(133) I am embarrassed I still struggle with food.

How long have you struggled with eating? Do you remember when it first got complicated? What if you have struggled your whole life after years of abuse, shame and fear? Is there a way to heal in our current diet focused and fatphobic world? Listen now for possible tools to promote your Food Peace journey.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,
Dear oh dear food, you have been the bane of my existence since I was born. I started
with diary allergies that took time to diagnose so from a newborn, my food relationship
has been difficult. That difficulty has morphed into many different things, anxiety
soothing with food, fear of food, restriction, bulimia, anorexia, binge eating and so on.
I’ve struggled to understand you.

When I was young, about six years old, my life changed a lot because of an abusive
homelife, then at seven, it turned to shear torture due to physical and sexual abuse. I
coped by stealing food (at home, other people’s houses, stores and so on), hiding and
eating it. I learned to eat until sick, then purge to make myself feel better so I could eat
some more. One very traumatizing event, I remember hiding multiple PB&Js behind the
trashcan in the cabinet for later and once the event was over, I hid where I thought I
belonged, behind the trash and ate them all, at seven years old… The trauma (really
torture) went on and on and I ate and ate, and I gained and gained. I was also tortured
in school for my weight and lack of social skills. Through all of this, I was caring for my
younger sister since no one taking care of either of us and was also caring for my
parents who could not care for themselves.

As I grew into a teenager my body started to change, but it was changing differently
from others. I didn’t know at the time that it was PCOS at the time, but it was. I was
growing hair on my face, I started shaving my face at about 12 or 13, my body shape
was different, and my weight was going up at what I was told an alarming rate. By 6 th
grade, I was “obese”. Once the torture stopped at home (not in my mind), I was 20, I
kept on eating, doctors kept telling me to lose weight, my mother kept telling me how
terrible I looked, and others would tell me “you would have such a pretty face and eyes,
if you’d just lose some weight…” I kept eating and purging. I had two stays in a mental
health facility and they tried to work on my relationship with food, but that was not the
major reason I was inpatient, there was a much more intense reason I was there. They
tried but I was not ready.

Eleven years ago, at 28, after trying to conceive for about a year, I was diagnosed with
PCOS. It took us three years to conceive the first time which ended as an early loss. I
had six more losses and then no other pregnancies. I ate through all the losses and was
told, had I not been so fat, I would not have gotten PCOS and would also be able to get and stay pregnant by a doctor. I ate some more until I didn’t. I started restricting about
six years ago and lost a very significant amount of weight. I was restricting so much I
would pass out due an inability to my keep my blood pressure high enough and could
not keep my body temperature stable to the point where I wore winter clothes in the
summer. I kept this going for two years then the binging started again. I was never able
to get my weight low enough to alert any doctors of an eating disorder, but I would
guess that is from the PCOS.

I have since been working with a wonderful therapist for seven years and an amazing
eating disorder and HAES registered dietician for almost two years. I still struggle to this
day with the thoughts that go along with an eating disorder. Dear, oh dear Food, will I
ever “get” you? Will I ever “understand” you? I know none of this is about you, but it is
just a way to cope and control one small part of my life when I was unable to control
anything but morphed to lack of control around you. I want a relationship with you Food,
but, it is oh so embarrassingly hard. I do have hope Food, that someday, there will be
calmness and no charge between you and I. Someday I can enjoy you…
Frustrated but Hopeful

Show Notes:

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

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

Show Notes:

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

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

(130) I can’t get rid of the urge to binge eat (with Isabel Foxen Duke).

Do you feel like you’ve done everything to tackle your struggle with binge eating? Is there a constant battle in your head over cravings? Listen now to hear some solutions on how to overcome this food peace struggle.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my FREE roadmap: Your First 3 Steps Towards Food Peace with PCOS. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how. Join our Facebook group to get extra support!

Episode’s Key Points:

  • The recovery process is NOT linear, and it takes TIME.
  • Isabel Foxen Duke joins to talk about dieting, bingeing, and more!
  • Physical restriction is NOT THE SAME as emotional and psychological restriction… even if you’re eating “enough,” bingeing can still occur if you feel mental restriction. Diet mentality is the bigger thing to break down when trying to break free from bingeing!
  • Cravings are neutral things!! We don’t need to feel shame about them.
  • Emotional eating and binge eating are two different things! Emotional eating is when we eat something in order to make ourselves feel better. It’s a coping mechanism to distract, comfort, soothe or avoid a feeling. Binge eating, on the other hand, is a reaction to the diet mentality. Isabel calls is reactionary eating! For example, when you tell yourself you can’t have “x” food, all you want is “x” food, and then it results in a binge.
  • Food is never black and white!
  • Just because we think we’re eating “enough,” we actually may not be because we live in a restrictive, diet-culture world.
  • Diet mentality tells us that there’s a right and wrong way to eat. Giving up dieting is giving up an attitude around food that categorizes certain food behaviors as safe and others as unsafe.
  • “The Don’t Binge Eat Diet:” when you’re desperately trying to avoid and overcome the urge to binge, which only perpetuates a binge. Think about a bow and arrow… the farther back you pull the bow and the more tension your build, the farther that bow will fly in the other direction when you inevitably let go!
  • There’s NOTHING wrong with emotional eating!! The only reason why people fear emotional eating is because we fear getting fat.
  • Emotional eating turns into a binge when we decide that the action we’re doing is not okay and feel shameful about it.
  • Quitting dieting doesn’t just mean you’ve put down the calorie counts and the weight loss goals… it means we leave behind the “right” and “wrong” with food.
  • When we struggle with food, we have to ask, where is the restriction happening?? Where is the diet mentality hiding?
  • Not dieting is a physical AND emotional issue! 90% of recovering from dieting is about the diet mentality and diet attitudes, and only 10% of it is about the physical.
  • If you are clinging to ANY kind of wagon, you will inevitably fall off!
  • Permission to binge is step one!!
  • It’s time to overcome emotional restriction.
  • You have permission to be where you are right now, and to meet your needs in however you need to.

Show Notes:

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

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

Empowering Your PCOS Journey


Hello there!

I don’t have PCOS and there are some things (more like many things) I will never understand about the experience.

I really enjoy helping people affected by PCOS and I think it is time for we health care providers to give you more understanding and compassionate direction.

Are you sick of the standard PCOS advice:

“Just lose weight, eat less, and exercise more…that will fix it.”

Yeah, right.

*Cue the eye roll.*

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Grab a FREE download from Julie here.

I’m sick of it too. I have spent the last 10 years sifting through research and seeking unique training to help your PCOS without the standard weight loss pitch. We know diets don’t work and focusing on the scale sets us up to fail. This goes for anyone including those affected by PCOS.

I have been teaching nutrition without diets to dietetic students since 2002 and was thrilled to meet dietitian-in-training Kimberly Singh. We clicked instantly. She let me know she is passionate about bringing sound evidenced-based nutrition information to the public and wants to be a non-diet dietitian.

And, she has PCOS.

Read about Kimberly’s experiences with PCOS as well as evidenced based info to help arm yourself with the most up-to-date research. This special series aims to help you understand PCOS, improve your relationship with food, and advocate for better care.

Click this image to jump to the topic that intrigues you….





























Let’s chat more in our Facebook Support Group. Click here to join! I would love to read what you want to know more about managing your PCOS while healing body image without diets.


What is symbolic hunger?


Not too long ago, I received this question from a reader:

Learning the different types of hungers has been helpful yet I struggle most with eating when I am not hungry. Like I KNOW I am not hungry yet I eat the food anyway. Especially really tasty food. Or sometimes it isn’t even that great and I am just watching TV after work then notice I have gone through a bag of chips. I don’t remember tasting them!

Can you relate to this? All of us experience eating when not physically hungry and it is a part of normal eating. Eating outside of hunger many times throughout the day, though, will affect health and the way we cope with life. At times it may seem like eating outside of hunger happens for no reason and I encourage you to dig deeper. There is meaning. I believe it symbolizes an unmet need.

Dr. Barbara Birsinger RD refers to eating outside of physical hunger as symbolic hunger. She is the author of Intuitive Eating Seven Step Process. She also trains professionals on a Food Decoding tool that discovers eating particular foods with feelings and needs while connecting a person with healing. I am grateful she has trained me in this and allowed me to better understand symbolic hungers.

What is symbolic hunger? That depends. To uncover what it means for you, I encourage you to practice kind nonjudgemental curiosity. Instead of saying, “I shouldn’t have eaten that I wasn’t even hungry!” try something different. Using should to describe your eating pattern is maladaptive…meaning it won’t get you anywhere but in a funk and dead end. Call out that should and step back. Consider a bigger picture. Changing your frame of reference here will open you up to the meaning behind this eating style: its symbol. Knowing this symbol will move you important steps further.

While you are stepping back from the should moments, ask yourself these important questions:

  • What was I experiencing right before I started symbolically eating? (Were you speaking with anyone, thinking about an event, trying to relax, etc. No right or wrong here. Just consider the possibilities.)
  • Was I feeling anything uncomfortable? (Were you stressed, angry, ashamed, frustrated, bored, happy, or lonely?)
  • When I feel these feelings, what do I really need?

Once you start moving the shoulds out of your way, a kind curiosity will allow you to acknowledge your symbols. Taking the symbols for what they are and examining them for what they are worth will bring you closer to your unmet needs. Holding these needs in your hands and close to your heart will allow you to consider your steps to heal. I find clients uncover numerous unmet needs all requiring time and attention. This means I don’t want you to rush through this! Understanding your symbolic eating will be a vital part of your recovery.

Next time you find yourself eating outside of physical hunger or craving to do so, do not run away. Say “welcome!” to the symbolic hunger. Your body is trying to tell you something important. Your job now is to listen.

julie_lovefood_secondary_rgbDo you enjoy listening to podcasts and want to ditch diets? Check out mine: it was made for you!

The science behind that post-Easter candy binge


Did you binge on the Easter candy? Before you curse your will power or lack of self-control, consider the science of eating behavior. Using this evidence-based approach may help you experience more food peace in the future.

Don’t blame yourself for the candy binge⎯It’s really Food Habituation

Do you categorize foods as good versus bad? Labeling food this way can set anyone up to feel out of control about what to eat. Food is not an exact science. Rather than considering food as good versus bad, think of food lying on a continuum. This means there is more gray than exact black and white rules.

Folks who categorize foods as good or bad will, more often than not, experience binges on those “bad” foods. Research explains this through the science of food habituation. This type of research demonstrates that the more we’re exposed to a food, the more our brains could care less about it. On the flip side, the more unique and rare the food, the more our brains fixate on it. This promotes intense cravings, and drives us to want to eat the novel food.

Healing Hint: Instead of blaming yourself for the post-Easter candy binge, consider the science behind the experience. Are you around this food often? And, if so, do you allow yourself to eat it? If the answer to both questions is “no”, point your finger at your lack of food exposure instead of your lack of will power or self-control.

Don’t blame the food after the candy bingeIt’s really “Food Deprivation

The more we abstain from a food, the more our brains like to fixate on it. How often are we actually around jelly beans, peeps,  or peanut butter filled eggs? No wonder it’s so tough to stop eating them. And, when we avoid the fun food long enough, we often feel guilt-free and give ourselves permission to “indulge”.

Why does “just one bite” often lead to a binge experience? This is the basic law of food deprivation. When we’re around an avoided food, our brains light up with interest — sometimes even as far as obsession. When we finally allow ourselves a bite, it’s often hard to stop.

Some clinicians connect the one bite to binge experience as food addiction. I’ve been keeping up with this research too, yet so far, it’s flawed. Until the researchers take into account food deprivation and habituation, the research means nothing — unless people become robots without free will. To hear more, check out this Food Addiction episode of the Love Food podcast.

Healing Hint: Rather than blaming yourself for the candy binge, consider the science behind the experience. Have you been dieting? Have you been limiting the variety in your food choices? Have you been disrespecting hunger? If your answer is “yes” to these questions, then point the finger at food deprivation.

Practice unconditional permission to eat

Allowing candy to remain around can help us navigate through different types of food. Is this too scary? You’re not alone.

There’s a way to heal this. It’s called unconditional permission to eat. When a person has true permission to choose any food, in any amount, eating according to physical hunger and fullness cues ⎯ this should be the norm. This won’t work if “permission” is tangled up with one of these familiar sabotaging statements:

  • I will just have one.
  • I will save up my calories to have candy tonight.
  • I will exercise off calories to have candy tonight.

When we view food choices with permission, we begin to experience healthy ways of relating to food. This concept is from the book, Intuitive Eating, by Tribole and Resch. Hear from Evelyn Tribole directly on this episode of the Love Food Podcast. Life changing work is done within the framework of eating intuitively. I encourage you to read it.

Healing Hint: To feel safer during Easter and other holidays, be curious as to why the binge is happening, or happened. When you hear your self-talk blaming your lack of will-power or self-control, consider the science instead. Blame diets, food rules, and body hate. Learning to experience food with self-compassion and trust will help you eat to promote health and peace.

julie_lovefood_secondary_rgbDo you enjoy listening to podcasts and want to ditch diets? Check out mine: it was made for you!