HEAL EMOTIONAL EATING – HEAL YOURSELF
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” your host Sheryl Glick
author of The Living Spirit which shares stories of awakening, spiritual
communication, healing energies miracles and a guide to soul development
and soul maturity welcomes Tricia Nelson author of Heal Your Hunger
which offers seven steps to understand and end emotional eating. Our
physical challenges most especially lead us to a greater unfolding of
our spiritual talents and gifts and offer ways to master our physical
and energetic emotional needs.
As listeners of Healing From Within have come to know over the years
that by listening to the intimate experiences and insights of my guests
there is a way to better understand and utilize events and challenges
not as problems but as gifts to explore our experiences so we may find
ways for better outcomes no matter how difficult it seems at the moment.
Improving life, enjoying life more and finding peace and contentment in
the moment is not only possible but probable with the right attitude and
set of tools to heal on a physical emotional and spiritual level.
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Tricia Nelson who lost fifty
pounds by identifying and healing the root causes of her emotional
eating and has spent over thirty years researching the hidden causes of
the addictive personality learning that food addiction is one of the
toughest addictions and is symptomatic of deeper issues. In twenty five
years of helping Americans upgrade their diets she has seen how many
misconceptions there are and how overweight individuals harm their
physical and emotional state of being often causing pain loneliness and
self-sabotaging views that limit their perception and potential to
As Tricia thinks back to her childhood and remembers people and events
she provides a clue to her own self development and the interests work
and life style she is living now as an adult. Sheryl believes we are
born with goals for what we wish to explore and learn on an inner soul
level and from early on the awareness is there for us and others to
witness as it reveals itself through our challenges and often fears.
Tricia writes, “I grew up as a fat girl, which was very painful. I hated
my body. My tummy was one big roll of fat that I would scrunch up and
hold in my hands—with disgust. I imagined slicing it off in the same way
that my dad would slice the fat off the edge of a steak! I would also
fantasize about getting some kind of disease that would make me lose
weight without trying, or joining the army so I’d be forced to exercise
at Boot Camp. (I hated exercise, so this was the only way I could
imagine myself doing it.) I also had a lot of fear. I was terribly
afraid, even though I didn’t really have anything to fear from the world
around me. I grew up in a good home in Concord, Massachusetts. My
parents were happily married and provided well for us, and we traveled
and spent summers in Maine. It was all good—on the outside. But inside,
where I lived, I was hurting.
Of course, I wasn’t always aware on a conscious But under that happy
facade, I was burying pain and shame that I couldn’t talk about with
anyone. Like the sexual abuse from a relative when I was young. That was
a dark secret I kept entirely to myself. Then there was the
embarrassment over being so fat that my legs chafed when I ran, being
afraid of the dark, and masturbating compulsively whenever I was alone
in the house. I couldn’t open up to anyone about any of this. When I was
fifteen, my oldest sister told me she ate because of her emotions. I
thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard! I just liked food.
Yet the seed was planted, and over the next few years, I began to notice
that my relationship with food wasn’t normal.”
Despite my preoccupation with food, I did okay. I was elected president
of my high school; I played varsity sports; I got good enough grades—I
did everything I was supposed to do. I was accepted to one of the top
colleges in the country. Everything seemed good on the outside . . .
except for my weight. After two years in college, I decided to take time
off from school and move to the other side of the country. I realize now
that I was just trying to get away from myself and my family. I had a
lot of unresolved issues with my family— mostly resentment and anger—and
I thought that by moving away geographically, I could leave it all
behind. Well, anyone who has tried knows that it doesn’t quite work that
By the time I moved, I had reached 170 pounds. I continued with the
twelve-step program, and this time I sought help from an eating-disorder
therapist, By now, I had a whole shelf of self-help books and workbooks.
I always held out hope that just around the corner there was something
that would work for me. And yet, nothing I tried was doing it for me—and
I tried everything. Of course, I learned a lot, but all the knowledge in
the world couldn’t stop me from bingeing. The compulsion and obsession
with food just wouldn’t stop.
We know that Ninety nine percent of all diets fail… and here are some
facts Tricia provides us with so we can begin to focus on what really
needs to be done in order to be healthy and be a healthy version of
Sure, we’ve all met someone who went on a diet, dropped ten or twenty
pounds, and never looked back. Or that one in a million who struggled
with their weight, picked up an activity such as, say, marathon running,
fell in love with it, and completely changed their body and their life.
But those success stories—the verifiable ones, anyway—are exceedingly
rare. How do I know? Well, here are a few statistics worth pondering:
Close to 70 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese.
(That’s seven out of ten people.)
Each year, about 45 million people in this country go on a diet.
US consumers spend $109 million every day on diet and weight-loss
Annually, weight loss is a $60 billion industry.
Right now, on Amazon, there are 65,000 weight-loss books and 365,000
And yet, 98 percent of all diets fail. That means that out of every
hundred people who go on a diet, only two will lose weight and keep it
off. Of course, you probably already know something about that.
People keep dieting even though intellectually they know diets don’t
work. In fact, you will be comforted by reading this book even if you’re
not overweight but still have issues with food or weight. Tricia tells
us this book is for you if you ever grapple with . . .
food obsession, or
Tricia goes on to tell us that these problems may all seem different to
you, but they all involve an obsession with food and weight. They all
reflect various phases of control (or lack of it). And usually, anything
that must be controlled is already out of control. So the compulsion to
overeat is what drives all these people, no matter what their body size
or eating patterns. Wherever you fall on the disordered-eating spectrum—
whether you’re a restrictor rationing bites of your favorite treat, or a
binge eater consuming volumes of food in one evening—you are manifesting
a symptom of one overriding issue: emotional eating. And solving it is
about much more than changing what you eat, the way you eat, or how much
you weigh. WHAT IS EMOTIONAL EATING?
Put another way, emotional eating is using food to meet needs beyond
physical nourishment. What kinds of needs?
SOCIAL NEEDS Emotional eaters use food to feel better when they’re
lonely—for example, if we’re alone after a breakup, or at home feeling
bored on a Saturday night. We also use it when we’re anxious and
uncomfortable around other people—say, at a party or social event. We
use food to give us a boost of confidence when we’re feeling insecure,
in the same way that an alcoholic uses “liquid courage.” For many of us,
food made us feel more jovial and outgoing—right up until it backfired
and made us feel isolated and separate. Food was the social lubricant
that made getting along in this world seem easier. (Again, until it
ultimately made everything much, much harder!)
EMOTIONAL NEEDS Emotional eaters use food for comfort and companionship.
Dealing with people isn’t easy for us, so we resort to the ease of
getting emotional support from something that never seems to let us
down, never rejects us, and is always available: food. Food is not only
a loyal friend, but a protector as well. For those of us who have been
sexually abused, food seems to protect us from the attention and
unwanted advances of others. We literally build walls of fat to keep
people away for years, sometimes decades. Ultimately, though, those
walls turn out to be a prison instead of a fortress, keeping us trapped
in a private hell that we fear we may never escape.
MENTAL NEEDS Emotional eaters often suffer from an “overactive” or
“racing” mind. We use food to distract ourselves from all the thoughts
and worries that keep us worked up and on edge. Our mind dashes at warp
speed in all directions, and we can’t slow down no matter how many
things we try. Settling down with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a box of
shortbread cookies often does the trick—at least, for a few hours. When
we’re drunk on food, we can forget the cares of the day. We numb out and
aren’t bothered by anything.
SPIRITUAL NEEDS It may surprise you how many emotional eaters are
spiritual seekers. We have spent years exploring spirituality and trying
to make a connection that can bring us comfort, lessen our fear, and
help us control our eating. We have a deep craving for meaning, for an
understanding of our greater purpose, and for a feeling of oneness and
well-being. And because we don’t know how to achieve this, we resort to
food—at first as an attempt to satisfy that yearning, and eventually to
forget that we ever felt that yearning to begin with.
Of course, emotional eaters come in all shapes and sizes; but we have
this in common: we use the obsession with food to treat our emotions.
Whether you’re heavy or thin, male or female, gay or straight, you use
food, in some way, to stuff your emotions.
When we awaken to the truth about why you overeat, we can finally stop.
What’s really going on when you feel hungry We can identify and adopt
new ways of feeding ourselves—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
You can heal your hunger for good and any other event or pain or
unhappiness that added to the problem and your loss of self spirit and
trust because of what others may have done to you.
The end result of all this chaos is that you must eventually feel
uncomfortable in your own skin so the battle with food or any other
addiction is won.
Tricia was fortunate to find a teacher who pointed her in the right
direction so her thinking could evolve and she could make progress on
the road to well being. The person who gave me a new outlook on how to
view any problem in life was Roy Nelson. I scheduled a time to meet with
him and actually drove to another city that very day to visit with him.
And though it may sound dramatic, my life has never been the same since.
Roy taught me about this terrible condition that is food addiction. He
showed me, clearly and indelibly, that all my efforts to lose weight,
when they came from the outside (diets, gyms, pills and potions, even
therapy and twelve-step programs focused on food and weight loss), were
never going to save me.
Roy told me that food was not my problem, and neither was weight. These
were just symptoms of my problem. And I had to admit that deep in my
heart, I knew this, because I had proved it over and over again through
my many failures. The methods you’ve tried over the span of your
lifetime haven’t worked, for the simple reason that they couldn’t work.
They weren’t designed to deal with the problem you’re suffering from,
which has nothing to do with food. Realizing she had the power within to
discover why food provided such a comfort zone for her and releasing any
fear guilt or sorrow was the way she begin anew to enjoy life. She found
her way forward past the limitations and unresolved problems of past
events to free her mind and body from fear.
Tricia offers an excellent Three Meal Magic Plan
That’s the logic behind Three-Meal Magic®. The three meals are there to
make sure you get the nutrition you need, on a predictable schedule. But
since dealing with hunger is a huge challenge for emotional eaters, this
plan is also designed to help you experience and get comfortable with
the feeling of an empty stomach—and maybe even a few hunger pangs.
Because, for emotional eaters, this is a positive (and essential) step
That’s the main difference between other experts’ advice and mine. They
don’t always take into account the emotional reasons that motivate our
eating habits; they focus more on what we’re eating. So while they may
provide us with good nutritional advice, that advice will only help us
deal with what we eat, not with
THE THREE-MEAL MAGIC® PLAN So just what is this magical plan? It’s quite
Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at roughly the same time every day.
Make your own meals whenever you can.
Make all three meals generally equal in size or calories so that your
body becomes accustomed to that amount of food at each meal.
Allow thirty to sixty minutes for each meal, and take that time to enjoy
Wait four to five hours for the next meal, and don’t eat at any time
other than mealtime. In other words, NO SNACKING!
Stick to your schedule. Don’t plan appointments when you normally have
lunch, or decide to go to a movie when you usually eat dinner.
Get up early enough to sit down and eat breakfast before you start your
Make sure your meal is peaceful and quiet. Avoid distractions, such as
people talking or coming and going, dogs barking, or children
squabbling. Obviously, you can’t control everything, but do what you can
to create a calm, peaceful environment where you can enjoy your meal.
Try not to get up and down when you’re eating. It’s stressful and also
bad for your digestion. Make sure you have your condiments, salt and
pepper, water, and whatever else you need at the table, before you sit
down to eat.
Don’t answer the phone. Better yet, turn your phone off.
Eat consciously. Always eat sitting down and stationary—not in your car
(unless you’re parked), on the bus, on the subway, on the train (unless
you have a seat and twenty to thirty minutes before your stop), and
don’t eat when you’re walking. Don’t watch TV (especially news) or read
while eating. Or, if you need to read something, make it inspirational
literature, not gossip magazines! Feed your soul while feeding your
Inhale air, not your food! Sit up straight and breathe so your face
isn’t hovering over your plate. Put your fork down between bites and
take a breath. This will slow you down and help you digest your food.
Don’t drink a lot of water during your meal (a glass of room-temperature
water is okay if you have challenges with digestion), and wait at least
an hour before you begin to drink liquids. Water dilutes the digestive
enzymes you need to digest your food.
WHEN THE GOING GETS HARD . . . Three-Meal Magic® is easy: eat three
meals a day, every day, at the same time, and nothing in between. But
just because it’s easy to grasp doesn’t mean it’s easy to stick to,
especially in the beginning. This plan is about progress, not
perfection. Learning to deal with your emotions and practicing effective
self-care will certainly help you make that progress. When even that is
One of the biggest myths adding to the problem of emotional eating is
the fact that the “diet and exercise” solution is regarded as
irrefutable conventional wisdom. This is what the doctors have to offer
us. And they’re the experts! It makes perfect sense, right?
Consume fewer calories and burn more—this is how you lose weight. It’s
simple arithmetic unless you happen to be an emotional eater which most
people struggling with weight are, whether they realize it or not. Not
that the advice to eat less and exercise more is wrong—it isn’t.
Physiologically, that is how one loses weight. But when you’re an
emotional eater, when you are addicted to food, you can’t “just eat
less.” That’s like asking an alcoholic to simply “drink less.” If you
know anything about alcoholics, you know how well that works!
We can differentiate between physical and emotional hunger. While the
mechanics of physical hunger are no doubt interesting, they are of only
limited use to the chronic emotional eater. Tricia’s experience is that
the emotional eater’s solution lies primarily in the emotional and
spiritual realm. Still, we do need a rudimentary understanding of how
our bodies respond to the physical condition of hunger.
Hunger starts when certain nutrients are missing from the bloodstream. A
message goes to the hunger center in our brain, via the “hunger hormone”
known as ghrelin, which is released from our gut when we’re low on
nutrients and need to fuel up. Ghrelin, discovered only in 1996, is a
complex hormone that controls not only appetite but also the storage of
fat. Our bodies also release it in response to stress, stimulating our
tendency to stress-eat. When our blood has enough of the needed
nutrients, our hunger center stops getting ghrelin signals, and we no
longer feel hungry. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
Unfortunately, ghrelin is also released when we see an attractive slice
of cake, so it’s not a particularly discriminating hormone!
Now, if you’re an emotional eater, you don’t even need the potent combo
of ghrelin and cake to feel hungry. Your hunger center may never even
need to send a signal that your body needs nutrients. Because if you’re
one of the many people who use food to self-anesthetize—to deal with
stress, fear, exhaustion, and loneliness—your body may have incorporated
a tendency to feel hungry as part of your physiology. And it may also
stop getting the message when you’re full. That means you’ve trained
your body to respond to a negative state by yelling, “Feed me!”
The profile of an emotional eater:
DEEP FEELINGS Emotional eaters are, well, emotional! We feel more deeply
than the average person. When we hear sad news, it hits us hard. When
people we love are hurting, we hurt, too. When we love, we love deeply,
and when we hate, we hate vehemently. Life often feels like an emotional
roller-coaster ride, so food becomes a means of balancing out the highs
and lows. We are emotionally absorbent, so everything seems to hurt. And
we turn to food to dull the ache.
OVERSENSITIVITY Do you get a lot of comments such as “You’re so
sensitive,” or “You wear your heart on your sleeve”? You might think
you’re somehow wrong or bad because of it. Well, guess again. You’re
not. You’re just sensitive. I tend to believe that as emotional eaters,
we were born this way, but experiencing pain in our childhood can make
us extra sensitive, as well. Of course, growing up with a weight problem
and feeling different or rejected because of it can also make us feel
like a walking pincushion. Being sensitive can be a good thing, but
because we haven’t had proper tools to deal with our emotions, it has
mostly been a liability.
FEARFULNESS Everyone feels fear. It’s a normal human emotion that we all
EMOTIONAL EATERS HAVE A LIVING PROBLEM, NOT AN EATING PROBLEM.
Emotional eaters usually have an enormous amount of fear: fear of
drowning, fear of strangers, fear of monsters under the bed or in the
closet, fear of the worst possible things happening. Does any of this
sound familiar? Whatever your specific fears happen to be, they erode
your sense of well-being and ultimately drive you to eat. When you feel
constant, underlying anxiety, you search for something to ease the
tension. That’s a lot of what all that nibbling is about. We’re trying
to quell those nameless fears and anxieties that persistently haunt us.
The number one weight loss mistake we should never make is we must
accept the fact that diets aren’t sustainable. If you go on a diet, you
must eventually go off the diet. Weight loss has to be a natural result
of needing less food emotionally, combined with an organic desire to
treat your body and mind in a healthier way. If it isn’t, then it’s only
a matter of time before you break out and return to your old patterns.
The change in eating habits has to come from within.
And the “exercise more” part of the equation isn’t any easier.
We should not think it is really about the food. The biggest cause of
emotional eating is stress, and the biggest cause of stress is a lack of
self-care. How can lack of self-care be the culprit? What about all the
burdens on our time and energy that always seem to befall us? Aren’t
they really the culprit? Well, in a word, no. Because life happens to
all of us. It’s how we handle life that determines our success or
failure. And the best way to handle life’s pressures is to be sure that
we are rested, properly fed, emotionally supported, and spiritually
nourished. And by spiritual, I don’t necessarily mean religion. I mean a
sense of well-being at your very core. If this has been a struggle or a
block for you, stay with me. So often, people focus on the physical
aspects of self-care, such as diet and exercise, but neglect the
emotional and the spiritual. And yet, without addressing our deepest
needs, we won’t be able to sustain any physical changes we make.
Because, remember, emotional eaters use food for reasons far beyond
physical nourishment. We use it to treat our erratic emotions, stress,
and frustrations. So we need to find a better treatment than overeating.
The only way to get good at proper self-care is to practice proper
self-care. Look at your calendar and see how full it is. Check out your
to-do list and see how long it is. Is there anything scheduled that
includes relaxing, being quiet, having time to just chill? Is there
anything on your list that you can delegate to someone else? Self-care
doesn’t happen all at once. It’s cumulative.
The six self-care practices are meditation walking talking prayer
reading writing. These practices will help lower stress and increase
confidence and a feeling of coping with all situations more readily.
There are things people can do today to begin changing their
relationship with food . Ultimately, it becomes clear that you have to
heal at a deeper level, that just below the surface of overeating and
weight gain where there is a lot of pain. And without addressing it, I
would be consigning myself to a lifetime of struggle.
Therapy is valuable because it can help a person open up about their
problems in a confidential setting and, hopefully, identify solutions.
The main benefit is the revelation part of the process—you become aware
of your actions and feelings during therapy so that you can then make
changes in your behavior.
The problem is, when it comes to food addiction, awareness is not
enough. Being aware of something on an intellectual level does not
produce healing on an emotional level. The fears and patterns behind our
behavior don’t get better just because we understand them. This is
primarily because these deeper issues are lodged within our subconscious
minds, and we can’t change our subconscious with intellectual
understanding. The subconscious mind can be changed only by means of the
heart, which is the threshold of the subconscious. Deep within the heart
lie our hopes and our aspirations, feelings of deep love as well as all
the fear and pain we have buried over our lifetime.
Connect to your heart or inner intuition To move beyond intellectual
reasoning about a problem, to an experience of deeper healing of that
problem, we must have access to the heart. And in my experience, we can
access our hearts only when we feel deep safety and love.
Yes, even in the scientific community, there is a growing consensus that
prayer is powerful. Still, you may be wondering whether you need to be
religious or believe in God to pray or to benefit from prayer. The good
news is, you don’t.
Prayer is actually nonsectarian. This may sound funny, but it isn’t
necessarily Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist. Indeed, it
doesn’t revolve around any particular doctrine at all. It’s something
you can do anywhere, at any time of the day or night. And it is a very
personal experience—simply a statement of truth or of gratitude to
something that is greater than you. The most universal prayer there is,
is “Help me
Sheryl says she believes being healthy means more than being thin. Some
people are large and there are different body types. Taking medication
and hereditary factors are often part of a person’s proclivity to put on
weight and if the gut or digestive system is compromised weight gain and
inability for weight loss will be difficult. Emotional and physical
factors are part of understanding health issues and weight issues. I
think we try our best to arrive at a healthy body weight but should not
exaggerate thinness as the only way for happiness acceptance and love as
the media and even some professionals do, for some people will quite
literally never be thin. We must try our best to be healthy in body mind
and spirit and in societal viewpoints.
Tricia would like people who read Heal Your Hunger to remember “It’s so
easy to believe that the food and the weight are the problem and that
losing weight and stopping your overeating is the solution. But if you
focus on losing weight or controlling food, you’ll never lose weight or
get control of food. It’s counterintuitive, I know. But after being on
this road for decades and helping hundreds of others along the way, it’s
her experience nonetheless. Being overweight is a symptom of overeating.
And overeating is a symptom of what’s eating you?
In summarizing today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Tricia Nelson
has shown us through her own journey exploring her inner life and events
of childhood she was able to discover reasons for emotional eating and
was guided to find a way to feel more comfortable with herself, life and
create an environment of acceptance rather than fear doubt denial and
pain. Emotional Eating is the way the soul forces food down to hide or
disguise the real issues that our subconscious has not been willing to
face and it is only by awareness acceptance and surrendering to the
beautiful aspects of ourselves and life itself, that we can begin to
feel at peace and find love….of life, of self, and of others. All
addictions are based on trauma and the same inner discontent or fear of
surviving in a world that often judges and limits us from exploring our
true nature as souls having a physical life who have unlimited potential
to shine share and enjoy the physical and the energetic mysteries of
Tricia wrote, “Emotional eaters are typically afraid of feelings. When
we don’t have food in our belly, we tend to be more sensitive and more
aware of what’s going on inside. We’re more aware of sadness,
loneliness, fear, anger, dread, and other hard-to manage feelings. Even
happy, joyful feelings—which, strangely, are sometimes harder to face
than the dark ones—can be overwhelming, especially when we don’t feel
worthy of feeling good. To be free of emotional eating, you must address
the hidden problems that cause it: the underlying pain that you use food
to numb, the fears that make you want to escape, and the guilt you
harbor inside that makes you believe you deserve to be punished. When
you address these hidden, underlying causes, they will no longer drive
you to overeat.”
Tricia and Sheryl would have you employ the tools of self- awareness,
self-care and self-love to begin to empower your life and find your way
past “any” addiction to feelings of well being and delight with the
world as it is, and you as you are, and find that all is right for self
discovery self-actualization and the realization that life is a gift to
be enjoyed and lived to the best of our ability.