Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Tricia Nelson
How To Heal Your Hunger: If you follow my podcast for the past year plus, you know that pain is both a sensory and an emotional experience. The emotional experience is so often the part that people struggle with. They turn to various types of things to numb their emotional experience, so they can numb their pain, so they can numb their suffering. So often, people turn towards food and they suffer what’s called emotional eating. It’s perfectly normal, but the truth is, as you emotional eat, you put on more weight and the more weight you put on, the worse you feel about yourself emotionally and of course, physically and that leads to more pain.
Here on the podcast today is Tricia Nelson. She lost 50 pounds by identifying and healing the underlying causes of her emotional eating. She spent 30 years researching the hidden causes of the addictive personality. She’s an Emotional Eating Expert and the author of the number one bestselling book, Heal Your Hunger: 7 Simple Steps to End Emotional Eating Now. She’s also the host of a popular podcast called Heal Your Hunger, which is a great name of a show. This is the Healing Pain Podcast but today, we’re talking about how to heal your hunger and stop the cycle of emotional eating.
How To Heal Your Hunger With Tricia Nelson
Tricia, welcome to the Healing Pain Podcast.
Thanks, Joe. It’s so good to be here.
Of course, if you’ve lost 50 pounds by identifying your own emotional eating challenges, I want to know what was your personal journey and how did you unravel your own emotional pitfalls in your eating?
I was an emotional eater from the get-go. As far back as I can remember, I was really hooked on food. I loved to eat. I loved ooey-gooey chewy foods and it was like the highlight for me. If my family was going out to dinner, it was like I had heart palpitations all day long in anticipation of the good foods I was going to eat. My mom was a bit of a health nut so I had to work hard to get my fix at home. I made this makeshift cookie dough with butter and sugar and flour and chocolates chips, and I just eat it raw; cinnamon toasts, all the typical things that we love to eat as emotional eaters. I never mentioned salads, so it was always my three favorite food groups which was sugar, starch and fats. That’s what I was drawn to.
So much of my childhood, I just had to believe that I like to eat, that was it, end of story. I did have issues with my weight. I started to gain weight and I hated being fat, Joe. It just was so miserable for me. I was overweight and I had this roll on my tummy that would just hang out. My mother would literally, this was terrible, she would push it in like she’d be embarrassed for me, so she’d push it in to remind me to suck up my gut. It was hard to do because I had a big belly. I’d scrunch it up in my hand and I’d imagine cutting it off or I wanted to get some strange disease where I’d automatically lose weight and I wouldn’t have to try.
I had fantasies about going to boot camp where they’d make me exercise because I hated exercise. Some pretty out there thoughts that were very violent really towards my own body, but that’s really the level of desperation I had around my weight because I couldn’t control it. I could not control my weight and I hated being fat. I loved to eat but I hated being fat. I was really tortured by this fat that I had on my body. I tried many things: I tried diets, I tried exercise programs, pills, potions, lotions, twelve step programs, therapy, self-help books. I really ran the gamut of all the different things I was trying, but nothing really worked for me.
Here and there, I’d get some reprieve but I’d always go back to the food with a vengeance and I’d gain more weight. I was a yoyo-er so I’d go up and down, down ten, up twenty, down five, up ten. I was just all over the place. I always had five different sizes in my closet depending on the weight I was at. That’s how it was for me. Finally, after trying so many different things, I started to think, “This is really bad. I can’t go on this way for the rest of my life. This is so unhealthy. I’m not getting anywhere.” I’m doing things that are typically what you’re supposed to do. I wasn’t just doing diets, I was doing more psychological, emotional stuff and still I wasn’t getting any help I needed.
That’s when I met some people, two different gals actually, who had extreme transformations. One was hopelessly bulimic. She had lost massive amount of weight and then started overeating again, which we do. Then she became bulimic to try to control the effects of her binging. Bulimia, as it does, got out of control. Basically, she was hopelessly bulimic and nobody could help her. Basically, I saw her one day. Normally, she was always saying, “I binged and purged again.” This is at an OA meeting. She’s like, “I binged and purged again. It was that uncomfortable feeling.” Nobody can help her. This is really awkward. She was leading the meeting, she said, “I haven’t binged and purged in two weeks and I haven’t had the desire to. The desire’s been lifted.” I looked at her and I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” That is so profound. I can’t even believe my eyes.
She was different. Her whole compartment was different and she was confident and clear. I took note of that. Then the next day, I saw another friend who had the same kind of transformation where she was just noticeably different and clear and so powerful in her message. I saw her the next day and I said, “What are you doing? There’s something very different about you.” She said, “I’m working with this guy, Roy.” This is a man who is a spiritual healer. I had gone to hear him speak many months before. She’s like, “I’m working with him and so as this other gal,” the bulimic whom I’ve seen profound changes and transformation. As soon as she said both of them are working with the guy, Roy, of course I’m like, “Give me his number. I need to call this guy because I’m circling the drain here. I can’t get where I need to go.”
I called him and he began to help me. That just changed the whole game for me. What he did is he showed me how to deal with the underlying causes of my emotional eating, to stop focusing on food, stop focusing on diets and scales and weight loss and start addressing that deeper lying emotions and my reaction to life. I needed a whole new orientation to life. That’s what he taught me. It was so transformational for me. I just said, “I want to hook my little wagon up to yours and help you help others.” It’s been close to 30 years now and we’ve been doing this together. Somewhere along the line, we got married. We just couldn’t decide to just complete the picture. We’ve just been helping people.
More recently with Heal Your Hunger, I’ve taken the work I’ve learned from him in my own transformation of losing 50 pounds and really transforming my life, growing my self-esteem, my self-confidence, my entire way that I approach life. I’ve taken what I’ve learned to the internet and virtual space so people all around the globe can learn these seven simple steps to end emotional eating now. For me, it’s the crux of the problem in why so many people keep stumbling and falling and sabotaging their health regime that they need to be healthy and whole.
It’s a great story. Obviously, you’ve been chipping away at this for a long time so you’ve got some research, you obviously have some wonderful success stories both individually as well as groups. You’re doing things online now. When people first hear this, I think people are a little bit like, “Am I an emotional eater or am I just addicted to food? Am I a food addict?” Is there a difference between the two?
Yeah, I believe there is although it’s not huge. For me, I think all humans are emotional eaters. I believe we were given a taste for food and a satisfaction that comes from eating obviously that really helps us survive. It helps us prolong our species to like food and to like sweet foods because we’re going to get more energy from that and it’s going to sustain us. I think it’s natural to have certain foods that we like and we want. It’s just that your average person, even though they might eat emotionally from time to time, it was a stressful day and they have an extra cookie or something, there are people who take it much further obviously. It becomes instead of eating to live, they live to eat. That’s how it was for me.
I consider it to really be a spectrum with emotional eating on the lower end of the spectrum and then getting more severe in one’s patterns of eating and the consequences of one’s eating. That’s where you get into the food addiction realm. It’s not either/or, it’s a matter of how little control one has and to what degree you take it. An addiction is really when you can’t stop, when you have cravings, when you have symptoms when you stop like symptoms of withdrawal. There are a lot of classic signs of addiction that happen when somebody’s a food addict or especially a sugar addict and they have that physical component of sugar and flour as well.
To me, we’re all in the spectrum. It’s just a matter of how far you take it. For me, my binge just got so violent, I could pack in 4,000 calories in a sitting and I did crazy things. I’d be so disgusted with myself I’d throw the rest of the food out that I couldn’t fit anymore. I tried to purge, I wasn’t a purger. I’d stuff myself throughout the rest of the food like, “I’m never eating that again. It’s so disgusting,” pass out and then wake up later and renegotiate that decision and get the food from the garbage.
I did really crazy things with food. I know I’m not the only one. I did a video one time on YouTube about that and got thousands of hits because clearly, some other people have done that as well. It affected my relationships; I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to be with friends, I didn’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. The degree to which it’s really having an affect on your life, on your relationships, even on your ability to earn an income, people are so disordered with food. That’s all they think about and it does completely impede their ability to be effective in their life.
If you walk into any bookstore or go on Amazon.com and type in diet, thousands, tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of books are available on diets. Probably 90% of them fail, but people keep going back to this world of dieting. Why do they keep going back when I think on a deeper intellectual level, people know that a diet is not working for them?
It’s such a crazy thing. I really think it’s a force of habit. When somebody is overeating and gaining weight, in my opinion, there’s no worse feeling than having your body grow beyond your control. Just watching it and you can’t fit in your pants and you’d look terrible and you got zits on your face and you feel bloated. All the symptoms that come with gaining weight, it’s such a powerless feeling. You just feel so powerless; your own body that you’re maiming. You’re literally maiming your own body extensively by choice but you don’t want to.
I likened it to having your house on fire. When your house is on fire, all you want to do is put the fire out. You don’t care how it happens, you don’t care if you use salt or water or whatever it is, get the fire out. It’s the same thing when you’re gaining weight. It’s just like, “I’ve got to put this fire out.” Intellectually, nowadays in our modern culture, if you’ve been around the block a few times, you know diets don’t work. Intellectually, we know that, but we still get seduced because our house is on fire. We’re like, “I know that just don’t work but let me just try it this time.” Because it’s so desperate, we have to do something.
That’s why people do even more desperate things like weight loss surgery and liposuction and these other things. They have a sense that that’s probably not going to fix this situation, but they don’t care. In the moment, they want the quick fix. Emotional eaters are very much quick fix people. We don’t take an honest look at the decades of quick fixes that we’ve tried and recognized that there’s nothing quick and nothing has been solved, so it wasn’t quick. Yet we just take us slice, which is this moment. It’s really the only now moment we have, is when we’re just like, “Give me the fix now.” We just get into that mode when we feel so desperate. We get seduced by the diet mentality.
The reason why it never works and why 90% of all diets fail is because if you take away food from an emotional eater who emotionally is dependent on that food, if you take that food away, we’re raw with all kinds of emotions, we have no tools to deal with. This happened to me. I lost a ton of weight and I was just freaked out and immediately started putting weight back on. I did that time and time again and so many people do because they don’t realize they can’t handle being thin. Of course they want to be thin, but you give them a thin body they’re just like, “I feel crazy and I need my protection right away.” That’s why diets are really disservice to people to put them on a food plan and not give them the tools to really support a healthier eating style because they need new ways to deal with that onslaught of emotions that they’ve been bearing for decades.
There are so many good points in there. I love the part of people are feeling the extra fat or weight protects them, especially those that have pain. They live in fear a lot and they’re scared to move, they’re scared to enter relationships, they’re scared to do many, many different things because pain keeps them stuck in fear. I think oftentimes, there’s this layer that’s almost comforting physically and emotionally. It also makes me think people are really good at identifying their physical symptoms of being hungry; your stomach starts to growl, you know it’s time for lunch. How do you differentiate between the physical and the emotional hunger that people struggle with?
I’ve always been amazed at how close emotional hunger feels to a physical hunger. It seems like physical hunger. In my book, I really help people identify the difference. It’s a question or two: How do you deal with your emotions if you’re overeating and how can you stop overeating unless you deal with your emotions? You have to do it simultaneously. I have a plan called Three Meal Magic, which helps people stick to three meals and then not eating between those meals. There’s a lot of support that goes around that. What that does is help them recognize in between their meals some emotion. So much of the time emotional eaters are used to just grazing throughout the day so they’ve got this feeling of no pain state all the time. They’re numb on food. They don’t really know what they’re feeling so how come they deal with it if they can’t even identify it?
When there are some guidelines and some perimeters around one’s meals, what happens is in between, they start to feel some hunger. It’s really amazing because for the first time, they’re feeling emotions they haven’t recognized or had any acquaintance with in literally years. I have a companion program to the book. When they go through that, it’s amazing, all the different a-has that are coming up for people and they’re like, “I had no idea first of all that I had all this fear. I used to think I was fearless, but I was eating macaroni and cheese and French fries all the time.” Carbs will make you fearless. Take away the macaroni and cheese and all of a sudden, I’m like, “There are some feelings here I didn’t know I had. I didn’t even know they were mine.” It’s so crazy, but it’s so instructive to start to identify these emotions.
What happens is you start to see in between your meals that you are emotionally hungry, not physically hungry. It’s important to have three meals because if you’re skipping meals, you don’t know if it’s physical or emotional hunger. All the time, I eat around 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning. If around ten, I’m like, “I’m starving. I really need to eat.” I have a little conversation with myself, “Tricia, you did eat three hours ago. You might be a little bit hungry but surely you can wait until lunch. You’re not actually starving. Is there something going on that you’re a little bit afraid of?” I’m like, “I do need to make this phone call that I really am avoiding making.”
There are situations that are making us afraid. If I can start to dig into that because I know I can talk to myself and say, “I’m not actually starving. I’m not really hungry. I don’t need to eat at 10 AM. I’m going to be okay if I wait until 12:00.” Then I can recognize that this is probably emotional hunger. It does. It takes some detective work because initially, it just seems like physical hunger. Emotional eaters have that knee jerk reaction where as soon as we have a pang of hunger, we’re headed for the kitchen because God forbid, we feel hungry. That’s just way out of bounds for us.
I think the other thing to talk about, in addition to emotions, are stress. When I get stressed, I get these cravings for sugary snacks, not fat for me. For me, it’s always sugar. I can be walking down the street and I’m like, “I just want a chocolate chip cookie. I’m gluten free but I want a chocolate chip cookie.” Sometimes it’s really hard to pull myself from the store window where there are these big cookies the size of a lion’s paws displayed. They’re like literally clawing at you like, “Come into this store and eat me.” There’s a store not far from here in New York City called The Big Booty Bread Company. In their window, they have the most delicious looking sugary things. If I walk by that store when I’m stressed, I’m going to be in there chowing down on something. Talk to us about stress and eating and how do we overcome that.
Stress is probably the number one reason why we eat emotionally. We’re just, “To hell with stress,” and it just seems like the release valve we need. The thing is, in my book, there’s one chapter called The Anatomy of the Emotional Eater. The thing is that there are traits of the emotional eater and they are human qualities, but I think emotional eaters have them in a more concentrated way. We really take the cake, so to speak, on these traits. There are 24 personality traits that make up the emotional eater. These traits actually exacerbate stress for us. That’s why it’s so important that we take a look at the way we operate in the world, the way we respond to life because a lot of our stress is self created.
We pack our schedules so full, oftentimes for emotional reasons. I’m not saying this is your trait but typically, for the emotional eater, I’d say the number one trait for us is people pleasing where we’re always doing too much and we’re taking on too much and we’re saying yes way too often, more than we really can. This is a trait that I have people watch out for because it runs through our veins. It’s so inherent for us to really want to please other people and therefore say yes when we really should be creating boundaries on our time and evaluating, “Can I handle this much stress?” That’s a muscle we haven’t really built and we haven’t really been taught to build or encourage to build. It’s always just do more, more, more and you’re going to be better, better, better.
If I want to have less pain, if I want to have less cravings, I’m going to have to start taking a look at my stress level and I have to start setting boundaries on my time and my energy. It doesn’t come all at once, but it’s at least bringing the awareness to people that you can’t be all things to all people, you can’t pack your schedule and leave no time for self care. Otherwise, of course you’re going to eat because you’re out of energy and you’ve got to get the energy from somewhere and you haven’t given yourself time to meditate or pray or do things that can give you solid healthy energy. You’re going to reach for cookies because that’s the quickest thing possible to us.
It’s a whole life thing. That’s why diets are so silly because we do have to deal with this stress. We have to deal with our stress level and how much we’re putting in our schedule and also, how much we’re taking on isn’t really ours to take on. It’s people pleasing nature. I find so many clients get into this where they’re doing their kids’ homework, they’re saying yes at the committee meeting, they think their name is somebody. A whole room full of people and somebody says, “Somebody needs to arrange that meeting. Somebody needs to order all these Hors d’oeuvres or whatever.” The emotional eater is always just sitting there like, “I can’t take it anymore, I’ll do it.” They don’t have to. They can sit on their hands and just be quiet and not take on one more thing, but it’s in our nature to just be that somebody all the time.
It’s really about doing detective work into how we’re creating stress and fear obviously has a lot to do with it. Emotional eaters are incredibly fear-driven. I just was riddled with fear. I didn’t have any reason to be afraid. I didn’t grow up in a piece of home, plates weren’t flying. I didn’t have any of that stuff and yet, just by nature, I was just wired to be afraid of everything. Stress eating over fear is so common as well. It’s so important that people begin to find new ways to alleviate stress and put self-care time into their schedule so that they can be empowered in a healthier way instead of looking to food to really give them that quick power.
I have to say that this topic is so important. The emotional level of eating is so important for those with pain because oftentimes, they turn towards food as the way to really almost self-medicate and really make themselves feel better. We had been talking with Tricia Nelson. She is the number one bestselling author of the book, Heal Your Hunger. You can also find her on the Heal Your Hunger show, which is a wonderful podcast. Tricia, can you tell everyone where they can find out more information about you?
What I’ve set up for you listeners is an opportunity to get my book, which is only $6 on Amazon, but it’s a great book. It’s so comprehensive and will help people. I’ve just had amazing reviews from people just saying how different this book is from everything else out there because it’s not focused on diet. It’s really focused about healing underlying emotions and really approaching food and life in a whole new way. A lot of people are like, “I was an emotional eater, but since you’re my friend, I read the book and it’s helped me so much just with life in general.”
A link will take somebody to a page where they can actually get a whole bunch of bonuses for purchasing that book and really helpful bonuses. Those in and of themselves are amazing but in addition to the book. A lot of them are companions to the book like things that will help you, cheat sheets that are like a whole one page of a whole chapter, like CliffsNotes to the chapter. They’ll get those bonuses in addition to a whole another bonus. That’s a great way to get started with me. If people are interested, I do have a course that actually is the 7 Simple Steps to End Emotional Eating Now that they can opt in for because that really takes them by the hand and walks them through integrating these steps into their life.
Make sure you check out Tricia’s wonderful bonuses. They’re really a great way to get you jump started on stopping the emotional healing, stopping the stress healing and of course, losing the weight once and for all without dieting.
That link, even if they don’t buy the book, there’s really a major bonus people will get just by going there. They don’t have to buy the book, they can actually just opt in for that one bonus that we offer right off the bat.
Please make sure to share this podcast with your friends and family. It’s great information that lots of people can heal from. I want to thank Tricia for being on the Healing Pain Podcast. Stay tuned, we will see you next week.
About Tricia Nelson
Tricia Nelson lost 50 pounds by identifying and addressing the underlying causes of her emotional eating. For close to 30 years Tricia and her husband, spiritual healer Roy Nelson, have been helping people overcome a myriad of addictions, including food addiction and eating disorders.
As an Emotional Eating Expert, Tricia writes, speaks and offers programs worldwide on the topic of emotional eating and food addiction. Tricia is also a certified coach, speaker and contributing author of Recover to Live and 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health, and her new book, Heal Your Hunger: 7 Simple Steps to End Emotional Eating Now is available through Amazon. Tricia is the host of the Heal Your Hunger Show.
URL – www.HealYourHunger.com
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