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Filling the Void with Food and Digging Deeper

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>> In this module, you'll hear from IIN graduate, Marissa LaRocca. Marissa is a graduate of both the Health Coach Training Program and the Launch Your Dream Book course. She is a published author and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Marissa has a wealth of knowledge in the area of eating disorders, which emerged from her personal story, which we've invited her to speak about, from her unique perspective as both a coach and a client. In this section, Marissa will be sharing content she developed exclusively for the Emotional Eating Psychology Course. >> Eating disorders are coping mechanisms. If you're starving yourself, binging or purging, chances are you've got some kind of internal struggle going on. You're trying to escape yourself, express yourself, or relieve yourself. You're trying to fill a void. Now, of course, like with anything else, there are exceptions, and motives will differ from one person to the next. I have a friend who developed an eating disorder because she had some medical stuff going on and she developed a fear of eating because it was physically painful for her to swallow and digest food. Some people attribute their restrictive food intake to somatic symptoms. For the sake of this lecture, I'm not going to be talking about eating disorders that manifest as a fear of eating due to physical issues. Rather, I'll be focusing on two things, eating disorders that are motivated by emotional and psychological factors, and how these disorders are usually symptoms of something deeper going on, rather than being issues in and of themselves. Before I dive in here, let me take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Marissa LaRocca. I'm the author of the book "Starving in Search of Me," a memoir and self-help book about my personal struggle with anorexia and bulimia in early adulthood, leading to self-discovery and my eventual recovery. So I probably don't have to tell you I'm not a doctor. My approach is not clinical, it's based on personal experience, research, observation, and reflection. While you or your clients may identify with some of what I'll be expressing in this video, I want you to keep in mind that I'll be speaking from my unique experience. Remember that everyone has his/her own bio-individual experiences, I'm only sharing my own. Okay, so why did I write a book? The reason I felt compelled to write "Starving in Search of Me" was that I had a burning curiosity to figure out what led me to manifest an eating disorder which began around the time I was 18 years old and lasted until my mid-20s. Since as far back as I can remember, I felt this innate sense that I'm different from other people. As a child, I was painfully introverted and shy. As a teenager, I struggled to fit in with social norms and expectations that felt very foreign and very uncomfortable for me. Even now as an adult, though I'm way more well-adjusted to the world around me, I still struggle at times with social pressures and being able to relate to other people. During my freshman year of college, I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed being on my own for the first time and trying to navigate this strange new world of people and responsibilities. I didn't yet have a strong sense of who I was and yet I was expected to assume an identity and a personality and make decisions concerning my future. On top of feeling like a bit of a social outcast compared to the people around me, I was also struggling at that time to come to terms with my sexuality. This added another layer to the mix and was another reason for me to internalize feelings of shame and confusion. As a means of coping with these negative feelings, I began dieting to the extreme, I counted calories, and I counted hours between eating. I was totally obsessed with controlling and restricting my food intake. When starving myself felt like it wasn't enough, I began purging and compulsively exercising as well. So why did I put myself through this? Why did I knowingly harm my body and allow my mind to be so completely enveloped by thoughts and rituals around food for so many years? Well, after years of writing, and reflecting, and organizing my thoughts, I eventually arrived to the reasons why I developed an eating disorder. To cope with feelings of shame, confusion, anxiety, and low self-worth. Again, while most eating disorders are coping mechanisms, they manifest in many different ways for many different reasons. So what appeared to be a food disorder really wasn't about food at all, I think this is the first important point to understand. I could have just as easily developed an obsession with something not food related or I could have developed another kind of addiction maybe even to alcohol or drugs. When you're trying to avoid pain and escape from your body to avoid feeling negative feelings, there are many different paths you can take. When it comes to eating disorders and what causes them, no two people will share the same story, even if they share similar symptoms. The symptoms aren't the most important thing. What matters more are the feelings behind the symptoms. What are the feelings going on beneath the surface and what circumstances or events are triggering those feelings? Once you start to peel back these layers, you'll usually find that the people who suffer with eating disorders and other addictions tend to share similar feelings at their core. Some of these feelings may include shame, guilt, loneliness, inadequacy, hopelessness, stress, anxiety, fear of vulnerability or intimacy, fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, feeling invisible or unseen, or feeling stuck or out of control in another area of life. Whether a person is restricting their food intake by way of extreme dieting or purging or over indulging in food by way of binge eating, it's self-destructive either way, and usually an attempt to control or relieve unpleasant emotions. One common reason why an individual might develop an unhealthy attachment to food is because they're lonely and the feeling of connection they crave in relationships feels too complicated. Perhaps they have a fear of relational intimacy or their needs are simply not being met in the area of love and intimacy. Food relationships can often provide information about other relationships. As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, if you're working with a client who has an eating disorder, you'll want to dive deep and work with your clients to identify the root cause. You want to explore what they feel ashamed about? What they feel afraid of? If they have close relationships in their life? What voids they're trying to fill? And what they're actually hungry for? If compulsive behaviors are present, one way to get to the root of what's causing them is to take a look at the feelings that trigger the compulsive behaviors. For example, when I look back on when I used to have episodes of binging and purging back in college, I can see that my compulsions were not random but rather they were triggered by specific feelings and experiences. Most of my episodes would occur late at night when I returned to my apartment after being out at a party. Why? Because I never felt good about myself after parties. Being at a party always reinforced this insecurity that I was different from everyone else and therefore inadequate. I'd feel ashamed of how uncomfortable it felt for me to socialize in large groups of people and wonder what's wrong with me. I always felt awkward. I was craving a deeper experience and felt like I could never fully let go. Also, because I'm a very highly sensitive person, parties left me feeling drained and exhausted from all the sensory stimulation. When I get back to my apartment around 2:00am, I'd seek comfort, relief, and escape, and still feel a little buzz from whatever alcohol I drank. And I looked to food to fill the void. I'd binge on whatever was in the refrigerator to soothe my feelings of frustration and emptiness. Then I'd make myself throw up because I'd feel guilty for overindulging and losing control. So what was my trigger? In my case, my trigger was highly stimulating environments, full of loud music and big crowds of people drinking alcohol and talking at a loud volume. To this day, I simply don't thrive in environments like loud parties and noisy bars or nightclubs. I prefer to spend time alone or with one or two other people. Now what if I were your client? What would your next step be after helping me to identify my triggers? You might ask me a question, like how do you feel now that you recognize this about yourself that going to parties makes you feel sensory overload and shame about who you are. When you help your clients make important connections and become more self-aware, they're going to feel more empowered. So in my case, now that I've become aware that loud parties trigger negative emotions in me, I can make an informed choice about how to prevent myself from encountering these feelings in the future before I find myself in a bulimic episode. I might decide to avoid parties and large crowds all together for a while and see how I feel. And as my Health Coach, you now have the opportunity to work with me on some of these other pieces. You could help me to accept myself as I am and help me to nurture my unique needs. You can help me to identify why I give so much power to social norms and social expectations. You could encourage me to experiment with different ways of connecting with other people and to observe how I feel afterwards. For example, how I feel after going on a hike with one or two other people versus going to a rock concert. Do you see how high-mileage questions can be used to help clients with eating disorders from within your scope of practice? In addition to taking a look at the triggering experiences and emotions that leads to dysfunctional eating habits, it can also be valuable to examine the other areas of a person's life outside of food to determine if there are patterns and trends that can provide more insight in terms of what's motivating a person's behaviors. In other words, sometimes what's affecting one area of a person's life will affect other areas as well. For example, something I didn't fully recognize until recently in terms of my own situation is that while I consider myself recovered from my eating disorder for about seven years now, I've dealt with a lot of trauma in romantic relationships throughout this time. When I look at this area of my life, relationships, I have a history of involving myself in relationships that have been pretty codependent, and at times, toxic in nature. I've struggled a lot with upholding personal boundaries, I've tolerated being treated in ways I should have never allowed myself to be treated. And I've struggled with standing up for myself and asking for what I need. What I've come to realize is that my tendency toward being codependent in romantic relationships, overly dependent on past partners for my sense of value and worth indicates that I've continued to struggle with some self-worth issues even after I recovered from my eating disorder. So you'll want to help clients look for these types of connections across their lives. Sometimes, the same core issue can take different forms and manifest in different ways over time. I'm happy I can finally say that after years of projecting my own self-worth issues first onto food and then onto relationships, I finally come to understand that it's my responsibility to put in the work it takes to feel secure in my own skin, rather than relying on food and other people for safety and validation. Since realizing this, I've raised my standards. I've begun to speak up more for myself and take risks rather than focusing on what other people think. I've removed toxic relationships from my life. And in time, I've gained more confidence and peace of mind. Once I started focusing on and taking care of my real needs, all the urges I had before to abuse food and to abuse my body subsided. You can help your clients to reach breakthroughs like this too. Okay. Well, I hope you found this lecture to be helpful. Before we end, here are the main points I want you to take away from this video. Typically, when a person is revolving their life around food, especially when obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors are present, it's a sign that there are probably some deeper-rooted emotional and/or psychological issues going on in that person's life. When coaching someone who has an eating disorder or other fixation, focus on the feelings that motivate a person's behaviors, not necessarily the behaviors themselves. Seek to understand what's going on beneath the surface. Seek to identify where the triggering feelings are coming from that lead to compulsive or dysfunctional behaviors around food, it can be specific environments, people, etcetera. And once you identify the triggers and feelings that motivate an eating disorder, look for ways those feelings may be affecting other areas of life such as relationships. I encourage you to join the conversation on Facebook to connect with one another and your moderators. Remember to support one another around this delicate topic and know that you only need to share what you're comfortable sharing. We all have our own challenges around food. It's normal, self-acceptance helps form the foundation of healing. Thanks for joining me, and I'll see you in the next video.

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 30 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 6
Posted by: integrativenutrition on Mar 14, 2019

Filling the Void with Food and Digging Deeper

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