Ep. #73: Spiritual Practices for Emotional Eating with Kristen Ciccolini

On today’s episode, I interview Kristen Ciccolini. She is a holistic health coach helping women overcome food anxiety. Part of her work includes helping women to repair their relationship with food through strategies that strengthen their mindset, intuition, and self-trust. I noticed her approach was more spiritual than the average health coach out there so I wanted to bring her on to tell us more about how to use spiritual practices to heal your food relationship. I want to forewarn you guys that are a little hesitant about woo-woo stuff — she actually keeps it really practical and encourages you see what you like and leave the rest. So even if you are hesitant, listen in anyways! I know you will get take aways from this episode with Kristen.

The Challenge (And psst…a huge Quit Dieting for Good announcement!)

Before we talk to Kristen, let me tell you something. If you are just getting started with intuitive eating, or have been trying it but are feeling like it’s not working – I want you to go sign up for the Food Freedom & Body Confidence Audio Training & Challenge. You will get four audios explaining the four steps that you’ll use to get started with your IE journey. Each day you will also get a challenge so that you can start implementing what you learn into your daily life. It’s easy to listen to podcasts, download trainings, and even go to workshops. The hard part is the implementation. That’s why I combined the two! Go check it out!

Also, I have a BIG announcement!

I decided that instead of launching the Quit Dieting for Good program a few times a year, you are now able to enroll any time of the year. You get the same great course and group coaching calls. The only difference will be that women are at different stages of their intuitive eating journey. However, that was already the case, even when we technically all started on the same day! That’s why I realized you shouldn’t have to wait for me to open enrollment. I’d rather you come join me when you are ready!

So head over to caitlinball.com/quitdieting to learn more about the program. From there, you can apply for a call with me so I can learn more about you and make sure it’s a perfect fit!

Ok – without further ado, let’s talk to Kristen!

Craziest Dieting Moment

I asked to hear about Kristen’s craziest dieting moment, and she shared a food tracking moment you can probably relate to! When she first got started with “healthy” eating, she was logging everything she was eating. (And admittedly going a bit overboard.) When visiting her mom’s house, she was throwing a bunch of stuff into the blender. Without realizing it, she used a full fat Greek yogurt, and it sent her calorie tracker into the red. She had a mini freakout, and tried to get her brother-in-law to eat it instead. (He thought the whole shake was pretty gross!)

I can relate…I used those calorie tracking apps years ago too!

Even when less than ideal, these early experiences with the health and nutrition world were important. After all, they helped lead Kristen into the work she does today! Because she is able to identify with the stereotypes & stigmas of food tracking, she knows just how harmful they can be.

Kristen’s Work

Kristen is based in Boston. She works a lot with women dealing with food anxiety, emotional eating habits, and body image issues. She also works with those navigating dietary restrictions and other health issues that benefit from nutritional intervention. Her online program, Intuition Nutrition, is a radical approach to emotional eating.

She loves to help people have a more relaxed relationship with food!

Kristen shares that she is a recession-era graduation, which means to finished school just in time to NOT get hired anywhere great. In the meantime, she went to work at content farm, where she was churning out work at a high rate. She found herself feeling constantly stressed and overwhelmed.

She found herself constantly hustling. Working multiple jobs, generating multiple income streams, feeling depressed, skipping meals, dieting off and on, and just generally not living a life that felt very good for her body. All this coincided with a health boom in Boston, and eventually she found herself in a high-intensity cardio workout that ended with a brunch.

Learning about the food she eating (and the impact that food had on her body) caused Kristen to change her eating habits. She was learning more about how food made her feel, and what kind of impact her food choices had on her.

Career Changes & Spiritual Practices

Eventually she got serious about changing her career. Realizing that she finally felt passionate about something, she dove all in.

At first, Kristen came at health from a nutrition standpoint.

As she worked with clients, however, she started to recognize the impact of our diet culture. So many people seemed to feel that they couldn’t trust their bodies or themselves. There was so much fear, anxiety, and stress connected to food choices. Kristen knew how harmful these things were, because she had experienced them herself! Gradually, her coaching practice evolved into what it is today.

Part of that includes spiritual practices that she incorporates into her work. She notes that this is a non-religious spiritual practice, and is very personal to each individual person. It’s also something that is careful about using with clients, and isn’t an expectation or obligation.

So many systemic factors contribute to emotional eating, from food insecurity to weight stigmas. Spiritual practices help Kristen and her clients develop their intuition and inner practices that can help deal with unhelpful food relationships.

Rituals & Spiritual Practices

Arbitrary rules, guilt, shame, and restrictions tend to result from negative emotions that we weren’t taught to properly cope with. When we find ourselves eating to deal with emotions, we tend to respond by “punishing” ourselves.

As a response, the pendulum swings, and we binge. The cycle continues on and on. Using intuitive spiritual practices and tools can help you step out of the pattern and find space. When you have a chance to breathe, you can choose to respond differently.

Kristen notes that she often uses journaling as a quick and easy tool for exploring the root of food cravings.

Another great tool: meditation. Approaching your day with more level energy can be a great way to explore behaviors, wants, and needs. It’s also a way to consider where you learned your current coping behavior. Meditation can help quiet your mind and get you in tune with what your body is trying to tell you.

Rituals around intention setting can also be really helpful. A ritual is simply a series of actions. Amanda Yates Garcia is the “Oracle of LA”, and she shares that a ritual is a symbolic action that galvanizes people into taking action in their own lives. They are meant to empower you to take action in your own life. By setting an intention, or releasing things that no longer serve you, you can be empowered to achieve your own goals.

One final spiritual practice Kristen sometimes uses is tarot. This is again a way of considering your relationship with food and what’s happening in your internal environment. Each of these spiritual practices are about honing your intuition and getting in touch with yourself.

Develop Your Own Practices

Self-care should be done because it makes you feel good. Don’t be afraid to find things that work for you, rather than just doing what you feel like you’re supposed to be doing.

Kristen shares that her own spiritual practices have developed as a slow trickle over the years. Rather than feeling that she “had” to create a certain set of beliefs or practices, she slowly discovered the things that she enjoyed. As she incorporated various things, she found the ones that worked best for her.

Because she has a nutrition business, those practices attach to her food choices as well. When you think of food as medicine, you can find many ways to enjoy eating as a way of healing and honoring yourself.

When you approach your self-care or spiritual practices, don’t be afraid to experiment!

Listen in to the full episode to hear Kristen’s take on “sugar addiction” too! She shares some great thoughts about our body’s needs, and how sugar plays a part in meeting them.

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