Satisfaction Factor

#12 - Intuitive Eating Deep Dive: Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness

December 15, 2021 Naomi Katz & Sadie Simpson
Satisfaction Factor
#12 - Intuitive Eating Deep Dive: Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness
Show Notes Transcript

This week, Naomi & Sadie do a deep dive into Intuitive Eating Principle #7 - Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness. This is the principle of Intuitive Eating that addresses emotional eating. But - surprise! - the goal isn't necessarily to stop eating emotionally! Emotional eating is actually a perfectly valid coping mechanism. AND...we probably want some other tools in our coping toolbox, as well. In this episode we explore: why we demonize emotional eating, but not emotional restriction; why what we think is emotional eating might not be emotional eating at all; how emotional eating can actually be a tool to help us better tune into our needs; and what we mean when we talk about self-care (hint: it's a lot more than just massages). 

You can stay up to date on all things Satisfaction Factor by following us on IG @satisfactionfactorpod!

And enrollment is still open for the 2022 cohort of Nourish & Bloom, Naomi's 40-week group Intuitive Eating workshop for free-thinking grown-ups who want to reject diet culture & cultivate resilience! You can get all the details, including pricing & the full curriculum, at  www.happyshapes.co/nourishandbloom!

Here's where to find us:
Sadie Simpson: www.sadiesimpson.com or IG @thesadiesimpson
Naomi Katz: www.happyshapes.co or IG @happyshapesnaomi

For this episode's transcript, visit: www.satisfactionfactorpod.com

Naomi Katz:

Welcome to Satisfaction Factor, the podcast where we explore how ditching diet culture makes our whole lives more satisfying. Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Satisfaction Factor. I'm Naomi Katz, an Intuitive Eating, body image, and self trust coach providing anti diet support to free thinking grownups who want to reclaim their autonomy and consent from diet culture.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm Sadie Simpson, an anti diet group fitness instructor and Intuitive Eating counselor, and I help other fitness professionals disengage from diet culture so they can improve program enrollment, engagement, impact, and retention without shame and manipulation.

Naomi Katz:

Hey, Sadie.

Sadie Simpson:

Hey, Naomi.

Naomi Katz:

So we are at episode seven of our Intuitive Eating deep dive series, so we're going to be talking a whole lot about emotional eating today. But before we dig into that, just a reminder that enrollment for Nourish & Bloom is officially open. Nourish & Bloom is a 40 week workshop based on the Intuitive Eating framework. So together we'll use this framework to explore topics related to obviously Intuitive Eating, and also the system of diet culture, cultivating autonomy, building body respect, and really building the skills we need to be resilient to the diet culture around us. The workshop consists of four weeks for each of the 10 principles. You'll get 40 weekly emails. There's 10 group Q&A/coaching calls, all of which are recorded in case you can't make them live. And there is an optional Voxer upgrade add on, too, where you can get some one to one support through the Voxer messaging app. The workshop itself starts on January 3, 2022, and enrollment is open now. Nourish & Bloom is for people who are brand new to Intuitive Eating and want to learn in a supportive environment, and it's also for people who are maybe somewhat familiar with Intuitive Eating- maybe you've read the book, or done the workbook, or listened to this podcast series that we're doing- and just want a container to dig deeper into how to apply the principles to your own life. It is priced for accessibility, and there are two scholarship spots for folks holding marginalized identities or in financial need. That's no questions asked, you just have to let me know you want to claim one of them. You can get all the details, including the full 40 week curriculum, the details on the pricing, and the link to enroll at happyshapes.co/nourishandbloom.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm a big fan of like giving and receiving non material items for gifts, and this would make a really great Christmas gift or holiday gift to give to yourself, or maybe ask someone to like help you out with, or something like that. I know that makes things a lot easier, especially as adults- like you never know what to give another adult for Christmas gift, or what to give yourself as a gift, and this will be a great gift to yourself.

Naomi Katz:

I love that idea. And yeah, it's totally true. Like, I don't know when I started believing in gifting yourself gifts on holidays, but I totally do. I think that's awesome. And yes, I would love it if people gifted this to themselves for the holidays this year- that would be a beautiful gift for yourself.

Sadie Simpson:

It's definitely the gift that keeps on giving to forever and ever and ever.

Naomi Katz:

For sure.

Sadie Simpson:

So in this episode, we're going to be talking all about principle seven of Intuitive Eating, coping with your emotions with kindness. And in the older versions of Intuitive Eating, the title of this principle used to be coping with your emotions without using food. But that was changed, I think in the 2020 version, maybe even before. Yeah-

Naomi Katz:

Well, I think-

Sadie Simpson:

-workbook?

Naomi Katz:

No, no.

Sadie Simpson:

I don't know.

Naomi Katz:

So I think they started teaching it in the certification this way before the 2020 book came out. But I think the first place it was like published published was in the 2020 book.

Sadie Simpson:

Ah. Well, I like it. I think it's a really good change. And kind of the reasoning behind this change was because food is actually a perfectly valid coping mechanism to deal with our emotions. Because food is emotional. And not even just talking about eating in regards to like coping with negative emotions, but also for good emotions too. And all are okay. Like we can eat for whatever reason- whatever emotion- we want to eat. We're wired to see food as safety, and as comfort, and as love, and as a part of our culture, and a part of our communities. And we've talked before on previous episodes about how food was instrumental in celebration, and expressing love and emotions, and things like that, like when hugs weren't a part of our life, or when parties or gathering and things like that- we couldn't do that, especially at the beginning of COVID. Like food was a way to kind of compensate for those feelings. And when you think about how many of our holidays are centered around meals, like there's a reason for that. Food is communal. Food is cultural. And I think now is a really good time to recognize this- that it is normal to use food as a way to celebrate, and as a way to deal with our emotions sometimes, because we're getting kind of back into some family holiday traditions- or maybe we're making some new traditions after the last couple of years of things being weird because of COVID- which means it's a good time to kind of reassess and reconsider maybe how we view food, or how we even have feared food around the holiday times, and recognize that it's okay, and it's normal to celebrate with food.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I think that's a- such a timely reminder- you know, around the holidays and stuff- is that one of the reasons that we find food to be comforting is because we associate it with community, and culture, and family, and love, and all of those things. And I mean, that just- is- you can just see that play out so clearly by the fact that all our holidays are centered- are centered around these food experiences.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. And there's a lot of nuance around all of that, and around emotional eating, which is what we'll really get into today. But the bottom line is, is that there's really nothing to demonize. Like we always view emotional eating as this bad thing, but it's not really a bad thing. It's just a thing. Do we want food to be our only coping mechanism? Probably not. But we don't always have access to other coping mechanisms at all times. When COVID first started, I know a lot of us leaned into comfort eating. And that's- that's what we had access to. Like, we didn't have access to some of our regular ways of relieving stress, or dealing with negative emotions, and things like that. I'm thinking of things like going to the gym, or going to yoga, or seeing a therapist, or just having social interactions with other people. Or we may just have not had the energy to participate in some of these things. Like I know, for me, even though I know, like, you can exercise at home, and you can do home workouts, and things like that, I just did not have the drive or the energy to do that at all, especially at the beginning of COVID. And that, you know, has always been kind of a- a stress reducing coping mechanism for me, and I'm sure a lot of other people have experienced that too.

Naomi Katz:

I definitely can can second that. You know, I have the- I have the privilege of literally having a full gym in my basement, but COVID struck and I was just- you know, I mean, all the stress, I was- like I did not have the energy, or the the stamina, or the endurance- like I didn't have any anything in me to go downstairs, and into my basement, and like make use of that gym. It just was not going to happen.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, same. Same thing happened here. And I think like I got a little bit creative with finding other ways to move than I was normally used to moving like prior to COVID. Like I did more just kind of gentle stretching- sometimes, not on a consistent regular basis. And I did, you know, some more walking and just getting outside. But it was interesting, just how that coping mechanism just changed, I guess.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I- so, I mean, I don't generally consider myself to be a like a- an emotional eater, or like a comfort eater, particularly. But at the beginning of COVID, that was my coping mechanism. Like I was- I was all comfort food all the time, even though like, technically, I could have gotten down and- so, you know, movement always has been something of a stress reliever for me- and so I could have done that. And eventually I did again, but initially I was like, no, just comfort food. That's all I want.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. Well, I know everybody did the whole homemade bread thing. That's something that a lot of people I think can relate to the beginning of COVID. Everybody made bread, and everybody did the um- oh gosh, what else did people do- you always see people posting on social media, they made banana bread, and sourdough bread, just all these different experimenting with kind of comforting types of foods that they made in their homes- that they, like, may not have even done prior to COVID- just because maybe it was like an activity, just something to do to break up the monotony. And it was a way to feel something- almost to use food as a way to comfort some of these feelings, or maybe just to kind of disengage from watching the news, or from listening just to all the chatter and all the talk about COVID. Like maybe stepping into the kitchen and baking something comforting was a way to just kind of disengage from all the stuff that was going on in the world at the time.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, like there's that whole thing about procrasti-baking- where like you bake... I feel like there should be a distracti-baking too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Oh, for sure.

Naomi Katz:

I'm gonna trademark that phrase here right now. Distracti-baking. That's what we're doing.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. So I think it's important to recognize that emotional eating, it is a protective thing that we do. And it's also information. And it's something that lets us know that, maybe if we consistently label ourselves as emotional eaters, like maybe there's something there that we need to start paying a little bit more attention to.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. So I mean, that begs the question, if there's nothing wrong with emotional eating, then why do we demonize it so much? Because we totally do. And I mean, I think, to put it simply, the reason we demonize it is because of fatphobia and anti fat bias. So dieting and restricting are also ways of coping with our emotions using food. But it's very often seen as like a more virtuous way of handling it, or, even worse, is actually seen as a healthy behavior. You know, if you think about people who are like too stressed to eat, or too sad too eat- I think we often see that as sympathetic. Whereas somebody who is, quote, unquote, eating their feelings- we don't have that same sense of like sympathy for those people. Personally, I have been noticing this trope in TV shows a lot lately- and I don't think it's new, I think I just have eyes for it more recently- where there's a thin protagonist, and they're going through some kind of a tough time, for whatever reason- and this is also usually a like white cisgender woman- and they're going through a tough time. And like, the way you know that is because they don't eat, and they exercise a lot- running, especially, is the thing that you see them doing- as a way of showing that they're coping with the stress. And I think that's really interesting, especially because the point is that we're supposed to be building sympathy for this protagonist and like what they're going through. And so it's so interesting to me that we show them restricting and maybe overexercising, instead of eating and comforting.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh, that just kind of reminds me- I can remember back like in the midst of like my biggest days of dieting, I would remember people saying things like, oh, they're so stressed out, they can't eat, or they're so- whatever the negative emotion was in the-, and I could like remember being jealous of that, as weird as that sounds. And I hadn't thought about that in a really, really, really long time. But I've heard other people say that, whether it's been on TV, or people have like talked to me about that in conversations. And it's just a weird thing to think about. Obviously, the reason behind that all, again, is fatphobia and this whole like fear of fatness, but I think that's something common.

Naomi Katz:

I can remember feeling that same way. A lot of us very legitimately do lose our sense of hunger when we're- when we're stressed out. Comfort eating isn't really- like using food as a coping mechanism, emotional eating, whatever you want to call it- I feel like that's not really hunger driven anyway. And so I think very often people actually do both- where they're- like they lose their hunger cues, and they comfort eat things that for whatever reason give them that sense of comfort. Sometimes it's nostalgia. Sometimes it's just that it tastes good, and it satisfies like a taste hunger. Honestly, there is like a dopamine response to sugar. So like you actually do sometimes feel a little better when you eat something that's sweet, something like that. But regardless, I can always remember thinking the same thing- that like, I was weirdly jealous of people who didn't- who lost their appetite when they were stressed out.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

I don't lose my appetite when I'm stressed out- or maybe I do, but I also have, like, comfort eating tendencies. And I don't know, it was just- but yes, fatphobia was for sure at the root of all of that.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, yes. It was almost like, ooh, how can I turn stress into a diet or whatever, which is ridiculous. But anyway.

Naomi Katz:

Ridiculous, but very mainstream. You know, the reality is that emotional eating is probably a lot less harmful in the long run than emotional restricting, because less food tends to cause more problems in the long term than more food does. But it's interesting, because even though emotional eating is probably less problematic, physically, than emotional restricting, there are a gajillion programs to help us stop emotional eating and stuff like that, but like, maybe none to help us stop emotional dieting. Except, like Intuitive Eating, I guess, would be the one thing that's helping us stop emotional dieting. And obviously, the reason for that is anti fat bias and the general belief that emotional eating is going to lead to fatness, and that dieting and restriction won't. Of course, we know that the science actually says otherwise. But you know, mainstream sources tell us that this is what the result is going to be. Just one sort of especially interesting note about this is that studies show that a history of dieting actually increases our tendency to use food as a coping mechanism. And while, again, there's nothing wrong with food as a coping mechanism, as always, it's so important to know how problematic it is that diet culture basically sets us up to rely on food for coping, and then profits off of our guilt for doing that. So we're not saying that, like, it's worse that diets cause you to eat emotionally more often. But we are saying it's worse that they're playing sort of both sides of this, and making you feel bad about it.

Sadie Simpson:

And then they're making all the money off of our sorrow and pain.

Naomi Katz:

Exactly, exactly.

Sadie Simpson:

So one of the main things that we get asked as Intuitive Eating professionals about emotional eating is basically, how can we tell if we're eating emotionally? I know I get that question pretty regularly. I assume you probably do too.

Naomi Katz:

Totally. Like, basically, every time I open up my Instagram stories to questions about emotional eating, I get some version of this question.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, for sure.

Naomi Katz:

To start off, I find this question super interesting, because if I'm being totally honest, I think the answer is mostly that it doesn't matter. So like, usually, my response is to ask the person why it's important for them to know one way or the other. The reason that I don't think it matters is because while, yes, it's very common for people to think about something as emotional eating when it's actually just hunger or restriction- which, which we will dive much deeper into later- but regardless of what it really is, it's meeting a need. So it sort of begs the question, are biological needs more important than emotional needs? Obviously, within the context of diet culture, the answer to that is yes. But in reality, I think the answer is very much no, these are equally important needs. Having said all of that, I do actually see that there's value in building an awareness of what needs we're meeting. So it's probably worth talking about some things that often get mistaken for emotional eating.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, and I think more often than not- and this is a blanket assumption- but what we tend to believe is emotional eating is actually something else. Like often, what we think might be emotional eating, is actually just hunger. And this is really prevalent and can be especially true if we haven't learned to navigate some of these nuances of hunger that we talked about a few episodes ago, especially like the non stomach hunger cues, which might show up as changes in mood and that sort of thing. But maybe you are eating because you're emotional, maybe you're eating because you're stressed out, or maybe you're eating because you actually need to eat- like your body, physically, literally needs to eat food. And a lot of times when we are stressed or overwhelmed, or we're experiencing chaos, or any other negative emotion, sometimes that affects our ability to feel hunger cues, and that tends to result in not eating consistently or not eating enough. And what's interesting is, if we experience these kinds of bouts of what we believe to be emotional eating things- times that feel uncontrolled, is usually when we're going through times of stress, it's not unreasonable that we might think the stress itself is causing this emotional eating, or what we believe to be emotional eating. And that makes sense, because we often associate stress and some of these other negative feelings with emotional eating. But often the root of what we believe to be the problem associated with emotional eating, actually goes back to the whole idea of associating things like guilt, when we eat certain foods. And this is ultimately rooted in this fear of gaining weight. Because if we're willing to restrict one kind of eating- so if we're willing to restrict emotional eating, and we want to stop emotional eating, and we want to find the cure for emotional eating, and all these things- we're essentially looking to do that as a means to control our bodies. And chances are, if we're trying to do that with emotional eating, that's going to carry over into a lot of other eating habits and beliefs, too.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I especially think that the the nuance around the non stomach hunger cues is so interesting. It's like, are you eating because you're emotional? Or are you emotional because you're not eating? Like, are you- is- are you angry and eating? Or are you hangry and eating? You know, like, which- which of these things is actually happening.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

And I think it's really hard to suss that out until you've done a lot of work around the nuances of those hunger cues. I think that's so interesting. Um, so the other thing that can sometimes be masquerading as emotional eating is conditional permission. So like mental restriction, basically. So sometimes what we think is emotional eating is actually our brain's sneaky way of getting around a lack of unconditional permission around certain foods. So like, let's just sort of set a scene of how this might play out, right? So imagine you are basically like a woman on a 90s sitcom. And-

Sadie Simpson:

I love this already.

Naomi Katz:

I'm picturing Rachel Green.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Basically, you believe that you could only eat ice cream when you're sad. So when something makes you sad, you break out a pint of Ben & Jerry's, and you start eating it for comfort. But then you can't stop. So you eat the whole point in like the blink of an eye, without really enjoying any of it, and maybe to the point that you feel physically uncomfortable. It's understandable that we might think that what's happening is uncontrolled emotional eating. But it's worth asking, is that like disconnected, uncontrollable eating because of the sadness? Or is it because the ice cream is off limits at any other time? We all have certain foods that we might gravitate towards for comfort. And it's worth noting whether we're setting limits on those foods outside of the context of comfort. So can you only eat ice cream when you're sad? Or can you eat ice cream on a random Tuesday afternoon too? If not, it's very, very possible that this is a situation where conditional permission is pretending to be emotional eating, basically,

Sadie Simpson:

That kind of reminds me of sort of a big turning point in my Intuitive Eating journey. I never really- I don't think I ever really considered myself to be an emotional eater. Like a lot of times when I'm talking to new clients for like intaking people into Intuitive Eating coaching or whatever, like emotional eating is always typically on the table, and I don't know that I ever labeled myself that. But I was definitely a restrictive eater. And I think that goes back to this whole idea of giving ourselves unconditional permission to eat. And just kind of on that note of what you just said, whenever I made a point to eat what I perceive to be weekend foods or special conditional foods during the week- so like ordering a pizza during the middle of the week, or like drinking a beer with dinner on a Wednesday night, or making cookies, or going out to get ice cream on a Monday- that wasn't on the weekend- like those are my typical go to foods that are restricted during the week, but those are some of the same foods that people often perceive to be emotional eating type of foods- like these restricted foods that are only allowed during these certain points of time. So it's kind of the same thing- like whether or not we're restricting it, because we, you know, we only associate giving ourselves permission to eat certain foods when we're at a party, or on the weekends, or on our cheat days, or during a cheat meal- it's kind of the same thing as giving ourselves permission to only eat those foods when we're feeling stressed out, or emotional, or whatever.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, totally. And I mean, let's be real, most people don't comfort eat salad, right? I don't know anybody who's like, oh, I'm emotionally

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. eating a ton of broccoli. No.

Naomi Katz:

Like, most people don't do that. Our comfort foods tend to be things that are like heavier foods. Sometimes they- it's like I said, that there's a reason why we sometimes seek foods that are sugary in times that have stress, and like there is a legitimate dopamine response to that- which, we've talked about in another episode, like that is not because sugar is addictive, it's because your body is wired to get dopamine hits and like that reward system to be triggered when you're doing something that helps with survival. So just to cut that argument off. You know, that's one of the reasons why we sometimes seek out foods that are maybe more sugary for comfort. We also have a tendency to seek foods that are maybe more calorically dense- maybe they're fattier, maybe they're carbier- like, just more energy dense in general. And a lot of that has to do with that sense of safety. You know, obviously, like taking in energy for your body is going to make your body feel safe. And so there's just a lot of reasons why it makes sense that the foods that we gravitate to for comfort also tend to be the foods that we have the most narratives around restricting. Just to sort of stress again, that eating for comfort is actually a perfectly fine coping mechanism, and we're really not seeking to change that when we do this principle. But using this experience as a source of information about maybe additional work to do around making peace with food and granting ourselves unconditional permission to eat our comfort foods at any time will improve our relationship with food overall. And you know, like imagine how much more comforting those foods might be if you were tuned into the experience and enjoying them, and if they didn't leave you in physical discomfort, and if you didn't feel guilt about having done it afterwards. Like that would just, all around- like you- you'd actually get even more comfort out of the experience that way.

Sadie Simpson:

And it's not uncommon when people are first starting to work through the Intuitive Eating framework to think that they have issues with emotional eating. And like I shared earlier, pretty much everybody that I've worked with through Intuitive Eating coaching has told me that they are an emotional eater- like self identified emotional eater. So I'm sure-

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Sadie Simpson:

Like, have you experienced that?

Naomi Katz:

For sure, me too. Like, I don't- it's hard for me to think of anybody who I've started working with that doesn't list emotional eating as like one of their issues when we start.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, same here. And it's interesting, like as we start to work through the other principles, because it- again, it's very rare that I'll start with this emotion principle when I'm working with somebody- as we work through some of the other principles, that they notice what they identified initially as being emotional eating- it just kind of goes away. And a part of that shift can be a result of the work that we do in some of the earlier principles, when we talk about things like self care and getting our needs met. But often it's because that what they described, or what they believe to be emotional eating, that was actually a symptom of something else within their relationship with food.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I've definitely experienced the same thing. And- and yeah, I mean, it's not like we don't address things like self care and stuff when we're doing earlier principals. So like, obviously, that can be a factor in, even if it was emotional eating, maybe they're just better equipped to deal with those emotions by the time we get here. But I definitely think that a large percentage of the time, it comes down to that there were other things that weren't emotional eating that working through the earlier principles sort of helped suss out.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

So, um, let's sort of go back to the idea that emotional eating is information, and the idea of building an awareness of what our needs are. When we take the stigma out of emotional eating, we can kind of see it for what it actually is, which is an indication that something else in our lives might need some attention. So the first step in using that information is learning to like actually accurately identify and express our emotions. That's something that- you know, we've mentioned before, simple, not easy, and that these are not the same thing. This is definitely one of those things. It's simple, but it's for sure not easy. Because most of us are not actually taught to do this. If anything, most of us are taught to silence our emotions and our feelings. But the reality is that finding the right language to express our emotions can really help us to feel things differently to and to process things differently. So I once read a fascinating article- and I have not been able to find it again, I have definitely looked, so I can't link it in the show notes, but I'm gonna tell you the gist of it- it was about how men- and I imagine this probably applies to anyone socialized as a man- basically don't know the words for a lot of emotions. They- they don't have the language for them. So when they feel bad, they just call it anger, and they act angry. When they learn the nuances of other emotions, it actually allows them to like not lump everything into anger, and to actually act in less angry ways. Like by gaining language and nuance in language around emotions, they actually learn to process emotions in ways that aren't just anger. Isn't that fascinating?

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, it is. Oh, my gosh.

Naomi Katz:

Aren't you sad I can't find the article?

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, I'm dying to read that now. Because I mean, a lot of the newest research in parenting, and discipline, and all that sort of stuff is really founded in helping your kids label their emotions. Like I am mad, I am bored, I am hungry- like really teaching them how to speak what they're feeling. And I just think it's interesting to read some of this research in parenting, and just to see how that is going to materialize with like the next generation of kids who grow up. Like, are they going to be able to identify emotions differently than even like the way we were brought up? Or our parents were brought up? And- gah- I'd be interested in reading that article.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. That- I mean, that's so interesting. And it's also- like, I can remember growing up and being told like- or even seeing my brothers being told, like if they were acting out in anger or something like that- being told, use your words.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm hmm.

Naomi Katz:

And I think that's great advice. And nobody was teaching them the words.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

You know, and I think it's so- especially for our generation- like it- because I totally agree with you, I think it would be- it's gonna be fascinating to see how this knowledge translates to other generations- but for our generation, sometimes we literally have to spend some time learning the words for our emotions.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And so things like feelings wheels and stuff like that- which, if you Google feelings wheel, you'll get like 70 of them- can be really, really helpful in terms of just learning the language for our emotions and being able to start expressing them. People socialized as men, I think, get this, like, everything is anger. I think it's- that's very, very similar to how people socialized as women use the phrase I feel fat. I think that we learn that fat is bad, and we know that we feel bad, but we don't know exactly what we're feeling, so we just say I feel fat. And that's super harmful. Like, for one, it perpetuates weight stigma and the conflation of fatness and badness. And so there's like, you know, interpersonal and institutional levels on which this is harmful. And it's also really harmful intrapersonally, like in terms of our relationship with ourselves, because, again, it robs us of the ability to actually address our needs, and instead places weight loss as the solution. But weight loss- you know, just like, you know, punching something isn't going to solve something if you feel sad or lonely, and all you know is anger, going on a diet isn't going to solve sadness and loneliness, and all we know is to say I feel fat. Like these- we don't actually ever get to the root of this of the solution that way. So, you know, I think it's worth looking at, like, is emotional eating the problem? Or is the problem that we're feeling something uncomfortable, and emotional eating is just a tool? Like, do we need to stop emotionally eating? Is that the problem? Or do we need to address the feeling, which is actually the problem? So I think what happens is, we have this bad feeling, and we eat emotionally as like a tool to cope with that bad feeling, and then we get told that the solution is to stop emotionally eating, not to address the feeling itself- like that the solution is the eating and not the feeling. Does that make sense?

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Okay.

Sadie Simpson:

So all of this translates to emotional eating being a tool to use for us to identify when we need self care. So let's kind of dig in a little bit to what we mean by that. And first of all, before we can do self care, before we can participate in self care activities, we've got to be able to acknowledge that we deserve to have our needs met. And there are plenty of barriers to internalizing that belief. So for one thing, obviously, diet culture- always diet culture- tells us that our needs are problematic, and that our needs have to be silenced or suppressed. So just a few examples of how that shows up. One is the whole idea of a calorie deficit, which is the gold standard in the weight loss industry. It's the foundation of literally every weight loss program in some form or fashion.

Naomi Katz:

Even Noom.

Sadie Simpson:

Even Noom, yes.

Naomi Katz:

Throwing that out there.

Sadie Simpson:

But the goal is to eat fewer calories than your body needs- of any and every weight loss program. And then especially in the exercise world, we have all of these phrases, and ideas, and things like no excuses. And these cues- and these words convince us that any need, or any reason that we have to take time off of working out, or taking time away from our diet or whatever in the pursuit of body ideals- they're translated as weakness, or they mean that we are failures. And as you mentioned earlier, there's a huge market out there for solutions to emotional eating. Like there's so many stop emotional eating programs out there. And these programs, they are designed to make us feel shame about the way that foods meet our emotional, and our mental, and our social needs. Like, and that's just really sad, honestly- that it's shaming us- like these emotional eating programs shame us into fearing food, almost, and making us feel bad about wanting to actually eat, and to use food as a celebration. And another thing that we've talked about on a few episodes ago was this demonization of certain cultural foods- so the idea that certain foods are unhealthy, quote, unquote, and it creates this obstacle to our ability to meet our social and our cultural needs without guilt. It's so timely, I feel like, that we're doing all of these Intuitive Eating episodes right before the holidays, because it's just a hard time for a lot of people whenever, you know, there are a lot of big holiday meals, and there's- there's celebrations, and there's- there's cultural and family things happening- that just- it just brings up a lot of stuff for people. And then the last thing is this normalization of appetite suppressing foods, and products that are appetite suppressants, that serve literally the purpose of like trying to suppress our needs- they prevent us from getting our basic biological needs met.

Naomi Katz:

Diet culture is all about shutting down our needs. It's ridiculous.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. Like sometimes very explicitly, but sometimes more, you know, sneakily, too.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, and then, you know, there's a bunch of other oppressive systems that serve to sort of disconnect us from our needs too. So white supremacy, and the patriarchy, and things like that, that have these narratives related to like gender roles, and biases, and racial stereotypes, and stuff like that, that kind of mock our needs. So I'm thinking like the nagging wife trope, or the needy girlfriend, or the overbearing mother, or the angry Black woman. And like, all of these are tropes that ultimately sort of come together to like mock, and ridicule, and shame women and femmes who clearly state their needs, or their boundaries, or their emotions. It's interesting how often I see those kinds of tropes coming up with people I work with when they're trying to, you know, address some of their needs. Like, you know, obviously, we know these tropes are harmful, but I think that we often don't recognize that this is one of the ways in which they're harmful. So one of the ways that we can sort of start to address this sense of our own needs not being valid is to, one, sort of notice when we're judging our needs. Right- like to sort of- when something comes up, when we can recognize a need, but we have this, like, this response of trying to like push it away, or suppress it, or ignore it, or whatever- to sort of use that opportunity to interrogate that a little bit. You know, to ask ourselves things like, would I do what I could to meet this need for somebody I cared about- and we're talking like, friend, family member, partner, child, pet even- like, you know, would I do whatever I could to meet this need for somebody else? Would I judge them for having or expressing this need? Because, a lot of times, we put a lot of judgment on our own needs, and that's an obstacle to actually going ahead and meeting those needs. And so like, would you judge somebody else if they had this need? And then really starting to hone in on what narratives specifically might be coming up that are making us feel differently about our own needs versus the needs of other people. So, you know, going back to like, what tropes are showing up? What like diet culture narratives are showing up? Like, why do I feel differently about my need, versus the need of somebody else that I might care about, that I wouldn't hesitate to meet?

Sadie Simpson:

I like that as almost kind of a auditing or filtering mechanism to sort of assess maybe where we have some opportunities to get our needs met, or to meet our own needs. And now that we've kind of acknowledged that our needs are important, and they're valid, let's talk a little bit about what we actually mean by self care. So social media shows us that self care looks a very specific way. So there's this facade almost of pretty self care, aka privileged self care, of bubble baths, and manicures, and massages, and face masks, and going on fancy glamorous vacations, and that sort of thing. And then there's also boring self care, which we've discussed a little bit before too- things like going to doctor's appointments, or taking medications, or naps, or wearing clothes that fit and feel comfortable, and that type of thing. And all of that's great. All of that is important. All of those are things to be aware of. But self care is a lot more than that too.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, like so all of those things are important, and like they're definitely things that we want to do. And- but it's- I think it's really helpful, especially if we're talking about meeting some needs that might be showing up for us as like the need for coping mechanisms, and stuff like that, to sort of expand on that too. So one of the things that I think gets really overlooked as self care is self advocacy. So I mean, let's be honest, if we're not like rich cisgender white men, this world doesn't often have our best interests at heart. And that kind of means that we need to learn how to advocate both for ourselves and for others. And, you know, that can look like a lot of things. It can look like setting boundaries- which, you know, we did a whole episode on- but, you know, setting boundaries with our partners, with our friends, with our family, with our co workers. Boundaries allow us to be safe in our relationships, and they also allow people to feel safe with us because they know what to expect. So, you know, that's certainly one version of, you know, self advocacy. Speaking up- so like, if something doesn't feel right to you, or crosses your boundaries, you have the right to say something. Your voice is important here. So that means that like, you can talk back to your conservative uncle. You know, you can tell your friends that their diet talk is harmful. You can tell your doctor that you don't want to discuss weight. You know, a lot of these things are- we've talked about before. You can also do things on a higher level, like, you know, emailing a local restaurant and telling them their seating isn't accessible. I have definitely done that. Or calling your government representatives and, you know, talking to them about Black Lives Matter, or you know, LGBTQIA rights, or abortion access, or like- all of these things are ways of speaking up, using our voice, and advocating. And then another form of advocacy that I think is hugely overlooked is asking for help. So like, asking your partner for help with the laundry is self advocacy. Like asking your kids to clean up after themselves is self advocacy. Asking your boss to clarify an assignment is self advocacy. Um, I think a lot of times we avoid asking for help because we think that we're being a burden, or we're afraid of being compared to one of those, like, you know, social tropes that we talked about before- like the needy girlfriend, nagging wife, etc. But that's literally the reason those narratives exist. They exist to silence our needs, and to let other people off the hook. Like, the whole point is like, basically, to gaslight us into thinking that we're the problem. But we don't have to carry these things ourselves. And it doesn't make us any of these, like, unflattering negative things. It just makes us human. And so asking for help is a huge way that we can do some self advocacy, essentially.

Sadie Simpson:

Even within the last couple of years, my husband and I have had multiple conversations, where it's just been out in the open- like, he will tell me, tell me exactly what you need help with, I want you to give me a to do list, like, please do that for me so that I know what you're thinking, and what you need help with, and what you need. And I am totally okay with telling him exactly what I need. Like, and that's taken some time. And I'm sure, you know, that's a thing that people struggle with in all kinds of relationships, not necessarily just like marriage relationships, but you know, in working relationships and that sort of thing. Just having a consistent open dialogue with what your needs are, and you know, what your boundaries are, and how you can have a reciprocal relationship, instead of just assuming the other person can read your mind. So I think that's a very big part of this for sure.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, ultimately, this is self care-

Sadie Simpson:

Mm hmm.

Naomi Katz:

-but it's also community care.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Because when we advocate for ourselves, we're also advocating for other people who might not be able to do the same, for whatever reason. We just- we don't all have the same capacity for this stuff. And so people who have less capacity for it than we do might need our advocacy the most. Yes, this is a recognition of our own needs as valid. But it's also a recognition that like we can make changes in the world that will better meet all of our needs.

Sadie Simpson:

I really love that. And I think it's important for us to recognize that even advocating for ourselves and for our own needs on a smaller level- again, like within our own homes, or in our own work situation, or our own family dynamic- is a really good way to practice, almost even on a micro level, for ways we can begin to- to advocate for others, and to get more involved in the whole community care aspect, on a bigger level- almost as like a breeding ground for us to be able to kind of expand, and to be able to do more of this work, so that we can advocate for others who may not have the capacity to do so.

Naomi Katz:

Oh, my gosh, yes. I think this is so similar to- you know, when we talked about making peace with food, we sort of talked about like, oh, you start with a food that's not super scary, and you're- you work your way up to things that maybe feel scarier- I think this is so similar to that. Like, start where you feel safe, and then expand out from there. So for some people that's at home, where you feel safe, you feel secure, you feel like you can start working on this. For some people, it's the other way around, like the world is maybe where they feel safer than with their interpersonal relationships. But still, like I think it's- it's a good way to frame this, like start where you feel safe, and then expand from there.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. And then another type of self care that we don't really talk about a lot- but it's actually my favorite kind of self care- is idle self care. So anything that allows you to recoup your energy and to recover from the stress of life. So that might be like playing Candy Crush on your phone for an hour, or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram reels. I haven't gotten into TikTok, and I'm kind of scared to do that, because I would probably mindlessly scroll through that for my entire life- but that could be a form of idle self care. And on the flip side, turning off our phones and logging out of social media might be a way to experience idle self care, where we can just you know, zone out in other ways. As we're recording this at the beginning of December, I'm all about some Netflix Christmas movies- like any kind of holiday movie is my idle self care. What's your fave these days?

Naomi Katz:

I love that. Um, it's so funny, actually. So we just traveled for Thanksgiving. And you know, you're in the hotel room, and like you're scrolling through the channels- and we don't have cable at home, we just like stream everything, so it's like a weird opportunity to be like, oh, I- I haven't thought about the show in forever. Law & Order came on, and Ben and I were like, oh man, I love Law & Order. So we actually just like downloaded the first season on Amazon, and we've been like binging the first season of Law & Order. It is great.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my god.

Naomi Katz:

It's not even that the content is great. It's like such pure like idle- like brain off, on the couch, and like it- like the theme song and everything, there's like a nostalgia comfort to it. It's totally the- it's my go-to TV self care right now,

Sadie Simpson:

I've never watched Law & Order. But that is one of my favorite things about staying in a hotel is watching cable. I feel like it is such a treat to have cable TV. I just think it's the best thing ever.

Naomi Katz:

I simultaneously love it and hate it. For like the first like hour, I'm like, oh, cool, this is like a new fun experience. And then I'm like, wow, marketing and commercialism and capitalism are a hell.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh yeah.

Naomi Katz:

I think it's interesting. You know, despite what we see on social media, in my experience, and when I talk to my clients, I think that, more often than not, self care looks like binge watching TV, or staying in their pajamas all day, or not returning texts and phone calls, or, you know, canceling plans, or playing video games, or like just not doing anything. Like that there's- there's actually so much benefit in not doing something productive with our self care. I think that we often think that it has to be productive, and it does not need to be productive.

Sadie Simpson:

And I think the unfortunate thing is, none of these things feel pretty or feel productive, and people don't count that as self care. Which is kind of a shame because, again, doing nothing- like I just find a lot of joy in that, and I want others to feel that same joy. But there's there's often this feeling of guilt and shame about laying on the couch and watching TV or doing nothing, instead of doing all these Instagrammable self care things, like getting massages or whatever. But all of it counts, and sometimes we really just need to do nothing, to rest and to recharge. So this is your official permission slip to do whatever kind of self care you need, no matter what it looks like. If you want to do nothing that is fine. If your self care looks like doing an actual thing and activity, that's fine, too. But just know it all counts, and it can be unique to you.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, we talked earlier about how, while food is a great coping mechanism, it's helpful to have other tools in our coping toolbox. So I actually consider this to be another form of self care- and that's learning additional coping mechanisms. So, you know, the reality is that sometimes actually meeting our needs like requires too much work, or it's too hard, or it's inaccessible, for whatever reason. You know, we talked about, for instance, during COVID, how some of that played out. But some of us, it's inaccessible all the time, because of structural things. Sort of, in other words, sometimes we need to find a way to feel better, even if meeting our actual need isn't possible. And that's why coping mechanisms are definitely an important part of self care. And I mean- hopefully, it's not a surprise by now- but food for sure counts as one of those coping mechanisms. So just because you know that your emotional eating is cluing you into an unmet need, that doesn't mean you can't still use food as a coping mechanism. Like, maybe because you can't directly address the need in the moment. Or maybe because, regardless of the knowledge, the food is soothing, and you want that feeling. You know, the thing about having multiple tools in your toolbox is you still get to choose which tool you use. So you know, emotional eating can absolutely be an exercise of self care.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, emotional eating can absolutely be a form of self care. And there's also some other coping mechanisms we can cultivate or explore, that might be an important part of our self care practices, too. So a couple of ideas for additional coping mechanisms might include breathing techniques, or some sort of movement, or even having physical contact with another person is one that we don't think about that often.

Naomi Katz:

Or even with yourself.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Or even exploring some mindfulness practices and grounding techniques. All of these techniques serve a purpose of distracting us from the distress we're feeling, or they may soothe us and keep us present in the moment so that our thoughts don't just spiral away into patterns that don't serve us. And it can be really helpful to begin practicing them at times when we're not feeling discomfort, so that we know how they work, we can tune into them more easily during times that are more uncomfortable, or we're feeling more negative emotions, and things like that. Like I'm a big fan of the idea of practicing some of these techniques when we're feeling okay, so that way it's more of like an automatic thing that we can consider going to whenever we're starting to feel some of those negative emotions begin to bubble up.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I definitely agree. Do you have a favorite coping mechanism?

Sadie Simpson:

Honestly, like, again, kind of going back to the idle self care thing, my favorite coping mechanism is- I don't want to say shutting down, because that sounds like I'm not coping with emotions at all- but kind of shutting some things out. So one thing is like kind of taking some time off of social media, whether that is an hour, or a day, or a couple of days- like sometimes when I start to feel like just stress, or tension, or things like that happen for me, I notice that I'm spending a lot of time just idly scrolling, and it kind of feeds into some of that tension. So it's kind of a cue for me to shut it down.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, that- I mean, that makes sense. And it's like- it's the kind of thing that it's- you notice how being tuned into what you're doing helps you to figure out what you actually need in the moment, right?

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like, oh, I'm spending a lot of time on social media, so maybe taking a break from social media is going to address that more directly than something else.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, and I've definitely noticed- I mean, even going back to that list of other things that we talked about- like when I'm able to sort of disconnect, not necessarily just from social media, but like, just from technology for a little bit, that kind of helps with the whole mindfulness piece. I know, like, I just feel more present and aware with the world, and, you know, with myself, and with my family, and that sort of thing.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, that makes sense.

Sadie Simpson:

What about you?

Naomi Katz:

I am- so I also- like my go-to self care is probably that like idle self care type stuff- although, my nails, doing my nails is like a fun self care thing for me. But like, coping mechanisms-wise, like I've found

Sadie Simpson:

I love that. a few things that help at different times. So I- I really like the idea of like- like, listing as many things as I can think of in certain categories, to just like distract from like uncomfortable feelings that I can't address in the moment, I think is a really helpful one. I've also- and it's interesting, this is one that I really leaned into in the early COVID days, was like- so in yoga, they do like alternate nostril breathing. And I can't even tell you how much that was like grounding, and soothing, and calming for me during like the highest stress times. And I still will go to that sometimes to just sort of- like as that ground and soothe, when I can't do something else. One thing that I always used to do, like prior to having a kid, when I was working a normal, you know, go to an office type of job- I would always be in the habit of waking up early. Like I'm an early riser anyway, but I'd like to get up early so I could have plenty of time just to kind of like settle my mind before work and not feel rushed. And I could, you know, I could drink coffee by myself, or, you know, do whatever- like that was my time to be by myself. And really ever since I had a kid that sort of went away, because I just preferred to sleep instead. But I've found recently- actually, within the last couple of months, like since the time change- my whole like internal body clock is still struggling to, to deal with the time change- but I'm kind of finding that I really like it, because I'm able to wake up, not super early, but I'm up before the rest of my family, and I can have that like kind of peace and quiet time. And I'm sort of remembering that that used to be a coping mechanism that I had just to sort of like preemptively deal with stress and things like that. And it felt kind of nice. Like so I'm not setting an alarm or anything to get up early, but on the days that I wake up before everybody else, I really find a lot of pleasure in that.

Naomi Katz:

I love that. That's awesome.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So the overarching thing to remember as we're sort of addressing this concept here is that we want to meet ourselves in this work with curiosity, compassion, and kindness. So what that means is, you know, when we're feeling- if we're noticing something- like, okay, so we're noticing that we're maybe emotionally eating and now we know that that's just a signal that maybe something needs attention, so we recognize that signal. We ask ourselves things like, what am I feeling right now? What do I need right now? How can I be grateful for eating as a coping mechanism, or for the information it's providing? Do I have the capacity to honor my needs or feelings right now? Or how would I honor this need or feeling for a loved one? Again, instead of just burying ourselves in guilt and shame because we're emotionally eating, looking at that emotional eating and asking ourselves what we actually need, and how we can provide ourselves with those things.

Sadie Simpson:

I love that. And I think that's a really good way to kind of transition, too, into recognizing all of the ways in which this principle really translates far outside of our relationship with food. And by recognizing our needs as valid, and getting those needs met, and really learning how to advocate for ourselves, it impacts everything- our whole entire lives, and even the lives of the people around us.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I mean, it really, really does. It's like- you know, I mean when we think about it, understanding our feelings and our emotions, understanding our needs- we frame it around food and like the Intuitive Eating framework, but like, obviously, that's something that's going to impact things far outside of food, because we definitely have feelings, and emotions, and needs that are not food related.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Learning how to meet all the needs and all the emotions with curiosity, and compassion, and kindness is really going to change how we move through the world, honestly, and how we relate to other people. We end up with better relationships with our partners, with our family, with our friends. It has the potential to help us find better work environments. And it even honestly has the potential to help us get better health care, and, you know, things like that, because we learn to advocate for ourselves. We learn to ask for help, we learn to, you know, prioritize and recognize our own needs, and our ability to advocate for those things.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, and all of that lays the foundation for next week's episode, where we'll be discussing Intuitive Eating principle number eight, respect your body. And if you've listened to our episode on body feelings, which was episode number three, you're not going to be surprised that this principle is about a lot more than just loving our bodies. So stay tuned for that next week.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. So Sadie, what's satisfying for you right

Sadie Simpson:

So every year, I guess, for the last probably now? three years, I've bought one of those gingerbread house making kits to do with my kid around the holidays. And it usually just winds up being me putting it together, because he's little. But he's four and a half this year, and for the first time ever, he was actually kind of engaged-ish in the process of the gingerbread house situation. It's kind of interesting just to see- like, I mean, I've never really been around like little kids, other than my younger sister, which was 35 or so years ago- it's just neat to see like this age, between four and five, there's just so much growth that's happening with my kid, and like his ability just to do stuff, and to be engaged in activities, and not just watching me do activities. And it's just really satisfying to kind of see some of those just skills, and his personality, and a sense of humor, and all this other stuff kind of emerge.

Naomi Katz:

That's awesome. I love that. So first of all, please show us pictures of the gingerbread house when you're done.

Sadie Simpson:

If it's not all either eaten- like he'll go by and like grab little gumdrops and things off of it- but I'll show you what's left of it.

Naomi Katz:

But also, yeah, I can totally see how that would be like a really satisfying and cool thing to see. I am- you know, I don't have kids, so it's not something I experience regularly- but when I go and see my family in New Jersey, and I get to see like my nieces and nephews, and sort of watch them go through all their different phases too- and like, you know, it's sad, because I often see them like once a year or something- but it means I get to see big shifts.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And like they're- it's really cool to see how different they are every time.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Maybe next year, he'll do the whole gingerbread house by himself. I doubt it. It's a challenge. Gingerbread houses are not easy, by the way. But anyway.

Naomi Katz:

Listen, my only experience with gingerbread houses is watching people on Great British Bake Off trying to construct like structures out of cookies and stuff. And it looks incredibly hard.

Sadie Simpson:

We definitely had to like pull out the super glue, and I had to be very specific on do not eat these few pieces because they are glued together.

Naomi Katz:

For sure don't eat the super glue.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. What's satisfying you right now?

Naomi Katz:

You know, honestly, the the thing that satisfying me most right now is seeing the responses to Nourish & Bloom enrolling. Just the- you know, seeing people start to get interested in it, like asking questions, and even like sharing it on social media and with the people that they know. Like so much goes into putting together something like that. It's just- like, it's really hard to describe how awesome it is to see people getting interested in it, and like to see that it's serving people. So that's- that is definitely what's satisfying me right now.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh gosh, I love that. Like seeing your actual work come to fruition, and then people actually responding to it. Yes, super satisfying. So if you enjoyed this podcast, we would love to connect with you over on our Instagram page @satisfactionfactorpod. Be sure to comment, let us know what you think about this episode, and send us a message. If you have any questions about emotional eating or any of these Intuitive Eating principles that you would like for us to address on a future episode, let us know. We will be happy to answer your questions right here on the podcast. And then one other simple thing you can do to support us if you're listening in Apple podcasts, be sure to leave us a rating and review, as this helps us reach more people.

Naomi Katz:

Awesome. Thanks, everybody, and we'll catch you next week.