Making Truce with Food and Alcohol: Conversation with Ali Shapiro

Episode 152 February 14, 2024 01:03:05
Making Truce with Food and Alcohol: Conversation with Ali Shapiro
Alcohol Tipping Point
Making Truce with Food and Alcohol: Conversation with Ali Shapiro

Feb 14 2024 | 01:03:05

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Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

This conversation with Ali Shapiro was so powerful. We got into some deep stuff about memories tied to food, feeling alone, and how overdrinking and overeating are connected. 

Ali is the host of the top-ranked podcast Insatiable, a holistic nutritionist, integrated health coach, and rebel with a serious cause. 

Ali developed TRUCE while in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, where she drew from her 17+ years of working with real life clients and her own personal healing journey from emotional eating and having cancer as a teenager. 

Ali’s work and clients’ unique success has been featured in well + Good, mindbodygreen, Prevention, Women’s Health, and Forbes, as well as industry leading podcasts Being Boss, Tell Me Something True, and Food Heaven. 

Trigger warning: If you’ve battled an eating disorder, this conversation may stir emotions. But it’s also an invitation to explore your journey with kindness and compassion. 

We talk about: 

Find Ali: 

https://alishapiro.com/ (comfort eating style quiz on this site) 
https://alishapiro.com/podcast/ 
https://www.instagram.com/alimshapiro/ 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: Welcome to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. I'm your host, Deb Maisner. I'm a registered nurse, health coach, and alcohol free badass. I have found that there's more than one way to address drinking. If you've ever asked yourself if drinking is taking more than it's giving, or if you've found that you're drinking more than usual, you may have reached your own alcohol tipping point. The alcohol tipping point is a podcast for you to find tips, tools, and thoughts to change your drinking. Whether you're ready to quit forever or a week, this is the place for you. You are not stuck and you can change. [00:00:36] Speaker B: Let's get started. [00:00:41] Speaker A: On the show today is Ali Shapiro. Ali is the host of the top ranked podcast Insatiable. What a great name for a show. She is also a holistic nutritionist, integrated health coach, and considers herself a rebel with a serious cause. She developed Truth, a program that helps you reevaluate your relationship with food while she was in graduate school, and she has been featured in a lot of good stuff like prevention, women's health, Forbes. She's been on the podcast being boss Lauren McCown's podcast tell me something true and food heaven. This was a really powerful conversation for me. It brought up a lot of my past memories with food and feeling alone and just really tied together a lot of the connections between over drinking and overeating and allie, wow. I feel like I got a one on one coaching session with her. She was just so amazing to talk to. She really is kind and understanding and she gets it. She really gets it. And I usually don't share this much and you're going to hear it in the episode just about my past disordered eating. I even called my sister, called my. [00:02:06] Speaker B: Sister and my brother up after we. [00:02:08] Speaker A: Recorded too, just to kind of process. [00:02:09] Speaker B: Some of this and process some of. [00:02:11] Speaker A: Our food memories from when we were growing up and just our relationship with our mom and her issues with food. So it may bring up a lot. [00:02:23] Speaker B: Of stuff for you too. [00:02:24] Speaker A: So I guess this would be a good spot to say if you have an eating disorder, let this be your trigger warning, but also let this be an invitation for you to really explore your relationship with food and drinking and be kind and compassionate as you navigate this. And I just want to say thank you to Ali for being so. [00:02:52] Speaker B: Guiding. [00:02:53] Speaker A: And helpful to me. It really made a difference in my life. I've really thought about the things we talked about in this conversation and I think you will too. So enjoy this show. Thank you for listening all right. [00:03:08] Speaker B: So let's just dig in, Ali, for those who are new to you, and I know I was new to you and already when I looked you up and looked what you did, how you shared things, I was just like, I like this gal. I like your approach. So I want you to share a little bit about who you are and what you do for our listeners. [00:03:33] Speaker C: Oh, thanks, Deb. That's really sweet. Yeah, I think like a lot of girls growing up in the 80s, Gen x representing. I went to weight watchers when I was eleven. I had started gaining weight and I didn't know why. Now I know it was from some pesticide poisoning and inflammation, but no one had this kind of wording of inflammation or it was just calories in, calories out. And if you're gaining weight, it's your fault. So I went to weight watchers when I was eleven and I obviously wasn't successful on it. And then when I was at 13, I was diagnosed with cancer and I went through chemo and lost a lot of weight. And even though I was the sickest I had ever been in my life, our culture at the time defined health as thinness. And I think still does, right? And so when I got done with chemo and radiation, I was like, I have to be healthy, which means I have to be skinny. And when you're younger, I could run off how much I was eating well, I didn't have much else to do except my job at a bagel shop and get good grades. And that was it. And I got attention, right? I got a boyfriend. It was like, people were like, you look great. And it was like, oh, this is more than just health, right? And again, I had some ideas of health. My dad was a health and phys Ed teacher. My mom was into natural foods. She was taking us to health food stores that smelled like awful b vitamins before whole food. So I had some understanding that food could be helpful, but I really viewed it through just about calories, right? Like, that's all I thought food could be was calories and nothing else. And when I went away to undergrad, I started my emotional eating that I could outrun turned into more binging and emotional eating. And this was before social media, as the Internet was just taking off. I was walking uphill both ways to class, just like my grandma. And the binging just got really bad. And then my first job out of college, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. It was a really stressful mismatch of a manager and I had been struggling with depression. And I had tried various antidepressants, various therapists. I'm adventurous. So I was trying everything, and nothing was really working. I had also had really bad acne, and I had tried accutane, antibiotics. Nothing was working. And so when I just was like, oh, my God, this is so. Nothing was helping. And then I found a holistic nutrition school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. And we learned all different dietary theories there. And this was at the beginning of functional medicine, and we learned about functional medicine there, and I loved it. Again, this was 2006. It was a very different era. And I had pieced together that a lot of my health issues were gut issues from the chemo. And I started learning about blood sugar. And I had read at the time, oh, cancer survivors should be vegetarian. And I was trying to do that, and I had crazy cravings. I was hungry all the time. And through functional medicine and just some, I guess, philosophical shifts, I was like, wait, eating meat makes me feel better. It satisfies my cravings. Okay, maybe even if all the experts are telling me this, I had this realization, if I don't feel good now, I'm probably not going to feel good in 50 years, if that's how long I have. So I really was like, oh, my God. First of all, health can be food, can be medicine, but also, a lot of what the experts are saying out there isn't actually what's working for my body. And so it was this huge realization. And so figuring out about blood sugar and gut health, I was like, I feel awesome. I cleared up my ibs. My skin cleared up, cravings. Hunger went away. But then whenever I would be stressed, I would emotionally eat again. And so then I was like, wait a second. I feel amazing. I know what to do. And there was just this other level of shame that I didn't even articulate as shame. But it was just like, why can't I keep this up? And parallel to this, I had started my health coaching practice on the side, but because it was such a different era, people didn't know what quinoa was, let alone they couldn't pronounce it. No one knew what Kale was. So I was taking people to grocery store tours and thinking like, oh, once people learn this, that's all it takes, right? And then after about the fourth session, my clients would start disclosing that they had this obsessive thinking about food or they were emotionally eating. And I was like, I'm not the only one. And so, as also a health coach, I was like, I need more tools here because I didn't know what was working, what wasn't working. And so I went back to grad school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philly, one of my favorite cities of all time. And I really studied holistic change, systemic change, and really came to the conclusion that when we're eating, when we're stressed, when we're eating, when we're binging, it all comes back to not feeling safe in some way. And so what we have to do as adults is learn how to start to feel safe in our lives. And it starts by really understanding our needs and attaching to ourselves and belonging to ourselves first. And that's how I created truce with food. And I've been doing it now for 16 years and I have a truce with food. I don't emotionally eat anymore. I feel really comfortable in my body. I don't obsess about what it looks like and that's saying something after being menopausal and postpartum. So I walk my talk, but that's the long and short of it, which is kind of long. [00:09:46] Speaker B: Oh, I appreciate that. I like the background and I can relate to a lot of it. Growing up, I started worrying about my weight and I wasn't overweight, but I was worried about it when I remember being eleven and just like getting on the exercise bike and there was a PBS channel I could find that had like a workout video or I'd just go ride my bike outside really fast. My disordered eating started young and it went through college. As I was kind of looking into you and just revisiting my past, I was like, oh, this brought up a lot of stuff for me because I was never diagnosed, but I definitely had disordered eating in the form of either anorexia, bulimia, or a term that I didn't learn until after I quit drinking, which was drunk anorexia. Have you heard of that? [00:10:49] Speaker C: I have not. Is it like drinking so you don't have to eat? [00:10:53] Speaker B: Well? And it's not a real medical term, obviously, but it is something that explained what I did. And I've heard other people say this, like, I would save up all my calories and not eat so I could use my calories for drinking. [00:11:13] Speaker C: That's so fascinating because I never had a drinking problem because I wanted to use all my calories for food. [00:11:22] Speaker B: Right, interesting. [00:11:25] Speaker C: So do you mind me asking what happened around the age of eleven? [00:11:31] Speaker B: Well, I do know my mom. I love her so, so much, but she struggled with her weight all her adult life. In fact, she still does. And she's approaching 70. And so through her, I saw she was always on a diet. Always. So she did the weight watchers, she did the nutri system. It was a constant. And it was a constant. Like, every time we'd go to the mall or something, she would say, like, am I as big as her? Am I as big as her? Do I look like her? So it was just always in our face, our faces. I don't remember anything. True. I mean, I probably was starting to go through puberty, so I think that probably changes a lot of girls. You start to get more curvy and you're growing. And I just remember even looking at my jeans, I had, like, little tight jeans, but I could see the seams, like, coming apart. And I was like, oh, my God, I'm getting fat. I don't know. It was just so ingrained. And then I think as I got older, it got worse, but it was also tied to drinking and blood sugar. That's why I, like. You talk a lot about blood sugar, and I do, too, because low blood sugar can mimic drinking cravings. [00:12:57] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:12:57] Speaker B: So it's fascinating. And honestly, it wasn't until I could separate quitting drinking with trying to lose weight that I actually was able to quit drinking. [00:13:14] Speaker C: Meaning you thought you would lose weight by quitting drinking, but you had to focus on quitting drinking just for the sake of quitting drinking. [00:13:23] Speaker B: Yeah, I did. And it was always what got me in there. I knew I had a drinking problem, but I still wanted to figure out, how can I keep drinking, but also how can I lose weight? Because I would take my 30 day breaks and they would be to have a detox from drinking, but it would also be like training for a race and purposely, like, I'm going to save all these calories, I'm going to lose weight. I'm not going to drink for 30 days. And then I would go back to drinking. And I repeated that cycle for years. Decades. [00:14:01] Speaker C: Right. [00:14:01] Speaker B: And then, yeah, it was just finding peace. I will say I had to quit drinking and find peace with that in order to heal my relationship with food. [00:14:17] Speaker C: Yeah, well, and I love what you were saying about there wasn't, like, an inciting incident, as they say in story writing or narrative coaching. I always say to clients, it's like the water you're swimming in. Right. And that's the work that I do with people. It's not actually. And again, we can talk. Trauma is in the lexicon now, which is great. We need that. And it's often what we normalized around food and bodies. That is actually what we need to take a look at, because, again, through the lens of, as adults, it's about belonging, but as kids, it's about attachment. Right? And so your primary caregiver. Right? And again, I love how you said, I love my mom. I love my dad. My dad was the one who was always running from the fat man. And you talking about exercising, that is how I found the tumor in my neck. I was doing the nordic track to try to lose weight for a middle school dance, and I didn't know shit. I just swore, I don't hope that's okay. I didn't know shit about the body. So I took my pulse in my neck clavicle, and I was like, what is this bump? But I was trying to lose weight. I mean, it's like the irony is trying to lose weight kind of saved my life, but then it created all these issues. But what you're talking about with your mom and I think so many of my clients is, oh, what I just internalized from these authority figures, right? Which is first our parents and then our peers. Like you said, I was going through puberty. Our peers become authoritative so that we can start to leave the nest. But we internalize this relational way of food that is about discipline as defined by control. You can't rest around food. You always have to be working at it, right. And then just hearing this stuff of, like. And then growing up in a fat phobic culture, right. It's like, the risk is you just always have to be working because there's just this fear of getting fat and fat. I always say fat isn't a feeling, but what people think it means is, you're lazy, you're unsuccessful, you're undisciplined, you're out of control. And so there's this deeper subtext that then we attach to these values as adults of, like, I need to be disciplined. I need to be in control. I need to work hard both around food. But that will lead to success. So we see that modeled of how we relate to food, which we need to eat. But then, as we say in coaching, when you have the hammer, everything looks like a nail. So it's like, oh, if this is how I control my weight, this is how I can control my life. But then those same values and definition of those values lead to, I deserve this eating. If I'm always working hard and always needing to be productive, it's like I deserve something. So the real issue is the attachment to this way of relating to my food in my life that needs to change, not necessarily, in my view, building habits of whether or not you bring food into the house or not, or whether or not you eat with music on or not. But it feels like. And I love, again, I'm kind of going off on a tangent, but you saying I love my mom, and it can feel like we're detaching from the people that we learned this from if we start to change it, right. And it's kind of like the same way a lot of my clients who are sober a lot of times, even if food wasn't an issue, although for many of them it is. Once they give up drinking, they need to find something else to connect over, right? So it's like somebody like, well, if I have food in my hands instead of a drink, right? And so it's the same thing with, like, oh, if I'm going to start to change my eating habits around my peers and my parents, who I learned this from, that can feel like I'm separating from them, but I actually need that belonging so that I don't eat. So it's a tricky thing. Does that make sense, or am I just being too abstract? [00:18:29] Speaker B: Makes 100% sense. I was just like. It is just like running along a parallel track with how I felt about drinking. Like you said, you're in the water. And even when you were talking about trauma, I think I also felt like nothing traumatic happened to me that led me to my drinking problem. It was just in the water, and it just, like you said, belonging so much, and my dad was the beer drinker. Still is. And even in adulthood, that is how I connected with him. So it's just like. [00:19:14] Speaker C: Earlier. Well, I was going to say, once you can see that invisible thread of belonging, it's like so much snaps into place. [00:19:26] Speaker B: Well, going back to how just the parallels between overeating and over drinking and just that shame, like you said, in knowing what to do and not doing it, I hear it all the time. It's like, I know what to do. I know I just need to not drink. And I tell people, you can have a PhD in this stuff, and many of you have PhD worthy knowledge in your head about addiction or drinking or food, right? Or calories or nutrition or whatever. You can have all the knowledge, but it's like connecting it to your heart. [00:20:06] Speaker C: Yes. And to your point about drinking, you are probably trying to use the same discipline and control that we use with food. And that's what our society values and exalts right? And I know it's not a binary, but if we look at addiction and sobriety, it's like, oh, people who are addicts, they're out of control. They're this. It's like, no, I actually think they're very sensitive, and they're kind of like the canaries in the coal mine. Like I was a canary in the coal mine with environmental are. My body just happened to be more sensitive to it that eventually it turned into cancer. But it's know. Is it Dr. Gabor mate who says the opposite of addiction isn't abstinence, it's connection, right? And it's like, we learn in american culture, it's willpower, control, and being independent, right? And so when we try to use those tools and the shame will make us think, oh, I need to be independent with this. But it's like, no, you need a softer approach. That is actually, I say we have to trust in satisfaction, not restriction around food. Because it's like, oh, when we can start to feel like, what is the real need there? And if we need connection, what type of connection do we need so that we really feel like we belong with the people around us? Because so many of my clients, they have people in their lives. Right? Like you have people in your lives. But there is this feeling that's separating them. And at first, it feels like it's just about the food or just about the alcohol, but a deeper, softer look. It's like, oh, what parts of me am I not bringing forward that really are hungry? Like, literally and metaphorically for that connection and the type of connection. [00:22:05] Speaker B: Yeah, that is so good and so true. And what were you saying earlier? That I was like, oh, I don't know. This is all really hitting for me in a good way. I feel like I'm having a good coaching session, and I know a lot of people can relate. It was the shame, and they cannot. Okay, well, maybe I'll come back to it. Well, let me go to one thing I was going to ask you, which was, I've heard you say, like, half of the women in your program are sober. Is that just a coincidence, or do you attract that, or how did that come about? [00:22:45] Speaker C: It's such a great question. So, the work, obviously truth with food runs a very parallel track to getting sober. It's a little bit different in some aspects, but it's very similar. And people would trickle in here and there of like, oh, I'm sober. I'm sober. And I was like, this is interesting. And they always did really well. I love sober people. I love working with them because they're aware of the self discovery process that has to happen again. It's not about control. It's not about willpower. It is this, like, turning in and saying, why am I disconnected? Why am I having trouble feeling my feelings? And then a lot of clients have told me it's kind of split in between. It varies, but they're like, getting sober, it was hard. They're like, don't get me wrong, it was hard. But I actually realized food is where I need to have my sobriety in terms of that stuff. But then other people say, like, no, sobriety was really hard. It's really hard. And I'm using food to replace it. And so then I've started being like, oh, this program. And this process works so well for people who have had to build the capacity to go sober, to get sober, because you have to self reflect. You have to repair some self trust with yourself, right? And so, in truth, with food, we have to have some basis of self trust, of self awareness, because we're going to look at parts of ourselves that the one quote that I use, and this was made famous by Aaron Brockovich and Gloria Steinem, but it says, the truth will set you free, but first it's going to piss you off. And so, in truth, with food, what we end up looking at is how people are viewing things. And when we have a story about what it takes to belong, to feel safe and why we feel bad, right? A lot of it's about like, well, if my body's this, then I'm safe, and I can take risks to get things, right. But what we start to realize is how we've started to perceive life is we make ourselves separate. We find the ways that we're worse or better, right? And we make ourselves separate. And so it's kind of like, oh, my God. This whole time I thought it was about my weight, but it was about, I'm like, in a Taylor Swift era. I feel like, how did she get me? A 45 year old woman that doesn't listen to radio. But it's like, hi, it's the problem. It's me. But it's not saying that you're at fault, but it's looking at the systems that made you think it was your problem and that you bought into, right? Like, at some point as a kid, maybe I learned again it was just in the water. But it's my responsibility as an adult to be like, am I going to let society dictate what I'm allowed to do based on my body size. At some point you have to say, like, this isn't the truth. Your body size determining your worth is not the truth. And so am I going to continue to be held back by that? And so I just think battling our weight or food, not all my clients are coming for weight loss, is an invitation, like sobriety to reclaim these parts of ourselves that I think we're afraid of our hunger, both literally and metaphorically. And it's like my podcast is called insatiable to say, let's reclaim that. Hunger is a great thing. You're hungry for life. You're hungry for this. So that's kind of how I know I went off on a tangent, but sober people are awesome, and they're willing to buck the system, right? Alcohol is still the default norm, so you have to be a little rebellious. And so I think that then I also think alcohol has started to become part of the bigger wellness conversation. I think people are finally realizing that, okay, no, it's not healthy. It's just not healthy for you. I think it's like a bunch of different things coming together, but TLDR willing to look at their piece of the puzzle and really understanding the power of community and self reflection, and have already repaired a lot of self trust because they're living more in alignment with their emergent values, which is not to drink anymore. [00:27:14] Speaker B: Yeah, thank you for sharing that. I just thought that was interesting. But I know that there is a very large correlation between people with eating disorders and substance use disorders, too. I want to say it's like 35%, but don't quote me on that. [00:27:31] Speaker C: I didn't know that. [00:27:32] Speaker B: Yeah, it's high. It really is. I thought of what I was going to say when you were talking before, like, how food and trying to control food, that became about control and willpower and perfection and independence. And that is also what kept me stuck with trying to change my drinking, because that became about perfection and control and willpower and doing it on my own. And so it wasn't until I could let go of it and just be more kind and compassionate to myself. And it's also how I help people, because I say I help people practice not drinking. You don't have to be perfect. And so it's really about trying to let go of that perfection. And then also going to your point of belonging. And I think even below belonging or just even intangible with it is deep down, I feel like that core thing is feeling like you're enough and that you're worthy. [00:28:49] Speaker C: Yeah. So the academic version of belonging is that I'm safe to be me and show up, which is the worthiness. Yeah, exactly. I don't have to be on is what my clients often describe it as. Like the representative that's showing up and that belonging and that worthiness. Right. Belonging doesn't mean we're all the same. It means I don't have to drink for connection and I'm allowed to be different. I matter. I don't have to earn this connection or I don't have to eat the same way. Although food is a little different because food also is such a medium, the same way alcohol is, though, of belonging and connection. But I think food has. What I think is different is think if I say to you, Deb, what are your happiest carefree memories with food? What are they? I'd love for you to share. [00:29:50] Speaker B: Oh, happiest carefree. They probably are associated with celebrations. So having cake or ice cream, taking the kids out for ice cream, or my mom, who is a cook and also my dad, I grew up working at my dad's restaurant and preparing food and eating there. I kind of think of food and family and work and connection. Like, I made so many friends there, and that also was a way for me to connect with my dad there. I'm putting this together now. I'm like, how did I never put the connection of having a restaurant that had an all you can eat salad bar, by the way? Talk about binging. Yeah. But some of my happiest food memories are around that. [00:30:54] Speaker C: Right? So can you see when we're struggling or in pain, why we're symbolically, we're reaching for that feeling of being grounded and connected. And you said I had all my friends there, and it was a connection to my dad. And so that's healthy, though, right? Dr. Deborah McNamara, who is a child psychologist, she just wrote a book out called Nourished. And she know food is supposed to follow attachment, not replace it. And when we turn to food, it actually mimics attachment chemicals. Right. However, it doesn't give us the deeper hunger we have there, which is, I'm with my dad, we're working. We're connected in this way, that we share this. Like, we're all working for the common good, to get this feed people, make money, secure our family. That's the deeper need. And you can see that again. It's invisible. So we think it's about the food, but it's about this. Like, it's all good. It's all good. [00:31:56] Speaker B: And that's healthy. [00:31:58] Speaker C: Okay, I have two more questions for you since we're making connections here. [00:32:01] Speaker B: I love this. [00:32:04] Speaker C: If you think about food, how were you caretaken? Taken care of with food. So, for example, my grandma was very into natural health, and when I was sick, she would squeeze me fresh orange juice. Or she was from Slovenia, and my mom and her, whenever we were sick, would make fenugreek tea, which she said was from the old country, which was Slovenia, with lemon and honey. And so it's like food was also a symbol that I was being taken care of. What about your memories of being taken care of with food? [00:32:42] Speaker B: I almost hesitate to even say this because I can't think of a lot. [00:32:46] Speaker C: Which surprises some time. Let's give you some. [00:32:52] Speaker B: I do remember getting my wisdom teeth out and my mom making me cream of wheat soup. Or not soup. It's like soup. Sick and caretaking. [00:33:08] Speaker C: I don't know why. [00:33:09] Speaker B: I can't think of it. Not necessarily part of it, though. [00:33:13] Speaker C: Not necessarily sick. But where you felt like you were taken care of? [00:33:17] Speaker B: Well, I felt taken care of. I felt like I always had enough food to eat, especially having the restaurant. We could go and eat for free. We didn't have a lot of dinners together, so it would only be on the holidays or occasions, special occasions that we would have dinners together. Gosh, it's a tough one, and maybe that means something. [00:33:47] Speaker C: Well, I mean, did you feel like your dad could cook for you at the restaurant? Yeah, that's true. [00:33:55] Speaker B: I definitely felt like safe and enoughness with food. [00:33:59] Speaker C: Yeah. So now I'm going to ask you a question, and I understand this is for public consumption, so not everyone wants to share this on air, but when you think of your hardest food memories, can you share one or two of those? [00:34:17] Speaker B: Well, those would be related to bulimia, to binging and purging. [00:34:25] Speaker C: Yeah, but what were the circumstances of when you were binging and purging? [00:34:30] Speaker B: I would say it got really bad after I graduated college and moved to Spokane to work as a CNA before going to nursing school, working night shift, and being really lonely. Loneliness, for sure. [00:34:52] Speaker C: So can you see that common connection of attachment and belonging in all of your examples? Right. Like, the good stuff was I was connected, but the binging and purging was related to feeling really alone in your experience. [00:35:10] Speaker B: Yeah, definitely. [00:35:13] Speaker C: For me, I was bullied when I was in fifth grade, and that caused a lot of, like, I came home and ate bagels because I felt separate. Right. That belonging to my peers and the popular skinny girls was detached right. But it wasn't really about them being skinny and popular. It was like I was an outsider. I felt so alone in being a teenager with cancer. That used to not happen. It's so rare. So all of these experiences where we feel this separateness, whether shame is accompanied with it or not, it's like we turn to the food as that surrogate attachment, that feeling that Dr. Deborah McNamara says. It's like, oh, my know, you get the same attachment chemicals, but you still don't feel connected in the way that you need to feel connected. Right? [00:36:08] Speaker B: Yeah. I mean, that's how I felt with drinking. And my drinking amped up when I had young kids and was staying at home and my husband was working a lot. And I share this all the time. I felt so alone. I was never alone, but I was lonely. And then because I felt different. And that shame of knowing what to do but not doing it and all that made me feel even more alone and isolated, which then fueled even more drinking, because then what makes you feel better right away? Drinking or food to the people with food issues? Yeah, totally. [00:36:57] Speaker C: Yeah. So you can see it's like, we create these let's. But what's. One thing that's different about my work is I'm like, it is not all a story of your own. Like, I felt so alone in motherhood. Parenting in America is so isolating. And know we have friends who live in Spain, and they're like, everyone expects. [00:37:18] Speaker B: Kids to be around. [00:37:19] Speaker C: They're not worried if they're messy. It's like, you go to a restaurant, you're like, is my kid going to piss everyone up? But it's like those little things. And it's so hard to articulate what's missing. And rather than say, like, this culture is crazy, it's like, what's my problem? Why do I feel so alone? Oh, it's because I'm not doing what I should be doing with food or drinking. But it's like, no, it is not normal to try to raise kids, even with two people. Like a two parent family. There's a reason. Villages in more, I think, healthy cultures, everyone chips in. And it's like, I've read research how, like, in indigenous cultures, it's like parents are with their kids, like, 40% of the time, and the other 60% is, like, the community. But then I'm like, I feel guilty because I want to work. I can't do this all myself. Like, oh, my God. Because what you're trying to do is unsustainable. But if we don't know. To question the culture. We think I'm different. I'm bad. I'm not enough. Oh, my God, I need to figure this out. Food is that soft place to land because it brings up the feelings of the restaurant, of even your mom cooking. Right. So there's a lot of nuance and complexity there with, like, oh, my mom was a great cook, you said, and she was always on a diet. So that sends a message of how to be. I always say to clients, like, you want to ask, why does my crazy eating make sense? Once they know this, why does it make sense? Not why am I out of control? I need more discipline. It's like, no, I need more support somehow. How are you feeling with all this? I know. [00:39:09] Speaker B: I feel like I want to cry. Yeah. But in a scene way, I think it just brings up a lot of memories that I've kind of forgotten about. Just between the eating, the disordered eating and the drinking and the loneliness. I'm sad for myself, but I'm also so grateful that I got out of it. And, I mean, that's why I do what I do. I want to help other people know that they're not alone and they're worth it. And there's a place where you belong. Yeah, for sure. And I'm feeling appreciative of you, ali. Yeah. So thank you. [00:40:03] Speaker C: Well, and I want you to know your sadness is mean. This is part of the parts of us that we think aren't allowed. Right. Part of discipline is not showing mean. Even this morning, my gym buddy, who I met at the gym for two and a half years, she's leaving for Florida. And I was, like, tearing up and she wasn't. And I was like, I'm not allowed to feel sad, but I was sad. And so then I was like, I know I'm sad. I was, like, intellectualizing it. But your sad parts are totally welcome, deb. Yeah. [00:40:36] Speaker B: Thank you. Yeah. And, I mean, just going back to the parenting, the parenting guilt and whatnot, and the neafness, I share this a lot because it's been helpful for me. But I have a coffee cup that says, I'm proud to be a remarkably average parent. And I just feel like that's a gift because, again, it was that perfectionist thing and trying to, I think also the overcompensation with exercise, with work, with parenting, with relationships, like, overcompensating in those areas because there was this one area of my life I couldn't get and that I was bad. [00:41:27] Speaker C: Yeah. And that is shame. Right. My clients feel that about food once, if they get sober, if they don't identify as having a drinking problem. It's like, this is the one area of my life. And because, again, the cultural approach is so insufficient, we blame ourselves. And that eats at you. Like, metaphor is appropriate. It eats at you and it eats at your confidence, and it makes you feel that there's this part of yourself that if people knew about it. Right. And so the very part that you need to bring forth and have compassion for or parts are the ones that we keep hidden, which keeps us more and more isolated. [00:42:10] Speaker B: Yeah, it really is. It's hard to do. It's hard to feel. Nobody wants to feel the feelings. I know, but you know what? Once we went through that and I let some tears out, I feel relief. Like, I feel lighter. [00:42:32] Speaker C: Yes, that's exactly it. And this is one thing that's so important with belonging. When we're managing these emotions and these memories, we need someone who will attune and witness us without trying to fix it. Because how many times do people try to fix it? Which then deeply says, this is wrong, versus. I'm like, of course, Deb, this sadness makes sense. Right? I have so much sadness over how hard I was with myself as a new. Like, I was so hard on myself because I felt so out of it. You are out of control. That baby is dictating your life. But, yeah, I'm glad you feel better. And it's like, yeah, just not trying to fix things. And so I'm glad you feel lighter. And I think that is the deepest craving we have around our weight. It's not to literally be as light as possible, but it's to feel that lightness, to unburden the parts of ourselves that we feel like we have to keep clamped down because of shame or guilt. [00:43:42] Speaker B: Yeah, that's so good. [00:43:46] Speaker C: I just want to say I appreciate you for being so open, and this is going to help so many people. [00:43:53] Speaker B: Thank you. I appreciate you for bringing it out. It clearly needs to come out. Yeah. Well, I know that there are a lot of people out there who are struggling with both drinking and weight loss, or I don't even want to say weight loss. I want to say just their relationship with food. And so what advice do you have for them? [00:44:19] Speaker C: Yeah, well, I think a lot of what you just modeled be like, deb. [00:44:28] Speaker B: Yeah. Be willing. What that reminds me of is just, like, be willing to feel the feelings. And I think a lot of what I teach is teaching people to be more comfortable with uncomfortable feelings. Teaching people to work through the feeling of a craving, the feeling of anger, of anxiety, of, you name it. Because so often we turn to food or drinks or phone or something to distract, and we don't really feel it. And when you can learn to really be in your feelings, they'll pass. They do. [00:45:14] Speaker C: They do. And I'm going to add, and I think if you have the bravery or the accessibility of a compassionate witness, it, and again, not someone who's going to try to fix it. Right. And even if it could be your partner, your husband, a friend, you could say, like, I don't need you to tell me what to do. I say to my husband, because I'm extroverted, I just need to talk this out because I'm going to like, and then at the end, I'm going to think, oh, there's the emotion. But if he comes in and tries to fix it, I don't feel seen because I'm not looking for a fix. I just am looking for. And I think that's the power of what you do. And being in community with people who are working through these issues is the feeling is so much easier to ride that wave if you have that attunement from somebody else who's just like, I got you. Because that's the attachment that maybe we didn't get around food when we were younger because our parents didn't know. Right. They didn't have social media. They had red book, and that was, like, all they knew. [00:46:24] Speaker B: Reader's Digest, a reader's. [00:46:32] Speaker C: Know. And there were three tv stations, folks. [00:46:37] Speaker B: I get it. [00:46:38] Speaker C: And Richard Simmons. Oh, bless Richard Simmons. I mean, I did deal, Emil. I mean, I've tried everything. [00:46:43] Speaker B: Oh, you know, my mom had that. [00:46:46] Speaker C: The cards that you. Oh, yeah. [00:46:49] Speaker B: And she had the videos. [00:46:51] Speaker C: Oh, sweating to the oldies. I had to. [00:46:55] Speaker B: Oh, goodness. Okay. I do like to give some people some tangible tips, too. And one of them that you had offered were two powerful coaching questions that someone can ask themselves the next time they want to turn to food for food cravings. And I don't know if this applies to drinking cravings, too, but what are those two powerful coaching questions? [00:47:21] Speaker C: Yeah. Well, the first one is, and again, this deeply repairs our relationship and belonging to ourselves is to say, why does this make sense? Why does this make sense? Because usually when we're fighting food and I imagine with alcohol, it's like, oh, my God. Oh, my God. And so there's the pain or the challenge of the craving, and then we pile on to ourselves, which almost makes us want to then soothe, right? It's like, you should be through this already. I can't believe you're so struggling with this. What's wrong with you? Why didn't you do your deep breathing? And my clients like, oh, my God, now there's so much to do to control my eating. And then when I don't do that, when I don't take my deep breaths, when I don't slow down, then I pile on myself all over again. So I think asking, why does this make sense? Is just a really powerful, like, let me switch this emotionally. You can feel an emotional shift in that, right? Of like, why does this make sense? Instead of what the f. Is wrong with you? And how are you going to get through this, which is just piling. It's not very loving to yourself. And I think sobriety and food, what they have in common, is we need to learn to be our own best friends when we're struggling. That's where the deepest, most resilient form of belonging comes from. And so asking, why does this make sense? You're a capable person. You can do this. You can get through this, right? It's almost like a parent, right? Is like when my son's melting down, at least. Again, I've only read one parenting book, and I learn off instagram, so take this for what it's worth in terms of parenting advice. But from what I understand is, like, he needs me to hold a boundary and just be this container for him. Melting down, right? Where, again, we grew up in the benign neglect, it was like, my son was melting down, and my dad was like, essa, kids are going to beat you up if you're crying like that. And I'm like, dad, his prefrontal cortex isn't fully developed. He's like, nobody worried about my prefrontal cortex. I'm like, okay, I know how I was parented. And again, I love my parents. I hit the lottery with them, but this emotional intelligence was not. It just wasn't there. I remember one time complaining to my parents, and they were like, here's the number for child services. See if they come pick. You know, it was not like, ali, how are you struggling? It was just like, good luck. And again, love my parents. Amazing. Hit the lottery with just that. There was just a different era of not understanding emotions. So I think that. And then I think the second thing is I always think about when I'm struggling with something. Like, I've recently been working on my overworking issue. It's. My last vice is overworking is like, a toddler. We have these tantrums, right? Of, like, my son didn't want to go to school the other day. He's like, I don't want to go to school, which is daycare. And I knew that his tantrum contained a need. And so when we're having an alcohol craving or a food craving, and again, food can be a little bit more difficult because you need that balanced blood sugar. I think you had Dr. Brooke. I'm forgetting her last name. She talked about protein. Listen to that episode of the alcohol tipping point. Great advice there. But clients will be like, I just think of food. I'm like, I want what I want. I want what I want. And I'm like, yes. And let's understand there's a need in there, because that's, like a metaphor. What do you want? You really don't want the food, right? It may feel good temporarily, but what need do you have that isn't being met? And that can take some time to figure out, because we're often focused on what other people need, on what other people will think if the real need that we need comes up. But I think those two things that over time, you'll start to understand. Like, for example, when I was going through the late stages of perimenopause and had a newborn and was not sleeping, it's like, I wanted chocolate at 03:00 and it was like, why does this make sense? And it was like, oh, my God, I'm exhausted, right? And I couldn't get sleep because of insomnia and having a toddler. But it was like, I need rest. I need rest. That is the. You know, there's a lot of different types of rest. So it's like, okay, let's put essa in the stroller. And it was in the pandemic. Let's go walk. Because walking can restore your energy, but needs allow a lot more flexibility. So it's not about, I have to do this. It's like realizing, oh, my God, I need to connect with someone who understands this, okay, let me reach out to my other friends in Deb's community, in our group, or I need someone who's going to understand this parenting challenge. Right? And what that also does is it softens the perfectionism, because you realize there is no perfect. Like, it's what is emergent. It's not that you have to stick to this and do this thing. It's, oh, this is what I need right now. I may need a glass of water. I may need to step away. But one of the things I tell with clients when they're working on this is like, totally give yourself permission to eat the thing. Because the other thing is, adults hate being told what to totally. You're still going to, in the beginning, eat this thing. Like, lower your expectations. And though, promise yourself that you'll ask yourself these first couple questions, and maybe each time you can feel. When I used to work in the corporate world and live in Philly, and there was this place called nuts to you on the way home, and this was before I knew what the hell was happening. Nuts to you is basically like a bulk food store, so you can go in and get anything you want in bulk. And I would be like, okay. I knew I was going to binge. It was like, this is just happening. I know this. But I would stop there. And what I would do is be like, can you walk to the next block before you dip into the nuts? And then it would be like, can you wait home? And so you're building up your. Like you said, if you can just feel the feelings. I wish I had had these questions. I would have probably understood what I needed a lot sooner. But if you feel like you're going to eat something again, say, why does this make sense? Breathe through that. Because part of this process is also dropping back into your body, not trying to intellectualize this. And so you have to do it in small amounts, small portions, if we're going to use food metaphors, and then say, what do need? And, like, I. What always gets me is if I put my hand on my heart, it's like, what do you need, allie? [00:54:10] Speaker B: Right? [00:54:11] Speaker C: It's like. And breathing into that, and maybe the first time you set a minute for a timer. For a minute. [00:54:19] Speaker B: Done. [00:54:20] Speaker C: Go eat the thing. I don't know what I need. It may come to you later. The second time, same question. Set the timer. Can I go for two minutes now? Because the longer that we can breathe into the discomfort, the need will emerge. So, like, my son was having a meltdown about not wanting to go to school, and so it was like, essay. You normally like school, what's going on after the tantrum, right? So let him have his I want what I want food version. But it was with school, and it was like. [00:54:51] Speaker B: He's like, well, I don't nap on. [00:54:53] Speaker C: The cot, and there's nothing to do. So he doesn't nap anymore. And so it was like, do you want me to ask the teacher if you can have something on your cot? Yeah. Okay, let's get that done. Let's get that taken care of. And so I asked her, and she said, well, we can give him a book. He ended up taking a nap that day, but the need was not that he didn't want to go to school, but he had to feel his feelings to then get the clarity. And we're no different. [00:55:21] Speaker B: Yeah, I think that's so helpful. I think people could do the same thing when they have a craving for a drink and just ask, why does this make sense? And what do I need? Yeah, that's wonderful. When you were talking. [00:55:40] Speaker C: I was just going to say, simple does not mean easy. So, again, the problem with shame. I was thinking about this this morning, actually, of how to describe this, but the problem with shame is that if we feel shame about the thing, we're going to also react with shame when we don't do it perfectly right. It's like this multiplier, and multiplier isn't the right word, but it's this amplifier or it's a house of mirrors. So it's like, I don't want to ask why this makes sense. I don't want to slow down. Then it's like, why can't you do that? It's like shame is just permeating the entire process. So this is simple, but not easy. So every step of the way, you have to have compassion of, like, of course this is hard. There's discomfort here. I'm opening up a box that has been shut down for a while. So I also just want to put that asterisk there of, like, each part of the process is about having compassion for ourselves. Because I'd be like, I get shit done. I'm smart. Why is this so hard? And it's like, it's a different type of intelligence. It's a different process, and one that I had to learn, and anyone can learn, but I was a beginner, so I always tell people who are like, how will I know if truce with food is right for me? And it's like, are you willing to be a beginner? No matter how accomplished you are, no matter what you've done, are you willing to be a beginner? It sucks. It sucks. Although the learning curve is very fun in the beginning because you improve, like, at the gym, you improve right away, but allow yourself to be a beginner is what I would say with this process. [00:57:14] Speaker B: Oh, I think that's wonderful. And that compassion, that hand on your heart. I start every meeting with, like, put your hand on your heart, and we'll take a deep breath together just to kind of ground yourself. Just give yourself that self kindness and that self compassion is so wonderful. So wonderful. Everything that you have talked about today has been so helpful and wonderful. And just keep peeling back the layers and allowing yourself to feel these things. Along with that beginner's mindset is that curiosity, just being open and curious. Like, try it. How does this feel? And be open to other ways of thinking about your food and thinking about drinking. But, yeah, number one, self kindness. For sure. [00:58:09] Speaker C: Yes, for sure. [00:58:13] Speaker B: Well, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show. I would love to have you come back. I know you have other information, too. [00:58:22] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:58:22] Speaker B: And maybe it won't be just a counseling session, but I do appreciate it. I definitely love it. [00:58:32] Speaker C: Well, and people come to this podcast to hear you, and so they're going to get so much out of it. And I'm sure this is the thing that is like the freedom part, right? It's like, oh, this part that I shared. And now other people are going to reach out to you and be like, me, too. And it strengthens the belonging. That's the freedom. And the big surprise in the truce with food process is like, oh, this thing? I thought that made me separate. It actually brings me closer to the right people, my people. It's more in and about alignment. So you're going to have to tell me if you feel more connected to the people who listen to your podcast if they reach out after this. [00:59:10] Speaker B: Well, same, because I'm sure people are going to want to reach out to you. So how can they find you? Ali? [00:59:17] Speaker C: Yeah, so if you're curious about some of your protection strategies when you're eating, you can take my comfort eating [email protected]. And I can send you the link. It's comforteatingquiz. And you can learn what your stress eating strategies are. And then I would have people sign up for that. And then I'm also on Instagram, but I don't post consistently. But I'm at ally A-L-I-M Shapiro. Shapiro. And then I have a podcast called insatiable that is all about our hungers on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual soul level. So it's a pretty wide ranging conversation. [01:00:02] Speaker B: Well, and it sounds like you do. Each season kind of has a different theme, and this season I know a lot of listeners would be interested. So can you share what this season is about? [01:00:15] Speaker C: Yes. Oh, thank you. And I've gotten such great feedback on it. This season, 14 is thrown for the midlife loop, and it's all about perimenopause. And menopause. And I open up with my story because I one year found myself 30 pounds above my pre pregnancy weight. I had not been paying attention to my weight. And I was like, what has happened? Because I have not changed my eating or whatever, but it was basically learning about all the changes that happen in perimenopause. Episode two, we have Laura McGowan on alcohol, food, sobriety and midlife. And people have been loving that conversation. The third episode is on sleep. We brought on my sleep coach. Like I said, I had insomnia and it's a really root cause resolution about forgetting. I'm like menopause brain, but you get the gist. [01:01:11] Speaker B: Yeah. [01:01:12] Speaker C: I also have Dr. Stacey Sims on who is one of the leading sports psychologists on women's hormones and how women have to exercise differently. And then I had my client, Kinsey Tate, who we talk about stress, and then we'll have an episode on hormone replacement therapy next. Oh, I forgot. Episode four is me solo about the three weight loss myths that deal with perimenopause and menopause. [01:01:41] Speaker B: Okay, I'll put the podcast link in the show notes and how to find you in that comfort eating quiz. I'm going to take that myself. [01:01:50] Speaker C: Yeah, you have to let me know what you come up with. I have an idea, but I want to know. I have an idea. You tell me. Okay. [01:01:56] Speaker B: Well, yeah. Thank you so much for coming on the show. This was a really helpful conversation. I am so grateful for you and what you're doing for people out there. So thank you. [01:02:08] Speaker C: You too, Deb. I think it's so powerful when we can take the things that have been our challenge and help other people with it. That's wonderful that you're doing this too. So thanks for having me. [01:02:20] Speaker A: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Alcoholiday Tipping Point podcast. Please share and review the show so you can help other people too. I want you to know I'm always here for you, so please reach out and talk to me on instagram at alcohol tipping point and check out my website, alcoholtippingpoint.com, for free resources and help. No matter where you are on your drinking journey, I want to encourage you to just keep practicing. Keep going. I promise you are not alone and you are worth it. Every day you practice not drinking is. [01:02:53] Speaker B: A day you can learn from. [01:02:54] Speaker A: Hope you can use these tips we talked about for the rest of your week. And until then, talk to you next time.

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