Healing from Eating Disorders and Disordered eating with Natalie Rose, MPysch RP

Mar 15, 2023 | Let's Hear From The Experts

Natalie Rose Allen is a Toronto-based Registered Psychotherapist who specializes in treating eating disorders and body image issues. She works primarily with adolescents and adults using a biopsychosocial approach to healing. Natalie also provides intuitive eating and emotion coaching to individuals worldwide. Natalie is passionate about helping people build healthier relationships with their emotions and with their bodies.

In this Episode:

  • Disordered eating as a coping mechanism
  • Why eating disorders are on the rise
  • How social media influences disordered eating
  • Navigating social media during ED recovery
  • Why recovery is an ongoing process
  • Overcoming fear of weight gain

Lindsey Lusson  00:00

Welcome to the food freedom fertility podcast. Here we discuss the challenging, rewarding and life changing process of recovering your period and finding freedom with food and exercise. Whether you’re hoping to regain your cycle to get your health back on track, or you’re ready to become a mama, this podcast is for you. While the recovery process isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it’s my hope to bring you both information and inspiration during your own recovery journey. I’m your host, registered dietitian and fellow ha woman, Lindsey Lusson.  So welcome, Natalie, thank you. It’s so great to be here. I’m so glad to finally connect with you. I feel like I have found you on social media and just so love and sharing all the wonderful content that you have. And I know we’ve connected a little bit over DM and I think you just have such a great message that so many people need to hear. So I read your bio, but you are a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and disordered eating. Is that correct?

Natalie Rose  01:03

Yes.  On my journey with this was, my mom had cancer. So both of us actually dove into the wellness culture in try, we’re trying a bunch of natural alternative methods for healing. So I adopted a bit of an obsession with healthy foods and wellness at that point. So that also threw a curveball into the mix. And after my mom passed away, the grief hit me a few months later. And that’s when I saw my first therapist. And so I saw a therapist for a couple years. And even though the therapy wasn’t specifically targeted towards eating, I learned how to cope with my emotions and how to get more in tune with my perceptions. And as I gained more skills and getting to know myself and coping with emotions, my disordered eating actually radically diminished as a result, so I wasn’t binging anymore, I was eating regularly, I still had, you know, was leaning towards healthy foods and wellness culture, which is something I continued to work on through the years after that. But that was sort of that was something that was really helpful and also led me down the path of becoming a therapist. So I’ll wrap up the end of my story quickly. But basically, I was working as a psychometric test, which is, you know, you’re doing assessments for people in a psychology office, and I realized I wanted to start helping people. 

So I went and did my Master’s in clinical and counseling psychology. And as I was doing my Masters, I started an Instagram account as kind of like a healthy outlet for my creativity. So I was posting my breakfast bowls like pretty colorful breakfast bowls, and also blogging about how I overcame dieting and just chose to, you know, stop trying to lose weight, just eat focus on eating, you know, nourishing foods and exercising, because you want to not because you feel like you have to. And so I gained a following that way. And this really lovely community of people on Instagram. And I started getting a lot of questions that I actually didn’t know how to answer from personal experience. So people would ask me, How do you stop calorie counting? And for me, even though I had, of course, I had calorie counted in the past. It wasn’t something that I had ever developed an obsession around. Yeah, I don’t know why I just some days, I would do it. Some days, I would forget. So I didn’t know how to answer those questions. So I started researching more and more into eating disorders. So my practice kind of merged with eating disorder treatment, kind of because of my involvement on Instagram in my community. So sort of all became why I switched my path in therapy towards treating eating disorders. And here I am!

Lindsey Lusson  07:52

That is so interesting, I wouldn’t have guessed that it all came about that way, I would have just assumed that you went to school to become a therapist. And because you had struggled with an eating disorder and disordered eating in the past that that was just something that naturally fell into place. But that is that is so cool. And I love that. I think it’s interesting that Instagram, like took you that way. But as we know, there’s a lot of disordered eating on Instagram. So I guess that makes a lot of sense. I’m curious, too, because I started my practice in 2020. And that was the beginning of the pandemic, and everything that’s been happening with COVID. And I’m curious, because I feel like I’ve read about this, but I just am curious if you’ve noticed this trend in your practice to in just a general increase in disordered eating and eating disorders since the pandemic?

Natalie Rose  08:46

Oh, definitely. Here in Canada, our hospital based treatment programs are completely full. Like ever since the pandemic, there’s a waitlist of about a year and a half to two years, because eating disorders just skyrocketed over the pandemic. And I think it just goes to show that when you have limited control over other things in your life, or there’s chaos happening and you don’t know how to cope, food and body or weight is one thing that people find control in. And it’s it’s so true. I mean, we can control what we eat. There’s always that feeling of having optimism when you decide to go on a diet or you decide to eat like quote unquote, clean and it gives you some kind of false sense of control.

Lindsey Lusson  09:37

Yes.

Natalie Rose  09:38

So I think that’s one thing that really triggered the rise in eating disorders over the pandemic. I’ve also noticed to a lot of the people that I’ve visited with that tended to fall into disordered eating and eating disorders around that time had like, generally good intentions like they were like, I am going to start exercising more I am going to clean up my diet or whatever the heck that means. So they have like, just like very like, nobody says, like, Oh, I’m gonna develop an eating disorder. Like, I don’t think that that’s ever anyone’s like actual intention. And somehow it just happens.  And so it’s interesting the way that things can just spiral like, especially whenever people have too much time, and they’re isolated, and maybe they’re spending too much time on social media comparing so kind of like the perfect storm, I suppose. Exactly. I completely agree, it starts with good intentions. And I think that’s where Instagram can become so tricky. And I’ve experienced that as well, too. Although I did have, I’ve had both positive and negative experiences with Instagram.

So Instagram, wellness culture is something that you can do a deep dive into and just completely become engulfed by it. And as soon as you start liking and clicking some stuff, you get, you know, other information is pushed to you. So you quickly become immersed in wellness culture where you’re seeing you know, which foods are good, which are bad, you’re seeing these perfectly aesthetic meals that are maybe not necessarily balanced. And it just completely takes over your view and your ideal about food. 

On the other hand, during the pandemic actually was when I would say that I probably let go of any kind of lingering food rules or restrictions or beliefs that I had about food because I got onto the anti diet side of wellness, right. And there’s so many great accounts where you can learn how all of those beliefs that you had about food are myths, just perpetuated by an industry that makes a lot of money off of selling ideals like that, right. So it almost Instagram got me down that tunnel, and then it also got me out on the right side of it.

Lindsey Lusson  11:53

Absolutely. And I think that that’s something that a lot of people don’t realize, as they’re scrolling is that you kind of create your own feed. So if you’re constantly clicking on bikini models, then that’s all that’s going to show up on your Explore page.

Natalie Rose  12:07

And that’s the content that’s gonna get pushed to you. Same to with, you know, a vegan diet or, you know, being a runner or whatever.

Lindsey Lusson  12:15

And so I think it’s, I think that’s a really good point, you know, if somebody’s trying to set some boundaries on social media, and I think there’s been a lot of research, unfortunately, and I agree with you, Natalie. I personally feel like there are accounts on social media that have really helped the last 10% of healing from my own eating disorder that took me way too long to do because I was stuck in this quasi recovery for so long. But there’s also really bad things have happened with social media. I’m curious, what what kind of trends have you noticed the most on Instagram, since starting your account that tend to sort of perpetuate eating disorders?

Natalie Rose  12:54

The first trend that comes to my mind are the What I Eat in a Day videos.

Lindsey Lusson13:00

Yes, right.

Natalie Rose  13:02

Yeah, it’s so tricky, because most of them start off with a with a body shot, like an image of someone in a very thin body. So it inadvertently sends the message that if you eat like this, you can look like me. And that’s not the case, because you never know what’s going on behind these What I Eat in a Day videos, I mean, they’re curated a person plans ahead of time, what they’re going to show and video what they’re going to have, they probably, you know, either film it all at once or, you know, you just never know what’s going on behind it. And also, everyone’s needs are vastly different. So by following exactly what this person is eating, you could actually be doing a lot of harm to yourself, right?

Lindsey Lusson13:44

Absolutely. And I think that I’ve even talked about that before on this podcast is like, even if somebody has really good intentions, like, I choose to not participate in that trend for a number of reasons. But if I were to do that, I would probably not give an accurate reflection of how I actually eat, because to your point, I would plan it out, it would look a lot prettier than you know what is really typical and practical for me. So I think that that’s, that’s something really important to remember.  And I know that that’s been brought up a lot too, that those What I Eat in a Day videos can be really triggering. I think it’s also interesting that the people that take the most interest in those are typically people that are also battling eating disorders.

Natalie Rose  14:24

Yeah, definitely. Because one of the main characteristics or symptoms of an eating disorder or disordered eating is a fixation on what other people are eating, and also a fixation on what on what you’re eating. So a lot of the times people will actually experience obsessive, intrusive thoughts about going over exactly what they ate that day. So if a person is trying to overcome that or avoid those kinds of thoughts, you know, and then they see what I eat in a day video pop up, it’s definitely reinforcing this desire to obsess about everything you eat in a day or two. Compare it to that person.

So I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, just someone who has a healthy relationship with food and is focused on other things. Do they really care about every single thing that this person has put in their mouth that day? That it’s sort of very perpetuating.

Lindsey Lusson  15:18

What are some other trends that you’ve noticed on social media that feed into eating disorders and eating disorders, continuing to go on?

Natalie Rose  15:27

Something that I’ve been aware of recently is just how much holistic nutrition conflicts with eating disorder treatment. And I think that there’s no right or wrong way of eating or thinking about food. And I think that if someone has really struggled, then of course, they’re going to look to alternative ways of healing. I think that’s natural. But I do see it becoming very extreme in terms of what is good and bad. And they use a lot of words like toxic and poisonous. And of course, that’s going to create so much fear around foods that, when consumed in moderation are not dangerous, right.

So it really feeds into the obsession, and sometimes compulsions with choosing only specific types of foods or whether it’s organic, or all natural or sugar free or unprocessed. So that’s something that I’ve really been trying to wrap my head around is, is holistic nutrition and its impact on eating disorders.

Lindsey Lusson  16:31

I so appreciate you bringing this up. Because I could not agree more. And I see a lot of people go from eating disorder to going the functional nutrition route, and developing more of like a like a restrictive eating disorder to more of an orthorexia to where it’s like, literally the same issues repackaged in a different wrapping paper with a different bow, but it’s the same eating disorder.

Natalie Rose  17:00

And I appreciate you bringing that up. Because I feel like sometimes people think that they’re healing their eating disorder by another form of disordered eating. And while there is total benefit from taking a holistic approach to nutrition and healing, and recognizing that food is not the only thing that impacts our bodies, and our well being I agree with you that a lot of the language and depending upon the practitioner, the approach can be very extreme and very triggering for somebody who just has that history that maybe hasn’t been healed. 

Exactly.

And that’s an it’s also another way that people have accidentally fallen into eating disorders, like you mentioned before, where someone will be experiencing some kind of symptom, like, say it stomach pain, or digestive issues or something like that, they’ll go to see a holistic nutritionist, and they’ll be put on an elimination diet, or told to stop eating gluten, dairy, refined sugars, and things like that. And then depending on that person’s history, or just susceptibility to developing an eating disorder, which they wouldn’t have any way of knowing about, and practitioners certainly not assessing for that, either. Right? They will then follow the guidelines of the holistic nutritionist, and that being unable to get out of that elimination diet mindset, where now they believe that all these foods are harmful, and they’re hypersensitive, or hyper focused on looking for the symptoms of bloating, and so it just becomes, yeah, it goes into a downward spiral.

Lindsey Lusson  18:37

So I’ve seen that happen a lot as well, yes, definitely a big problem. And I think you hit the nail on the head. And this can be a whole other podcast topic, but just practitioners not knowing how to properly screen for eating disorders, because I see this a lot. And just like clients that I work with going to the doctor and their doctor, you know, being like, you know, I’m sorry, your period is missing, but you’re a healthy BMI. So don’t gain weight, like that’s unhealthy, you know, and like them planting those seeds and not even realizing like, hey, this person might be exercising for three hours a day, this person may be so terrified of carbohydrates that they never eat them, and you know, or they’re struggling with binge eating. And so I think that it’s scary, it’s scary. And I wish that I wish that we could bridge the gap a little bit more. But unfortunately, I think that that we’d have a long road ahead of us. And we have to kind of be our own advocates there. 

So it’s it’s a tricky place to navigate. You know, for somebody who social media can be so hard when you’re working to heal from eating disorder in which sometimes it can be helpful to just like, take a break set some really good boundaries. But I think the truth of the matter is is like social media isn’t going anywhere. So we kind of have to learn how to like use it to our advantage and have healthy boundaries with it.  What would you say your top three tips are for people navigating social media, if they’re in recovery from an eating disorder, or they’re really working on healing?

Natalie Rose  19:59

In the relationship with food, I think the first thing is to really learn how to be aware of Diet and Wellness culture, so that when they see it, they can spot it. And they can swipe away, even shake their head at it, keep scrolling, click the not interested button or even block certain accounts that keep popping up. I know I’ve blocked accounts where I just I didn’t like the message that they were spreading, and I didn’t want to see any more of it. But without really knowing what diet culture is, and wellness culture, you can’t really do that.

Lindsey Lusson

So you have to sort of be able to identify whether this is helpful or harmful to your relationship with food. Any questions on like, how somebody would be able to call it out?

Natalie Rose 

Yeah, that’s a good question. I think maybe some of the giveaways are when an account or a creator is using extreme terms to label foods like good versus bad, toxic, poisonous, anyone who’s very focused on weight loss, who’s, you know, counting calories, all these things that are pretty normalized by diet culture, but when you’re trying to heal your relationship with food, you, you just kind of have to understand how this isn’t helpful. So maybe asking themselves also what has helped me and what hasn’t helped me. And really, for each individual person to delve deep into what kind of information they’ve been exposed to how it’s affected them, and what isn’t working. That’s one way to really target what they will not want to see more of.

Lindsey Lusson  21:39

Super helpful.

Natalie Rose  21:41

Another thing that I’ve heard, outlined, I think, in the book more than a body by Lindsay and Lexie Kyte, is when you come up because it can get confusing, right? Like, is this? Is this accurate information? Or is this something? Or is this like total garbage, but in the book More Than a Body they said, when you’re going when you’re coming across content to ask yourself, is somebody benefiting financially by me believing this to be true? Like, is there something like by me believing the message that my body is not okay, the way that it is, but what are they pushing? Are they pushing a supplement? Are they pushing their program? Are they pushing something, and so if someone is financially benefiting from it, that could be another kind of red flag to maybe filter out. And I love that, you know, we have this options on Instagram to restrict to block I think, my favorite newest feature on Instagram is the like report, like I don’t want to see this anymore. And this is the reason why. If you guys don’t know that those features exist, they do. And I think they’re great. I agree.

Also More than a Body such a great book. It’s so it’s such a great book, I’d recommend that to anyone who hasn’t read it. It’s something that just came up as we were talking about this is I’ve been seeing a lot of ads, not ads, just influencers posting reels about like this green juice that’s supposed to cure bloating. And so the first image is it will be of like a bloated belly, and then a lot of different curated aesthetic images of like this dark green liquid, and the more they drink it, their bloating, apparently decreases. And it’s just it’s something that I probably would have bought into a few years ago, because I was experiencing bloating, little did I know it was not eating enough. And now when I see that I just shake my head, I’m like, This is ridiculous like that this green substance is going to hear bloating. It’s just they’re just trying to sell this product to me.

Lindsey Lusson  23:44

Right. And I think that we can, like I knew that so many people listening to this podcast are incredibly smart women. And I think that if we can just think about things logically, then we can, we can sit things out. But I also think that when you are really stuck in disordered eating and eating disorders, that that logic can go out the window, because we’re so hyper focused on our body or our food. And I mean, hello, our brains aren’t getting the energy that they need, so they can’t work the way that they’re supposed to. So it’s definitely a tricky time. 

Any other tips that you would give for somebody navigating social media in a healthy and productive way as they’re healing from disordered eating?

Natalie Rose  24:23

I think it’s really important to set time limits around social media, because it’s something that’s so easy and I even find myself often just picking up my phone randomly and anytime that I’m not focused on something I’ll pick it up as a way to distract myself. It’s it’s very,it’s definitely winning in terms of taking my attention. But I also have recognized that the people on social media look very different from people in real life. So when you’re scrolling on social media, and you’re only seeing one type of body and you’re not even meaning to, but your, your brain is being trained to think that this is what my body should look like, if you’re only being exposed to one image, but when you actually, you know, go to the beach or go to a grocery store or go to the park, the people there don’t really they don’t look like the people that social media, their body, all different kinds of body types. And I think that when we’re really struggling, like when we’re in a bad place, and we’re at home, and we’re isolated, and we’re just scrolling through social media, and we’re only seeing that it, it really keeps us in that in that place. So we need to expand and get out there and sort of challenge those beliefs.

Lindsey Lusson  25:41

Yeah, and, like, it’s fair to say to that, like, sometimes the people on social media don’t even look like what they look like on social media in real life. Because you mentioned, you know, only seeing bodies a certain way, like people are posing on social media. So even though they might not look drastically different in real life, if you’re only seeing their body from a certain angle, you’re not seeing their “flaws”. 

Natalie Rose 

Also, Instagram is a highlight reel. And so you’re not posting the photos of you in a swimsuit bent over where there’s belly rolls, you’re posting the one where, you know, you look like what everyone’s trying to look like on social media. So it’s such a good point.

Lindsey Lusson 

I also I think it’s interesting what you brought up, I remember, whenever I was really still struggling with an eating disorder, how much I tended to just sift out like kind of normal and even larger bodies, and I would only compare myself to people that were my size are smaller. And I know that that goes on a lot to when we’re stuck in kind of an eating disorder land is we just, we don’t pay attention to like body diversity in which you know, really messes with us, because then we can develop an appreciation for bodies of different colors and different sizes and different body compositions. And so I love that idea of just being like, log out of Instagram, go to the park, go to the beach, and just take it like what normal bodies look like. I love that. That’s that’s super helpful.

You know, I we’ve kind of been talking using these words like interchangeably, and I wish I had like a really formal right definition between the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating. But I know that for me, it took some professional support therapy dietitian while treatment team to heal from my eating disorder. And then it took another six years to heal from disordered eating. And I think there’s a lot of people who get better from their eating disorder. But they get stuck in this quasi recovery.

When I kind of described my six years of disordered eating, do you feel that it is possible for someone to ever be 100% recovered from an eating disorder? 

Natalie Rose 

I do believe it’s possible to recover from an eating disorder, I think everyone has a different experience in terms of how much an eating disorder or disordered eating plays a role in their life, either as a coping mechanism, or sometimes it’s intertwined with their livelihood. For example, dancers or models, or personal trainers, or, or even those in the dietetics industry, sort of have often have this image that they feel like they need to live up to, or just certain beliefs that have been ingrained. So I think it’s going to be different for everyone. But we all have to learn how to cope with ongoing triggers. Because we live in a society that’s obsessed with weight loss and dieting. So it’s sort of about how to cope with lapses or feeling vulnerable at times or feeling maybe a sudden onset of eating disorder, thoughts, like things are bound to pop up. And it’s just sort of about how you respond to that, whether you’re in a vulnerable place, you might be more susceptible to getting into those thoughts and behaviors, or you might reach out for support, or you might find a way to cope with whatever is coming up at that time.

Lindsey Lusson  29:05

Yeah, I definitely agree with that. And I mean, I’m of the mindset that you can 100% recover. I think that six years ago, when I was stuck in quasi recovery, I would have said no, you always it always sticks with you. But moving beyond that, I agree. I think that you can but it is like once you’re recovered, like you are still in recovery, right? Like you talked about ways to do with your triggers because stress because different seasons where your body changes, you know, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, you know, life but eight. So I think that being aware of your triggers and having healthy ways to cope is obviously going to be the way that you get recovered and stay recovered.

Natalie Rose  29:48

 Absolutely.

Lindsey Lusson  29:49

One of the biggest things that I just know, was a struggle for me and I see it my clients that hold them back from recovering their periods and healing from HA is just the sphere is fear of weight gain. What are some things Natalie that you do in your practice? Or like what would your top three tips be for somebody who is navigating through the discomfort of weight gain, like they recognize that it needs to happen, but like, it is so scary, and it’s so uncomfortable, like, what are some things that you would encourage them to try out or remind them of as they are going through this time?

Natalie Rose  30:21

Yeah, if you’re waking is arguably one of the core features of most eating disorders and disordered eating, whether it’s anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other unspecified eating disorders, it all comes down to this fear of weight gain, the first place I go is exploring the roots of where this spirit comes from. So this usually results in talking about diet culture as a whole and living in a culture that’s obsessed with weight loss and body image. And then moving into specific contributors for that person like personal experiences of body shaming, fat phobic messages that they may have been exposed to growing up. What exactly does weight gain mean for them? Does it mean losing their families respect? Does it mean that they think it’ll be harder to meet a partner, or form new relationships? Will it interfere with our goals and dreams, so sort of teasing out any belief patterns that might be exaggerated by fear and shame, as well, because when we’re coming from a place of fear, our thoughts about weight gain are going to be even more amplified, right? Like, if I gained weight, nobody will like me, that’s a common one that I get people will judge me. 

So it’s kind of it reminds me of being in that sort of tunnel that we were just talking about, like when you’re on social media, and you’re only seeing this one world of bodies that look a certain way. But then you step into the real world, and there’s all types of bodies, it’s sort of the same thing with this fear of weight gain, where you’re trapped in this tunnel, and you feel like being thin or staying at the weight that you’re out is the is the only way when there can certainly be changes to our body. And there will be changes to our body throughout our entire lifespan that we’re going to have to learn to cope with. So either it’s doing the same thing that we always do, which is lean into obsessing thing or avoiding, in other words, eating disorder behaviors, or we find other healthier ways to cope. So that’s the first place that I go. 

The second place is definitely talking about forming supportive social network. So talking to friends and family about how they can be supportive to this person, setting boundaries around diet and weight talk, finding clothes that fit comfortably during this process, and most importantly, connecting with other things in life that help them build their self worth and self esteem. Because, yes, you know, you can probably relate to this. But when you’re when you’ve been focused on losing weight or being healthy, or you’ve been struggling, essentially with disordered eating, or an eating disorder, it kind of becomes your whole world.

So you become disconnected from a lot of other things. And sometimes low self esteem and low self worth is something that leads us to fall into disordered eating disorders because we have struggled with insecurities, and we feel like if we can just change our body, then that will give us confidence and kind of does temporarily in a false sense of sort of way, right?

Lindsey Lusson  33:23

Yeah, I mean, definitely. But I think the interesting thing, my experience, and a lot of people that I’ve worked with, with eating disorders, too, will say this that like, even at your smallest, your most insecure, like absolutely like going to the pool and never taking my cover up off yet. I’m not even at a healthy weight. I just think it’s mind boggling to think that we think that these bodies, these goals, etc, are going to bring us all of this like contentment with our bodies. And it just makes us obsessed and putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. So I love the idea of I think that that is critical for dealing with eating disorders, building your competence around things that don’t have anything to do with your body. And so exploring what that is for you. Yeah, that’s super cool.

Natalie Rose  34:09

And also going back to more than a body they talk about, even when you do get to a place where you like how you look, whether it’s in a picture or in the mirror and you’re sort of like, relishing in that sense, like Okay, I like how I look now or I’ve got my dream body, you’re self objectifying in a way, right? Like you are then deciding okay, now I’m only worthy because I like the way that I look. So it seems helpful in the moment, but it’s not because it’s still diminishing yourself to your body and your appearance.

So that’s something as well because a lot of clients will say, you know, I really did like my body when I was thinner. And they’ll say I really it wasn’t that I didn’t like myself back then I actually did like my body so you know Sure you did. But, was it coming from a place of self objectifying, and was that just reinforcing this core belief that you can, your body has to look a certain way for you to be happy. Right? And it really doesn’t set you up for success when we know that like, as we age, as we go through life, as we experience life, that our bodies are going to change. And I think that being so stuck and fixated on that certain time that certainly that certain picture is just not allowing you to really experience what you were really meant to experience in your body.

Lindsey Lusson  35:31

Yeah, I completely agree with that.

Natalie Rose  35:33

And I think the last thing that I would say about helping clients deal with this fear of weight gain is something that I posted quite a bit on my Instagram is sort of about the feelings working through the feelings that come up when you’re having a bad body image moment, or specifically when you are gaining weight. And you can tell and it step in and you have this huge emotional reaction. Because for a lot of people, weight control has been a form of controlling emotions.

Lindsey Lusson  36:07

 Yes.

Natalie Rose  36:08

So when their weight starts to shift, they start to experience these intense, uncomfortable big emotions. So if someone if controlling weight was something that has helped them and control their anxiety, and then they see their weight shifting, they may struggle with uncertainty, they might feel totally out of control, their brain will be telling them that they’re going to keep gaining weight forever and ever. And their mind is just blowing it out of proportion, because that’s what our brain does when we’re in fear. So in this case, I would help them lean into that fear and anxiety and acknowledge that this is their body’s way of responding to something that they perceive as threatening, which is weight gain, they’ve learned to see that weight gain is threatening, whether it’s from the messages they’ve received general, fat phobia, and anything personal to them. And so their body essentially saying like Danger, danger, you need to do something. And usually that results in the fight or flight response, either you’re obsessing or you’re trying to fix and essentially, you’re leaning into disordered eating behaviors.

So we want to focus on the emotion itself, not the thoughts that are racing through their mind, or the behaviors that they’re feeling an urge to do, but the emotion that’s happening in their body, because that is essentially what needs to be released and expressed in order to go away. But when we use an eating disorder behavior, when you’re feeling that feeling, it can make that feeling go away in the moment, but it prolongs that fear of weight gain, because it’s sort of you’re using a safety behavior.

So where do they feel that emotion in their body, how can they soothe themselves in the moment without turning to fixing or obsessing, whether that’s using deep breathing, whether that’s using grounding, grounding yourself in the present moment, you know, if you’re feeling unsafe, but you look around, and nothing else has really changed, you sort of recognize that nothing’s happening, just a big emotion is happening. And when a person can learn to sit with that feeling, and breathe through it and validate what they’re experiencing, and why they’re experiencing it, and know that it’s makes total sense why they’d be experiencing emotion, it often left, and that reduces in intensity, sometimes within two hours, or it could be 20 minutes. And eventually, that emotion is not really that strong anymore. And when they’re not, you know, still, they’re fixating on themselves in the mirror, they’re waiting, for example, they’re moved away, they’ve moved through that big emotion, it’s suddenly not a really big thing anymore.

Like they can function and connect with other things. And then in a sense, it’s sort of like out of your whole day, you had that one moment in time when you felt this big emotion, and then it was gone. And then you spent the rest of your day focusing on the things that are meaningful. And eventually, that increases over time where you have more good days and bad days. And you start to experience life in a way that’s not so controlled by this fear of weight gain.

Lindsey Lusson  39:12

So helpful. This is why this is why therapy is so amazing, right? Like all of the things that you’ve shared already are just so helpful and so spot on. And I think that you know, people who are struggling with disordered eating, if you are scared to get help or you don’t feel like you need it, I am here to tell you that you do need it and things can get so so much better for you.  So if somebody’s listening to this, Natalie and they want to know more about you and what you do and like maybe how they could even potentially work with you what would be next steps?

Natalie Rose  39:47

Yeah, so my website is wakeupandsmelltherosay.com and on there you’ll see links to so I work individually with clients worldwide. I’ll provide coaching to clients who are working with disordered eating, they’ve made progress in their journey and they also have support from doctors or dietician, or they’ve already had that support. I also provide individual psychotherapy to residents of Ontario and I work with a clinic, an eating disorder outpatients clinic in Toronto, called the Toronto psychology and wellness group where we work with dietitians and psychologists as well. I also have an online course which is something that self paced if people just want to work on and learn coping mechanisms and they can also receive support from me through the website as well when they’re signed up for that course. And of course, you can find me on Instagram and tick tock

Lindsey Lusson  40:43

I mean, hopefully everyone’s already following you on Instagram but if they want to drop your Instagram handle to and I can add in the wake up and smell the rosay, which is so catchy, I mean, how can I like remember that and follow that and love that. So you guys make sure you’re following Natalie I will also leave her website and of course in the show notes if you guys are interested in checking those out. And thank you so much for your time today and all of your wisdom I truly appreciated having you on today.

Natalie Rose  41:11

Thank you so much for having me. It’s so amazing to connect with you.

Lindsey Lusson  41:16

Thank you so much for tuning in and listening if you found this episode to be inspiring or helpful, please share on social media and tag me out @food.freedom.fertility. Also don’t forget to leave a rating and a review

Connect with Natalie:
Instagram: 
 @wakeupandsmelltherosay
Website: www.wakeupandsmelltherosay.com 


Connect with Lindsey:
Instagram: 
@food.freedom.fertility
Website: www.foodfreedomandfertility.com/
Twitter: @lindseylusson
Tiktok: @foodfreedomfertility

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MEET THE HOST
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I’m a fertility nutritionist and registered dietitian who specializes in hypothalamic amenorrhea. My passion is helping women trying to conceive find freedom with food and exercise, so they can recover their period, and get pregnant naturally.

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EPISODE 1: MY RECOVERY STORY

Jan 19, 2022

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