Friends! Friends. Wow. When I think about all the BS we women have to deal with to be functioning members of society, it sometimes makes me mad… like itchy, rashy mad.
But having experts to break down some of the challenges we inevitably face as we go from adulthood to motherhood and beyond always makes it a little easier.
And that’s why I’m so, so thrilled to feature some words of wisdom from yesterday’s amazing guest who talked about how to conquer emotional eating for good—coach and nutritionist, Andrea Montoya.
Audio more your thing? The podcast episode is below!
While I count myself lucky to have never had an eating disorder or other textbook definition of any psychological eating issue, I do count myself among the majority of women who experience major downs when it comes to accepting my body. It’s not pretty to say, but I have to be honest.
After going through the amazing experience of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum, I have seen my body change wildly from year to year. I gained 40, 40 and 50 pounds, respectively, with each of my pregnancies. And things just don’t end up in the same place they started after three kids. I know other moms know what I mean.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of measuring our self worth by a scale—and I talk candidly about how I started to experience that issue after having our third baby—but we have to fight back against that negative pull that tells us we’re not enough.
Emotional eating is so difficult to get over because, as we’ve been discussing all week, our physical health and habits are so inextricably tied to our emotional and mental state. And that’s where Andrea comes in.
I’ve broken down three amazing takeaways from our discussion yesterday, but please, listen to the whole podcast! I promise you’ll walk away feeling more inspired to be kind to yourself, and maybe even learn how to ditch emotional eating for good.
Andrea said that the most important step she focuses on with her clients is getting to a place of self-love—something that is easier said than done, but she says is the true foundation to eliminating emotional eating.
“I get to the root cause of why we’re eating in the first place—most of the time it’s feelings we’re told to not feel. … We’ve been taught not to feel for so long that we numb all of those emotions.”
While she approaches each client in a different way, depending on her circumstances, she says the first step is always presence—actually feeling where they are in the moment without outside distraction.
“We cannot heal something we are not aware of. … What is actually going on? What triggered the episode of binge eating? Where is that stemming from?”
I also asked if emotional eating typically stems from one instance of trauma, or a lifetime of societal conditioning where women, in particular, are told we “have to” look a certain way.
While Andrea says this is also unique to the client, she did say one thing she notices is present in almost every one of her clients—a desire to fulfill a need instilled in us in childhood to seek some sort of love or acceptance:
“There is one thing I see across everyone … perfectionism. All or nothing mindset. Maybe when we were little, most of us … I love to ask my clients, ‘Whose love did you seek the most when you were little?’ Most of us … it was a love that was a little hard to get. … The way we got love was through achievements, and we thought maybe we have to look a certain way. The ways we got love when we got little are the ways we are still looking for love as adults.”
“It’s more about … healing stuff from when we were little. I actually do not talk about food [that much in my programs]. Food is just what we use to numb. It’s just … like a drug—the most socially-acceptable and readily-available drug on the market.”
Okay, I was so surprised to hear Andrea’s response to an Instagram question we got, which went something like this: “What are feasible alternatives to food when we need that quick dopamine hit?”
And instead of the answer I expected, which was to swap out another activity for eating, she said instead she tells her clients to sit with the pain. Sit in the feelings. Sit in the root cause of what it is that’s driving the emotion behind eating, and start there.
“What’s the intention behind the needing to eat? If we just swap it out, yeah maybe you’ll have a little less calories, but you won’t have dealt with what’s going on. … I could say to go for a walk, but still you’re gonna be walking and not processing what’s going on.
So the ideal is to not willpower and change the thing, but feel to heal what’s actually going on. It’s not the sexy thing people want to hear; people want quick fixes. But ify ou’re able to sit with the pain for longer … and just take a deep breath and feel into, What am I actually needing right now? … If you’ve eaten and you’re not hungry … it might be comfort, it might be love, it might be validation. … It’s taking a look at what I’m needing, and how can I give that to myself?”
One final takeaway from this amazing chat with Andrea was talking about how the process of conquering emotional eating actually works—as in, how long it takes, and what type of commitment those going through her program should expect to give. And the short answer is—nothing good comes quickly.
While that may be disheartening to someone who wants to “fix” her issues quickly, the truth is, long-term fixes require long-term work, and that’s how Andrea breaks down her time with her clients—one step at a time.
“I always say, it’s about the smaller commitments that we know we can follow through on. … [When we don’t follow through], it builds on the belief we’re not good enough. … So sometimes setting really high goals ends up being really detrimental, because it leans into that negative self-image. So sometimes I say it’s better not to set those big goals, [but rather] micro goals that start to build that self-trust.”
That being said, Andrea works with her clients by setting a six-month goal, and then breaking it down to smaller tasks.
“[This includes] a higher-self activation exercise where they create the self-image they want … the goals they want … and we put it into an audio soundtrack. … And they listen to their mantra every morning as a way to re-program their subconscious.
“And when we don’t follow through, the compassion thing is huge … Looking at it with curiosity rather than judgment.”
Again, I can’t recommend enough listening to our whole conversation; it’s filled with Andrea’s wisdom and tips! Click below to watch on YouTube, or listen to the podcast here!
If you’re into Andrea’s vibe as much as I am and want to know more about how to work together, you can check out her website here, where she offers not only shorter courses, but also longer-term programs to conquer emotional eating. And follow her on Instagram here; she’s great about responding to DM’s!