to know who you are by beginning with this question. Tell us about your early years, including how did you develop those severe eating disorders, and explain the distorted reality about your body that those eating disorders represented. I am sure so many people reading this are identifying with all that you’re going to say. Go ahead.
I will start with the early years. When we’re young, we don’t know the label to put on things, but I now know. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. My biological mother was a pretty severely diagnosed schizophrenic. My father was a narcissist. I grew up in a home where there was not a lot of love and support. My sister and I were left to fend for ourselves. My father divorced our mother and got custody of us. She remarried my stepmother and along came two additional siblings with her. It was a very adversarial relationship. There was trauma.
When you say adversarial relationship, is it with your father and with you?
It’s with everybody. He encouraged adversarial relationships among the siblings. His relationship with the stepmother was horrendous. She physically abused me. I was the one that took the wrath.
You were the scapegoat.
There are things that I have read that say, “There’s a checklist of ten things. If you’ve experienced, more than two of those in your childhood, then you’ve been severely traumatized.” On that list, there were 6 or 7 that occurred in our household. Again, a lot of this is in retrospect from what I know. What I know is that we need to find a way to numb ourselves when there’s that much trauma around and food became my thing.
On top of that, when you get into the teen years, especially as a female, when you are so influenced that you have to be fair and you have to look like this. I happened to have the misfortune that my natural build is I was very tall or large-boned. My sister, on the other hand, who was a year and a half older than me was very petite. She always had that special look. She was very vain and she became enamored with makeup, clothes, and all of that at a young age, and there I was feeling very unattractive and large but I wasn’t. I know that I was not heavy. I was very active so I managed to metabolize my poor decisions with food.
All of this, whatever our addiction is, whatever the substance we abuse is to numb ourselves. We’re oblivious to what’s happening around us when it’s happening. My thing happened to have been food and then my obsession with being thin and thinner took over. By nineteen, I was in the full throes of an eating disorder. I started out anorexic. I did not eat. I found a way to not eat. Iceberg lettuce might be the thing that goes into my body for two days and lots of diet soda.
I was a diet soda addict since I was sixteen because I thought, “There’s the answer.” You can feel full. You can feel like you’re treating yourself but not a single calorie. For many years, I would do at least a six-pack-plus of diet soda every day. That’s what I lived on for a couple of years and then that progressed to bulimia because you can only survive so long on that. I look back. I own one picture two years post anorexia and nobody said to me, “You have a problem.” However, I look at that picture and if I see anyone that looks like that, they have a problem. You know that.
I don’t think a lot of people identify that food can be an addiction. They think about drugs as being addictions or cigarettes but you see certain people and you say, “Oh, my goodness.” They’re using alcohol as an addiction, but they’re using food as an addiction.
It’s the numbing effect. It’s how we choose to numb ourselves. When I was struggling with this, I would always say, “Why can’t I be an alcoholic?” That would be so much easier because you can give up alcohol. “Why can’t I be a drug addict?” You can walk away from drugs, but when you’re a food addict and food is your drug, you can’t take food out of your life. I found that out for the two years that I tried.
I would beg and plead. I would say prayers. “Please let me be thin. Please let me stop being driven to eat.” It progressed to very severe bulimia for fourteen years where I would binge and purge. I would eat a tremendous amount of food to put myself in pain in a day. I would purge. I would starve myself for the next three days and it was never healthy food. It was always junk. “This is my chance to eat.” It’s chocolate cake. It’s things that you can’t be sustained on.
Did you get very sick, Bobbi?
Amazingly enough, no. I had a normal amount of whether it’s colds. I was hospitalized with meningitis at one point, more than anything. The other problem when you have eating disorders, and it’s a body image problem, is it doesn’t come up when you are numbing yourself with other substances that you exercise neurotically. You are obsessed with exercising because you also believe that for any single calorie you consume, you better burn off right away. I was so fatigued. Any sickness that I got, meningitis being one, was from complete fatigue.
That was a symptom and a sickness because you were drained. You are exhausting all your resources in there. Let me ask you. You talked about your sister. I’m wondering about your relationship with her since you were so different, and then you became her primary caregiver in the last year of her life. Do you want to talk about your relationship with her before she became ill? I know you healed your relationship with her after she became ill. How did this experience impact your lifestyle?
My sister and I never ever had a good relationship. We went through periods of time, in my late teen years and on where we did not speak for 1 year or 2 years at a time. We were very different. We wanted different things in life. We had different levels of self-awareness. My sister had never had a family. She never had kids. Wanting kids and becoming a mom drove me for so much of my life. My goal number one is to become a parent and have a family. For me, becoming a parent meant I would have the family I never had.
It gave you a chance to heal and to change what had happened to you.
Yes, and I always knew. A lot of people say, “I grew up in such a terrible household. Why would I ever bring children into the world to be like that?” I was very aware of things going on at an exceptionally young age and therefore, I remember a lot from a very young age, which my sister had none of it. She would call me when we were adults and say, “What happened when so and so?” I could tell her as if I watched it on TV in a movie the night before.
I always said to myself, “All I have to do is not do all these things that I recognize you are doing that are horrible and I can be a good parent.” I will tell you now, one of the absolute highlights of my life is I have three sons. I have a great relationship with every one of them. They’re all adults. They’re all married. I have seven grandchildren and I am part of the family I had always wanted. If I accomplished nothing else in life, that was my number one goal. I am so excited that it’s how it is.
You’re the one in your family who changed the legacy. I’m the one in my family who changed the legacy also. A lot of people are guided to repeat the legacy that they get and others of us make other choices. We want to change that legacy. To me, in this day and age, I call it being conscious. That you’re aware of what’s going on. What happened with your sister once you became ill and that you healed your relationship?
The thing you need to know is I never gave up being the good girl. I always felt like I need to do the right thing. During our adult lives prior to her getting sick, there were times she needed money. I loaned her money. It didn’t get paid back. I lived in California. She lived in Florida. I would fly to Florida if she needed me to be there for X, Y, and Z, but there was no reciprocating. She was very self-centered, all about her kind of person. When she got sick, it started out as, “This is the right thing to do.” From the time she was diagnosed until she died was a total of five years.
Was it cancer, Bobbi?
It was ovarian cancer. From the time she got sick, I was there for her even though our relationship was horrible. I resented how she behaved toward me, but that doesn’t mean I can turn my back on her. She is my sister. The same thing happened when my stepmother died or when my father died. I’m going to be there for them. When my biological mother died, I’m going to be there.
I became my biological mother’s caretaker later in life and legal guardian. That’s what you’re supposed to do and I feel very good about it. I didn’t go into doing things like that nor do I now and say, “What’s in it for me?” I’m not that kind of person. When my sister got sick, I was, “What can I do for you? I’ll come to Florida.” I did. I came. I was with her for some of her treatments, but she had other people on the first round she did and then she went into remission. She was in remission for about a year and then when she was rediagnosed, I knew it was the end.
In the last year, she was not capable of taking care of herself. I coordinated when I could be there, which was most of the time, or her best friend was there helping her out. There were other people, but mostly I was the person. I have to tell you that my sister had a funny thing. I have to put this into the story because this was so interesting.
First of all, I learned a lot, just like I learned a lot about how to be a parent by growing up with awful parents. I learned how to be a good person by watching some of the things that my sister did and doing the opposite. One of the things that my sister always had was, and this affected us when we were very young in school. Whoever was friends with her had to be dedicated and loyal to her. Does that remind you of anybody?
Yes, but also, it sounds like your father was a narcissist and you had two of them in your family.
Exactly, at least two. You had to be dedicated and loyal to her. When I would spend time in Florida and her best friend who did help take care of her, they were unbelievably close. She didn’t want me to be friends with that friend. She didn’t want that. She had a boyfriend for a while who was also a business partner for a while. He and I got to know each other because he and I are both business people. All of that had to be very secretive.
It got to a point where I was taking care of her a lot and I knew that things had changed when she started badmouthing her best friend to me. When we knew it was her last several months, she would say, “Bobbi, please promise you will be here when I die.” I said, “Of course, I will be.” I said, “So will Carmen, your best friend.” She said, “I don’t care if she’s here or not. I want you to be here.” It was so sad to me that she feels that way.
On the other hand, I knew that she looked at me differently, finally. I was in her inner circle. You ask how that changed me as a person. There were a lot of things about experiencing it that changed me. One was seeing that and seeing how sad and awful that was that I started to understand her insecurities run so deep that we couldn’t have had a good relationship as siblings. We were fighting for the non-existent love of parents that were incapable of loving, but she didn’t realize that and I did.
She thought the parents weren’t loving her because they were loving me. I was the second child, and I understood all of that. There was a lot of learning about it that went on. The other thing that changed me deeply was seeing her die. She was in her early 50s when she died. I was a year and a half younger, and I realized life is short.
We always used to joke about her and that she would spend money on herself. If she had it, she would spend it. If she didn’t have it, she’d go find a boyfriend that had money and she would spend his money. She was always spending money and we used to always worry. We, being me or anyone I talked to about this, used to worry, “What’s going to happen when she gets older? It’s no longer going to be about her looks and getting the next boyfriend.”
She had that mask of being perfectly clothed and when you get older, you face more of the real you.
One of the things I was always driven by was financial security. I didn’t care if I was rich. I didn’t need a lot of material things but financial security when we were raising kids and the kids were young, was critical, and have enough financial security that my husband and I will be fine. She was completely the opposite. She was all about material things. We worried about that and I realized from that experience, it was like, “Life is short. She didn’t need the plan for getting old.” What have I been depriving myself of because I’m so overly concerned about financial security?
One of the things is I had always been an animal lover. I had always wanted to learn to ride horses and have horses and things like that. At 57 years old, I got my first horse. My sister had died. I realized that I have been holding it off. That was one of my bucket list items. Horses are expensive, caring for them, having them, and all of that but we moved into a home. We built a home on a property where I can have horses. I got horses. They are now my passion.
I give my sister or my experience with my sister credit for allowing myself to have that and being okay with it. More importantly, she influenced in a different and more indirect way my journey to nutritional health and feeling good about my body and what I look like that I need to do something. It had such an influence on me to realize I need to do something about my food issues. I have had it.
You start realizing that if you don’t take care of yourself, what’s going to be for you? Her life got stopped as she went and if you were given more years, what was that going to be about? I had the same experience when Saul died at 58 years old next to me. I was like, “Okay.” Now, I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. It changed me because I experienced something so traumatic. “Why am I worrying about the littlest stuff?”
At least, for me, it happened. You get a sense of what’s important in your life. Speaking of what’s important, tell us about the psychology of eating and how social media impacts how we eat. I’m picking all of this up from your wonderful book, but I’m sure a lot of our readers are all ears. Tell us about the psychology of eating, Bobbi.
There are two pieces. Let’s talk about the psychology of eating part. We should be eating because we’re hungry. We should be eating to sustain ourselves but our society has created all kinds of other good reasons for us to eat, which are not good reasons at all. Let’s go to the simple ones. Every social activity or every celebratory moment has food in it and rarely healthy food.
Nobody goes to a birthday party and expects to have a salad with a candle in it that they’re going to blow out. That’s part of what we’ve done socially. Alcohol is in every celebratory event. For people that don’t have control, whether it’s control around alcohol, food, or whatever, these are all very dangerous places to be. We’re almost in a society of if you can’t drink and you’re going to a party and everyone else is drinking, you have to take a look at yourself and say, “Why? What am I doing?” That’s the social aspect.
There’s the numbing part of why we use food, “I’m bored. I’m angry. I’m upset. I’m happy.” Every emotion is tied to food, “I’m celebrating.” Why are all these emotions tied to food? I can’t explain it, but here comes the kicker. We have developed our society to be that way, to be all about food, drink, or whatever and the food companies have created foods that are physiologically addictive.
With that in mind, hold your thought. That was a big problem for many years with cigarettes because they were engineered to be addictive. What you’re saying is the same thing has happened with food to cause people to become addicted to certain foods and all or the concept of it?
For example, people will ask me, “At my age and for most of the environments I’m in, people will say, “How do you stay so thin?” I answered. I said, “First of all, I’m very active,” and second of all, “I eat a whole food plant-based diet pretty much. I’m committed to no animal products but it’s not that. It’s the processed food that I have eliminated from my diet.”
Would you define processed food for those who are reading this, Bobbi?
The technical definition of processed food is anything that is not a whole food product. Whole foods are anything that animal product or plant product that grows that is a whole thing like plain nuts. However, once you take that nut, you roast it and you put sugar on it, then it becomes processed. We’re doing processed things to it.
Sugar in itself is processed food. Refined sugar is processed food. That’s the technical definition. For example, in the foods that my company Read The Ingredients makes, we have almost exclusively whole food ingredients in our Superloafs. We have one ingredient that is processed ingredient and it’s hemp protein powder. However, the processing of it does not compromise because we’re not adding anything to it. What we’re doing is we’re grinding it.
What they do to get protein powders is grind them up. In our case, part of the hemp seed becomes processed but that’s not what we’re talking about when we talk about processed food. When we’re talking about processed food, our Superloafs do not have added sugar. It does not have added sweeteners of any kind, whether it be stevia, or whatever. There’s no added sugar. It’s unsweetened. There are no added preservatives or anything to make them shelf stable. They are stored in your freezer.
There are no flavor enhancers. Here’s one that’s going to surprise everybody. When you see natural flavors in the ingredients, it is something that they’ve taken maybe the essence of. Let’s take cherry soda. They’ve taken the essence of cherries, but then they do all kinds of chemical things with it, that it now becomes a chemical, a not so-natural ingredient or not that healthy natural ingredient that we’re all looking for.
You become addicted to the taste of that food.
You become addicted to some of those substances and they completely change your metabolism and your microbiome, which is what goes on in your gut, which has everything to do with how you digest food, as well as your immune system and the cravings in your brain. People go, “I crave sugar all the time.” Sugar was chocolate in particular, and sugar was my thing. Mostly, it’s chocolate or just normal candy.
It’s dark chocolate for me.
I eat dark chocolate fairly frequently, but I’ve never felt addicted urge to eat it but I used to eat milk chocolate. My go-to when I was upset or I was ordering dessert in a restaurant was going to be chocolate. It’s going to be chocolate cake or chocolate ice cream. That addiction that you feel to that sugar or drive for that sugar happens in your microbiome. Things get all screwed up down there, and it screws up everything. It messes with your mood, your addictions, your immune system, and all of your digestive tract and how you digest food.
You’re walking around the planet and saying, “I don’t feel well,” but you’re not understanding that you’re doing that to yourself every day.
You’re saying to everybody who says, “You look great. You’ve given up all these things that you love. I could never give up.” I can’t tell you how many times I hear that, “I could never give up, fill in the blank, chocolate, cheese, milk, or potato chips,” and all of these things. What you don’t realize is you may not have an eating disorder, but you are addicted to these things because they’re made for you to want more.
“You can’t eat just one,” was the famous tagline for potato chips. They made it so you can’t eat just one. We all know if you don’t start and eat one, you don’t crave it or if you go for some length of time without that, you are not going to crave it. However, if you are constantly eating them, yes, eating one is going to spark that, “You must eat more.” That is the food addiction, the emotional part that we don’t understand when we say, “I could never give up.” No. You could give it up and that’s the point of what I learned by being on this journey.
Bobbi, I want to ask you. Is that why diets don’t work? Is it because they’ve got these addictions to food and then they’re being asked to give it all up? If they’re not in touch with their problem then it is an addiction.
The answer to that question goes back to both the psychology of eating as well as the addiction part. Let me break that diet question down. When we approach a diet, we think we’re only doing this for a set period of time so that we can lose weight. There are two flaws there. First of all, we can do anything for a set period of time. If it feels restrictive, if it feels punitive, we can do it for some period of time but sustaining that, it’s like if you want to get into shape, you’re not going to get into shape by running for one month and then miraculously be in shape after that.
However, we don’t approach diets that way. We approach diets thinking, “If I do this for 6 weeks or 8 weeks, I’ll lose the weight I want and then I go back to normal life.” We tell ourselves we only have to deprive ourselves. Now, we have two issues at play. One is the feeling that we’re punishing ourselves. That has nothing to do with the food itself. That has to do with what we’ve agreed. We’ve signed a contract with ourselves that we are going to punish ourselves and deprive ourselves for eight weeks. I’ll then feel so good putting on that dress or that bathing suit, and I’m all good. I can go to the beach and have my margaritas.
It’s the Facebook picture that comes on. “Here I am.”
That’s right and it’s all about how they look. That’s problem number 1 and problem 1A with that is that you’re doing it for the wrong reason. You’re doing it to look good and not to feel good. You have never even thought about it, I need to put my bathing suit on. Maybe I should get healthy. Nobody says that. They say, “I need to put my bathing suit on. I need to get thin.” People do not understand that we have tied thin when we’re young, especially. Thin and healthy are the same, and they’re not. That’s number one.
Number two, when we’re all celebrating that we finally lost the weight we want to lose at the end of the two months, what do we do? We go and celebrate. We have that dessert with our dinner. “I did all this so that I could go to that party. I could go to my high school reunion. I could do whatever,” and now, I’m here. You’ve opened the floodgates because you’ve never had the thought of, “I’ve stopped eating X, Y, and Z. Maybe I should not go back to X, Y, and Z.” As long as we think of diets as punishment or deprivation or restricting something that we want so badly, it’s never going to work.
It’s more like you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle that sustains you in your life and that may be giving up certain foods or ways that you’ve been. Here comes another question that I’ve heard a lot, and I have a feeling you’re going to debunk it. Is it true that as we age, it is normal to accept that our weight is going to go up and our energy level is going to go down? If you look at a lot of aging people, that’s what’s happening to them. What is that about, Bobbi?
In one word, I would say it’s resignation. Something that happens when we get older is a lot of resignation. I often have the conversation of, “They’re another one that’s waiting for middle age,” or, “They’re another one that’s waiting for old age.” I recognize there are people that go, “This is normal for my age,” and it’s not. Why do we think we’re done living? We use the word retirement.
People retire from work, but they also retire from living when they get to a certain age. For everybody, that age is different. Aging is such a funny thing because look at you and me. Do you ever wake up, Irene, and go, “At my age, it’s amazing that I can do this.” Whereas what we say is, “Of course, we’re doing this. The calendar says we’re this age,” and most people are resigned.
If you’ve been living your whole life carrying extra weight, you become resigned to it. If you have been kind of physically complacent in your life, it would be a rare person that would suddenly start exercising at age 50. That’s not the norm. That’s what happens with our bodies. We get slower in what we do and what we need to do. We’re not out running around as much when we’re older. Yes, your metabolism is going to slow down and the weight is going to go on but it didn’t happen because you’re older. It happened because you slowed down.
Would you say getting older in any situation in life is more of a mindset? I would say in your situation or my situation, our mindset is not, “I’m going to get older, decay, and do all of this.” My mindset is I’m going to embrace life and do everything I can to stay as vibrant and healthy as I can. As opposed to a lot of people who are resigned, “I’m getting older. I’m going to get sick. I’m going to die. This is inevitable. What are you going to do?” Would you say it is a mindset?
I 100% agree with that. I behave in my life based on how I feel. I have a quick story. I told you I got into horses and I have my wonderful horses. I have a mare and a gelding that I owned. My gelding had to be put down. He was suffering terribly. I knew we were progressing. I will not have a single horse. Horses are not good when they’re by themselves. They need to be part of at least two, a part of a herd.
I was concerned because finding someone else’s horse that was trained properly or treated properly, that’s what happened with the gelding that I had. I so fell in love with him but I got someone else’s problems. I had to train this horse and work with him. I made him amazing. What I didn’t know when I got him is he had old injuries and they caught up with him. I thought, “I can’t go and find another horse to keep my mare company.”
I got this brilliant idea that I’m going to breed her and have my own horse to train and not do someone else’s mistakes. She’ll be great and I’ll have a great time doing it. I did do that. I bred her. The little filly that I now have is not even quite two yet. I was there when she was born. I feel like she’s my daughter. This is an amazing experience. However, I did the math. I’m not putting a saddle on her until she’s 3 or 4 years old. I am starting to train her and I’m working with her. I’m having a blast with her and she’s amazing.
However, I thought, “She’s going to be in the prime of her riding years when I’m in my ’80s.” Why didn’t I do that math before I decided to breed this baby? It’s because the idea of me not having these two horses here on my property that I get to see every day and be with every day is like, “What am I going to do?” There are times that I laugh at myself because I’m in such denial about where I am in my life as far as my age.
I do some crazy things. I still ski very aggressively. I play hours of pickleball during the week. You can’t slow me down. I’m working on my books, but sometimes I got to stop and think, “My horse will be in the prime of her life when I might be too old to ride her.” This whole thing about age is an interesting concept, but it is a mindset. We should be responsible to know that we need more protein when we’re older. You need to listen to your body and things like that. At the end of the day, I will never be resigned to, “I can’t do that because of my age.” You can’t be like that.
Not only that. I think that in your ’80s, you’ll still be riding her and if you’re not or can’t do it as much, you’ll have a lot of loving people around you who will be very happy to entertain you and give you joy as you watch them riding her.
There is no question.
It’s obvious that your journey to change your relationship with food from toxic to loving impacted your relationship with yourself. We’re hearing that the horses are a symbol of that. We’ve talked about your life-changing journey to understand nutrition and explain how the foods we eat impact our health and our weight. I want to go forward with that to ask you about your motivation to write Freedom From A Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back. Who did you write this book for?
You packed a lot into that question. Can I ask you to ask me the second part of that, the book part of that? I want to go back and want to and address what you said at the beginning of that question, which is the change in my relationship with myself.
How did your journey to change your relationship with food from toxic to loving impact your relationship with yourself?
This is huge and your readers will hopefully be able to embrace this. I spent my life feeling very accomplished. I’ve been an entrepreneur. I’ve started companies that have all been very successful. I had written a book many years ago that was a success, and that applied to my business back then. I had the family I wanted. My relationship with all of my sons was always outstanding. I looked at my life and said, “I am so accomplished. Why can’t I get a handle on this one area, the area of food and the area of feeling like I looked good or that I felt good physically and have the energy I wanted?”
I beat myself up over cracking the code in changing my relationship with food. I was very conscious that this is not about, “If I’m at a certain weight, I’m happier. I have the energy that I want.” It was identifying that it was a relationship with food that was holding me back. It was not putting food in the right place in my life that was holding me back and I beat myself up over it.
For my younger years, it was, “If I could lose 10 pounds, I’ll be happy,” but it became so much more about who I am as a person and how I get to be in control of my destiny. It completely changed my relationship with me. Do I feel like I can do anything? No, it’s not about that. It’s about believing that I can have what’s important to me and believing that I can. Another thing I have to tell you is that one of the other changes that were made when I got a hand on all this is my relationship with everybody, including my marriage.
I live in a different world now than I lived in many years ago in my relationships with people. I have so much more compassion for other people. It’s not about the bad mood that what I ate last night does to me, and that I get grumpy with my husband or that I get short-tempered with somebody. I am truly a different person. If this is a flat mood, this is happy, and this is a negative emotion, I live too much of my life below the line before and I live so much of my life above the line now. It takes something pretty important to get me below the line.
Your perspective on your life changed your perspective about everything.
I believe in myself and by believing in myself, I can feel so much better about the people around me. The people that are important to me are even more important to me than they ever were before.
You went through such a struggle to be you. To be all of who you are, there was that piece that was missing. At least, this is the way for me. When I meet people who have issues or problems, I was there. I experienced that. Maybe it’s not the same exact thing, but a shade of it one way or the other. I have compassion for them on their path. It’s not that I’m better. I pray for them that they find their way on their path to also live a better life for themselves. Tell us about the book because it’s great.
Who did I write the book for? I know you read this in the book. As I say in the book, when I was in the worst throes of bulimia for all those years and horrible eating habits, I looked everywhere for a solution. I’m a very driven and accomplished person. I was not willing to believe I can’t fix this problem. Yet, for too many decades, I couldn’t fix the problem, but I had always promised. There was something in me that always said, “I don’t believe I’ll ever be cured but if I am ever cured, I am going to pay it forward.”
This was a struggle in my life. It was secretive. It was shameful. It was so many things not good that held me back in how I felt about myself and that I knew if I ever did figure it out, I was going to pay it forward. Nobody should have to struggle the way I struggled. The book was a big part of, “How do I share this? How do I get this out there?”
The food company was another because one of the things that I say in the book is, if you are going to change your relationship with food, eat healthfully, and feel good about it, you have to have healthy food available to you all the time so that you are not going to go eat that one more potato chip, get hooked again, or destroy your body and mood.
My company and the book were written and I love this. I have to tell you. This is so heartwarming. A woman was a customer of our products. She was a subscriber. A lot of people, once they try our product, if they are super clean eaters, subscribe. They get a subscription. This woman bought, converted into a subscription, and about six months in, she canceled her subscription. Usually, people tell us why because they get a questionnaire when they cancel. She didn’t see where on our website she could cancel so she sent an email to our company and said, “Please cancel my subscription.”
I wrote back to her and said, “Absolutely, no problem but I would like to know why if you don’t mind.” She said something to the effect of, “I know how healthy they are and they’re delicious. I’ve loved eating them but I’m going into a new food program where I have to be very specific about what I eat and I have to measure what I eat.”
Bells and whistles went off in my head. She’s going to do a diet. I couldn’t help myself. I reached out to her from my personal email and I said, “I’m sorry if I’m being too forward and intrusive. You can certainly tell me, and you don’t even need to respond to this, but is this for weight what you feel or weight issues that you want to address? I want to bring to your attention that I can relate. I’ve written this book. I want you to reach out to me and tell me if you want to. Do you want to talk?”
She bought the book and wrote back to me before she even received the book. She said, “It’s like you know me.” “No, I don’t.” She and I now are in constant communication. It is a weight issue. She read my book. She loved the book. She even got a therapist to help her through this. She has tried plant-based eating over and over again, and then she falls off the wagon. She has a considerable amount of weight that she wants to lose but when we started talking about it in terms of her health and not her weight, it became a real conversation.
It’s like a light goes off.
I have an ongoing relationship. We did a Zoom call, so we both know who each other is. To me, if that was the only person that my book impacted, mission accomplished.
You’re talking about the benefits that come to a person from a new, loving, healthy relationship with food, which is a new loving, healthy relationship with their bodies and themselves. What else would you like to share about your books for everyone who now would love to buy them because they need to be inspired? What else would you like to tell everyone about Freedom From A Toxic Relationship With Food?
What’s important to know is the voice of this book is a voice of support and compassion. There are a bazillion books out there that will tell you how to eat to be healthy or how to eat to be thin. It would tell you about nutrition or how important fiber is. Some of them are great, and some of them I learned what I now know from, but I never found a book that told me or that explained what was happening and is also written from a voice of support, compassion, and somebody I could relate to.
I do spell out my personal story in there because I want you to know I’ve walked in your shoes. I understand. I give a lot of information at a superficial level because there’s no use in me reinventing the wheel and telling you about nutrition and how things work in your body so much but it is how I did the journey that was very successful. I take you through step by step but more importantly, the voice in the book is I take you step by step holding your hand.
I encourage the reader in many places in the book, “Please reach out to me. I want to be here with you and for you and take your journey with you that works for you.” I don’t think that book existed. If it did, I couldn’t find it. That’s what motivated me to write the book. You’re not going to get shamed. You’re not going to get a lecture in science necessarily.
You’re not going to be taking on another diet. You’re going to be educated and you’re going to fall in love with yourself, love yourself, and take better care of yourself. Bobbi is your guide.
As you said, it’s a lifestyle. It is not a diet. I won’t go anywhere now where I compromise what works for me. I just got back from Mexico and to eat whole food, plant-based, gluten-free. I had a blast. Did I have a couple of margaritas? You bet. Do I ever drink anywhere else? No. It’s because I don’t like anything about drinking except when I’m in Mexico with my husband.
You can do all that. You can live a good life, but be true to yourself. Being true to yourself means taking good care of yourself. Also, how we use food impacts every minute of our day. I need to say this. I believe everything we put in our mouths, and everything we eat is either going to improve our quality of life or detract from it. It’s our choice to make.
I want to ask you about your company with your son, Michael, but before I ask that, what is with the gluten-free thing, because I’m gluten-free also. I have an allergy to wheat but why did you become gluten-free? It’s easier for me when I tell people I’m gluten-free. I’m not allergic to gluten. I’m allergic to wheat. A lot of people are becoming gluten-free these days. What is all that about, Bobbi?
There are doctors and professionals, some but not many who will tell you we should all minimize our intake of gluten or specifically wheat. There are multiple grains that have gluten in them. For me, it was an experiment. It was trial and error when I was on this journey. I was figuring out what I can and can’t do and what works for my body. I had eliminated gluten almost by accident for periods of time because as I tell in the book, my husband’s always been the food person in the family. He’s done all the cooking and raising the kids, thank God, because I was petrified of food. He’s done all the grocery shopping.
It’s a dream come true.
You would think, except that it was food that I now know wasn’t always doing me greatly although it was not processed food. He was an amazing cook. As a result, all three of my married sons are the cook in their family, which I’m very proud of that. For the last few years that he worked, my husband worked far away. He was only home on weekends. During the week, I would eat a salad for dinner. Every night was a salad for dinner.
I didn’t have the pasta. I didn’t have bread. He comes from a French family so they eat bread. It’s baguettes with every meal. I wasn’t eating any of that and I would realize at the end of the weekend, I was so bloated, cramping, and felt terrible that I said, “I wonder if,” and I started to eliminate the bread and the pasta. It made a huge difference.
I found out by accident that I am gluten-intolerant. We got a pizza oven and Sunday is pizza night here. I used to make my own gluten-free crust and he would make his regular crust. He loves to play around in the kitchen. He wasn’t the pizza lover that I used to be. I used to be a fanatic about pizza with more cheese than you could handle and all of that. He figured out the recipe for an incredible pizza crust. I’m also from the East Coast, so I know a good New York pizza and things like that. He gets heritage wheat from Italy. He gets imported wheat and imported yeast and he makes his own pizza crust.
I tried it and I can eat that with no problem. We do something terrible to our grains here, whether it’s the genetic modification that we do, but even organic here, I would not even attempt. I can eat his pizza crust. When we’re in Mexico, they make pizza. They use heritage wheat and I could have some pizza down there and to no detriment. Gluten is a problem for some people, but also the way we grow our grains.
I also formed an allergy to wheat and I had definite physical symptoms that were happening to me. I went to an allergist, but it didn’t show up. I went to a naturopath and it showed up. I do feel terrific and people will say, “Gluten-free.” I’m doing great gluten-free. For me, it’s wheat-free actually, not gluten-free.
I react. I have shown an intolerance to wheat in those allergy tests. Gluten-free has become a fad and that’s very sad. The reason it’s sad is not that it’s bad or it’s a horrible thing if people give up gluten, but what the big food companies have done is they’ve put other crap into food that makes up for the lack of gluten. Gluten holds it together. Wheat is the gluten that will hold everything together. When I was making a gluten-free pizza crust, I have to put other things in there but it turns out what works well is chia seeds and flax seeds. They also are a binder.
You can put those in there but companies don’t do that. What do companies do? They put all kinds of bad oils and fatty things as an emulsifier or to bind non-glutinous flours together. It’s bad for you. People go, “I’m gluten-free. I’m healthy.” Not necessarily. Most of the gluten-free bread that you’re going to buy in the store has more crap in them than your regular organic wheat bread. You mentioned a brand when we were talking about before that you can no longer get gluten-free bread. That bread does not have great ingredients.
That’s good to know.
Most of the commercially made gluten-free breads are not healthy. They have a lot of crap and when you go to gluten-free crackers and things like that, you’re going to find a lot of the same thing. I encourage people to read the ingredients, which is exactly what we named our company.
Tell us about Read The Ingredients. What are your popular items and where can people purchase them?
We have one item in four different flavors. It’s called the Superloaf. It’s a mini loaf shaped like what you would call a muffin but it’s mini loaf-shaped. It is made with 100% whole-food ingredients. It is gluten-free. It is vegan. We sell them on our website online. They are fabulous. They are made to be an entire breakfast or lunch meal. Calorically, they’re between 305 and 370 calories for a single one, depending on which flavor you have, but it doesn’t have added sugar. It doesn’t have added sweeteners.
You’re not going to be hungry two hours later. It’s going to satisfy you. I’ll eat one for breakfast. That’s all I have for breakfast with coffee. I go out and play three hours of pickleball, and I’m not famished at the end of that. It’s because there’s not a single wasted calorie. They’re high in protein and fiber. They have very healthy carbs and fats. It’s all-natural whole food ingredients.
The reason we made them is that when I started traveling after I was eating healthy, there is not an equally clean packaged product on the market that I can eat. When I’m running through airports, if I don’t have my own food with me, there’s nothing I can eat. I made them for myself. I was sharing them with people and they were going, “We need to be able to get these.” We started the company. We had just sold the previous company that we were partnered in, my son and I. We started Read The Ingredients. We are available on our website, RTIFoods.com, or Amazon. Look up Read The Ingredients Superloafs.
You talked about the spiritual side of who you are with your horses and how this new lifestyle change has led to your desire to be of service to others. Would you like to tell us a little more about that? You’re rebirthing yourself, in a way. You’re transforming.
There’s no question about that. It comes at a time when I’ve experienced the loss of people. Many were outside of my family with whom I was very close, as well as the introduction of my grandchildren. I now have seven grandchildren and it does feel like rebirthing. I talk in the book about my becoming completely vegan and supporting animal rights, animal welfare, and the impact on the planet of our lifestyle, the way it is.
I’d spent almost 60 years of my life knowing that I love animals and not making the connection between my love of my pets, whichever many of my pets we are talking about, and the rest of the animal population and the rest of the world. I have become exposed to and educated about how horrendously we treat farm animals and even horses that are out in the wild. We, as human beings, are not very humane or compassionate when it comes to how we treat animals.
To me, it is heartbreaking. However, prior to this, what you call rebirthing, I could put my head in the sand and I can’t anymore. I can’t about people or the planet and I certainly can’t about animals. This planet and my privilege of spending this time on this planet are not mine to destroy. It’s my privilege to have been here. I need to be aware and want to leave in a better place for those grandchildren. Having grandchildren changed my perspective.
Now, you have compassion and a legacy to leave to them. This whole interview has touched on it. In your opinion, why should people go out of their way to heal, be it emotionally or from their food addictions instead of just accepting, “This is my life and this is the way it’s going to go?” Why go to the trouble of facing your issues and healing your stuff?
The glib answer would be because we can, but the more reasonable answer is this I look at it this way. We have X number of way too short years to live on this planet, in this life form. Why not make it the best you can?
What is the Bobbi tip for finding joy in life? What is your advice to everyone? Life is filled with suffering, but you can also still have joy.
Look for the things the people, and the animals around you to love. Look for that joy and it’s right there in front of you. If you have a bad moment, just look around you. It’s not so bad. I believe everything that feels like a negative thing has a silver lining and is an opportunity to live a better life.
Thank you, Bobbi. That’s beautiful. Your courageous journey to free yourself from your toxic relationship with food started with the what. What we eat determines how we feel and how we perform in every aspect of life. Thank you for the great role model that you are for healing and transformation, not only about our relationships with food but in so many other ways. Also, for writing your book that encourages your readers to get healthy by building a new, exciting relationship with food and with themselves. I want to thank you from my heart for sharing your important insights with our readers.
Irene, it has been such a pleasure for me. From the moment you and I met over a year ago, I have been in love with you and your energy. Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you so much. Make sure to follow us and like us on social @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, or wherever your social media is, we are there. As I like to say, to be continued, many blessings, and bye for now. Thank you so much, Bobbi.
You are wonderful.
- Bobbi Giudicelli’s book: Freedom From A Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back
- Read The Ingredients on Amazon
- Visit Read The Ingredients website
- Follow Bobbi on Instagram and Facebook
- Follow Read The Ingredients on Facebook
About Bobbi Giudicelli
Bobbi Giudicelli is a serial entrepreneur whose journey from severe eating disorders to Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) food choices brought her to co-found, with her oldest son, her latest venture. Read The Ingredients offers the cleanest full-meal (breakfast/lunch), baked, and packaged products on the market. After struggling with food issues for so many years, she is passionate about sharing her journey with others who struggle in their relationship with food. That was the origin of Read The Ingredients, and that was the motivation to write this book.