This week, Kelsey is joined by Caroline Skelly to talk about the “why” of food addiction. Specifically: trauma. What is trauma?
Spoiler alert – we all have trauma, even if it’s “just” being called fat when we were kids.
Caroline shares the why and how of working through trauma so we can move to what we’re seeking: healing.
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From Trauma to Healing with Caroline Skelly
This week, Kelsey is joined by Caroline Skelly to talk about the “why” of food addiction. Specifically: trauma. What is trauma? Spoiler alert – we all have trauma, even if it’s “just” being called fat when we were kids. Caroline shares the why and how of working through trauma so we can move to what we’re seeking: healing.
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS EPISODE:
- Can you describe what food addiction means to you?
- So I actually looked this up a little bit, and I’m just going to read that to you. It’s the hedonic eating behavior involving the consumption of highly palatable foods such as foods high in fat, salt, and sugar in quantities beyond what our bodies require. So it’s mostly about increasing pleasure and decreasing pain. It’s not actually about how we ought to act.
- What I’ve learned from whenever I got my certification, is that there isn’t really a term called food addiction because you can’t really be addicted to that which is essential to life. However, we can have a strong attachment to food or certain foods because certain foods have chemicals that are classified as opioid peptides that have a mild opiate-like effect.
- I really believe that if you label yourself as a food addict then it’s associated with a negative mindset, and then you’re just going to go into this vicious cycle — “I’m a food addict, but I need food so I eat food.”
- So when we talk about food addiction, it may not be the food, but it’s the addiction to either increasing pleasure or decreasing pain.
- Would you be willing to share a little bit about your personal experience with that?
- Growing up, I was just really huge; but there was this thing about beautiful, thin, and small.
- Our believe is we exercise more, eat less. So I struggled with that because you know, I had to be small. Our culture and society doesn’t really help with that either. To be feminine and beautiful you can’t be “big”. So I did struggle with that and that’s how the cycle began for me.
- How is trauma related to food addiction or what causes trauma to show up as an addiction and when we say trauma, what does that even mean?
- I really believe that any kind of trauma can trigger a food addiction.
- Trauma doesn’t have to be sexual or physical abuse. It’s really a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
- I think that if you don’t feel like you’re being seen, heard, or valued, or your boundaries were violated, you might have feelings that you don’t know how to work through; and that to me is also trauma.
- When we experience a traumatic event, we avoid pain and seek pleasure because nobody wants to experience pain. Then all you have to do is go grocery shopping and you can have the cart full of your drug of choice.
- I really believe that any kind of trauma can trigger a food addiction.
- Does it even matter to identify that trauma that triggers that addictive behavior or is it just enough to recognize the addictive behavior and move on?
- I really believe that recognizing it is great, but unless you heal from those undigested life experiences, you may be triggered over and over and then you’re going to be stuck in that same cycle.
- Do you recommend pulling out addictive foods completely, or do you see a role for reintroducing those foods?
- I really think that it depends on what the person is struggling with. I think that if it does send you into a binge then you might avoid it temporarily. Since you know what the situation was in which you felt traumatized
- How do we know if we’re being triggered or just having a bad day and what do we do? Are there any things that people can be aware of or thought processes that they can look out for?
- I would say that you know if you have this automatic craving right after an event, or you want to turn to food when you feel any kind of emotion, or you hide food. Then I would say that might be something to kind of look out.
- It takes a lot of awareness and mindfulness in yourself to notice that you’re doing this.
- What’s the work that needs to be done to rewrite that story for ourselves? What are some of the foundational things that you find helpful, or that you’ve found other people finding helpful?
- One of the things that I do with some of my clients is I have the get into a really peaceful place. Then I kind of have them close their eyes and talk through an event; and to just sit with it for a minute. Sometimes people get kind of angry, sometimes they cry, and I just let them sit with that for a minute.
- Then I have them explain it to me, tell me what’s going on, and have them picture themselves in this traumatic experience but alone in that room and then show up as your current self and tell your “old” self what should have happened. Tell your old self what the right thing to do is, and just keep laying that truth into you until you can come out of that situation or event in a positive way.
- So that’s self-talk visualization. There are other things that people can do like mirror work, which is also a form of self talk.
- What hope would you offer to those people who think they are too broken and can’t do this?
- I feel like it depends on the person, it depends on how hard you want to work at it.
- There’s a lot of work in achieving this kind of freedom because you still have to go to the grocery store, you still have to eat. So it’s really difficult, but it’s not hopeless. There is a way out but it’s going to take work and it’s going to take a little bit of a deeper dive; so you have to know that and you have to be willing and ready.
- You have to come to a place of acceptance because when you come to a place of acceptance, that’s a lot of where we start to heal.
- If somebody either wanted to work with or follow you, how would they?
- I don’t post a lot on social media about this, because I feel like it’s a really difficult thing to discuss.
- I think that maybe just private messaging me is a good idea. You can follow me on my social media if you want to, it’s just Liner Plemmons Kelly on Facebook and on Instagram.
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