I have an abusive relationship with food. {guest Anita Johnson}

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Do you consider food to be your enemy or a waste of time? Are you tired of struggling with body image, yo-yo dieting, and food hate? Do you desperately want to embrace intuitive eating, but are too afraid of leaving behind the safety of an eating disorder? Listen now for a breakdown of how to confront these common food peace dilemmas.

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Episode’s Key Points:

  • Anita Johnston joins to talk recovery!
  • We live in a world of PARADOX… it’s about food, but it’s also not about food at the same time!!
  • So how are our food issues not about food? This struggle is a messenger to let us know that there are other issues going on in our lives… what other hungers are we starving for??
  • What is the symbolic nature of our food struggle? If we struggle with food restriction, it’s important to look at other areas in our lives where we are restricting. If we struggle with binge eating, it’s important to ask where else we feel scarcity in our lives.
  • How do we create a peace-keeping force in our lives? We explore compassionate curiosity, rather than judgment.
  • The foundation to food peace is compassionate curiosity!!
  • How do we discern our symbolic hungers??
  • First we need to change our patterns in our lives… then we can tackle the patterns in our relationship with food.
  • So how do we crack the code on our food behaviors??
    • Sugary foods usually indicate that we are needing sweetness in our lives, either from ourselves or others.
    • Salty and crunchy foods generally indicate repressed anger and frustration.
    • Warm foods mean we are yearning for emotional warmth.
    • Spicy foods are often connected to a desire or fear of excited, stimulation, or change.
    • Chocolate is all about sex, romance, and sexuality.
  • So what next? After we explore our metaphorical relationship with food, how do we reconcile that information with our everyday lives?
  • We’re the experts of our bodies!! We’re the only ones that really can understand what the food metaphors mean.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

Everyone thinks I’m a healthy eater but I’m a fraud.

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Do you ever make your food choices based on what other people might think? Have you ever eaten “for show,” or eaten in ways that aren’t sustainable because of your food reputation? Listen now for some things to try for your own path to food peace and to break out of this pattern.

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Episode’s Key Points:

  • Sometimes the way we eat, interact with food, and move our body can become our IDENTITY and sense of SELF-WORTH! But we CAN’T get a healthy sense of sense from our food choices.
  • Becoming a dietitian takes a LOT of work, including a ton of science education. Often, people who go into nutrition are intelligent and want to help people! These characteristics are so much more interesting and make up a much bigger part of our identity than our food choices!!
  • In order to heal, it’s time to let go of food as a part of our identity.
  • It’s VERY likely that your friends and family don’t actually think of you in the context of your food, and that this is an identity you’ve created and maintained all on your own!
  • Think about how you actually want people to identify you! Write it down, and keep it on hand for whenever you experience normal eating and feel like your identity is being compromised.
  • Bingeing is often a by-product of rigidity, restriction, or other forms of strict eating.
  • Recovery requires a team approach and a ton of support… find a dietitian near you who specializes in eating disorders and seek out therapy!
  • What is “normal” eating?? Normal eating is balanced, non-restrictive, and nourishing.
  • Our biology, and the drive to eat when we’re restricting, is here to save us!!
  • Symbolic hunger vs. physiological hunger: Sometimes when we follow rigid eating plans, our bodies start screaming for our attention! Depression and anxiety can surface because our physical needs aren’t being met.
  • There’s is science out there supporting why diets and restrictive eating don’t work! Seek it out.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

When relying on hunger is too scary

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Does the idea of relying on your hunger and fullness cues freak you out? Seem waaaay too scary? Please hang on. This post is for you. And, be sure to know you are not alone.

I can’t stop thinking about food!

Attuned eating is letting go of distractions and relying on your hunger, fullness, and satiety cues to guide eating instead of rigid diets. Some people also call it Intuitive Eating (check out the brand new workbook edition here it is fabulous). If your brain thinks about food, eating, and their rules most of the day, attuned eating will feel a bit premature. We often call this way of thinking food preoccupation. I see it as food rules have taken your brain hostage. The way out of this crisis is to retrain your brain to not think about food. All. The. Time.

Before you look into brain surgeons, know we have tools outside of the operating room. And, all you need to do the work includes a way to know time (either your watch, cell phone, or the sun), a shelf stable snack of your choice, and patience. Bring lots of patience.

Disconnecting from hunger makes us think more about food

We get disconnected from our hunger cues because our brains have been distracted by food rules, not prioritizing self-care, and emotional dysregulation. If you are disconnected from hunger, there was a time when you were not. There was a time when your body consistently provided the information you needed to eat adequately. Diets and other means to learn food rules disconnected you. So does a chaotic life with little self-care. If you are running around like a chicken with a head cut off, then you are not stopping to eat when hungry nor pee when need to pee. (That’s for all my nurses and teachers…talking to you!)

You also get disconnected if you are used to feeling certain emotions and reaching for food. Emotional eating is a touchy word in my book because everyone emotionally eats. It is human and part of cultural connections. And healthy. What I am talking about though is when a person feels an emotion, whether uncomfortable or warm fuzzy, and the brain automatically feels connection with certain foods. I like to call this symbolic hunger discussed in another post.

How do we rewire our noggins?

Diets, lack of self-care, and emotional dysregulation can all disconnect your hunger and make your brain over think about food. To retrain your brain, practice these steps over the next 2 to 4 weeks:

Pick your check in times.

What time do you wake up? Now set an alarm on your phone for every two to three hours after this time throughout the whole day. If you don’t use a smart phone, pencil it in your calendar. These times are your check in times.

Go through the check in routine.

Within the first hour of being awake and every check in time, go through this routine: take 3 deep breaths and ask yourself: “What do I need right now?” By what do I need I am referring to anything. If nothing surfaces ask these:

Do I need to pee?

What am I feeling?

Am I hot or cold?

Do I want or need to eat?

What to do about food at check in times?

At each check in time, give yourself permission to eat outside of physical hunger. If you are not feeling hunger cues, you need to eat at some point (hello, you are human!). By doing this, you will reset your circadian eating rhythms which will gradually reset your hunger cues to be consistently noticeable.

What to do about food outside of check in times?

When craving to eat or binge outside of check in times practice gently saying: “I am craving food right now. It is symbolic hunger. I can have as much as I want or need at the next check in time.” If you find yourself not able to wait, please forgive yourself and move on. Those who are successful at this part of the process are folks who keep trying. So dust yourself off and look to the next check in time. It will get easier after more practice.

What to expect

Practice these check in times over the next 2 to 4 weeks. Remember to be extra kind to yourself and forgive when making mistakes. Everyone does during this process. After a few weeks, your brain will start to get used to a rhythm from the check in times and eating times. More space will occur outside of eating and hunger cues will begin to percolate to the surface. And when they do, welcome them home. Let hunger know you won’t be ignoring it anymore rather wanting to get to know its purpose.

Let me know when you start to experience the hunger cues coming back. It is an exciting reuniting process!



Want a guide to partner with you on your Food Peace journey? I want to help. Check out my podcast and I hope it illuminates the direction you want to go.

The Love Food Podcast Episode 61

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Do you live in a fat body and struggle to make peace with food due to the overwhelming fat phobia in our culture? Are your healthcare providers, friends, and family urging you to lose weight, even though your body size is right for you? Listen now for some answers on how to overcome this difficult hurdle to making peace with food and your body.

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Episode’s Key Points:

  • Part of recovery and healing our relationship with food and our bodies is making peace with our body shape and size, no matter where it may fall. This can be a super difficult part of the process, especially for people who end up in fat bodies because we live in an extremely fat-phobic society!!
  • Prescribing diets for long-term weight loss just DOESN’T work!
  • How do we learn to accept and respect our body in a world that doesn’t treat all bodies with kindness?
  • Food peace means learning to be flexible, compassionate, and accepting.
  • We have to learn to trust our hunger and fullness cues, along with our satisfaction levels. But when we learn to let go and trust out internal regulation to tell us how much food we need to eat, we also have to let go of our hopes to control our body size.
  • Sometimes intuitive eating results in a body size that is larger than the culturally “accepted” standard. This whole idea of “too large” and subscribing to the thin ideal is a huge no-no, as we can all achieve health at any size, but this judgment from others can be a huge barrier to food and body peace!
  • Pursuing weight loss and a smaller body is part of what leads to eating disorders.
  • Eating disorders kill someone every 23 hours.
  • You don’t have to experience an eating disorder in order to be given permission to trust your body’s hunger and fullness cues!
  • Unfortunately, trusting our bodies and having a peaceful relationship with food is NOT a normal occurrence these days.
  • Dieting is disordered eating!!
  • PCOS and disordered eating go hand in hand… some people with PCOS end up in a larger body due to insulin levels, and part of the common “treatment” involves weight loss. BUT not everyone with PCOS is in a fat body, so why do we use weight loss as a primary treatment??
  • If you’re trying to deal with doctors while in a fat body, a great question to ask is, “What would you tell a thin person suffering with the condition I’ve come in here to talk about?” This way you won’t just get the standard “lose weight” directive, and you may actually get some quality healthcare that doesn’t focus on weight!
  • Pursuing weight loss is one of the most unhealthy mindsets we can have. The more we pursue weight loss, the more we will weigh, and the more at risk we are for an eating disorder.
  • It’s time we challenge our weight bias!! It’s easier for us to change the culture than to ask fat people to lose weight.
  • Focusing on recovery, rather than weight loss, will help with people dealing with PCOS.
  • I will be launching a special PCOS, food peace course in September!!!
  • Did you know that on average it takes meeting with five different counselors before you meet your perfect therapeutic match?? Keep looking for your best therapist!
  • Online courses can also be a great supplementary support resource, and there are a ton popping up!
  • Can we pursue body and food respect for our children?? So often we pass body hate onto our kids.
  • Over 70 studies show that intuitive eaters have healthier bodies and remain at more stable weights than dieters. Intuitive eating helps people come back to health!
  • If we work towards respecting our bodies, our size will level out at a place that is most comfortable for the individual.
  • Our next episode of the Love, Food Podcast will feature Evelyn Tribole, co-author of Intuitive Eating!
  • Surround yourself with more people who will support your body peace journey!!
  • All bodies are good bodies, and all bodies deserve to feel at home in their skin.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.


This episode is sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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