(148) Are you feeling hopeless about your recovery? This episode is for you.

How do other people recover into a world that hasn’t recovered from its own eating disorder? How do others binge less and love their body more in this thin obsessed world? Listen to this Love Food episode featuring words from a previous letter writer who wants to share the steps they’ve taken.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

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.

thirdwheelED is a social media advocacy platform that raises awareness of eating disorders in LGBTQ+ communities. Started by a queer couple whose writing addresses the intersectionality of eating disorders and body image, including gender dysphoria; a queer identity; trauma; and gender identity and expression, CJ and OJ provide a dual perspective of eating disorder recovery through the lens of a nonbinary person in recovery and of a nontraditional family carer, who just happens to also be a registered dietitian! CJ and OJ would love to work with eating disorder professionals on cultivating inclusive treatment for eating disorders in LGBTQ+ communities and are available to discuss training, webinars, and speaking engagements. You can follow them on instagram, facebook, and twitter @thirdwheeled or email them at info@thirdwheeled.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

I wrote you back in episode #64, and so much in our relationship has changed since then that I wanted to write you again. I was so terrified when I wrote that letter, so scared of what lay ahead and unsure of whether I could do what needed to be done to recover from a lifetime of disordered eating that had left me at rock bottom.

But I write you today saying that I am on the other side of that mountain, and sometimes I still can’t believe it. It’s not perfect, and never will be. But that is the beauty of life, we will always struggle, and there is beauty and meaning and so much learning in that struggle.

So I wrote you, and Julie and Judith Matz discussed the contents of my letter with such care, kindness and compassion. It meant so much to me, and I felt more validated that my struggle was real, and that I needed help. I ended up finding a wonderful eating disorder therapist in my hometown. She was a huge support during the really hard parts of my recovery, and helped me to challenge my beliefs and made me realize – or at least begin to digest the fact – that my worth
as a woman and a person in this world does not depend on the size of my body. I have to say that when I wrote that first letter, I never thought I’d be able to internalize that as truth. I wanted to share the three pivotal parts of my journey. And my intention here is to try to speak to
those who feel as I did back then: that there was no way I could ever stop dieting, and there was
no chance that I could accept my body if it was not thin.

For those who feel as scared as I did, I want to let them know that it is possible, and there truly is freedom on the other side. It involves taking some big risks, lots of trust in the process, as well as grit, patience and commitment.

  1. The first part of my journey involved letting go of all rules around food – which was
    terrifying – literally like jumping off a cliff and hoping that I’d be okay on the other side. I
    would say for me, this took a few years, and the beginning was so rough. It felt out of
    control and so awful at first, and I just had to keep going and trust that I would be okay.
    Over time, things slowly started to shift, to the point where today, I literally eat whatever I
    want. I no longer question my food choices, and rarely feel regret over what I’ve eaten. I
    crave healthy food a lot more than I ever thought I would, and when I want treats, I don’t
    think twice. I have ice cream and chocolate and cookies in my house all the time, and
    often don’t even think about them. My hunger and fullness signals are so much stronger
    than I ever knew they could be, and it feels so good to see foods that would have once
    sent me over the deep end, and now if I want them I eat them, and if I don’t feel hungry or
    don’t feel like eating them, I just say “meh” and leave them for others to enjoy. I can
    honestly say I never thought I’d have that freedom.
  2. The second part of my journey was body acceptance work, which involved beginning to undo the beliefs that I had about a woman’s value, and really questioning why people in my life do value or love me, and eventually realizing that it truly has nothing to do with how I look. That took time – but I continually remind myself that since I stopped dieting and my body changed, not one relationship has been negatively impacted by it. I still have wonderful friends, laugh my head off, have a great marriage, have sex, go to parties, spend time with family. Changing my social media feeds was super helpful with respect to body acceptance -seeing strong, smart and incredible women of all shapes and sizes owning their shit and unapologetically living their truths – that continues to be so helpful and inspiring. Doing this work also got me thinking about how I would want to be remembered after I’m gone. And I asked myself, do I want people to say, “Oh she had such a great body! Such small, tight thighs and she worked out so hard!” I can say with 100% conviction that that is not the legacy I want to leave behind on this earth. I would much rather it be that I truly loved and cared about those around me, and tried to live a life true to who I am and to my values.
  3. The third important part has been self-compassion: This was another critical part, because we can be so cruel to ourselves, and we would never talk to others the way we speak to ourselves. Self-compassion means that in times of trouble and inner conflict (which is basically all the time), that we talk to ourselves as we would speak to someone we love – a good friend, a child. So as I let go of food rules and my body inevitably changed, instead of using words like gross and disgusting when I looked in the mirror, I worked on being more neutral and accepting. Changing that inner dialogue to a much kinder one was a real shift for me and I continue to work on that every day. This doesn’t mean I look in the mirror every day and think I look beautiful. What it means is, I can now look in the mirror and even if I don’t like what I see, I can say, “Ok. I don’t love how I look today. But…oh well. I am still gonna go to work, hopefully accomplish something productive, have some good talks or laughs with colleagues and friends I cherish, and then come home and share a meal with my family, and love and be loved. How I look today will have no impact on any of those things.”

So there you have it. No more food rules, accepting my body, and practicing self-compassion. So
many big hurdles, so much change. And here I am on the other side of it.
When I wrote you back in episode #64, I never thought I’d be where I am today. I know that this
journey will be lifelong, and I am completely okay with that. I can’t and won’t ever go back to that
way of life, to those values I had internalized that were never really my own, to a world of body
shame and unrealistic beauty standards. I am committed to the ups and downs of the road ahead
of me, now that I know that my beauty and value lie within. I choose freedom, I choose to live my
own truth, and I choose to honour all people and all bodies, including my own.


Previously Stuck and Scared and Wanting to Charge

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!

(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.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

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!