Emotional Eating

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating can be visible in plain sight. It can be as transparent as I am sad or mad or happy and I want to eat something to make this emotion and situation more bearable. That is what most people think of when they think of emotional eating – the pint of Ben and Jerry’s that is needed after a break up that every romantic comedy features. But emotional eating isn’t always so obvious. We can be emotional eating and not even realize. 

Emotional eating can be a way to avoid feelings that haven’t even come up yet. You may think I am not feeling anything – how can this be emotional eating? The truth is emotional eating can come from a place of preventing the emotions from coming up in the first place. You may not feel them because the act of eating, not eating or thinking about food is preventing you from feeling anything.  You might feel completely “normal” and still be emotionally eating.

When we emotional eat we literally push those feelings deep within us. It is act of pushing things down through food. The food is literally filling us up and pushing those emotions inside of us away from our heart and away from our mind so that we don’t have to think about them. If we eat – we don’t need to feel how lonely we are, we don’t need to feel how worthless we are, we don’t need to feel how overwhelmed we are, how unimportant and incapable we feel, how stressful work is – all we need to feel is the food inside of us; the fullness and maybe the guilt of having eaten something we didn’t want to.

It is a way of replacing the emotions that we feel from situations we can’t control and maybe can’t explain with emotions and sensations of something we can – food. If we binge on a food that we don’t want and feel bad about ourselves because of it we then have created a reason for why we feel bad. We have created a circumstance that made us feel bad, something that our brains can wrap their head around for why we don’t feel like a worthwhile person and something that we can maybe try and control.

Emotional eating could look something like this


You come home from dinner with a friend and you are feeling like a failure, like no one likes you, like you are an inadequate employee who can’t do anything right. You get home overwhelmed knowing that you can’t change these feelings – or you come home just overwhelmed not exactly knowing why you are feeling overwhelmed or worthless

You go to the fridge – anything to soothe the anxiety, the overwhelm, the feeling that you are not good enough – you pull out something to eat; anything to eat even though you have just eaten with a work colleague before you got home – you know you aren’t hungry but you just need to feel better and this promises to help.

You eat it all – whatever it was, whatever was there – and for a moment while you are eating it and tasting it – you are not thinking about how you feel about yourself – for a moment it is helping. But when it is done all of those things come flooding back but this time those same feelings are because of what you ate

Suddenly you are not an unworthy person because of things beyond your control but you are unworthy because of what just happened with food – you are inadequate because you ate more than you needed to, because you ate when you didn’t want to, because you lost control

Whether any of those things are true or not is irrelevant – what is relevant is that now you are feeling bad because of the food and the food is something that you can comprehend and deal with and change – before you were feeling bad about something else- something intangible – some space inside of you that made you believe that those negative feelings about yourself were true, even if they aren’t. That is impossible to wrap your head around, impossible to deal with.


When overwhelm comes from a place that we can’t connect with, can’t understand and can’t change it is easier to project those feelings onto something else.  Food is one way to cope with those feelings. It is a way to distract us from what is really going on beneath the surface. It is one way to make sense of the unexplainable emotions inside of us or the overwhelm of our daily life. It does not solve the problem. It just gives us something else to focus on.

Are you emotional eating?

Each time you eat ask yourself – what is the purpose of me eating this right now? Is it because I want it, is it because I feel like I need it, is it to nourish my body or is it because I am trying to hide from something – is it because I am feeling uncomfortable in my skin and in who I am and I can’t deal with that?

No matter what the answer is, it is okay– you can still eat the thing, but asking can help us to notice what is going on underneath the service. It can help us to see our patterns with food – the ways in which we might be engaging with it beyond actually nourishing our bodies.

If you are not feeling good in your relationship with food, there is probably more going on than you think. It is not the food. The food is only one part of the big picture. The way we think about food, the way we engage with food, the way we feel about ourselves, what is going on in our lives – it can all influence our relationship with food. It takes looking at all of it to finally break the cycle that we are in. It takes looking at it all to finally release the hold that food has on our lives and our overall wellbeing.

It is possible. I promise.  I am here to help. Book your free 15 minute consultation to learn about how you can feel comfortable with food again and reclaim your life.  

F*** Diet Culture

 If you are here you are probably feeling overwhelmed and confused with food in some capacity. First off I want you to know that, that is completely okay. There is SO much information out there about how we are SUPPOSED to be eating that it can be exhausting and confusing to navigate. Each person claims that this is the way we SHOULD be eating to benefit our health and wellbeing and body the most. But is that true?

Before we even begin I want to let everyone in on a little secret. There is no one right way to eat. That doesn’t exist. However this is the exact opposite message that is being portrayed in our society today. Instead there is this idea of “diet culture” that is pervasive and glorified. Diet culture perpetuates this idea that if we eat exactly what someone tells us we are going to be doing it right – meaning that we are going to feel good, look amazing and be loved and cherished by the people around us. 

The truth is that we are all different and something that works for one person, such as a particular diet, is not going to work for everyone. The same way we are all unique in our personalities we are all unique in our bodies and our physiological functioning and our overall ability to be nourished. Some of us feel better eating one way and some of us feel better eating another. One is not better than the other. Food is NOURISHMENT for us. This fundamental truth is lost in our “diet culture”.

Diet culture is essentially a system of beliefs that has been created in society that define our worth based on our appearance and the food that we eat.

Christy Harrison, a nutritionist and public figure, defines this phenomenon as a system of beliefs that is based on four key concepts.

  • The worship of thinness and equating it to health and moral virtue (basically it correlates how thin you are to how good of a person you are – ???!?!?)
  • Promotion of weight loss as a means of attaining a higher status (the idea that if you look a certain way it gives you more value in society – ?!?!??)
  • Demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others (if you eat this way you are a good person and if you eat this way you aren’t as good – – this makes no sense and completely negates the nutritional value of food)
  • Oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of “health” (if you don’t follow the previous three criteria you are seen as less than others – ?!??!?)

The problem is that diet culture is based on a series of beliefs that aren’t true. This way of eating does not give your body what it needs. In fact it is based on this idea of trying to control all of the things that are going into your body. It is about reducing each of the foods that we eat into a number that is going to influence our weight. It takes away all of the essential nutrients and vitamins and minerals found in these foods. It forgets to mention the ways in which these foods nourish our bodies and supports the functioning of our internal systems. It makes the act of fuelling our bodies, not about fuelling our bodies. This can leave us feeling exhausted, frustrated and confused.

This is because diets are based on what we think we should be doing instead of listening to what our bodies need and doing that. Diet culture is not about what we need – it is about what we THINK we need to conform to this system of beliefs.

Basically what this way of thinking and eating tells us is that – if we aren’t thin we are wrong, if we aren’t losing weight or trying to we are wrong, if we are eating this instead of that we are wrong and it we don’t look a certain way we are wrong.

This is NOT TRUE. Our mental and physical health ARE NOT quantified by our weight or by trying to make our bodies and food choices fit into a certain mould. Who we are as people and our self worth is not defined by the way that we look or the food that we put in our body. It is a lie to try and make us believe this, but that is EXACTLY what diet culture makes us believe.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There is a way to change our perspective of what food is. There is a way to see it for the nutrition – the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and internal systems fuelling thing that it really is. It is possible to see food for the nourishment that it is. It is possible to eat without depriving yourself or feeling guilty or without following 100000 different rules.

Life is exhausting enough as it is. Food does not need to be taking this much of your energy. Food does not need to be that hard.

Click here to learn more about how we can support you to find freedom and nourishment in your relationship with food.

The Mood Around Food

“If we are panicked or overwhelmed by food – it doesn’t matter what we are choosing to put in our body it will not nourish us”

I am eating all the right things.

I am only eating “healthy”.

Why am I still having all of these digestive concerns even when I eat only good things.

These are common things that I hear: from patients, from people around me, sometimes even in my own mind. There is this idea that if you are doing it “right” – eating only the “right” foods, eating only the “right” amount of foods – then you are supposed to feel good. If only it were that simple.

The truth is there is much more that goes into the way that we nourish our bodies than the food that we eat. There is so much more that goes into feeling good then just your food choices. Yes the quality and nutrients of the foods that we choose to put into our bodies is one part of this, but it is not the only thing. The foundation of allowing food to nourish you includes understanding how food impacts your mental health. This means looking at how you feel mentally and emotionally around food. When you are having a hard mental relationship with food you can feel mentally and physically bad even eating the most nutritious foods.    

Stress around food and what you are eating doesn’t allow you to seek the nourishment that food offers. Instead that stress can trigger an overwhelmed or panicked state changing the way that our digestive system is working. This state is also called a sympathetic nervous system response or a fight or flight state.

There is a profound physiological link between our nervous system and our digestive systems. Both of these systems produce the neurotransmitter serotonin that helps to regulate our digestive function and our mood. When we are not eating foods that are nourishing our bodies, we can experience changes in our mental health. In this same fashion when we are experiencing extreme stress or emotions in our nervous system this does not allow us to physically digest and use the nourishment of food. In essence our emotional or mental state can influence our physical ability to use food, or engage with food including whether we feel hungry or full.

It is the parasympathetic nervous system response or relaxed state that allows for our brain to reset and for the digestive system to function optimally. If we are constantly being panicked or overwhelmed by food it doesn’t matter what we are putting in our body it will not nourish us. Our nervous system will actually prevent our digestive system from using the food properly.

Having an emotionally or mentally stressed relationship with food also doesn’t give our brain any time to rest and reset. No matter how well you are doing anything else – if you cannot relax around food it will only tax your nervous system instead of nourish it. This can result in changes in your ability to digest food properly and can cause or exacerbate digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, irregular bowel movements, nausea and much more.

The way to nourish the body and mind most profoundly is by being okay with the foods that you are eating. It means not fighting against the act of eating or the food that you are putting in your body. It means being nice to yourself. It means not using food as a way to be hard on yourself. It means not trying to use food as a way to control what is going on around you. It means not using food as a way of judging yourself or as a way of isolating yourself. It means understanding that food doesn’t have to be perfect, that you don’t have to be perfect. You are okay just the way that you are, just like the food you are eating – no matter what it is – is okay just the way it is.

Letting go of all the rules and restrictions we have around food can set the stage for us to start to feel good. Feeling good means feeling safe in your body. It means being present and seeing things for what they are. Seeing that food is just food – nourishment for our body – and not the be all and end all for you happiness, success or comfort in your own body. When we can separate food from our own happiness and self-worth, that is when we can truly start to let food – no matter what that food is – nourish us. At the same time it also gives us the space to start to find the nourishment that we truly need beyond food. This could be in rest or sleep or passions or work or relationships: any of the things that focusing on food prevents you from engaging with.  

During this time of self-isolation there is a lot of time that can be spent thinking about and engaging with food. This can be very triggering for anyone with a complicated food relationship. At the same time it also gives us the time and space to reflect on it. It gives space to sit with the discomfort you might feel around food and reflect on the ways that your relationship with food is actually NOT nourishing you and the ways that this same relationship might be preventing other parts of your life from nourishing you.

It doesn’t have to be this way. YOU can change this. YOU can let this world nourish you.

Today – choose one meal and before eating it sit down and tell yourself all of the reasons why the food on this plate is nourishing your body. Is it because it is right from the Earth? Is it because of the vitamin and mineral content? Is it because you are low energy and need a pick me up? For this exercise the type of food that you are eating – it doesn’t matter- what matters is letting go of judgement towards the food and yourself. What matters is the positive way this food is impacting you.

Every single food has something to offer you. Yes there are foods with higher nutrient content than others, but each food still has something to offer. Once you see what each of the foods you are eating has to offer, keep this in your mind as you take each bite. The focus is not on judging yourself for what you are eating but on reminding yourself that each bite of each food you chose today, at this one meal, is nourishing you.

It is time to stop letting food dictate your worth, your time, your energy. It is time to nourish yourself inside and out.

Please reach out if you need any support at this time. I am always here offering virtual appointments.

With love


Self-Isolation and Your Food Relationship

It has been a long week; a very different week for most of us. Schedules have changed. Leaving the house isn’t an option. The things that normally keep us sane we may not be able to do. For some of us this could be a chance to get some much needed sleep, get caught up on a television series, catch up on video chat with some friends, do some spring cleaning or whatever it is that we haven’t done around the house because we were too busy, but for others being at home can bring on its own set of anxieties especially around food.

Suddenly the day doesn’t revolve around going to work, working and coming home. Working from home, the hours can start to blend together, the anxiety can start to creep in, and with the inability to leave the house one of the easiest ways to cope with the impeding uncertainty, anxiety and boredom is with food.  It is the perfect distraction – something you have to do anyways at some point in the day– an excuse to not think about what is going on.  It is an easy thing to do to reach for a snack when we are feeling overwhelmed or bored or when we just don’t know what to do with ourselves.

Eating and emotions are VERY closely tied in our society. The first thing to remember is THAT IS OKAY. It is okay that we have created a society where our emotions and food and hunger are all intertwined. This was not something that we consciously chose to participate in, but that we were drawn into as a collective whole. It is an underlying construct in our society the same way that the expectations of what women and what men do is. It takes awareness of these unconscious processes for us to be able to change them and it takes a village, a collective shift among what the role of food in our society is.

We are starting to see this shift in the world of gender over the last couple of years. Women are drawing attention to the unconscious biases and expectations that surround their role in society – they are bringing forward the expectations that we didn’t even know we as a society had – the ones that are so unconscious that they just seem like facts. Drawing awareness to these unconscious expectations is the first step in creating change. How can we change something that we aren’t even aware exists?

This concept is the same thing that needs to happen with our collective relationship with food. The first thing is understanding how you view food and how you interact with it as an individual and why you feel this way. Does it feel like this is how it is supposed to be based on our social interactions and collective understanding of what food is?

Instead of feeling the anxiety of what is going on in the world, or your life or your mind – food and eating or not eating can bring up its own set of anxieties, often unrelated to what is happening in the external world. Food and our relationship with it can serve as a reflection of what is happening inside of us. With us being able to engage in very little outside of our homes right now, this relationship with food and our internal world can feel very amplified. That doesn’t mean that anything has changed, or that things are getting worse – what it means is that you are paying more attention to it. The distractions outside of this have fallen away and the bare bones of your food reality is staring you right in the face every moment of every day. That begs the question.

What do we do now?

What we do is we start to pay attention. We start to pay attention to how we interact with food. We don’t need to change anything, we don’t need to judge ourselves, we don’t need to beat ourselves up – we just need to pay attention. Pay attention so that we can try and understand why we interact with food the way that we do. That is all we need to do for now. Once that awareness is there, that is when we can start to shift. That is when we can start to see food for what it really is – nourishment – and start to see what is really happening inside of us.

This is not easy – it is scary, because whether we mean to or not we have created a space where our interactions with food, our obsession with it, it is a comfort from what else is happening.  Deep breathes. This can be scary. This can be anxiety inducing. You are not alone. Support is always here. Be gentle with yourself. We need food to survive – but why do you need food right? Beyond physical survival – what else do you need it for? That is the place to start – with the gentle questions – no judgement, no repercussions – just curiosity – why do you need food?



Food Stress?!?!

Is it an eating disorder or just normal food stress? That is the question. Many people have a preoccupation with food, but would never consider it an eating disorder. Maybe because it doesn’t fit the diagnostic criteria of an eating disorder. Maybe because it doesn’t seem severe enough. Maybe because this preoccupation or focus on food is just “normal” food stress.

The truth is there is no normal food stress.

Food is not supposed to be complicated or hard or stressful. It is not supposed to be something that fills our days and our thoughts. It is not supposed to make us feel emotionally bad EVER.

Yes there are foods that impact our bodies in certain ways that can give rise to physical symptoms, BUT those are very different from the emotional guilt and stress that surrounds eating certain foods for many people.

Food is our sustenance, nourishment and social connection. It is to be eaten and enjoyed so that we have energy to live; energy to make it through the day; energy to survive.

Along the way, as we have evolved as humans, this fundamental value of what food is has gotten lost. Instead it has been replaced by diet culture. The obsession with thinness and fitness and health and the “right” diet has led to food becoming something that we should scrutinize, avoid, manipulate. It has become something that we use to avoid emotional pain. Over eating, under eating, obsessive healthy eating, eating junk food, thinking about food all of the time; these are all ways that food has become a tool in our lives instead of sustenance.  

Food is no longer seen as the fundamental nourishment that it is.

Instead it has become acceptable to use food as a coping mechanism, a distraction, a place to direct our stress and overwhelm. That can manifest in different obsessions and actions depending on the person.

While it may not be an overt eating disorder – many of us are using food as a tool to help us cope with our lives and what is happening in this. This is creating an entire society with an extremely complicated relationship with food. 

It does not have to be this way.

Part of understanding this complex and emotional relationship we have with food is for each of us to understand what is going on with ourselves. What underneath our day-to-day actions makes us need to use food in the ways that we are. What is safe about thinking about food versus thinking about other things? What does engaging with food offer us amidst the complexity of the world and of our emotions? This is something that all of use can take time to reflect on.

Underneath the preoccupation with food there might be something that we need help and support navigating. You don’t have to have an overt eating disorder to have thoughts, obsessions, guilt, dysfunctions, stress, or just an overall complicated relationship with food. It is the norm these days. But it doesn’t have to be.

Food is not meant to be hard. Remember that when you find food taking over your thoughts. Food is supposed to give you energy instead of taking it away. If you are finding that thinking about or engaging with food is taking more energy than it should – there is always support to help navigate it. Never hesitate to reach out – eating disorder or not. I am here to help you look beyond the food and figure out how to best support and nourish your body both emotionally and physically.

How to get by

In life there are some horribly painful things. There are events, relationships, and emotions that are too difficult for us to deal with in that moment.  So we find ways to cope with them. It could be watching a movie, writing in a journal, going for a walk, or having a bubble bath. These are each small things that distract us momentarily from the pain. They give us some relief, renewed strength and often help us to move forward, past the pain and hurt. In a sense these coping strategies protect us from harm and keep us from getting overwhelmed. They can be very effective in helping us stay sane.

But what happens when life itself is what causes the pain. When it isn’t one event or moment or relationship, but the unpredictability and discomfort of life itself that makes us hurt. What happens when our small coping strategies are not enough, when life becomes too hard and overwhelming that they are no longer enough of a distraction. What happens is we find new ways of coping. Maybe it is alcohol, maybe exercise, maybe drugs, maybe work, maybe food or maybe sex. These are coping strategies that can consume more of our time and energy so that we don’t have to be fully in life. Whether you have an eating disorder, an exercise disorder, a drug addiction, a sex addiction or you are a work-a-holic, it doesn’t matter. Underneath each disorder we are all the same. We are all the same. We each use our own disorder to help keep us safe on our whirlwind adventure through life. These coping strategies protect us when life gets to be too much.

At the same time that they are protective, each disorder is equally destructive. They each take us away from the present moment and our strong emotions so that we can feel “better”. But in reality they don’t make us feel “better” they make us feel nothing. If we constantly focus on food or exercise or work or drugs then there is no time to be in life; no time to pay attention to our fears; no time to feel love or be loved.

The truth is that these coping strategies can not help us in the long run. Instead they destroy us. They wear us down from the inside out. Some more clearly than others. Drugs can destroy us instantly. Their effects are immediately visible. Exercise and work can be just as destructive. They wear you down slowly until you are exhausted. Each of these coping strategies break you down until the lines that define you as a person are blurred. Instead people become defined by their work or exercise or drug of choice. To the world you become your coping strategy. You become so lost in it and so consumed by it that it defines your life. It becomes impossible to imagine your life without it. Impossible to imagine your day without alcohol, without running, with food.

Society sees each disorder differently. Alcoholics, work-a-holics, people with eating disorders, runners and sex addicts are all judged based on the coping strategy they indulge in. Each one has there own stigma associated with it. But the thing that is so often overlooked is that underneath each disorder is the same human. A human that is scared, overwhelmed and trying to make it through each day on this Earth. It doesn’t matter what method we choose to help us cope, the purpose of each coping strategy is the same.

The idea is not to judge someone for their disorder, but to find compassion for them. Look at yourself. Look at your fears and how you find a way to manage them. Each disorder stems from the same origin of fear. Someone can be addicted to drugs the same way someone can be addicted to running, as an attempt to find “peace” and “safety”. It is not logical, but a desperate attempt to stay sane in a world that is so confusing. What’s ironic is that our attempts to stay sane actually make us go INSANE. Having compassion for yourself and others struggling with any type of disorder is the only way to take steps to get out away from the hold of a destructive coping mechanism. Replacing it with another “disorder” (such as replacing drugs with work) may be initially less harmful, but it does not solve the underlying reason for the disorder. Looking beneath the layers of the coping strategy is the only way to beat it. And that takes compassion; compassion and ALOT of hard work.

It is not impossible to transcend these feelings, actions and reactions. Naturopathic Medicine may be a way that can support you on your journey to healing. Whether it is or isn’t remember that you are not alone and you are NOT your coping strategy. You are YOU – a strong, caring, independent, perfect human being.

Restricting is not a September thing

Happy September!

September can often feel like a mini New Year, especially if you have had the pleasure of taking some extra holidays these past couple months. Taking a step back from the office and the regular routine of daily life is so important, but it can often make it hard to get back into your daily life. September is a time to reset, find a routine and reconnect with what ignites your passion. While September holds lots of promise it can also be a challenging time for many people as they try and get into a routine from summer.

Whether it is true or not summer tends to be seen as a time of indulgence. While this indulgence is fun when we are participating in it, looking back it can sometimes get a negative connotation.  Why is indulgence seen as a negative thing? Indulgence is just another term for living and having fun. Indulgence means living your life. It is not a bad thing.

No matter what you did this summer, the most important thing to remember is that IT IS OKAY. It is okay to take some time off, it is okay to indulge and it is okay to have fun. In fact it can be extremely beneficial for you mental and physical wellbeing to take some time to just relax. This is the great thing about September. This mini New Year gives you the chance to get back into a healthy and sustainable routine that can help your rejuvenated self feel great in their body. The goal is to develop a routine that will help support you mentally and physically for this upcoming year.

The goal is not to restrict yourself now that the freedom of summer is gone. So often we find ourselves in these routines of binge and restrict. We are so rigid all the time that when we get time to actually relax and not worry we end up overindulging and not feeling good about it. When that happens it is OKAY. For starters overindulging is not a negative thing. If overindulging makes you feel off negatively or physically remember that this is only one moment of one day. It is just one feeling and this feeling like all feelings will pass. The important thing is to not restrict yourself to compensate for this feeling. This is how we create a dysfunctional relationship with our bodies and food. The goal moving forward is not to compensate for the overindulgence (because overindulgence is okay!!!!) but to create a sustainable way of eating, moving and fuelling our bodies so that on a regular basis we just feel good.

After years of being told that restricting is the only way to compensate for overindulgence it can be hard to connect with this idea of nourishment as a way to make us feel good.  I am here to support you as you reconnect with yourself and learn how to NOURISH yourself leaving you feeling healthy, rested and happy this September. September is not about restricting after feeling as though the summer was a “binge”. Life is about nourishing yourself with food and joy whatever that looks like. Each day it will look different, but each day is its own day. What happens on Monday should not impact how you nourish yourself on Tuesday or any other day. Just like how you nourished yourself over the summer should not influence how you nourish yourself in September. Naturopathic Medicine is one of the ways to find personal support on your journey to reconnect with your mind and body this new season. Click here to book your free 15 minute consultation.

In the meantime be gentle with yourself. Whatever happened this summer, I hope you had the time of your life, no matter what it looked like. Always remember that health is about happiness and nourishment not restricting and overindulging. Food should not be as taxing as we make it out to be.

When Stress Hits the Gut

Stress is a part of our daily lives – it is not something that we can avoid as it has become an ingrained part of our society in North America. However just because stress is part of our daily lives now that doesn’t mean that it is normal for our bodies to be in a chronic state of stress. In fact being under stress so extensively can have detrimental impacts on our bodies physically resulting in various symptoms.

One of the main internal systems that stress impacts is our digestive system. Our digestive system is meant to work when we are relaxed. In a relaxed state our nerves tell our stomach that it is time to produce stomach acid, and our pancreas it is time to release digestive enzymes. When we don’t enter this relaxed state our brains don’t send these proper signals. This means that it is more challenging for our bodies to digest food properly and we can end up with various digestive symptoms or conditions. Thankfully there are some herbs out there that can support this link between our brains and our gut helping to soothe these symptoms as well as support our brains and digestive system to work together even when stress threatens to derail us. While the most important tool to regulate these symptoms is to take the time to eat when we are in a relaxed state these herbs will help to support us when that isn’t possible.

Zingiber officinalis (Ginger): This is anti- inflammatory and anti-spasmodic making it very helpful for pain. It is carminative and a gastrointestinal stimulant helping to support digestion. It is a warming herb that can help to stimulate circulation in the body. It is also very helpful when chewed or drank as a tea for nausea and can help in motion sickness or morning sickness.

Mentha Piperita (Peppermint): THis is a carminitive helping to support the digestive system making it easier for us to digest. It is also a nervine and anti-spasmodic helping to relax the body and mind. It is cooling to decrease inflammation in the GI.

Agrimona eupatoria (Agrimony): This is indicated for tension of any kind in the body. It helps to remove constriction and relax the body. It is a nervine, astringent and bitter. This relaxing function makes it good for any kind of pain. the bitter quality makes it a good support for the digestive system. It also helps us have the ability to take a deep breath. It is ideal for someone who hides their tension behind a false smile, denying pain or who holds their breathe to hide the pain.

Verbena Hasta (Blue Vervain): This is a bitter, cooling plant that helps support both the central nervous system as well as the digestive system. Digestively its bitter nature helps to stimulate the flow of the digestive juices making it easier for the body to handle food. This bitter quality also helps to ground us back into our bodies by putting us in a parasympathetic state. In addition blue vervain helps to calm the mind causing both the body and mind to slow down and hopefully relax. This can decrease stress, tension and anxiety.

Matricaria Recutita (Chamomile): Chamomile is a soothing nervine providing calm energy for strong emotions like anxiety and irritability, It is also anti-inflammatory, soothing both the mind and the body, It has an affinity for both the nervous system and the digestive system with its bitter qualities. It helps soothe stomachs that get upset from stress and emotional trauma. It also helps relax the smooth muscles helping with cramps of any kind – digestive, menstrual and muscular.

The Wonderful World of TEA

What if there was a simple, cost effective way to nourish your body and soul each and every day? Luckily there is: TEA.

Making a cup of tea has been something that has been used to soothe the mind, body and soul since the beginning of time. You might be familiar with classic black tea such as English Breakfast that is often used instead of coffee in the morning to promote energy. While this tea in itself is nourishing there are many, many different herbs and plants both caffeinated and not that can help support your emotional and physical health.

What many people don’t realize is the many ways that the herbs in tea support our physical bodies as we drink them. For example one of the most common teas used out there is peppermint tea. What people don’t often realize is the therapeutic benefit that peppermint has. It is a carminitive meaning that it supports the digestive system and makes it easier for us to break down food. In addition it is a nervine and an anti-spasmodic healing to relax both the mind and body. Finally it is an energetically cooling herb, which can help to decrease inflammation in the digestive system. Can you believe the ways that just having a cup of peppermint tea benefits your body? Each herb/plant that is used in tea has its own specific impact and benefit for the body. Whether it is black tea, or herbal tea, each time we drink a cup it is impacting our body far beyond just warming it up or calming us down. Learning about the physical impacts of different teas can help us to choose teas that best nourish our bodies.

Have you ever been have a bad day – whether you are exhausted physically, emotionally or sick and someone has made you a cup of tea? In this instance there is the therapeutic impact of the herbs in the tea, but there are other benefits that come with the act of having the tea. One of the most overlooked therapeutic aspects of tea is just sitting down and having a hot beverage. This small act helps to release tension that is stored in the nervous system. It decreases stress and actually makes us take a pause amidst the demands of our lives. This simple way of incorporating relaxation into one’s day can help long term to decrease inflammation and health changes that are associated with high stress. In addition the benefit of having someone make something for you in an act of love is nourishing for the soul. Human connection is something that each of us need in different capacities and enjoying a cup of tea together is one of the simplest ways to foster one form of human connection.

Growing up tea has been my own form of personal therapy. The tea calms me and brings me back to myself. It helps me to sit with whatever is going on physically and emotionally as well as transcend them. This is what makes me want to share it with each and every one of you. Phases Tea Blends is a passion project – a local Toronto based brand that uses nourishing herbs to create loose leaf teas that nourish our bodies and minds. Check us out at www.phasesteablends.com.

Beyond Food: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Because in my mind I am not okay

Eating disorders are one of the most complex and challenging illnesses to both treat and experience. They can be close to invisible, hidden by a “healthy” looking exterior of perceived calm and collection or they can be as evident as an emaciated human being.

Types of eating disorders:

Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia is an eating disorder that is characterized by a refusal to maintain a normal body weight (usually less than 85% of expected body weight), intense fear of gaining weight, as well as a disturbance in experience of one’s body shape or weight. This can be either restrictive, which involves not eating or binge-eating and purging, which involves large amount of food and then purging it out of the body in some way. This also has an increased influence on one’s body image and self-evaluation.

Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent binge eating over a specific period of time that feels as though there is a sense of lack of control. After this binge eating there is often a recurrent, inappropriate compensatory behaviour such as vomiting that gets rid of the food that has just been ingested. This also has an increased influence on one’s body image and self-evaluation.

Binge eating disorder: binge eating disorder is very similar to bulimia however without the purging or compensatory behaviour. It is characterized by episodes of eating large quantities of food in a short period of time with a sense of lack of control over this. It is often followed up an experience of shame, distress or guilt following the food eating episodes as well as the feeling of being uncomfortably full. This also has an increased influence on one’s body image and self-evaluation.

Orthorexia: A form of fixation with food that resolves around obsession for proper nutrition resulting in a restrictive diet, a focus on food preparation and ritualized patters of eating. This is often has an obsession with food quality or nutrition leading to much of their mental and physical energy going towards thinking about food so much so that it interferes with daily life.

February 1st marks the beginning of eating disorder awareness week.  While this is a week that specifically works to bring to attention to struggles of those with diagnosed eating disorders, it also asks each and every one of us to evaluate our own relationship with food and hunger. Food is something that is so tied with human emotion, and human experience that it can become a method that we use to cope without even realizing it. Whether it is emotionally eating, emotionally not eating, choosing junk food when we feel bad or refusing to touch unhealthy food when we feel bad, our ways of interacting with food are often based on how we feel emotionally instead of looking at what our body needs. In this sense each of us engage in disordered eating patterns at some point or another.

The truth about food is that it is our nourishment. It is what our body needs to survive each and every day. We MUST have food every day. This is what can make eating disorders so incredibly painful for the person who suffers from them. Unlike other addiction such as drug addiction or alcoholism, a person with an eating disorder cannot avoid the trigger of all of their mental and physical pain. They have to eat. No matter how much pain it causes them – they have to eat.

For most people if there is something that hurts them –they don’t’ do it. For example when you touch a hot element on a stove, it burns and causes pain in the area that touches the element. In order to avoid this pain you take caution when you are using the elements and try not to touch the element whenever possible. For someone with an eating disorder it is eating food that causes this similar sensation of mental, emotional and physical pain in their entire being. The thing is they can’t stop eating food. This makes it incredibly challenging to recover from an eating disorder. At the same time that you are trying to work through all of the things underlying the disorder such as anxiety, depression, OCD, past traumas etc. you are continuously being triggered.  Can you imagine trying to heal that burned hand if you are constantly being forced to place it back on the hot element? It takes incredibly hard work and time and strength to overcome this trigger and truly start to heal.

This is the type of resilience that characterizes people who are in recovery or who have recovered from an eating disorder.

This is what eating disorder awareness week is all about. It is about recognizing the complexity and the challenge that comes with trying to overcome an eating disorder. It is about recognizing that recovery does not stop when someone is at an appropriate weight – instead it is a constant struggle each and every day on the inside. It involves overcoming certain thought patterns and core beliefs that are so ingrained that they feel true. It involves going beyond food and learning about who you are beneath this disorder. It is about healing all of the parts of  the self that have been hurt, fragmented, broken. It is about looking at all of the parts of the self that are scared, anxious, depressed, traumatized, alone and working with them to create safety in this world. It is about finding a way that each and every person with an eating disorder can feel safe in the world so that they do not need to hold onto their eating disorder to feel okay.  It takes time. It takes strength. It takes patience. More than anything it takes support, no matter how long it has been, no matter how long it will take. There is no right way to recover from an eating disorder, no right treatment. It is about working with each individual, to support them the best way possible, no matter what that support looks like.

Naturopathic Medicine is one of the many tools that can support those who are trying to recover from an eating disorder. The many modalities that Naturopathic Medicine encompasses including mind-body counselling, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, and nutrition are all tools that can support someone with an eating disorder. No matter what direction your recovery is going, never be afraid to reach out for support with me, Dr. Alexandra.

Remember that you are not alone in this. Support for eating disorders is available through Naturopathic Medicine and may other tools. I am always sending so much love and support. Hang in there.