Mindful Eating for a Better Menopause with Shelley Chapman

Weight gain and how we carry weight tend to be common concerns and challenges for women as we age. It can be even more frustrating to get a handle on with the ongoing debate in the medical community as to whether the weight some of us put on as our bodies age, is directly related to perimenopause and our fluctuating hormones or simply a byproduct of aging itself. Whatever the specific cause, it’s estimated that women gain an average of two to five pounds per year during our perimenopausal years. With perimenopause lasting up to 10 years, that could mean a significant weight gain for many of us. Mindful nutrition can help.

By the time we reach menopause, which in the U.S. ranges from about our late forties to early fifties, most of us have already established a relationship dynamic with food and exercise that can make weight management even more challenging. Mindful Nutrition Coach Shelley Chapman works with women – including many in perimenopause – to re-establish their relationship with food and their bodies.

Mastering our love/hate relationship with food

At 41 years old, Shelley isn’t experiencing any symptoms of perimenopause (that she’s aware of). Even so, she knows firsthand the stress and frustration of struggling with weight gain and how difficult it is to reframe our relationship with food and our bodies for optimal physical and mental health as we get older.

“The lifelong habit switches are the hardest. I struggle with them myself, which is why I teach it. Because it’s no easy feat to eat one way for your entire life — never have any real issues with it — and then all of a sudden you hit 30, 40, or 50, and it’s like, ‘Whoa!’.  I see that all the time in my work with clients.”

With a B.A. in Psychology from Spelman College and a Master’s in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University, Shelley has been living her calling as a mindful nutrition coach and educator since 2011. She works with her students to understand how their attitudes toward food and the purpose of eating affect their consumption behaviors – whether they’re eating too little or too much.

She’s candid in sharing how her experience with a compulsive overeating disorder in her twenties led her to work with a therapist. Over the course of that three-year experience, Shelley became intrigued by how our food and our ideas about ourselves are often connected. In addition to therapy, she began studying food psychology on her own, “my brain was just sort of interacting with two different sides — as a patient and a student.”

Add teacher and advisor to her patient and student mindsets, and you have the fundamentals for her work as a mindful eating coach and educator. Before settling into her current work, Shelley spent several years in the classroom teaching Spanish before evolving closer to her love of food as a personal chef and later a food blogger.

Shelley has always been drawn to food and was a “foodie” long before it was trendy. As a little girl, she read Bon Appétit magazine and was drawn to the photographs and the way a two-dimensional image on a page could be so enticing.

“Yes, I attended some excellent schools, but I tell everybody that the real credentials just came from being born! I started in the world as a foodie… I have a Jamaican mother and a Black American father. I was made in Germany and spent my first year of life in Germany. Throughout my childhood, I lived between Europe and the United States and then traveled a lot through Africa to the Caribbean, all over. So, it’s always been my life to be of the world, and tasting and eating many different types of foods.”

Because of the emotional connection she grew up having to food, Shelley had to relearn how to enjoy many of the favorites she’d grown up with, and often gravitated to in times of stress. Like the banana pudding of her southern roots which she remembers her grandmother and later her father, making for the family. As she better understood her emotional food triggers, rather than depriving herself, she became more focused on how she could keep “the goodness and deliciousness” of the dishes she loved and preserve her body and well-being. She began experimenting with some of her go-to comfort foods by recreating recipes with “elevated, higher-quality ingredients” that would substitute and mimic the texture and tastes she grew up on. The key was satisfying her food cravings with variations that tasted great and nurtured her body–not depleted it.

By applying the core principles of mindful eating and revamping her approach to food preparation, Shelley transformed from a size 12 to a size 2 in one year. Her personal experience was so profound, that she became passionately obsessed with sharing her insights with others and helping them recalibrate their relationship with food for better living and aging.

Once you know better, you can do better

Studies show that mindful eating is an effective approach to weight loss, but more importantly, it’s also an effective practice for changing our relationship with food so that we can keep the weight off after we’ve lost it.

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life is a leading resource on the benefits of practicing mindful eating. Based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, Savor outlines the core principles of mindful eating:

Shelley believes that mindfulness is a critical ingredient no matter your recipe. When it comes to changing your habits and health for the better, you must eliminate ALL of the toxins and the junk weighing you down. She teaches her clients how to get rid of toxic food, behaviors, thoughts, actions, and relationships for a complete shift in health and wellness.

“I am a Mindful Eating Educator. I have been called a chef, nutritionist, and all these other things. However, I choose educator because I am really about giving you the tools so that you don’t need me. I don’t want you to have to come back unless you need to. But I find that for most people with some education, once they know better, they can do better. They can make better choices.”

As a Mindful Nutrition Coach and Educator, she provides an informed set of tools and resources to support an individual’s long-term goals. Many of the people she works with are perimenopausal or postmenopausal women who have developed unhealthy dynamics with food and body image over a lifetime. One of her most popular programs is a detox program – which is more than “just juicing and fasting”. In her detox experience, she’s intentionally focused on a comprehensive approach to changing client behaviors and has developed exercises designed to help them bring in new thoughts that are more sustaining to their vitality and well-being.

“The majority of the detox program is about detoxing several things. One is your actual food intake. We look at what’s in there and get literate on nutrition, on labels — not just the labels of calories, fats, and those macros, but we read the ingredients and try to understand what it is that we’re putting in our bodies. We also detox our emotions. A lot of emotional eaters come through my program. My detox is heavily focused on helping emotional eaters work through those issues because life is not necessarily going to get easier.”

In addition to her coaching work at The Mindful Nutrition School, Shelley produces for her YouTube Channel, The Mindful Plate. With nearly 4,000 subscribers and growing, The Mindful Plate is a weekly cooking show where she shares mindful eating tips and highlights sweet and savory vegan and plant-based recipes you can make at home like her popular Banana Pudding and Griot Haitian with Plantain and Avocado.

To learn more about Shelley’s work or to book a coaching session, visit www.MindfulNutritionSchool.com. You can also follow her on Instagram @shelleywellness.


  1. [1] Hanh TN, Cheung L. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. HarperCollins Publishers. 2010.


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