Coming Home: Embodied Spirituality to Break Free from Abusive Eating™

When we diet there is the promise that by eating according to some trendy food plan we will lose weight and become spontaneously happy and healthy as we watch all of our problems vanishing with the extra pounds. In reality, what each diet that we undertake teaches us, is that we can no longer trust the innate wisdom of our body and that we must follow someone else’s idea of what our body needs in order to lose the weight.
After so many years of calorie restriction and losing and regaining weight, our bodies are just as confused as our minds are.  Yo yo dieting causes metabolic imbalances and erratic fluctuations with blood sugar sending signals to our brain that are easily misinterpreted as a need for more sugary or salty foods.  The lack of amino acids found in healthy proteins, causes decline in our neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are chemicals that control our moods and give us a sense of well-being.
When we feel depressed and our blood sugar is too low, we are not likely going to make wise choices when eating.  So, it is often useful to help guide my clients when it comes to healthy eating.  But I want to stress here, that it’s not just about following someone else’s food guideline; it’s about learning to listen to your own body and understand what it’s trying to tell you. 
If we could really listen to our body, I doubt if it would say “eat that carton of ice cream” or that pizza or that bag of cookies or chips.  No, your body would probably say, “I need energy or fuel now” and “I need protein or vegetables or healthy fats”. Or rest, love or water.   Sometimes my clients will tell me that they have been craving red meat and it surprises them because they rarely (if ever) eat meat.  When I hear that, I often suspect anemia or low iron levels and if I check their blood iron levels, it usually confirms that.  That’s an example of listening to the body’s wisdom.
Diets teach us to stay in our heads and not be in our bodies.  Diets basically cut us off at the neck; it is our head or mind that dictates what and when and how we should eat.  But learning to be in our bodies and tapping into its wisdom is a much more profound and empowered way of living.
How do we get into our bodies?  What does that really mean?  In my course, Break Free from Abusive Eating™, I teach different techniques to help us move back into harmony with our bodies, to listen to our bodies, to feel the feelings and signals that our bodies are giving us and help interpret what those signals mean.  It is a re-learning.
Listening to your body and honoring your body is more than simply choosing the right kinds or amounts of foods.  It’s about self love and self care.  Your body is your temple; it is more than a physical structure that needs to be fed, clothed and rested.  Without a body, we wouldn’t have the capacity to experience the world in the ways that we do – to smell, see and taste, to hear, to listen to our inner knowing, to sense a deep and profound wisdom.
One of the practices that Raphael shared with us at the workshop on Embodied Spirituality, was using dance to get back into our bodies.  He would improvise the most beautiful music as we danced and moved to it.  His music sent us soaring yet kept us fully alive and present in our bodies.
The following quote from Kutira and Raphael sums it up nicely:
The embodiment of our spirituality is a homecoming to deepen our sense of being and activates the unique signature of our inner wisdom of body and mind.


by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
from Words Under Words: Selected Poems

Kindness and Compassion to Heal Abusive Eating™

In my work helping people break free from Abusive Eating™ and other destructive, health and vitality-robbing behaviors, I find that there are commonly underlying feelings of unworthiness, or being unlovable and not good enough. These feelings frequently arise from being abused in some way: physically, sexually, or emotionally.
Identifying with the negative feelings that being abused creates, and believing them to be true, leads to engaging in destructive behaviors like Abusive Eating™ and the negative self-talk that perpetuates it. When we criticize or judge ourselves, reinforcing the idea that we are somehow wrong and undeserving, self-hatred and despair flourish, taking over our perception of reality.
All of this harshness and negativity at some point becomes too much to bear so we do whatever we can to distance ourselves from those thoughts and feelings as quickly as possible. Often that means a quick right turn to food because for a brief moment in time, we get a break from the mind and the relentless scolding of the inner critic.
Food will distract and it will soothe, but it doesn’t make us feel better about ourselves.  In fact, it will make us feel worse: physically from overfilling the body with food it didn’t want or need, and emotionally because now we feel bad about overeating and the feelings of being unlovable or scared or worthless are still there.
The only real remedy to stopping this insanity is to start with compassion and kindness toward yourself. Compassion for all the pain and suffering you have been through. Compassion for all the times you abused yourself with food – because if you could have done something other than eat to manage those feelings and stories, you would have. Compassion for the innocent inner child who is still suffering, and compassion for the adult self who just stuffed food into her mouth mindlessly. This is the beginning of turning years of self-hatred and abuse into self-love and self-care. Start with compassion and kindness toward yourself.
What happens to your body when you send even one thought of kindness or compassion to yourself?  Try it now and notice as your body begins to relax, soften and open. Your external world might not change, but your inner world does immediately.  Over time, one thought of kindness or one compassionate embrace of your self leads to another and another and before you know it, as you relax and let go, you experience a direct connection to the joy and sweetness in life.  Now you are connected to the source of love, peace and stillness that reside in you. And that, my friends, can never be robbed from you again.

Break Free From Abusive Eating™

A Holistic Approach to Feeding Yourself With Love.

Abusive Eating is a physical, emotional and spiritual problem that can be progressive and debilitating.  It is an act of violence against yourself.  In order to recover and live a life free from pain and suffering associated with this affliction, you need a multifaceted approach to healing.  The destructive behaviors associated with Abusive Eating can be caused by many biochemical and hormonal imbalances in the body and brain, making it extremely difficult to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. We address all areas necessary to regain your health and reclaim your joy! 

Abusive eating encompasses a wide spectrum of behaviors and feelings.  For one person it can mean compulsive eating which results in obesity and depression. For another, it might be constantly thinking about your weight or the size of your thighs or waist, while monitoring every bite you eat and judging yourself for gaining a pound or two.  Some women feel that no matter how much they tell themselves they are not going to give in to that piece of chocolate or almonds in the pantry, they do any way, and then feel angry and judgmental for being so weak.

What all of these behaviors have in common is that each person ends up feeling more defeated, angry, depressed and hopeless after each episode.  They say over and over again, I’m going to stop this and then before they know it, they are doing same behaviors again and again.  They soon lose respect for themselves and joy and passion vanishes from their lives.

The Way Out

When treated correctly and compassionately, you can be free from Abusive Eating and enjoy a full recovery where you experience a normal, healthy relationship with food, exercise, your body and Spirit.

In my Break Free™ program, I help you to uncover the motivating seed that fuels your abusive eating behaviors.  There are always good reasons why you use food to comfort, to soothe, to escape, to nurture, to quiet the mind.  At some point, using food in this way probably did help you survive and get through very painful situations or challenges.  Now, food no longer provides that for you, yet the patterns of eating used to bring joy or deaden the pain still exist.  Somewhere in your psyche, there is a belief that if you use food you will feel better or at least, won’t hurt so much.

Try this one step: agree to not deprive yourself of any type or group of food for the next 7 days.  But that you will eat with complete attention to your food and your eating—even any snacking or grazing when it’s 2 AM!

Follow these guidelines:

  • Eat only when sitting down at the table
  • Eat with no distractions—that means no TV or reading, (soft comforting music is OK).
  • Slow down—put our fork down between bites.  With finger food, do not put another chip or nut into your mouth until the present bite is completely chewed and swallowed.
  • Set the table and eat off of a plate—not from a bag or carton or table cloth.

Try this for one week and consider journaling your thoughts, insights or feelings that arise.  I would love to hear from any of you if you to choose to share your thoughts.  You can email me at

You Snooze, You Lose: The Connection Between Sleep and Weight Loss

Lose weight while you sleep.  Sound too good to be true?  Well, this is one time when too good to be true is yes, really true!  There is substantial medical evidence suggesting some fascinating links between sleep and weight. Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite. 

David Rapoport, MD, associate professor and director of the Sleep Medicine Program at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City states that while doctors have long known that many hormones are affected by sleep, it wasn’t until recently that appetite entered the picture. What brought it into focus, he says, was research on the hormones leptin and ghrelin. First, doctors say that both can influence our appetite. And studies show that production of both may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep.

How Hormones Affect Your Sleep

Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full.  When you don’t get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don’t feel satisfied after you eat.  Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which can stimulate your appetite causing you to want more food.

The combination can cause you to eat more often and consume more food resulting in weight gain. And in a recent sleep study conducted at the University of Illinois in Chicago on the connection between ghrelin and leptin, participants deprived of sleep, craved high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods.

Sleep Study

It was in a Stanford study, however, that the more provocative meaning of the leptin-ghrelin effect came to light. In this research — a joint project between Stanford and the University of Wisconsin — about 1,000 volunteers reported the number of hours they slept each night. Doctors then measured their levels of ghrelin and leptin, as well as charted their weight.

The result: Those who slept less than eight hours a night not only had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, but they also had a higher level of body fat. What’s more, that level of body fat seemed to correlate with their sleep patterns. Specifically, those who slept the fewest hours per night weighed the most.

Establishing Good Sleep Habits

Get a good night’s sleep every night with these simple steps.

Cut caffeine. Simply put, caffeine can keep you awake. It can stay in your body longer than you might think – the effects of caffeine can take as long as eight hours to wear off.

Avoid alcohol as a sleep aid. Alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, but it also causes disturbances in sleep resulting in less restful sleep.

Relax before bedtime. Stress not only makes you miserable, it wreaks havoc on your sleep.

Exercise at the right time for you. Regular exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep. Since exercise can be stimulating, it’s usually best to do it in the morning.

Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and comfortable. Keep the temperature between 55 and 70 degrees and keep the room as dark as possible. For some people, even the slightest light or noise can be disturbing.

Eat right, sleep tight. Try not to go to bed hungry, but avoid heavy meals before bedtime. A small protein snack may stabilize blood sugar and prevent a hypoglycemic drop in the wee hours of the morning causing you to wake up.  Don’t drink a lot of water right before bed either so don’t have to get up and use the bathroom.

Remove all electronics.  The noise, lights and electromagnetic currents from computers and TVs can interfere with sleep activity.  Remove them from your bedroom if at all possible.  At the very least, turn them OFF, not in hibernate and cover your TV screen.

Avoid napping. Napping can only make matters worse if you usually have problems falling asleep. If you do nap, keep it short. A brief 15-20-minute snooze about eight hours after you get up in the morning can actually be rejuvenating.

Try Natural Supplements.  There are some very good natural products that help induce sleep and don’t carry the harmful or addicting side effects as pharmaceutical agents such Ambien or Lunesta. Stay away from Tylenol PM or Benadryl too except for occasional use.

Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, you can end up associating the bed with distracting activities that could make it difficult for you to fall asleep.

February is Heart Month and Eating Disorder Awareness Month

Did you know that most heart attacks take place on Monday morning – at 10 AM?  I don’t think it is a coincidence that this is happening when people are returning to work, mostly likely to jobs that are stressful and unsatisfying.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserves your love and affection.”     
– Buddha   
Caring for Your Emotional Heart with Intimacy

Did you know that most heart attacks take place on Monday morning – at 10 AM?  I don’t think it is a coincidence that this is happening when people are returning to work, mostly likely to jobs that are stressful and unsatisfying. Many of us respond by heading to the vending machine or Starbucks for a sugary, fatty pick-me up just to make it through another day.
Abusive eaters are often trying to fill an empty heart, soothe a broken heart, or nourish a hungry heart with food.  Jan Chozen Bays, in her book Mindful Eating, suggests that what we might identify as heart hunger and try to fill with food, is actually a deep desire for intimacy and no amount of food will ever satisfy that hunger.
Heart hunger is satisfied by intimacy.  Rather than using food to relieve loneliness, try developing intimacy in other areas of your life.  Intimacy will naturally relieve feelings of loneliness.  Intimacy can come from many places in our lives, not just from an intimate relationship with a spouse or partner.  An intimate relationship can be with your self, with God, with friends and family, even with food. 
Try spending a few moments before eating to look deeply into your food.  Where did it come from? Think of all the different hands that were necessary to bring that food to your table.  When you get that, you realize that you are in the company of many beings: the plants, animals, and people, as well as the earth and all of the elements: sun, rain, wind, and air, whose life energy is infused into your food.

Intimacy requires slowing down.  Take time with yourself to sit in nature, go for a walk, listen to beautiful music, enjoy a pet, or smile at a baby – smell the roses so to speak.  Nurture yourself with rest or a massage.  These are deliberate acts of intimacy that can nourish and replenish your tender heart.

Holiday Survival Guide

In order to stay balanced and retain our sanity and our health during the holiday season,  it is helpful to plan ahead and follow these helpful tips. Make this year the year to really enjoy the holidays by committing to taking exquisite care of yourself.

In order to stay balanced and retain our sanity and our health during the holiday season,  it is helpful to plan ahead and follow these helpful tips. Make this year the year to really enjoy the holidays by committing to taking exquisite care of yourself.

1.  Get plenty of rest.  Our bodies require more rest during this time of the year and all the extra festivities can tire us even more.  Go to bed early and allow yourself little naps here and there.  If you suffer from insomnia, be sure to talk to your healthcare practitioner.  There are many natural remedies that really do work!

2.  Plan Ahead.  Before you head out to your next holiday party, eat a healthy snack so you are not famished when you arrive.  Make a commitment to hold off or limit the alcohol and drink sparkling water with a twist instead.  Remember the reason for the party or gathering is to celebrate your friends or colleagues, not to indulge in the food. 

3.   Move your Body.  Exercise will help you stay in shape and improve your mental outlook.  Keeping up with your exercise will help to improve your mood, relieve stress and keep you in shape.  Remember you are worth finding the extra time to take care of yourself.

4.  Follow the Core Principles for a Healthy Relationship with your body and food. 
The core to a healthy relationship with food and your body is to practice mindfulness around eating.  Eat without distractions, eat when you are hungry, practice gratitude for your bounty and appreciate all that goes into bringing food to your table.  When you are mindful at home, it spills out into being mindful at social events and parties.  It is much more difficult to sabotage yourself when you are staying mindful.

5.  Enroll in a Buddy System.  Ask a friend or professional to for support during this time.  Call them before you head out to recommit to your plan.  If you are struggling with difficult feelings or memories, ask for some time to talk it through.  Because the holidays often bring up sadness or loneliness, we might find ourselves eating to avoid these feelings.

6. Write it Down.  Journaling is a great tool for staying conscious of your feelings, being mindful of what and why you are eating and staying honest with yourself.  Write down the commitments you made to yourself and reread them as often as necessary–especially when you are feeling particularly vulnerable and weak.

MicroNutrients For Mental Health–The Key to Feeling Better!

If you are suffering from acute or chronic depression and anxiety, you are well aware that conventional treatment with antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications offers little relief, and is often accompanied with undesirable side effects.  Fortunately there are well researched alternative, more natural approaches to managing depression and anxiety as well as to improving overall brain health.

Research has shown a strong connection between brain function and nutrients.  The key to feeling better is through the balance and proper response of both the calming and stimulant neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemcial messengers of the brain and nervous system.   They play an important role in regulating our moods.  You have probably heard of some of the more common ones such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA and Acetylcholine.  These are just a few of many that are housed in your brain and throughout your body.

In order to make an adequate amount of neurotransmitters in your brain, your body needs the proper ingredients such as amino acids.  They are used by the brain to regulate moods, feelings and body functions.  Other nutrients in botanicals or foods are also used in a similar way by the brain. A deficiency in these key nutrients may results in many symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, ADD and bipolar disorder to name a few.

Conditions that affect the proper manufacturing, delivery and utilization of neurotransmitters include:

  • Chronic Stress
  • Poor Nutrition and Diet
  • Genetic Predispositions
  • Toxic Exposure
  • Blood Sugar Imbalance
  • Infections
  • Allergies

What is the Solution to Boosting Mental Health and Improving Brain Function?

Like most holistic treatments, it is an integrated approach.  A healthy diet is essential, along with exercise and psycho-spiritual support.  Last spring I attended a conference on “MicroNutrients for Mental Health” in Truckee, California.  I learned about an amazing company called TrueHope who have developed as fabulous and effective program for treating mental illnesses–mild to severe.  I have incorporated their basic program into my practice along with additional protocols that I learned through other functional medicine trainings.

The basic tenants of the program include the following:

  1. EmpowerPlus–a nutritional supplement designed to address essential nutrient deficiencies
  2. Total Amino Solution–an easily absorbable amino acid supplement in the form of a complete protein
  3. Omega 3 Fatty acids–either fish or plant based which are essential for over-all brain health
  4. Targeted Nutritional Formulas that support healthy circulation to the brain, protect the brain from free radical activity and reduce brain inflammation.

The results are so far amazing!  I have patients on the program who wanted to treat their symptoms naturally and were able to successfully discontinue their antidepressants within just a few days.  I also have patients who were not on any medication and once started the program, experienced their symptoms dissipate rapidly.

To learn more about the company TrueHope, click here or go to  If you are interested in trying the program yourself or want to discuss it with me in more detail, please go to my website at for my contact information.

(I wish to thank Apex Energetics for the use of their educational information for this article)


A woman is considered in menopause when she has not had a menstrual period for one year or more. Perimenopause is the period of time leading up

How do I know if I am peri-menopausal or menopausal? What is the difference?

A woman is considered in menopause when she has not had a menstrual period for one year or more. Perimenopause is the period of time leading up to the cessation of periods when physical and emotional changes occur. Some women may experience only mild changes for a few months. Others experience a variety of symptoms over a several year period. Some of the symptoms women might encounter are emotional lability, fuzzy thinking, disrupted sleep or insomnia, changes in the menstrual cycle, hot flashes or night sweats, vaginal dryness and loss of interest in sex. While these symptoms are considered normal, they are often challenging and difficult to manage.

There is so much information out there for treating menopause symptoms. How do I know what methods are safe and reliable?

It is often difficult to know which direction to follow. My approach is based in the Schwarzbein Principle, and my many years of professional experience. The best approach is to trust the body’s inherent intelligence to heal and balance itself and support that process through lifestyle, nutritional, botanical and psychospiritual solutions. Each woman is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. Usually, a combination of treatments is required for successful management of symptoms associated with menopause.

Weight Loss

I’ve tried dozens of different diets and food plans to lose weight but nothing seems to work permanently. I’m sick and tired of diets and thinking about food. How is your approach different?

Losing weight and keeping it off without destroying your metabolism and losing lean muscle and bone can be done by keeping your hormones balanced through healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits. We determine what needs to be corrected in your body, such as healing burned out adrenals and accompanying fatigue, balancing blood sugar or lowering cholesterol and tailoring a nutrition and exercise plan just for you. For more details, visit my website.


It seems like everyone is stressed these days. Is stress bad? Isn’t that just a catch-all for all our problems?

Yes, most of us are very stressed out and we live in a culture where working hard and long hours is considered the norm—even praised. When you understand the damage that stress causes on our bodies, it is important to pause and take a deeper look. Often, we cannot eliminate much of the stress in our lives so we need to discover effective ways to deal with the stress. It is also wise to make adjustments wherever possible to remove stress-makers. By finding a balance in managing stress and reducing or eliminating stressors whenever possible, we are happier, less depressed, experience more vitality and health.