How to Stop Emotional Eating and Heal Your Relationship with Food [The Stress Less Show - Episode 28]

Read the blog post version of this episode here!

>> Carlee: After a long stressful day do you reach for food to take the edge off? We'll find out in this episode of The Stress Less Show. Hi I'm Carlee Meyers and I'm a stress management expert. One thing I hear day in and day out is that we feel like we've tried everything when it comes to stress. We may have tried the mainstream approaches to managing our stress but have we really gotten to the root of the issue? Each episode, I bring on experts and leaders to not just put a Band-Aid on your stress but to actually get to the root. This month's theme is physical health. It's one of the top stressors in the United States. And specifically we're going to be focusing on food as fuel. My special guest is Jessica Procini. She is an emotional eating healer and the founder of Escape From Emotional Eating. She consciously created and specifically designed Escape From Emotional Eating from her own emotional eating journey because Overeaters Anonymous just didn't resonate and therapy wasn't enough when it came to getting help to fully end her fight with food. Jessica is amazing. She's been awarded the top health coach Award by the Institute of Psychology of Eating three years in a row and has been featured in various media outlets such as CBS, Philadelphia Magazine, and Mind Body Green just to name a few. So I am so excited to have you on the show, Jessica

>> Jessica: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

>> Carlee: Yes! So I'm so curious because your work has come from your own journey like what has your journey been? What is emotional eating? I've so many questions.

>> Jessica: So my mission is to help others use food as fuel instead of a way to cope, soothe, or escape their busy stressful life. And this really was created from my own journey with emotional eating. Food was very much a safety blanket for me. After a long stressful day, I would go right to the pantry and pretty much eat whatever I could get my hands on. I tried to talk to my friends about it, but they really didn't understand what I was going through and would just say, "Oh you know everyone does that," And we would book an exercise class and try and work off you know whatever I ate. And then I tried to talk to my partner at the time and he was like, "Oh Jessica, you know, I love you no matter what size you you are." Which is awesome and everything we want our partners to say, but like what really boggles my mind was how could he love me when all I wanted to do was crawl out of my own skin. And I tried to seek help in professionals in therapy, but they just wanted to write me a prescription for an antidepressant and I was very clear that I was already using food to numb myself. I didn't want to use another way to numb like medication. I just didn't want to be numb anymore. I needed a way to really learn how to cope with my busy, stressful, overwhelming life. And at that point, I just really felt hopeless and misunderstood and it was at that point that I really dedicated myself to discovering the root of what was going on between me and food. And I found answers. Answers that no one is talking about which is why I am so passionate about being here. I discovered first that I was an emotional eater. There then I discovered that I was using food to not feel my feelings. And finally, I really discovered that if I really wanted things to change, I had to get to the root of it. And now my life is completely different. I have a very peaceful, nourishing, even compassionate relationship with food. It's no longer something that I think about all the time. It really is a nourishing asset to my life. I can still enjoy foods like cookies and ice cream and things like that. The way I enjoy it is no longer compulsive. It's no longer something like I have to have like it used to be. And I think I've lost over forty five pounds of both physical and emotional weight. And I mean my life is just completely different and I'm so passionate about talking about what emotional eating is and teaching others how to heal it as well.

>> Carlee: Wow. Yeah. So what are what are some of the things that you learned in your journey? Since I know I've been in rooms where this conversation is happening. "Oh just go to the gym or Oh I love you no matter what." This is. These are things we hear but what are the... What is the actual... How do we get to the root of our emotional eating?

>> Jessica: Well the first thing is really understanding that there are two types of hunger. There's physical hunger and then there's emotional hunger. And for an emotional eater, we get them very much confused. We can feel any tinge of anything and immediately assume that we're hungry for food but we could be "hungry" - and I'm using air quotes - because we're tired, because we need a break, because we actually really yearn for a connection with someone. So one of the first ways and one of the things that I do in my work with my clients is really teaching people how to untangle their physical and emotional hunger because then we can get a clear understanding of what your your body physically needs and then also really understanding what your emotional body needs and really learning how to fuel that aspect and to nourish that aspect and to really give you what you really truly are hungry for.

>> Carlee: This reminds me of that scene in The Notebook where Noah says to the... I forget I think her name's Ali. Noah says Ali is like, "What do you want?" And she's like, "It's not that simple!" And I think you're actually helping people figure out what it is that they need and what they want instead of just press like pushing it down with food.

>> Jessica: Yeah like believe it or not, there are four emotional food groups and this is something that I teach on in all of my programs and retreats. But the first step to really understanding you know is this physical hunger or is this emotional hunger is really understanding more about our physical hunger and when we are actually physically full. I teach a four part series about hunger and fullness in all of my programs, but I want to give someone someone who's listening like a tool that they can use today so that they can start to practice and really start the untangling process and really understand like what is going on in their relationship with food. Is it okay if I share that?

>> Carlee: Yes I would love to hear it.

>> Jessica: OK. So the fullness scale. I'm going to give just a super super short bite of the fullness scale. The fullness scale you want to imagine a scale of one to ten. One two three four five six seven eight nine ten. Ten is Thanksgiving Day stuffed. Like you have to unbutton your pants, like you just want to go take a nap. You feel really guilty, bloated, gross. That's a ten. Where we want to practice aiming for and feeling satiated is around a seven and this is what I call eating for energy and eating for integrity. This is where we're eating to a point where we feel satiated and satisfied and full, but we're not wanting to just escape our life and go take a nap. And the more that we can practice aiming for completion around a seven, then we can start to understand, right, if you're still hungry, "Oh this is emotional hunger, so I must need something emotionally." But that is something that everyone can practice today is imagining that fullness scale 1 through 10 and aiming for that 7.

>> Carlee: And I am assuming that you also cover the like one of the things that I've heard from people is that when we eat we have to. There's a certain time period where the food expands in your stomach. I'm sure you go into like all of that kind of craziness. Like do I am I physically full and how do I know that?

>> Jessica: Yeah I mean it's so much more in depth like like I said this is just the beginning that this is such like first bite. But if someone is looking you know for more and if anything that I said today you know resonates with you, I'd love for you to join me over on That's There's a free quiz on there for people who use food or eat when they're stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Highly recommend taking that quiz. It'll give you more information about what's going on in your relationship with food and we'll take it from there. It'll tell you what to do after that. So that's Escape From Emotional

>> Carlee: Perfect. Thank you so much Jessica for being on the show.

>> Jessica: Thank you. Thank you.

>> Carlee: Awesome so this episode of The Stress Less Show was sponsored by our generous sponsor, Escape From Emotional Eating. We will see you next week on the show to talk about sleep and how important it is for our physical health. Take care.