What is "Eating Psychology?"

I am a Certified Mind-Body Nutrition Consultant and Eating Psychology Coach, but you may wonder, “What is Eating Psychology?”

The psychology of eating is a new, cutting edge approach to food and body that unites the science of nutrition with psychology and soul. It believes there is a powerful connection between our inner world and our nutritional health. It is at the forefront of a powerful, new healing movement that’s changing the way we understand, weight, food, body image, holistic nutrition and health. It incorporates the best techniques in the fields of psychology and personal growth, which include cognitive approaches, body centered practices, spiritual psychology, archetypal psychologies, positive psychology and counseling models, while at the same time being firmly grounded in clinical and scientific nutrition, complimentary and alternative medicine and mind-body sciences.

I have been educated and trained in two distinct and important approaches to nutrition, life, health and weight loss - The first is Dynamic Eating Psychology and the second is Mind-Body Nutrition.

Dynamic Eating Psychology is work that honors all of who we are as “eaters” - body, mind, heart and soul. Eating challenges are connected to all of what makes us human; relationships, family, work, money, sexuality, spirituality, purpose and our quest for happiness. Each of us is biologically unique, and our physiology is profoundly impacted by our mind and emotions. Dynamic Eating Psychology affirms the importance of your unique history and current story with food and body, and how your relationship with food is driven by your beliefs, mindset, emotions and past experiences. It also addresses the unique relationship that women have with food and body. Your unique relationship with food and body is unlike anyone else’s, and it deserves to be honored, respected and nurtured.

Previously, eating psychology was limited to people with severe clinical eating disorders, like anorexia, bulimia and extreme obesity. Dynamic Eating Psychology is for everyone, because we all eat food. We are taught that good nutrition is all about getting the right vitamins and minerals, macronutrients and that some foods are bad for you, while others are “the good foods”. This is all very true, however, it is woefully inadequate as compared to the fullness of our nutritional reality. We are much more complex, interesting and deeper than “eat this, don’t eat that,” or how much to eat and exercise. Eating challenges are a doorway into the exploration of personal dimensions that impact our relationship with food, weight and health. Our challenges with food, body image, weight and health are not so much about faulty chemistry, as they are linked to what concerns us on a deeper level. The focus should be less on weight and food, and more on your life’s journey, because the clues to solve your health and weight control issues are encoded in the details of your journey. Each of us has a story that was uniquely designed for our individual growth, as the best way to learn, mature and transform into the person we have each become. This is the most important thing about you! Not the number on the scale, clothing tag or measuring tape, your age, how many miles you run or walk, or the number of calories you eat.

Your life is about relationships, spirituality and giving your unique gifts to the world. Envision the life you want and you will most likely see your physical form shape shift into the body you want. I am committed to helping you reach your highest goal - to be all that you are meant to be as a creatively expressed human being, learn and give your gifts, reach your fullest potential, open your mind and heart, to become more authentic and happy with yourself, with food, with work, with your life, and healthier in body, mind, soul and in your relationships. When you can be your most beautiful, fully creative, expressed self - then the body has the best chance to be what it’s supposed to be.

Without a deep understanding about the mind of the eater, the effectiveness of other methods of weight loss are limited. They are all about ‘attack’ weight, fight appetite, punish the body with forced exercise, assault the mind with negative self talk, deny pleasure, restrict food, shaming you, hate body fat, and postpone happiness until you have the body you want. There is a hidden psychology of chronic dieting. Culture has an influence on nutritional metabolism. They make you feel the need to keep fighting your body. This approach causes a physiologic stress response, which increases cortisol and insulin. That signals the body to gain weight - not lose it, and store fat. It decreases muscle growth, so your hours at the gym are in vein. It causes digestive shut down, which creates digestive upset, and appetite deregulation, which drives you to eat more. Additionally, it causes the body to excrete nutrients - creating deficiencies, kills healthy gut bacteria, increases unhealthy cholesterol levels, makes you more susceptible to food allergies, causes mood imbalances and weight gain due to stress hormones and stress chemistry in the body, and causes lower thyroid and growth hormone levels. The truth is that true and lasting change cannot happen with the approach I just described. Body hate and weight prejudice are old and outdated ways of doing business in the dieting, fitness, nutrition, life and health coaching world. The journey always informs the destination. You can’t “hate” your body into a body that you will someday love. If the destination you want is love, then the course to get their must be love. Being positive, uplifting, life affirming and accepting deliver real transformation.

Your issues around food, body and health are not a problem, but a Divine message, a teacher and a friend. It is a powerful opportunity to grow and transform through a deeper understanding of what you're eating and health challenges are trying to teach you. Embrace your eating and health challenges as if they are pointing you in the right direction, and leading you to the destination you desire. Dynamic Eating Psychology is a positive, empowering and effective approach that provides the tools and strategies which can help to catalyze lasting change. Get curious, accept yourself, relax and watch the break throughs happen with greater ease than you ever thought possible, to transform your eating, body image and health challenges. It is results driven and sustainable. Within the context of love and acceptance, skill and insight, I can help you understand why what you did in the past wasn’t sustainable and figure out the best diet, exercise and health practices for you.

Mind-Body Nutrition focuses on how the mind has a profound influence on the body when it comes to how you metabolize a meal. The nutritional value of a meal was once attributed exclusively to the nutrients it contains. The label and nutrient profile told you everything you needed to know, right. However, nutrition is so much more interesting than that. Just because a food contains nutrients, doesn’t mean we will absorb those nutrients. Nutrition is only half the story when it comes to nutrition. The other half of the adventure with food involves the “mind of the eater”. There is a psychology to digestion, assimilation, calorie burning and all the nutritive functions of the body, which are impacted by stress, relaxation, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, pleasure, eating rhythm, eating speed, awareness, your personal story and so much more. Consider the person who’s ingesting the food, how their psychology is being impacted by mind and emotions, and ask the question, “Is this person in the optimum state of digestion, assimilation and calorie burning while they are eating?” You can eat the healthiest, best quality food in the world, but if you are not consuming that food under the optimum physiologic state, then your body won’t get the nutrients you paid for. There is a hidden connection between food, weight and sexuality. There is a direct and powerful connection between psychology, spirituality and nutritional health. This is the missing information that sets you free to enjoy food.

The education and training I received at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating is what differentiates me from 99% of nutritionists, life coaches, fitness trainers, health consultants and weight loss counselors. This is what makes me feel good about what I do and sets me apart. The science is simple and straight forward and I’d love to share it with you.

Someone may be going from one diet or nutritional system to another, looking for the perfect diet. Paleo, vegan. They think it’s the diet that will produce the energy and balance in their life, without a more intelligent conversation about their strategy and approach. There is no one perfect diet, but an entire spectrum of nutrition. We need an approach that honors all of who we are as unique individuals who eat food; body, mind, heart and soul.

Nutrition books all contradict each other. I am comfortable with the abundance of misinformation and contradiction, because I feel more empowered in my own relationship with my body and with food, to be able to eat something and hear my body wisdom say, “That didn’t work for me.” Your body is boss and it gets the final word. How does your diet and lifestyle choices work for you?

Most of us have gotten so far away from body wisdom and indoctrinated into the idea that there is an expert outside of us who knows so much better, that we can’t even figure out for ourselves, “Is this working or not?” I want you to be empowered in your relationship with food, and to make the best choices at every meal. To stop when you are full. Food should not be a crutch for anything else you don’t have in your life. How are you approaching food? Your toxic beliefs about food drive your behavior, making you disempowered and ineffective in your life and in the world.

I know you want to stop obsessing about food, eating for comfort, binge eating at night, losing weight and gaining it back, hating your reflection in the mirror, exercising your brains out and getting nowhere, having chronic health issues, and living in a state of perpetual overwhelm. Learning how to nourish yourself truly ignites your soul and is in alignment with your metabolic potential, but also your personal potential. Personal power = metabolic power.

Even though my certification is in eating issues, people come to me with other things. They don’t have real relationships, or pleasure in their life. This is a bigger and fun conversation. People want the right diet, and it’s coming from a place of control that is actually disempowering. They expect a lot from food. They want to eat the diet that will make them their very best self. It’s a toxic nutritional belief, “If I just find the right diet, then I will be happy, healthy, empowered, rich, successful, people will love me and have a perfect body and the best life.” My job is to help people lose that notion and explore this part of their personal development.

Check out the nutritional options for yourself and figure out what works for you. And keep in mind too, that what works know will likely not work in ten years, because the body has 10 year cycles. Someone who lives in Hawaii eats one way and then they move to Michigan and eat another way. Then they move to Arizona and eat a totally different variety of foods. They freak out that their body is changing, when what is really needed is more flexibility around food and life. How we are with food is how we are with the rest of life. Food can be a great way to see, how we do one thing tends to be how we do everything. I find the place where there is the most willingness to work and start there. Once we make a few changes, that starts other things to unfold. People usually have one thing they want to change, and that one thing ends up catalyzing other changes in their life. This opens up the possibility to use challenges as a vehicle for transformation in other areas of our life, as opposed to a road block or something getting in the way.

First, I look for the easiest places to make the biggest impact or change. I look at hydration and nutrition, but from a slightly different perspective. I don’t push people into a diet that I think you should do. It’s more about eating the highest quality of foods that are biologically compatible with your body and macronutrient balance. People eat poor quality foods that food do not nourish them and that they don’t enjoy. Pleasure enhances metabolism. If you are not enjoying the food you are eating or not present to the food, you will decrease the absorption and calorie burning efficiency of that meal. We enjoy food that is of a higher quality.

I do a dietary intake that is from a different perspective. How you eat can change how your body receives what you eat. Meal timing (biocircadian rhythm nutrition - when you eat is just as important as what you eat) can also affect metabolism. Are you trying to control weight by skipping breakfast and eating a small lunch, saving your biggest meal for the evening? Are you eating the majority of your calories in the last 1/3 to 1/4 of your day, which is their most inefficient calorie burning hours? We digest, assimilate and metabolize differently at different times of the day. Noon being peak metabolic performance time. Most Europeans eat their biggest meal at lunch, because they know this. They are taking advantage of the metabolic reality of how the body actually works.

Mini cycles of fasting have come back into the conversation these days. Fasting works as a concept, when it works. And it doesn’t work when it doesn’t. It doesn’t work with people who have a complex relationship with food, trying to control their appetite, thinking that food is the enemy. Their toxic belief is “Food will make them fat, …” They are using fasting to hide from food. They need to have a healthy relationship with food and not fear it. They are binge eating at night and having other symptoms around food.

When fasting is done to detox and have mental clarity, it can be very powerfully rejuvenating. Giving the body a break to heal and reset itself is a positive action that you do for yourself once a year. Detoxing should also be done with your mind; avoid checking emails and watching the news, so you can clean out your mind, get reconnected and close with yourself. Personal power = metabolic power. As you become more of who you are meant to be, the body has more of a chance to become what it’s meant to be. When we grow and develop in character, we become stronger in who we are meant to be and give our gift to the world. I work in both the physical and mental worlds at the same time, because the two synergies like each one by itself could never do. People can go on a 400-500 calorie a day cleansing diet and gain weight.

People hate their body and themselves, are freaked out about food, have a disregulated appetite, are disconnected from life and their purpose, not addressing the symptoms, so the body is not trusting them and holding onto every bite of food. Avoiding late night eating is so key to being hungry in the morning. They will not be hungry at breakfast if they eat before bed. Skipping breakfast for that reason isn’t intermittent fasting, because it’s triggered by late night eating.

I dig deep with my clients to uncover their unconscious motivations. Details matter. A client may skip breakfast and have a 700 calorie Starbucks coffee with 60 g of sugar.

You are ready to try new, deep and powerful strategies that are not only successful for weight loss, but also for forever healing and transforming your relationship with food and body. Body image challenges and unwanted food habits, digestive problems, chronic fatigue, low immunity, low mood and depression, and food allergies can all become distant memories. I understand how your mind can impact your ability to burn calories. Your life story is key to transforming your metabolism. The sooner you end your unnecessary struggles around food, body and weight, the sooner you can live the life you were meant to live and have energy left over to give your gift and help make this world a much better place. Don’t you think the time is now?

I am here for you. I can teach you to have a balanced, healthy relationship with life, food and body. We can go at what ever speed you feel comfortable. You may contact Johnna Wheeler at 301-293-1500