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"Moderating A Love Affair with Food": A Food and Wine Lover's Playbook for Health and Joy.

After over 20 years immersed in the specialty food and wine world as a branding consultant, Michelle Lawton has published her first book "Moderating a Love Affair with Food" offering  ten tips on how to enjoy food and drink more mindfully.

Moderating a Love Affair with Food: 10 Tips to Mindful Eating and Drinking is an easy-to-read and entertaining playbook for the industry pro, the food- and wine-obsessed, “foodie,” home cook, or any eater who adores food and drink but is looking for a little help with moderating. The book offers 10 tips for self-control based on a food pro’s personal experience eating and drinking at home, work, and in social settings. Subjects covered include self-care, moderating alcohol, cooking mindfully, eating out in restaurants and navigating the many tempting social situations we find ourselves in, and the expectations that others can put on us.

Throughout the book, Lawton shares funny anecdotes about everyday life and examples of ways to pay attention to our mood and surroundings. What’s different about this book? There are so many recipe books on the joy of cooking. And so many apps and programs on dieting or abstinence. This book is about loving yourself enough to enjoy everything in balance. Lawton draws on her experiences working in the food and wine industries, beginning as a corporate brand manager for super-premium Italian wines and Champagnes. 

The Conundrum  

“For sensorial people like us who live to eat vs. eat to live, we wake up excited. We can’t wait to take in the aroma of nutty, caramelized coffee and the subtle, sweet yeastiness of freshly baked bread. Or the sound of sizzling garlic and the first sip of a chilled, crisp Vermentino (while nibbling on a rosemary cracker with a bit of burrata, fig, and honey). We want all of it. And we want more of it. Alas, if only there were no health consequences!” says Lawton.


“I’ll always remember a winemaker tour in Chicago years ago, early in my career. (full story here). It all started mid-morning when most professional tastings happen (when your palate is clean). We tasted a beautiful range of vintage champagnes from Charles Heidsieck, paired with Fin de Claire oysters, Portuguese sardines, and Parmigiano Reggiano. We moved on that afternoon to a single vineyard Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico tasting, followed by a beautifully prepared ossobuco. That evening, our sales manager greeted us with a glass of our client’s Krug Grande Cuvée at Charlie Trotter (RIP, a legendary chef and restaurant, a much-coveted reservation.) I knew this would be yet another multicourse meal. I broke into hysterics. “More?!” All I could order was broth! On the edge of gluttony, I had reached my max. I could take no more. Right then and there, I realized if I wanted to stay in this career, I’d need some survival skills beyond the spittoon. “ 

Sneak Peek at Moderating: A Love Affair with Food 

Here’s a sneak peek at 5 of the ten tips based on Michelle’s personal and professional experience in the food and wine industry. They’re meant for anyone: man, woman, middle-aged or Millenial. (Please talk with your doctor, nutritionist, or therapist about any eating or drinking protocol or program.) 

Balancing the Week 

It’s a bit of an Ayurvedic “light” concept, fueling for brainy days and stimulating for spirited days, recognizing that there are different moods and moments throughout the week, and it’s okay to enjoy it all if you can come back to balance. It’s about intention vs. complete abstinence, although increasingly that’s a great choice for many, like making Mondays and Tuesdays non-negotiable “free from” nights. For example, herbal tea instead of alcohol, veggie omelet instead of meat, unless there’s something special to celebrate, in which case the day is moved to Wednesday or Thursday. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a good goal to start the week with. 

1. Love Yourself, Inside and Out  

Baby, it’s you. All of you: your primi, your secondi, your contorni, your dolci. And your elevated blood pressure, acid reflux, and high blood sugar. Enjoy, but love yourself enough to know your inner self and your outer self. Food can be your best friend. Creating a boundary for yourself around food and drink ultimately strengthens the relationship throughout your lifetime. 

Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)
Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)

2. Avoid “BIT” Eating© (aka “Because it’s There”) 

Just because the charcuterie board is there in front of you in all its glory, doesn’t mean you have to graze half of it. And that goes for the pretzels on the plane, too. You don’t have to engage out of habit. Just because the food and beverage are readily available at hand doesn’t mean you need to indulge. Food becomes fast when life gets crazy. Slow down, sit down, plate your food. Eat slowly. Enjoy the experience! 

Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)
Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)

3. Taste Without Regret  

Taste it all, from street food (just say yes to pickled Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches anywhere,) to white tablecloth (hint: prix-fixe lunches are a great deal in fancy restaurants when traveling). Food and beverage experiences are fundamental to life, so it would be a pity not to enjoy what your city of choice has to offer. Give into pleasure, but don’t give up entirely. Throwing caution to the wind is for amateurs. Be a pro and moderate. 

Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)
Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)

4. Tasting vs. Drinking  

As they say in the wine business, there’s a difference. Try to stick to your glass commitment for the night (and, for that matter, make one!) For every few sips you take, have a sip of water. (Or, if home, a healthy beverage like herbal tea, hot water with lemon and honey). This will help you drink more slowly and stay hydrated. No one ever woke up saying, “Boy, I wish I drank more alcohol last night!” No one. 

Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)
Moderating A Love Affair with Food (Graphic-Tenant - Used with Permission)

5. Food for Fuel, Food for Fun 

Eat foods for your desired mood. Food for entertainment is different from food to fuel the machine. Eat healthy foods when you need to perform, foods that fuel your body and brain. “We know what we should eat. Trouble is, most of us have a hard time sticking to it.” More on this here.  

Acclaim for the New Book! 

“Eating and drinking for a living for the last 30 years, I devoured the lessons of Michelle Lawton’s new book. Her strategies and tips for continuing to have food adventures while living more mindfully are valuable for anyone whose joyful moments often center around a meal.” Dana Cowin: Founder. Speaking Broadly, and former Editor in Chief Food & Wine Magazine. 

“Whether you are a foodie or just love food, Michelle Lawton’s glorious new book will inspire you to learn and live more mindfully—and more joyfully—in every culinary experience.” Debbie Millman: Host of the 2023 Webby Award podcast Design Matters.

“From the opening chapter, author Michelle Lawton had my attention. Reading “Moderating a Love Affair with Food: 10 Tips to Mindful Eating and Drinking” gave me permission to enjoy and think about food pleasurably and guilt free. Do yourself a favor and buy this book and learn to love yourself again.

Follow Michelle’s smart tips and gain balance in the kitchen and in your life. Some of my favorites are: “Eat slowly: enjoy the aromas, tastes, and texture of your food”, “Eat or drink for you, no one else” and “Treat yourself with respect.” Indulge in Michelle’s writing and indulge in your favorite treats without regret.” Silvia Baldini: A classically trained Italian-born chef and a Chopped Champion on Food Network.

About the Author: Michelle Lawton


Michelle is a food and wine lover and founder of Joyful Plate, a food and beverage research and branding consultancy. She holds an Advanced Wine Certificate from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and shares her wine, food, and travel experiences on Instagram. Michelle is passionate about community, volunteering with the West Side Campaign Against Hunger in New York City for 15 years and with Les Dames d’Escoffier NY, a nonprofit supporting aspiring professional women in food and beverage hospitality. She is a happy home cook to her man of many years, and loves making risotto for friends and family, and other recipes she picked up during her many travels through Italy and Europe. On work breaks, you can find Michelle biking and brainstorming around Central Park, always on a quest towards moderation and balance. 


You can learn more about Michelle on her linktree here. Or contact her at LinkedIn. Or email her at: and follow on Instagram here.  


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