Sarah Speers is an alternative healing arts practitioner. She’s an empowered eating coach and a trained psychotherapist specializing in energy work to help women experience freedom from food and eating issues, emotional overwhelm, and limiting self-beliefs. Sarah is actually my personal coach and energy worker and I’m so honored to have her on the show today. Let’s jump into this amazing conversation!
In this episode Allie and Sarah discuss:
Using food to cope
What happens when we don’t deal with our feelings
Ways to deal with stress and overwhelm
Raising your children to be empowered eaters
Mentioned in this Episode:
Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)
The Purpose Show Facebook Community
DECLUTTER LIKE A MOTHER
Discover Allie Casazza’s powerful and proven method for clearing the clutter in your mind by first clearing the clutter in your home, the place where transformation begins.
Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages. We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard, it is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself, the idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life, where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop.
I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
I have been waiting for this day for so long. I have been sitting with this interview in my pocket, dying for you to be able to hear it. This is going to change your life. It is so, so good.
I think I may need to have Sarah on for more follow-up episodes because I could talk to her about literally anything all day. She’s so gifted and so wise. I’m super excited for you guys to meet her.
This is an extra special interview for me because Sarah is my personal coach and my energy worker that I have spoken about quite a bit, especially on my Instagram. I’ve tagged her a bunch when I’m processing some of the stuff I’ve been working through and sharing about my journey with my body, skin, weight, and purging all the stuff that we tend to collect inside over our lifetime that shows up as symptoms in our bodies.
Sarah has been so huge for me. I’m honored to know her and honored to have her on the show today. This is very, very special because we’ve personally worked together for over a year.
Sarah Speers is an alternative healing arts practitioner. She’s also an empowered eating coach and a trained psychotherapist who specializes in using energy work to help women experience freedom from food and eating issues, emotional overwhelm, and limiting self-beliefs.
Basically, she does it all. I came to her starting with food and body stuff, and we’ve branched out to talking and dealing with everything.
Sarah also offers several innovative, energy-based coaching and self-help methods within the field of complementary and alternative medicine, including emotional freedom techniques or EFT. You may have heard me mention that before. I’m getting certified in that myself right now.
She also uses the Emotion Code and Reiki. Sarah has also worked as a licensed marriage and family therapist and ran the intensive treatment program for binge-eating disorder at the University of California, San Diego.
Sarah is my personal coach and energy worker. We’ve worked together for over a year. She’s also the person who certified my husband, Brian, in Reiki Levels I & II. She’s just incredible.
We’ve been planning for her to come over to my house and have a private session with me and the kids where she teaches them about all of this. It’s so empowering to know how to deal with your past. How to deal with the effects of life on you and in you.
And how to purge your internal self of the resentment, bitterness, fear, anger, betrayal, and hurt. All the things that we collect as we go through life. It’s such a huge gift.
In this episode I really wanted to hone in on food and really talk about healing your relationship with food, because that is why I initially went to Sarah. That’s something that she specializes in. It’s a lot of the work that we’ve done together over the last year.
I know that it’s a lot of what you guys struggle with because I see this in my DM’s. I’ve DM’d some of you about this stuff, and I know how hard it is personally. I see you guys struggling.
We’re also going to touch on how to heal our own relationship with food and ensure that we’re not raising kids who are going to have a bunch of unhealthy issues with food as well. Because we have to eat so many times a day. It’s a big deal, right?
Please welcome my good friend and personal coach, Sarah Speers, to The Purpose Show and enjoy this incredible conversation.
ALLIE: Welcome to The Purpose Show and thank you so much for sharing your light and your time with us today!
SARAH: Hi, thanks for having me!
ALLIE: I’m super excited to dive into this with you, because this is really the root of what brought us together and how we started working together.
I came to you about food and body stuff. I remember using the term “food addiction” a lot. I actually never have thought about that until this moment, but I don’t see it that way anymore. I don’t call it that.
I’ve learned so much more about loving my body and the relationship that I have with food. I feel like calling it a food addiction was an unhealthy relationship with food and an unhealthy mindset. You’ve taught me so much and I’m super excited to dive into this.
SARAH: Yeah, I’m really excited to talk about it.
After you sharing that, I think that’s one of the biggest misperceptions that we tend to have. I had bulimia and binge-eating for five to six years. I also had that experience of feeling addicted to food, like I couldn’t control myself around food.
Through my own healing journey and training, and now working with hundreds of women, I know it’s not a food problem and it’s not a food addiction. It’s a coping problem. And that’s really where the work is.
As long as you’re only focusing on food and food is the problem (I can’t control myself around food) you’re missing the entire actual issue that needs to be resolved and addressed in order for you to shift into this really natural, healthy relationship with food, which is how it should be.
ALLIE: Let’s jump in right now.
What does that look like when we use food to cope? Cope with what? I know there are different examples for different women. What does it look like? I know what it looks like all too well, but you tell us.
SARAH: It could be valuable for you to share what it looked like for you, because it can look slightly different for everybody. Some of the common ways that it will present is that you will eat in response to stress or anxiety.
If you’re feeling sad or angry, you might find yourself turning to food to stuff those feelings or that energy down. Grief, sadness, pretty much any emotion might have you reaching for food or going out of your way to get food.
Then, once you start eating you feel like you can’t stop, or you eat more than you know you need, it’s constantly on your mind, or you’re always craving these foods. This can also happen with positive emotions. A lot of people will use food as a celebration, when they’re happy, or as a reward.
We see this behavior of eating when we experience a certain emotion. And you can insert whatever that emotion is for you. That includes boredom as well. We can feel really uncomfortable and not having something to do or feeling this sense of loneliness is when we’ll find our brains telling us to eat something.
This becomes such an unconscious automatic response pattern. For many of us, we actually aren’t even aware that there’s an emotion that we’re suppressing or coping with because it happens so automatically. All we know is we’re just eating again and we get frustrated with ourselves and beat ourselves up that we don’t have willpower to stop or control it. Does that resonate with you?
ALLIE: You know, it does.
I don’t know if it was a form that I filled out before we started working together or if it was a conversation between us, but I remember there was a place where I was supposed to check the boxes of what emotions tend to make me eat. And it was all of those—bored, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious.
I have four kids, we’re homeschooling, we’re running a business. Today, I have to quickly record this podcast and then get it to my team, then make sure that the kids do their math. All in the next hour.
I guess it’s less overwhelm and more the rush of life. Pretty much all throughout the day, I would be looking to satisfy something deeper, looking to bring peace into the rush, or at night looking to reward myself for the day.
I did this with wine. I did this with food. I did it with salty and greasy foods, sugary foods, sweet foods. It didn’t matter. It was just any and all, all the time.
I think the reason that I was drawn to the term ‘food addiction’ in the past was because it did feel like this adrenaline hit when I would eat. I remember a couple years ago, I was starting to get to a point where I felt the sickest and was the most unhealthy, heaviest weight that I had ever been.
I remember walking into a mall and I walked into the entrance by the food court and just the smells and the opportunity to eat, I was literally drooling. My mouth was watering. I got so excited.
I had had a bad day up until that point and my mood totally changed. I remember noticing and being embarrassed to my own self, like “You’re ridiculous. You’re disgusting.” It was this shame story, because food was everything to me.
SARAH: The way that we talk about ourselves and about how we interact with food is really important to become aware of. The way that this eating or self-soothing cycle works is that you feel an emotion and the millisecond your brain detects this inner discomfort, this energy that doesn’t feel good, it’s immediately sending you a signal to eat because that’s how your brain has learned you feel better.
And then, when you eat the food it feels really good. It releases dopamine. You do get a burst of feeling good. It masks that inner discomfort.
But then what happens after? Exactly what you shared. You shame yourself. You feel guilty, angry, frustrated that you couldn’t control yourself. You feel like a failure. You beat yourself up.
If somebody else outside of you was talking to you that way you would probably feel really upset, right? It’s like abusing yourself with your words. Now you’ve actually created more uncomfortable, negative emotions.
I don’t even want to use the word negative, but emotions that you really don’t feel good. And now your brain is telling you to eat again. A lot of times we actually find ourselves reaching for more food and getting more frustrated with how that cycle unfolds.
The other thing I want to speak to that you mentioned was this sense of go, go, go, and how overwhelmed you would feel. I like to talk about that in terms of regulation. Your nervous system and body will get very dysregulated when you are constantly doing without any time to decompress, to pause, to take a breath, to recenter or ground.
By the time the end of the day comes, sometimes your brain and body is just looking for a way to rebalance or regulate a dysregulated nervous system. And food can become a way that we feel like we are able to take a sigh, rest, or relax and find a little bit of that relief that we’re looking for.
ALLIE: For me, the times of the day when I’m eating is like a break. I’ll be in my office working or out in the school room doing school with the kids. Then it’s lunchtime, so we sit and I breathe and eat, even if I’m eating something that’s really nourishing and really good for me. It is like a respite. It’s a break.
But in the work that we’ve done, I’ve been intentionally trying to shift to training my brain to notice that I’m around my kids, I’m sitting down, I’m breathing, I’m sipping water and enjoying the house. I’ll move, I’ll go sit outside, have lunch out there, and sit for a moment.
I try to teach my brain, “We’re enjoying this rest because we’re not in front of the computer, because we’re not doing homeschool, because I’m on a walk, and then I’m going to go home and eat lunch,” instead of, “Finally, I get to rest and that rest is food.”
SARAH: Yes. What I’m hearing you say is when you have meals, you are carving out time to sit down, be present, and use that as a rest time. I never did that.
When I was deep in my disorder, I was eating in front of my computer. I ate most of my meals while I was driving. Eating was woven into the chaotic stress of my life. I never carved out time to pause, be present, and take a few breaths.
If you are listening and you’re someone who isn’t having designated meal times for yourself, that may be a really valuable first step, to carve out that time or make time—even if it’s only for 10 minutes—to push pause on everything else, sit down, and be with your food and yourself.
Then to your point, creating micro/mini moments throughout the day where you can check back in with yourself, catch a little sunshine is really, really valuable. And not just taking a break by going on your phone, zoning out, or consuming content on Instagram.
It’s checking in with yourself. It’s checking in with a higher power. It’s really becoming present and intentionally regrouping.
ALLIE: The thought of breaking food habits, breaking this unhealthy relationship with food and using it to cope is kind of depressing because that’s all you have. I know for a lot of women, my past self included, it’s just all we have.
Things were stressful. Things were hard. And now, I have to get this under control. Now I have to work on something else. And it’s just so depressing. It’s kind of like, “I’ll listen to this later and do this later.”
SARAH: Yeah. It can feel like one more thing. Especially if this is the thing that is allowing you to deal with all the other things. The idea of releasing my crutch, my security blanket is hard.
For me, food was my friend. I really felt this very strong, emotional attachment to food, which is why it can feel like an addiction because we do form very strong emotional attachments. When you crave food you’re anticipating how happy it’s going to make you.
We crave something because we anticipate it’s going to feel good. There is a feeling that your brain has already programmed in its mind connected to these foods. And that’s why you get so excited at the thought of it, because you’re wanting that feeling, whether it’s a feeling of love, happiness, relaxation, or soothing.
To think that I’m going to now lose this thing can actually feel scary. It can bring up feelings of loss and grief. Part of the process is to honor the way that food and this pattern has been of service to you. It has helped you get through probably some very difficult times of your life (as it did for me.) But it no longer serves you, so you’re ready to find new ways to truly take care of yourself that really feel good.
And that’s not to say that there won’t be times where you choose to have a cookie to feel better, but you’re in choice, right? And you don’t necessarily feel this sense of loss of control, and you no longer feel the guilt because it’s a choice. But you also want to do yourself the service of giving yourself other options, tools, and choices that you can do to actually effectively address the underlying problem.
If you recognize, “I’m choosing to eat because eating makes me feel good,” then women could start by just pausing and asking themselves, “What doesn’t feel good right now?”
That is already going to open the door to a greater self-awareness and curiosity to try and understand for oneself, “What is it that I’m truly needing in this moment?”
If you’re exhausted, what you might need is to actually just go to bed early, take a bath and cancel a few meetings tomorrow so you can have some downtime.
Eating isn’t actually going to do anything to fix the actual problem. If you’re feeling really frustrated and overwhelmed because you’re trying to talk to your boss at work about a problem and they’re not listening to you or honoring your voice and that’s frustrating, what you might actually need is to go shout into a pillow or go on a run and get out all this anger and frustration.
When you honor and process the emotion, then you’re effectively releasing the energy that’s inside that’s causing you to want to eat in the first place. And from that space, you’re able to effectively feel better without necessarily needing food to do it.
ALLIE: It’s interesting because, for me, feeling emotions that were uncomfortable and then the act of eating food was very physically like stuffing it down. What can happen when we deal with our emotions in that way? I mean, where does it go? What happens in the body? I know that you know so much about that and it’s fascinating.
SARAH: I always say, “Feelings buried alive never die.” That’s actually the name of a book. I didn’t make that up, but I love that. We think that if we bury something or stuff it down, it goes away. And you’re right, eating literally is pushing down the emotional energy.
Emotions are energy and motion. Energy needs to move. It needs to flow just like a river. If you put a dam in a river, that’s when it starts to turn to that muck. All the gnats and the algae start to accumulate and build. That’s literally what happens inside of us.
If we block the flow of emotions and start to stop them, they don’t go away. I don’t care how far in the past it happened, it doesn’t go away. If the emotional energy is still stuck in the body, it just accumulates.
Then over time, it starts to fester and it starts to manifest in different physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. That could be anxiety or depression. That might be emotional eating, choosing to drink, or doing other behaviors to cope with it. It also can show up in physical symptoms, skin issues, hormone issues.
All sorts of physical conditions usually have emotional and mental roots because we haven’t addressed a lot of the emotional energies and the body is trying to get our attention. I had bulimia. When we eat we’re stuffing down the energy; the purge was an attempt to get the energy out. It’s a form of a release.
So if anyone’s listening who struggles with bulimia, it’s okay. There’s no shame there. I think a lot of women actually struggle with this and they’ve never shared it with anybody. I want them to understand that this is also an attempt by your body to just cleanse the accumulation of emotional energy and that there are other ways they can learn to do that for themselves that aren’t going to harm their health.
ALLIE: Thank you for sharing that. That’s so important. If we have heavy emotions and use food to cope, and we decide to no longer use food to cope, what are some other examples of ways to deal with stress and the overwhelm?
Day-to-day, whether you declutter your house and simplify your life, life can be stressful. Life can feel overwhelming. What are some other things that you’ve seen really be effective at helping women deal with these things? Or help them go through a really shit day and deal with it without suppressing it by using food?
SARAH: There are a few things that come to mind immediately. I’ve worked with some women who are mothers of young children and their life is literally from morning to night, just mom duty and kids. They don’t have a moment to themselves.
Step one is to find a way to carve out “me time,” whatever that takes. If you have to hire a nanny or get a neighbor for one hour a week so that you can have literally just an hour for yourself to then do these other practices that I’m going to share with you, you are worthy and deserving of that.
You deserve to prioritize that time, to take care of yourself so that you can show up in the environment that you’re in, the energy of all the people you’re taking care of, the responsibility and stress that these tasks take, and actually be able to do that without it totally burning you out.
ALLIE: I actually want to add something to this because you brought it up and it triggered a memory I just saw. I was talking to someone and we were texting after our lunch. She mentioned something to me and I thought, “This is so brilliant and so doable.”
You mentioned the nanny and I just wanted to say that I know someone who doesn’t want to, and can’t afford to, have help with her kids all the time. They’re little, so she literally went on Care.com and hired a trusted-great-references-background-check nanny for an hour-and-a-half a week. It’s $20 or something a week.
She savers that time. She walks down to the beach and reads and that’s it. Her husband is in the military. It’s crazy. It’s basically just her.
I don’t think that that option comes to mom’s minds often enough because it’s either, “Oh, I have a nanny full-time,” or “It’s just me.” And there’s a lot of these little in-between crevices that we can pull from to support ourselves.
I thought that was brilliant. I never would’ve thought of that. It’s all or nothing in my mind. It’s literally just an hour/hour and a half.
SARAH: I bet it makes so much of a difference for her.
ALLIE: It does. She is so much healthier. She works out in the morning while her kids eat breakfast. Then she does everything for them all day, every day, except that one hour-and-a-half a week.
And it’s $20 bucks. I mean, come on. It was just brilliant. I thought it was brilliant.
SARAH: Yes, it’s incredible, that kind of getting creative about a solution to give yourself time, even if it’s only an hour.
Three skills or tools that I think are the best to begin to learn or use to help manage stress and overwhelm are: meditation, breath work and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or tapping. That one, as you know, is my favorite. I really believe that every woman should learn Emotional Freedom Technique because it is using your body and your mind.
It’s integrating the cognitive, somatic, and the energy of the emotions so that if you are suddenly feeling a wave of stress or anger and it’s overwhelming, you can just start to do the tapping process by tapping on these acupressure points on the face and body, and focusing on what it is you are thinking, because your thoughts are creating the emotions and the sensations in the body.
When you fuse those two together, you’re actually able to move that energy through the body so that the intensity decreases and you feel better naturally. Even if you have to excuse yourself and go to the bathroom and do it when you’re in the restroom, there are ways that you can find time to apply these skills for yourself.
ALLIE: My issue is I want to tap, but I don’t want to look like a psycho, or have my kids be like, “Mom, again?” They know I’m always tapping, but it’s fine.
I’ve even been out a couple of times and literally been on the verge of a panic attack. I felt because of the social setting I couldn’t start tapping, so I went through the points in my mind and said everything that you taught me to say and it did go down.
SARAH: Yes, that works. Visualize the process and it’s still effective. There are also points on your fingers you can tap. You can tap on the finger points if you’re in public and just do that, under the table or in your pocket. You can get creative in public settings. I can teach you that.
I have gotten to the point where I have no shame. I’m walking through the neighborhood, talking out loud and tapping, driving and tapping. I’ll look over and people are looking at me strangely and I don’t care.
ALLIE: Okay. So, everyone needs to look up EFT and how to tap. Sarah, we can link to any videos that you have too. I know you have one specifically for period pain that helped me a lot a couple cycles ago.
SARAH: And I created an intro bundle for women who’ve never tapped so they can learn what the heck this is and how do I start to use this. They can use it with themselves or their kids. It’s a really nice introduction. There are more advanced processes that you and I use, but these are the starting points.
ALLIE: It’s so good for kids, too. I have a really, really hypersensitive little guy and tapping is huge. It literally feels like the emotion just dissipates and he can breathe. Then he has clarity over what the problem was.
And it’s in the H-A-L-T’s – are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired? And he’ll say, “I am really hungry. I just need to eat something.” And for eight years old, what a gift. Tapping is such a gift. And you showed me that, so I’m super grateful.
SARAH: I love that you’re passing that onto your children because that is a gift that you’re giving them. I think that’s one of the most important responsibilities that parents have, especially if they’re wanting to raise their children to be empowered eaters or children who don’t develop this addiction to food.
Learning how to be an emotion coach and helping your children learn how to effectively understand, acknowledge, and process their emotions is huge. And that can be really hard to do, as a parent, if you are disconnected from your emotions or don’t know how to handle your own. It starts with you figuring out how to do this for yourself so that you can support your child in doing it for themselves.
Hey friends, I am pausing this conversation here so that I can invite those of you who are meant to hear this and really want to purge yourself of the programming around your body, around women’s bodies, around the way that you should look, the way that you are supposed to feel, just all of it and really getting deep in healing your relationship with your body.
I created something last year called The Body Love Mindset mini course. This is the biggest piece of my own personal transformation that I recently went through in my own body. It’s the inner work that you have to do, that I did, in order to truly reconnect with and learn to love your body right where it’s at. Truly.
Weight release and external changes for me came from that place. It’s working on it from the inside out rather than coming from this energy of forcing your body to change by what you’re putting into it and coming from this other energy that obviously just doesn’t work.
It hasn’t worked in the past and trying a new diet, doing something different externally, isn’t going to work now because you’re really trying to control your body from a place of disdain and a lack of acceptance.
I really wanted to share what I went through with the world, spread this message, and help other women come into real peace with their bodies, because that was such a huge piece of my own weight release journey and really how I’ve come to be so much healthier, so in love with my body and with myself in the healthiest way. It’s been so transformational.
I created The Body Love Mindset course to walk you through that same process of the perspective of your body, the mindset. Undoing all the old programming that’s not serving you anymore. Going from disconnection with your body to true connection. Really taking action and what that looks like. How to implement all of that new progress into the external, with how you’re treating yourself, how you’re moving your body, how you’re feeding your body, all of those things.
I’ve talked often about my work with Sarah Speers. She’s still my coach in this. We’ve worked together for over a year now and she’s been absolutely incredible. I’ve invited her in to give a bonus.
For everyone that enrolls in The Body Love Mindset course from me, you’ll also receive a bonus from Sarah. It includes a body gratitude meditation which is something that I’ve done so many times. It’s absolutely transformational. You’ll be able to revisit that every day, if you want, any time you need.
There’s also a tapping script. I’ve talked a lot about tapping, also called EFT, which moves emotions through your body and shifts that energy so that it removes the negative and highly emotional charge behind certain programming, certain thoughts we would have about our bodies. It’s absolutely transformational.
I’m so obsessed with tapping. I’ve been working on getting certified in EFT myself so that I can continue to help my family, myself, and other people through that technique with really shifting emotions.
You’ll get a tapping script from Sarah with an audio file for body criticism and acceptance. This is also something that I have from Sarah that is so transformational, so beautiful. What’s really really cool about that is that is really the basis of all the work, all the calls that I have with Sarah. I see her every other week. That is what we’re doing. Using her tapping scripts to go over body criticism and self-acceptance, really work through hard emotions. And you have that DIY status to do on your own.
This is just a really, really beautiful combo that I’m so excited about.
To get access to all of this, go to alliecasazza.com/bodylove. You’ll be able to enroll in The Body Love Mindset course there.
Everyone that enrolls will receive the two bonuses from Sarah Speers, my personal therapist for all of this stuff that I’ve been working through.
I really just want you to know that you are so beautiful. You are so supported. Please support yourself if you need it and surround yourself with resources like this that you need to really move into healthy weight release, move into a healthy connection with your body, and stop the cycle of really self-damaging, self-hatred, and self-harm that is so much of diet culture.
ALLIE: I have a question about the food thing that’s just coming up. What about people who are like I was and food is just overwhelming as a whole? It was overwhelming to prepare good meals for myself because things were so busy and it felt so integral. It’s so important.
We eat so often, especially me. I’m kind of a snacker. I don’t really like doing three large meals. I like to have five small ones. And at that point, more than five. It was so overwhelming. Then I’m using food in these unhealthy ways and I want to stop, but it’s just so overwhelming.
Is there anything that you could give us to simplify it? How do you start with all of this? How do you simplify things so that you can actually take action and really shift the way food is going for you when it’s overwhelming enough as it is?
It was kind of like, “Well, this is convenient, so I’ll just drive through and bonus, I get junk food.” That was where I stayed for years. Does that make sense? That was a big question.
SARAH: It does. And honestly, my initial reaction is that it’s not simple. That’s the truth that I think a lot of people need to come to terms with. Our relationship with food is actually very complex, which is why it is so overwhelming and why it is easy to sometimes just stay stuck with the way it is.
To dive into the depths of the layers of everything that’s influencing your relationship with food and your body is hard. You know from the work we’ve done that this is sometimes deep work, because our relationship with food starts in childhood. We’ve heard messaging and programming our whole lives about how our bodies should be as women and about what foods we should or shouldn’t eat.
We’ve been inundated with a diet culture, a fitness culture. The amount of confusion and programming that is present in our minds is a cluster of confusion. I remember in my eating disorder, I thought, “I just want someone to tell me what to do because I have no freaking clue. Is meat good? Is meat bad? Is sugar good? Is sugar bad? What the heck? Just tell me what to put in my body.”
Part of the reason I developed an eating disorder was because I had read so much information. I read—Only have almonds if they’re soaked and sprouted and come from an organic farm. And I’d walk into Whole Foods to get nuts and think, “I don’t know if these meet that criteria, so I’m just not going to buy anything.”
I would be afraid to put anything in my body. It is so overwhelming. I want women to take a few deep breaths and be present to the reality of how complex it is and give themselves a little grace and compassion for the challenge that they’ve been experiencing.
And then I want to invite them to get curious, not judgmental, of their habits. Where does this habit come from? Have I been eating like this my whole life? Was there a time in your life it started? Start to just recognize your own habits and patterns.
I think working on being intentional about sitting down at meal time, taking a few breaths, and asking yourself, “Am I truly hungry?” Like you do with your son, the acronym is H-A-L-T. Halt and ask, “Am I (H) hungry? Am I (A) anxious or angry? Am I (L) lonely or (T) tired?”
If you’re truly hungry, you have a right to nourish your body. Then you get to ask yourself what would truly be satisfying and feel good right now. Sometimes our brain thinks, “Oh yeah, the pizza or the cookies would feel really good.”
It might feel good in the moment, but how does it normally make you feel after? Usually you feel horrible, sluggish, and sick. That actually doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t make you feel better.
When you’re truly asking yourself and then listening to what your body or higher wisdom is telling you, and then you honor that information, you’re already on the path to becoming an empowered eater because you’re empowering yourself to recognize that there is no right or wrong way to eat. There’s only you figuring out what is right for you in the moment.
And that might change every single day. Then if you recognize, “I’m not hungry, and this is emotional hunger.” Or “I’m trying to feel better because something doesn’t feel good.” Then you get to have the courage to learn other ways to try and feel better that are effective.
ALLIE: This is why I hired you. If anyone is wanting to work with a coach, please hire Sarah. She’s amazing. She will get to all of the roots because there’s like one big root, but it has all these little sprout roots around it. It’s not just one thing. I thought it would be, but it wasn’t.
What I would have done alternatively if I couldn’t hire you is get a journal and literally leave it out in a main part of the house, like the kitchen counter or something, and just keep it there and write down what I was feeling and why. And I’d notice when I “messed up” with food. I’d notice everything and then just study it.
I actually kind of did this with my PCOS when I was 18 because there was no information about PCOS and I was sick of it. I noticed patterns and it helped me so much. I think it’s just giving space, whether through journaling and watching, or hiring a coach to help you do that.
Give it space and say, “I’m committed to being healthier. I’m committed to loving my body. I’m committed to this process and undoing old stories and old habits that are pulling me further away from who I actually want to be and how I want to feel.”
SARAH: And that practice is really amazing because it’s creating more self-awareness and that awareness is the first agent of change. Once I’m aware, now I’m in a position where I get to choose. I now have a choice. How do I choose to show up for myself with this new information or this new self-awareness?
Until you have that awareness, you’re not able to make a new choice or change the habits or behaviors, whether it’s a habit of thinking, feeling, or eating. And to make it even more complicated, one thing that came up as you were sharing that I think is really important for women to understand as well, is what happens to our emotions when they get repressed.
I always say that the binge episodes or the overeating episodes are your flag and your window into deeper healing. Typically, part of the reason why the emotions are so overwhelming and our brain is going to such extreme measures to try and feel better is because we’re getting flooded by emotions from the past. I call them emotional wounds, but we have some very key moments and memories in our life that were really painful. And those emotions are overlaid to the memories.
Let’s just say you had abandonment issues with your mom. This is a total example coming off the top of my head. You go out to dinner with a girlfriend. She’s 10 minutes late and she hasn’t texted you to say why.
You’re in the restaurant unaware that you’re being flooded right now with that fear of, “Oh my gosh, another female is not present for me or not here for me.” You’ve already eaten all the chips and guacamole on the table, right? Because your brain is just trying to help bring some ease to your body that’s going back into an old pattern.
ALLIE: It’s like muscle memory. It’s so unconscious that it was hard for me to notice the ties, the connection.
SARAH: Exactly. Which is why I want to bring this up because, by design, your subconscious is 90% of your behavior and functioning and 10% conscious.
So, 90% of the time your conscious mind doesn’t even realize what events from the past are being triggered and driving you to eat, which is a lot of the work I do with you and other women. We use those episodes as our diving board to dive down into the subconscious and pull up what is this wound? What is the memory that is still active inside?
And when we do that, we can use tapping and other processes to effectively release the emotional energy, neutralize the memory, or create healing of that experience, so that in the present moment, that is no longer being triggered. The next time you go out to dinner and somebody is running late, you are happy as a clam and not even noticing any inner discomfort because that part of you has been addressed. It has been brought from the shadows, into the light, integrated, and healed.
ALLIE: And it really does go away. The habit, the old symptoms of that, really do go away.
Sarah and I will have a session and sometimes I’m just ready. I’m happy to move through it. It’s no big deal.
But a lot of the time, it’s just a lot. It’s emotional. I’m crying. I’m literally purging things out of my body.
SARAH: And you are usually not expecting that to come up.
ALLIE: It’s not like, “Okay, today I want to work on this: I just realized that when I was six this happened…” It just comes out. It’s been buried and the body keeps the score, so it just comes out.
Sarah will check in with me and I’ll be like, “Oh my gosh, I actually just realized that I had the same situation that I struggled with my entire life come up four times in the last week and I didn’t even notice.” The habit has been pulled out by the root. And sometimes I will notice in a happy way like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t feel this need that I used to anymore.”
It’s connected to so much. It’s not just food. It’s the way that you respect yourself or disrespect yourself. It’s self-hatred becoming self-love. It’s the way that you allow other people to talk to you. It’s boundaries.
It’s all connected. It just started with food because the ultimate, ultimate symptom was, “I don’t feel good. I don’t like my weight.” But then uncovering, “Oh, when I was nine, I was taught to associate love with going out to eat,” and you just don’t realize.
SARAH: Or food is a reward.
There are a few of the most common what I call ‘subconscious drivers’ for either weight gain or an inability to lose weight or overeating behaviors.
The first one is repressed resentment and anger, especially towards our authority figures or people who, whether it’s parents, teachers, or coaches, were enforcing rules and had control over us. And there’s a part of us that didn’t like that.
A lot of women will describe how they used to sneak food behind their parents’ backs, or do little ways to get away with the things you want. And then, as adults, we tend to still have this rebelliousness where it just washes over you, this part of you that thinks, “I want what I want and I don’t care. I’m just going to have it. I don’t care if this is bad for me.”
That indicates there’s an opportunity to do some serious anger work and resentment work to heal unprocessed anger. Anger can also equal weight. There’s this term, emotional obesity. If we’ve repressed all these emotions, it can literally show up as excess weight on the body. And as you start to process and heal the emotions, the weight more easily releases.
The other thing that is really important for women to understand is we live in a culture where it can be very unsafe or feel unsafe to be in a feminine body. If you’ve had experiences at any point in your life where people violated your body boundaries, made comments about your body, or you felt like this is not comfortable to have this attention on me, that can be a driver for your brain to want to protect you and do whatever it can to protect you. And excess weight or fat can be a literal physical barrier and protector.
A lot of times people stay in this yo-yo of “I lose weight; I gain weight. I lose weight; I gain weight.” And I’ll ask, “Have you had these experiences and done healing work on that?” And if the answer’s “no,” that’s usually exactly what I’m going to focus on with them.
Once they start to assure the brain, “I’m safe. I’m safe in this body. No harm will come to me if I lose weight. No harm will come to me if I feel more attractive. It’s safe to be seen,” and that really truly feels safe to the body and brain, it’s a whole lot easier to release weight in that place of safety and security.
ALLIE: That’s so amazing.
You mentioned a minute ago, our parents, our authority figures, and the messages that they gave us about food. Since pretty much everyone listening is a mother, how can we not pass down these same unhealthy tendencies with food to our kids? I’m more conscious of that with my daughter because of my own self and my own story, but what does that look like to change that? What would you say to girls?
SARAH: It does start with yourself because you have to be able to resolve your eating issues and your relationship with food in order to better model how to have that empowered eating process for your child.
Some tips and recommendations that I have are first of all, to know that there are no good or bad foods. The language you use when talking about food is very important. A lot of times, if we learn that this food is bad or unhealthy, a child may conclude, “Then I’m bad if I eat this,” or “It’s wrong or sinful if I eat this,” or “I’ll get in trouble if I eat this.”
We don’t want any child’s goodness or worthiness to be attached to what they choose to eat. Even if your intention is good, and most parents’ intentions are good. They’re thinking, “I want my child to be healthy. I don’t want them to have weight issues. I want them to have a healthy relationship with food.”
But sometimes the impact of how we approach that and teach our children that can have the unintended impact. Rather than talk about what’s “good” or “bad,” just educate your child as best as you can about nutrients and how eating different foods can impact how you feel. Then work with your child on getting really self-aware of the hunger cues of their own body. And if they eat a food, help them recognize how they feel after they eat it.
When given the opportunity, the child will start to put together for themselves, “I felt so good when I ate the strawberries or fruit.” Or, “Yeah, that cookie tasted good, but I don’t feel that good afterwards.”
They can start to figure this out for themselves, as their own detective, when you give them space to be curious and explore how they feel in their body and how foods make them feel. Just make sure that there are no “good” or “bad” foods.
Now that’s not to say you don’t have a responsibility. You get to choose what foods you bring into the home. But you can still allow your child to choose and have that freedom to choose when they’re out to eat and want to try a different food, let that be okay without subtly telling them, “Oh, you shouldn’t do that,” or, “I’m worried about how that might impact you long term.”
ALLIE: Here’s one example that happened this morning. Brian and I woke up this morning and we thought, “Let’s take the kids, get donuts and go to the beach.” We haven’t had donuts in almost a year.
My first thought was, “What’s going to happen to my body if I have a donut?” Then I thought, “No, that sounds effing amazing. I want that. Let’s go get that.”
We went to this place that has vegan donuts that I could have. I was so excited. We grabbed the donuts and did the whole beach thing.
We’re driving home and the kids were talking about how good it was. But then Leland, my son, said, “I didn’t want to finish mine. It was so sweet. It was too much and it made me not feel good. But I did finish it anyway.”
Brian said, “That’s okay. Of course you finished it. You’re learning. How do you feel now?”
And Leland said, “I feel like I need water and I feel like I want to have avocado when I get home.”
I said, “That’s okay. That’s your body. Next time, split one with your brother.”
I just wanted to share that example because we took our kids out for donuts midweek. That’s just having fun and living life, but they noticed how they felt. They noticed that they feel different when they have berries and avocado for breakfast versus donuts.
They came home and immediately made an egg and avocado for themselves and ate that for a second breakfast because they weren’t feeling good. It was really cool because the story there is to enjoy your life, but when you don’t feel good, you’re not enjoying your life anymore, so let’s find the balance.
SARAH: That is an amazing example. And it’s a perfect example of how you can turn something into a learning experience rather than a shaming experience, or into something where your son feels bad for his choices.
You’ve empowered them to (A) normalize that this is okay, and (B) said, “What do we get to do to help you feel better in a way that really truly is allowing you to feel better?” That’s an amazing way to go about addressing that situation.
That also reminds me, in addition to working with your child to really recognize how they’re feeling, how foods make them feel, avoid the good or bad food language, it’s equally as important that you become an emotional coach. Because the theory of binge-eating or emotional eating is that if you have a sensitive child who’s in an invalidating environment, they’re more likely to turn to food to self-soothe.
Invalidating isn’t good or bad, but it just means you want to be really intentional about creating a space and conversation for your child to have any feeling and that be okay. And you get to work with them on naming the emotion, understanding why they’re feeling that way, even if you don’t agree, and then working with them to come up with a solution.
I think we’ve all done this—I remember babysitting and I used to bribe kids with food. Now, in hindsight, I’m appalled. That was the wrong way.
ALLIE: Brian and I have done that pretty much our whole parenting, except now we’re like, “Oh shoot!”
I’ll find myself saying, “If you get all this done, then we’ll get ice cream or whatever.”
Now I’ll say, “We will spend quality time together.”
SARAH: That’s what they really want more than anything. They really want love, affection, approval, and time with their parents. A lot of times, we will turn to rewarding them with food. Or, if a child’s upset and we don’t want them to cry because it makes us feel bad to see them feel bad, we’ll say, “That’s okay, honey, don’t cry. Here. Let’s go get some ice cream.”
Then what the child has actually learned is, “I shouldn’t be feeling this. I was wrong to feel sad.” Then the next time they want to cry, they remember, “Mom told me not to feel this way and she gave me a lollipop. Let me just go get myself a lollipop.”
And so you very sneakily start to actually teach your child that their emotions are wrong or that they shouldn’t be expressing them. They don’t ever learn how to effectively be with or process their emotions. They start to suppress them and use food as a self-soothing mechanism.
More than anything, I think if parents just started to ask their child. “Wow. You look upset. Or it seems like there’s something bothering you. What’s going on? What are you feeling? What are you thinking? Let’s talk about this.”
It’s okay for your child to have any emotion. That doesn’t justify any expression of the emotion. If you’re angry, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to go punch your brother. Then there’s an opportunity to work on creating some boundaries and expectations around let’s choose appropriate ways to express the emotion and you get to help them learn that.
But your job is to always let them know, “I understand why you feel this way and it’s okay for you to be in this emotion. Let’s figure out together how to help you feel better.”
ALLIE: Yes! So good. Oh my gosh. This is such a good episode.
I’m going to say first, everybody needs to follow Sarah on Instagram. You are such a light and you are such a great person to follow. Every caption, every reel, every IGTV, everything is so good. What is your username on there?
SARAH: Sarah Emily Speers.
ALLIE: That’s right. And I’ll put it in show notes as well.
Where else do you want to send people? Where can they get the bundle? I’ll put that in show notes too, but is there anywhere that you want people to connect?
SARAH: Instagram’s the easiest. Or they can just check out my website, SarahSpeers.com. That has a lot of information about working with me or bundles. I do some retreats and classes and all sorts of things coming down the pipeline.
I would be so honored and happy to connect with anyone, even if they don’t want to work with me. If you just have questions or are just needing some guidance, I’m here to be of service. That is my mission, so I’m grateful that I get to share this information with your audience on this platform. Thank you so much.
ALLIE: Yeah, of course. Thank you so much, friend. We’ll link to everything. I just appreciate you so much.
ALLIE: Friends. I just want to wrap this up by letting you know that Sarah is truly incredible. If you are even thinking of getting help in this area of your life or really any area of your life that you want to get to the root, Sarah is your girl.
I don’t get anything if you hire her. I don’t take a piece of anything, a cut of anything, get any money, or anything at all. I just authentically from the bottom of my heart want you to get the support you need. I want to say how much I adore Sarah and how much she’s helped me personally.
If you are open to learning about this, if you are open to getting support and you are looking for someone to be a one-on-one coach, she is so amazing. She also has group programs. She does in-person retreats. The only work I’ve done with Sarah is one-on-one and it has been incredible.
I want to shout her out one more time and encourage you to hire her if you’re looking for someone. She has given you access to this bundle. I mean, it’s paid, but I believe it’s like $30 something dollars. It’s really cheap. And it’s incredible.
I actually bought it for myself and the kids and we’ve been using it ever since. It’s been super, super helpful. You can get that in show notes or you can go to Sarahspeers.com/tapping-bundle.
It’s basically an emotional freedom technique for beginners who want to learn about tapping or want some basic scripts for tapping done for them to help ease emotions, like we talked about in this episode.
Go to her. Run to her. Be healed. Be well. You’re so beautiful. You’re so loved. Thank you for listening.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me! In case you didn’t know, there’s actually an exclusive community that’s been created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions around The Purpose Show episodes. It’s designed to get you to actually take action and make the positive changes that we talk about here. I want you to go and be a part of it. To do that, go to alliecasazza.com/facebookgroup.
Thank you so much for tuning in! If you’d like to learn more about me, how I can help you, how you can implement all these things and more into your life to make it simpler, better, and more abundant, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, online courses, programs, and other resources to help you create the life you really want.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See you next time! I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
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