How does your relationship with food impact your daily life? What are you eating? How does it make you feel? We find that our relationship with food can feel complicated at times. We’ve been wanting to have an in depth conversation about this for quite some time – and our conversation with Shannon Hayes Buescher was one aha! moment after another.
Shannon is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, Intuitive Eating Counselor and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.
As a former high school and college athlete, Shannon is passionate about helping those that have struggled with constant dieting, weight cycling or yo-yo dieting rediscover trust with themselves again and find a healthy relationship with food – so she became an Intuitive Eating counselor and a Somatic Experiencing practitioner.
Somatic Experiencing is a body-centered approach to healing that cultivates an integrated connection with mind and body. Somatic Experiencing’s main goal is to help shift the trauma-related stress response.
Shannon is not your “average” dietitian. She is a nutritional counselor and most often, she is working with a therapist to help optimize self-discovery and healing in the process of creating a new relationship with food and body.
Shannon helps you to look beyond the surface and discover the emotions that are attached to the excess or lack of food. She helps you look at how you are prioritizing food and yourself in your life. She encourages changing the language you use with food and yourself to be kinder, more loving, and self-honoring. You don't want to miss this discussion!
MORE FROM SHANNON BUESCHER
Visit theseekingcenter.com for more from Robyn + Karen, plus mega inspo -- and the best wellness + spiritual practitioners, products and experiences on the planet!
You can also follow Seeking Center on Instagram @theseekingcenter
Robyn: [00:00:00] I'm Robyn Miller Brecker,
Karen: and I'm Karen Loenser. Welcome to seeking center. The podcast,
Robyn: join us each week as we have the conversations and weed through the spiritual and holistic clutter for you, we'll boil it down to what you need to know. Now
Karen: we're all about total wellness, which to us needs building a healthy life on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.
We'll talk to the trailblazers who will introduce you to the practices, products, and experiences. That may be just what you need to hear about to transform your life.
If you're listening to this, it's no accident. Think of this as your seeking center and your place to seek your center. And for even more mega inspo sign up for seeking center.
The newsletter at seeking center
Robyn: How does your relationship with food impact your daily life?
What are you eating? How does it make you feel? We find that our relationship with food can feel complicated at times. We've been wanting to have an in depth conversation about this for quite some time.
And today is the day. [00:01:00] Meet Shannon Hayes Buescher. She is a registered and licensed dietitian, intuitive eating counselor, and a somatic experiencing practitioner As a former high school and college athlete, Shannon first started her dietetic career focusing on female athletes in sports performance.
As she worked more with this population, she saw more of these women struggling with eating disorders. So while she continued to work with female athletes, she emphasized her work with eating disorder clients. Shannon is passionate about helping those that have struggled with constant dieting, weight cycling, or yo yo dieting rediscover truth with themselves again, and find a healthy relationship with food.
So she became an intuitive eating counselor, which we'll be talking all about. Over the last few years, Shannon started somatic experiencing practitioner training. Somatic experiencing is a body centered approach to healing that cultivates an integrated connection with mind and body. Somatic experiencing's main goal is to help shift the trauma related stress response.
Shannon is not [00:02:00] your average dietician. She is a nutritional counselor and most often she is working with a therapist to help optimize the self discovery and healing in the process of creating a new relationship with food and body. Shannon helps you to look beyond the surface and discover the emotions that are attached to the excess or lack of food.
She helps you look at how you are prioritizing food and yourself in your life. She encourages changing the language you use with food and yourself to be kinder, more loving, and self honoring. There is so much to discuss. Let's get going. Hi, Shannon. Hi.
Shannon: Thanks for having me.
Robyn: We're gonna be digging in today.
Karen: What the listeners don't know is that we've already started talking and had to force ourselves to
Robyn: start already now because we're getting
Karen: Exactly. .
Robyn: Let's start with what you've seen as the most common reasons people struggle
Shannon: with disordered eating.
What are they? It's funny, my first answer would be like, you're a woman in our culture Yeah, it takes the check yes but I would [00:03:00] say the two top is for sure our diet culture and then the weight stigma that exists in our culture, looking at just how being in a larger body that being overweight, fat is considered the worst possible thing that you could be, that people are going to all these extraneous lengths.
To not be that's a big piece. And so looking at growing up, if that's the messaging you received at home, on top of you're just receiving in our culture, that makes you feel like something's wrong with your body and that it needs to be fixed. That just creates a really disordered relationship.
Where we see a lot of yo yo dieting just the on and off diets, and then those that end up with more eating disorder, and eating disorders are more common than what we think I think that's some of the problem is that a lot of people who have weight stigma aren't looking at someone who isn't a larger body and they're basically doing all behaviors of anorexia, but their body doesn't look like that.
And then they can be applauded. I'm like, Oh, it's so good. You didn't eat that. And it was like, Oh, but you have no idea what's the mentality behind that. So that's huge. then just our diet culture, it's just ever changing. And the [00:04:00] things change, but it's all the same of the morality with food that's created things being good or bad.
And then that sense of then I'm good or bad Based on how I'm eating.
Karen: Yeah, and you would think that it would be getting better. That people would be starting to lean into the fact that it doesn't matter the way I look. Or I have so many other food choices so that I should be able to make good decisions.
But it feels like it's worse than ever
Shannon: before. Yeah, I think that there's for sure this push of all bodies. We're seeing that even in stores. They're stores that have full figured women, larger bodies, so that is happening, so it's not to dismiss that's happening, but then we also have people who are going to all these other measures to not be that, I feel like I go on a whole soapbox of just Our food industry, big pharma, there's the medical, it all goes together, I'm just like, how bad is this ? So it's, even if we look at how people measure off of BMI and the way BMI was created, Yeah, it was all pharmaceutical drugs.
Can you talk
Robyn: about that for one sec? We have so much to get to, but how was BMI created? Because it feels so not [00:05:00] accurate.
Shannon: It's not accurate at all.
It literally changed overnight because it, it was fueled by Big Pharma. It was fueled by these weight loss drugs. And so overnight people who were normal then went to overweight. and it's all measure of height and weight. So it doesn't take into account if you have muscle. It doesn't take into account if you're just a larger bone frame.
It doesn't take into account it. Any of that, but it's an insurance measure. in order for a doctor to get coverage with insurance, there has to be, I think five markers. And so that's why they use BMI, but I have clients that are like, I'm still not fit enough because I'm not in the normal category.
I'm still in overweight or I'm still an obese. My
Robyn: husband just went to the doctor for his checkup and it came up and the doctor was like. This BMI says you're in this category, not to say he's a thin man, cause he's not, but he's a very muscular guy.
Yeah. Yep. He's bigger bone anyway the doctor said to him. I want you to not worry about that. We have all of your data in terms of blood and your blood pressure. Everything else
Shannon: is good. However, which is so good. Cause there's plenty of doctors out there who are not that and just, health professionals in general, they still use it as a measure, but that's part [00:06:00] of where we look at what are your blood values say? How are your behaviors? That's going to dictate your health over. I'm making a, an equation of dividing height and weight.
Karen: And Shannon, we were talking about when we first met this whole idea around food is something that is part of our daily lives. you can give up alcohol, you can, give up a lot of different things, but food is something that's just.
We have to have food in our day to day. Can you just talk about from the beginning, of how people.
Make those choices or are their biggest trip ups? I guess is the best question in making the decisions on what to eat.
Shannon: One of the things to remember is the whole notion of eating when we're chewing and swallowing. We're engaging the same cranial nerves that we do when we're a baby of suck, swallow, breathe.
It's those same nerves. are engaged. There's also the part of like how food was growing up, that's a huge part.
Robyn: So let's talk about what somatic experiencing is because then we can relate it all because I see how you've been able to see from all of your work and all of your training how it all comes together.
Shannon: [00:07:00] 100%. Cause I can say as a dietitian prior to my somatic practitioner training as I was starting out, I would have clients come in and I'd weigh them and I'd look at their food journals and look at what was going what was not going right.
And, through these layers of the intuitive eating and the somatic work has by far been the deal breaker for me, it's been such a game changer because it's really looking at the body. The somatic experiencing practitioner training that I'm in was created by Peter Levine.
So somatic experiencing, it's study of trauma and how we hold it in our body. The training itself is all on shock trauma, so if I've gone through A shock trauma. I'm holding that into my body. So like Karen, we were talking about your son with having early infancy stuff. There's a lot of if there was the tubes and all this stuff there's normal, is this pushing push away.
They couldn't do that. So it's central nervous system. It stays in there. And our central nervous system is set by the age of one and a half to two years old. So if we look at how was. Nursing. How was eating? How was the home environment? Was [00:08:00] there an alcoholic parent? Was there a neglectful parent?
Was there a lot of arguing? All of that impacts the central nervous system as we're young. And so when we look at someone who might have eating issues, that's a part of I'm now asking, how was your birth? Was there any birth trauma? How are things when you were like those first two years of life, How were they?
What was home life like? What were parents like? What was feeding like? Those are all pieces. I've had clients of even just textural stuff because they got started with solids too early. May have choked. Now there's this fear of choking, fear of gagging, and it just continues.
So it's all stuff that we don't tend to think about and we just stay real surface of, Oh, I don't know, I don't know what to do. And it's so multi layered, the food relationship when we look at, let's say when we're in a very stressful situation, So if I look at an animal in the wild, so if let's say an antelope is getting hunted by a lion, it's fight flight reaction is cortisol increases.
Blood glucose goes into its muscles. It flees, right? So it goes into flight and once it knows it's safe, it shakes out. [00:09:00] That's its natural peace. It's shaking out all their energy. We don't shake. So the main thing of what we seek is connection. So it's like the difference of someone being like, how was your day?
Versus then someone putting their hand on your shoulder and being like, How was your day? it just elicits right? emotion. Because now you're like, Oh, yeah, I feel comforted. So when we don't have that insert food, I can eat and I can feel like a nice little hug in my tummy.
I can really feel that. And so when that connection starts being made, it's easy to go towards the food. If I look at the flip of my needs weren't met, I'm going into shut down, which is a freeze response. I don't need food. So now I'm going to be more restrictive. My mind is completely blown.
Karen: Really? We have had so many conversations about so many things, child trauma, things like that, our emotions, but I never connected it with food before ever.
Shannon: And it's so layered, right? Because there's also this part of which I see a lot with women with boundaries, So do you tend to say yes when you really mean no, do you take things on? And a lot of these women that you might talk to are [00:10:00] empathic, So it's I can feel what other people are feeling. You're merging. One of my teachers is been like foundational in helping me with teaching me about the boundary piece and how interconnected it is. So I can sit with a client.
And they're telling me their story and I'm merging with them of Oh my gosh, and then I'm carrying it home with me when I go home. So one of my tools is feel your feet, seat back, feel into you. And I can still hold space with me and still be with you.
I don't have to merge when people are merging. That's some of where. I have no boundary. So then I might be, Oh, I am only eating this. I might then have more rigid rules. I'm then super boundary with myself with, or. I'm really not into a lot of relationships. I had a lot of boundaries up walls up with relationships, but like now I'm going to have zero boundary with myself when I go home and I'm stuffing my face with food.
Wow. That's big. . And two, if I don't have boundaries, I can eat and then feel my body. And now I feel me, I feel this. Oh, I'm here. So there's all these pieces of where we don't look at because we can't escape food, we have to [00:11:00] have food, but our relationship with food is, there's just so much to it, and it's hard because our culture keeps it all up here, keeps it so surface, what you're eating, oh, you're terrible, you shouldn't eat this, you should feel guilty if you do that, no, this is better, right?
So if I'm just staying here, it's really hard to come down here and look at all of these layers that are underneath.
Karen: And all the negative, the control, the deprivation, the cutting calories, like all, even the words that we use to
Shannon: describe that are such negative
Karen: Where have you been throughout life, Shannon?
Robyn: it's so interesting talking about this and the ahas I'm just having in my own brain about myself, about my sister, about my daughter, about
Shannon: my husband. I honestly as Karen
Robyn: knows, I am a crier. I just want to literally ball. Yeah.
Shannon: That's the part where this is some of where I've loved the somatic work.
Cause it's Oh, that makes so much sense. And that's the part with my clients that they're like, Trying to figure out the why especially my clients with an eating disorder if they may not know there isn't there wasn't like this [00:12:00] thing that happened, but it may have been a boundary crossed where there was a maybe sexual assault that was in high school or a college and you went into shutdown or I don't want to be attractive so I'm going to make sure I'm eating or I was in a car accident and that's stuck in my body like it's Not realizing how those really impact the system and then how we want to show up.
And it shows up in more than just food. That's just obviously what I do. It's showing up for sure in other areas, but it's so much the sense of just feeling really seen and this sense of Oh, it's not my fault. It's just this releasing of. Really forgiveness. Yes.
Robyn: And then, because I know we're going to go into even more, before we do that, can we also define intuitive eating, because that is a part of all of this as
And what is that? Yeah, so intuitive eating is, it was created actually in the 90s by Evelyn Trively and Elise Reich. So they're two dietitians that created this. So it's been around for a really long time. And it's buzzy now, so you have to be careful with that. But essentially it's a very anti diet approach [00:13:00] to food.
It's helping you essentially reconnect to yourself to be able to listen to hunger, to fullness, to the foods that make your body feel good and energized moving your body in a way that feels kind and joyful, and really healing from the trauma from dieting. That's really what it is. So it's interesting.
when I did my training for intuitive eating, I was gearing my practice towards it. I was really seeing like the traditional way that I was taught as a dietitian. Was not working I would see a client and more so for clients that I was seeing for weight loss I would have a client come in and they keep their food journal, I'm doing all the things I'm taught I'm weighing them and then they'd stop coming because I then became the food police yeah, I'm replicating mom or there's the transference that started happening so It was like, okay, this is not working.
So what would happen if we didn't keep a food journal? What would happen if we don't weigh? Let's just take off these measures. That's oh, I had such a good week, but I didn't lose any weight. Then my week was horrible. That's what it ends up feeling like. So it was we're doing away with that.
And a lot of times I have [00:14:00] clients will come in and be like, okay, I want to lose 20 pounds and then I'll start intuitive eating. I'm like, it does not work that way. Because the problem is. When you're dieting, you're eating below your means. You're eating below, typically, your basal metabolic rate.
If we look at the studies that have been done just to research what happens when we diet we are following a lot less than that of what people do. And so what happens is when we're losing weight, the majority of weight that's lost is muscle tissue. The more muscle tissue and lean mass we have, the higher our metabolism is.
So when people stop dieting, And go okay, this is where I want to sit. They can't because they've lost all this muscle tissue. and they've starved themselves. So the body's response is, Oh, we just were starving. I need to make sure I put on some fat for reserve, Like our body is survival.
It isn't I got to go fit in that bathing suit and two months. And so our body does not do that. So that's right. So then we just keep swinging and swinging and swinging. And that's. When we look at that, the impact it has on the metabolism, that's why you get to the point where you can't do what you did before.
Oh, I used to be able to just eat this much and I could lose weight like that. That stops happening [00:15:00] because your metabolism is blunted. So then it's this relational piece with how do we accept where you're at? Because even if you try to lose 20 pounds, you're going to gain all that weight back and then some.
And then you're going to be in a worse position, So in our current state with the injections, right? Like people who are on the semi glutides, they go off of it. The majority of what they're losing is all muscle mass. And then they're regaining all that weight plus additional weight. And just the gastric emptying, there's all the side effects to it. And it's not to shame anyone who's on it, but it's just knowing, I don't think a lot of people have the information on really what happens you're on it for life this isn't a, on it for a couple months.
Karen: Shannon, I'm still not sure I completely understand what you mean, though, by intuitive eating. I tell this story from time to time that my mom used to teach us this even as kids that before we opened up the refrigerator door, that we think about what is our body really craving to eat so that we didn't get distracted by the ice cream or whatever else.
Yeah. It really took a minute and thought about what do I really want? Is it something salty? Is it whatever it was? Is that intuitive?
Shannon: Yes. That was [00:16:00] wonderful. Yeah. And it's looking at there's no rules, right? it's not like I don't eat breakfast cause I'm intermittent fasting.
It's if you wake up and you're hungry, you eat and let's say I'm craving pasta. I have the pasta and I noticed, how do I feel? It's that's some of the shifting because one of the things when we look at intuitive eating is permission. That's like the crux of healing the relationship with food.
So I'm encouraging clients to eat the foods that basically have been banned, which is basically carbohydrates, like in this current culture of bread, and you can eat pasta. Just pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel energized? Do you feel tired? it's, Allowing their bodies to give us the data versus me dictating what they need to do.
So that's the difference is. Paying attention and sometimes they're even looking at their diet history of where they felt really good But there was all these rules even clients that I have where let's say it might be hard for them to go back and eat Salad or vegetables or grilled chicken because they and their head have associated that well, that's a diet So that's I bring in some somatic stuff into that of [00:17:00] just how do we help work on blending that, just because I have a salad doesn't mean that I'm dieting. I'm actually leaning into, I'm supporting my body and it feels really good, but that's going to take a lot of work. It's not Yep, I can do it. It's noticing what comes up, what the resistance might be, and really working with that versus override, override. Then it doesn't stick.
Karen: Do you have specific advice for food cravings? A lot of people crave sugar, or they crave their caffeine, their coffee. Knowing that those foods are probably not intuitively good for them and yet that might be the thing before they open up the refrigerator door or whatever that , they want to
Shannon: have, how you deal with that?
So I have an exercise I have clients do specifically to more like the sugary craving that they pick a meal and they eat it either right after the meal or half hour after the meal. And there's no distraction, no screen, no TV, they're sitting at a table, counter, just them and the food, and they're eating it very slowly.
They're noticing, how do I feel before I'm eating? Noticing am I excited? Am I anxious? Am I nervous? And [00:18:00] then, take a bite. Notice what does it taste like. Notice the mouthfeel. Notice the texture. Notice the flavors. Is it meeting your expectation? I'm slowing down. A lot of times when people crave food, they eat it really fast because it's just about getting it versus slowing down and actually tasting it.
My taste buds have a satiety response to it. So if I am looking at, hypothetically, let's say I eat something and bite one's delicious, bite two's delicious, bite three is good, four is good, Five is fine. Six is meh. Can I discern when I'm at fine to meh? Because then I'm just eating it to eat it. And if I have permission, I can stop when it just stops tasting good.
But I have to, I say it's like couples counseling with food. It's hey, I want to get to know you a little bit differently. I want to spend some time with you and really see what you have to offer. And so I'm being more intentional. with that food. And it is amazing.
Some clients I have, they're like, I don't even like it. it literally was just about getting it. So it shifts it. and not every food is that it's this then maybe more particular [00:19:00] I only want this cake with this type of frosting with this type of moisture to it versus yeah, it's just birthday cake.
I don't want that, right? you just become more aware of what really your likes and dislikes are. But You have to do it in a way where you're in your body, I'm in and I'm able to engage with food versus I'm in flight, eating in the car, shoving in my face, just about getting it.
I'm not even tasting it, bite one taste and then it's I'm checked out. Oh my goodness,
Robyn: that's so true. so many things we
Karen: don't think about. Yep.
Robyn: And so when you're working with somebody, you're integrating the intuitive eating with the somatic
Shannon: experiencing. Yeah, because what I found in this for me was somewhat of the game changer is intuitive eating is all about listening to your body.
But if someone's in a constant state of fight flight or completely shut down, nothing's happening. they're not here in their body. So I have to help them be able to feel safe to be in their body. And depending on their trauma, they may not want to be in their body. So it's these little invitations.
And it might be like, do you notice a part that feels really neutral[00:20:00] in your body? it's just getting to know your body in a different way. And a big part too when we're looking at digestion of like hunger cue, if I'm in a fight flight state all day, which is those are like my clients that Oh, I don't feel hungry all day.
I can go all day without eating. That's that's cortisol high fight fight. And especially women as we age. That's going to increase more cortisol, which increases storing more fat, that's this whole perpetual piece of what we get stuck on versus can I, and I literally have clients I want you to set a timer to go off three, four times in a day.
Pause, notice your feet, notice your seat, notice your back. I'm just noticing this, that I'm just gently inviting to come in as they get more and more comfortable, then I'm going to add more layers to that as far as then before you go and eat, because ideally, if I'm looking at logistics with food, ideally, someone's eating every three to four hours.
That's all metabolically digestively. It takes us to metabolize and to digest food. And. When I have the combinations that I need if I have protein being a really important piece, it's not like [00:21:00] the piece It's an important piece. I still need whole grain carbohydrates. I still need unsaturated fats. I still need color in my diet But when I have those, that's all it takes me.
And so then my blood sugar is starting to plummet. If I go all day, this is then where I'm really moody, really hangry, So it's I'm angry and pissy because I'm so hungry, That's a sign I've waited too long. When I'm in that place, because I'm more in this survival response. I increased my chances hugely of overeating because I'm not going to hear my body say Oh, I've had enough.
It's I'm starving. I need food. Yeah. So those are pieces of where do I start to notice the nudges of my body starting to say Hey, I'm starting to get hungry. Versus a lot of my clients just know when their body's screaming at them. They just know I'm really freaking hungry. Probably an hour before that, maybe even before that's when I want you to, yeah, so then your body's not in that state of stress. But it's hard because we live in a really fast paced culture. So it's right. Everything's on the go. A lot of people are eating in the car they're eating while they're [00:22:00] working. we look at the way our body is, we should ideally be spending anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes with eating.
And what most people do is anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes. Oh, yeah. I would say even less than 12, eight. Why is it so
Karen: long? I'm
Shannon: just curious. It's all the digestion, If there's this part of, if I'm chewing again, my cranial nerves are doing so much, There's this whole part, even just my system getting prepping of we're going to eat soon.
So if I'm out, I smell the food. My stomach already, the gastric juices are starting. The digestive process is just beginning. So then if I'm chewing and I'm swallowing, if I'm allowing like it takes 20 minutes for my stomach to tell my brain, you've had enough, you're good.
But if our meal is 8 minutes, I'm shoveling everything in that's there because I never even gave my time for my body to talk.
And if we look at other cultures more like European cultures, they have siesta. Like they really make space for the experience and we don't. That's right.
Robyn: It becomes, I
Karen: remember when I was young, [00:23:00] we would always sit at the dinner table and it would be almost an hour. now, we do that on the weekends, but during the week, we are on the go all the time.
So I never even gave it a thought that it was better for me to sit. I'm one of those that shovel it in really quickly and to move on.
Shannon: Wow. Yeah. ?
Robyn: I changed the way I was eating about two years ago and it changed my life. I eat more than I ever did.
And I happened to end up losing weight because of it. , I'm just much more imbalanced with myself and my body. And I don't. Fear food. I used to fear food and I would yeah, starving myself and that wasn't working for me. Over COVID it became super prevalent for me because I did gain weight over COVID
Shannon: everyone gained weight over COVID. That was not.
Robyn: But now I'm grateful. I'm grateful because it, because of it, it forced. And I think I probably still have so much more now that I'm thinking of all the somatic experiencing parts of things, but I will say that I do think it forced me to look at [00:24:00] what I was doing, what I was putting in my body.
I thought I was being healthy, in quotes. Yeah. And I feel much healthier my whole mind, everything across the board, my doctor was like, what did you do? So When you can get educated about it, and I don't fear things the way I did. think
Karen: many people might assume that if I spend more time at the dinner table or more time eating that I would actually eat more.
Robyn: what you're right.
Karen: I'm just gonna eat real quick and then put it away.
Shannon: That's a part of your environment is a really important piece. We will end up when we're looking at our food. environment, we recreate how our food environment was as a child, the feeling of it, the emotion of it, So if it was stressful, if it was a lot of anger, if it was hurried, we will recreate that. in some capacity. So the environment in which you eat, and this is where a lot of people eat and watch TV or watch their phone, If there's a disconnect, and that's probably the system keeping it safe, Because our bodies are amazing and what they'll do. [00:25:00] I don't have to go there. I'm just going to eat. And for some, like I have some clients where I'm like, if that's what helps you to eat, then do it. But we're going to work on how do I make the food environment. Safe. Because that's what our systems are always tracking.
They're always tracking. Do I feel safe? Am I safe? That's it, So if someone was brought up where food, there were certain foods that were demonized, they were demonized for eating too much or this or that, that's going to be the sense of unsafety. So some of what the work is how do we create an environment that allows their system to be safe?
To feel into the here and now that they are in their adult self now and not back then when they were a child and creating the emotion that they want to feel so that's some of that work of where again we can stay caught up in the what of Oh, I'm eating this I'm eating that but really this foundational piece is safety with food.
How am I eating? What's the environment that I'm eating in?
Robyn: If I
Karen: know food is also very expensive now. So lot of my husband just got back from the grocery store. It's I can't believe I just spent 400 [00:26:00] on.
So if you are watching your budget if you are trying to just minimize the choices that you make in the grocery store, because of expense.
Are there any foods that you feel like are really worth Spending the money on like nutritionally. Are there key nutritional elements? Is it fruits? Is it vegetables? Is it a really good lean organic protein? Yeah. Specific things that we should really be looking to incorporate
Robyn: Yeah, I
Shannon: feel like if you're going to be picky, I would for sure look at where your money's going with protein and what animal sources that you're buying.
I think that's Huge. And I think following the dirty dozen with fruits and vegetables feels important, I'm big with looking at there's nothing that has high fructose corn syrup, those sorts of things that kind of can be sneaky when we don't realize it.
really do feel like if I was going to spend where I'm going to prioritize my money is For sure. Where's my meat? If I'm eating meat, where's my meat fish? Where's that coming from? Especially in the States. And then the dirty dozen with my fruits and vegetables. But to say that I would also say I've had clients that were like, oh [00:27:00] I, it wasn't organic.
So I didn't want to eat it. No That's okay. So I think that's all I can say that from the privilege that I sit at versus like someone who be like, that might be like, I have to buy the meat that's on sale at the grocery store. That's fine. So I think that's the part of the economical piece is a real piece when we look at our food system.
Which is again that's all I had said earlier with the soapbox of like big pharma and or medical, they all go together, unfortunately. But I do think that it is looking at how you're prioritizing the supporting of your body, for those that don't have an eating disorder, disordered eating issues with food. And this is where we go this is how I help to try to lead people. Generally speaking, our bodies feel really good when we have enough protein and enough unsaturated fat in our diet, but we still need those whole grain carbohydrates.
That's where our B vitamins are coming from, fibers coming from, we still need them. And then we need color, we need our fruits and vegetables. But that sometimes just takes work depending on what your relationship with food is to get to that place where that feels supportive. Versus having that and then [00:28:00] I'll have clients that if they have that, they get the, excuse my language, they get like the fuck it, I'm not I'm in a tailspin, and then, if they can't have it, they may go into screw it, I messed up, the day is done I think that's again, it's the psychological relationship that's there, where That's why I'm saying if you can't get those things, it doesn't make it to where you're screwing up.
So why bother? So don't even bother taking care of yourself. It's just doing your best with the means that you have. Yeah, totally.
Robyn: You have five foundations to healing your relationship with food and your body.
Can you go over a few of them with us? Yeah.
Shannon: So The first one is probably the biggest one. That's the one I'm spending a lot of time witnessing. The damage of diet culture. . So this is where I'm looking at my physical symptoms. I shared those a little bit like Weight gain, metabolism being blunted, loss of hunger cues, loss of fullness cues that can be from chronic dieting, right?
If I don't have to pay attention to my body when I'm just supposed to eat these macros or what I'm plated I don't have to pay attention to any of that, so I, for sure, lose all those signals. Being really tired, duh, because I'm not eating, so then, therefore, I'm not sleeping well.
A lot [00:29:00] of times when you're not eating enough, Your body can almost feel like this low state of anxiety or just not being able to fall into a deep sleep because it doesn't have the nourishment to do if I'm looking at socially, like I may be avoiding food situations or social events that have food situations.
I'm comparing myself to what other people are eating. I may mirror how I eat with other people or I'm going to eat differently. those are. Those are for sure pieces. Psychologically, it's the constant worry about food, constant worry about am I going to gain weight if I eat this? I'm counting calories or points or grams of this.
I'm having strict rules around what I'm going to eat, how I'm going to eat, all of those things. Being really fearful of your body, not trusting your body. And then behaviorally, it's looking at if I have a food rule and I break it, that's like the e screw the day.
Or if I eat too much, I'll skip the next meal to make up for it. doing all those things. I only exercise to burn calories or to change my body. And We look at literally we're inundated that with our [00:30:00] society, like that is what our diet culture has taught us to do. So it's a lot of repair.
It's a lot of going back and looking at how do you feel and looking at, too especially someone who maybe was in a larger body as a kid and what was taught to them, right? That's imprinted. So there's a lot of undoing and there's a lot of screw you mom, I'm going to eat this, There's a lot of that.
So it's. Really looking at that psychological relationship and how I'm helping my client to feel more in tune to them, what they want, how they're caring for their self. And it's slow. I think that's one of the things, especially when we're using the somatic, it's literally like watching grass grow.
It's slow. Cause we're going at the pace of the central nervous system, which is slow versus up here in the head. It's come on. So that's a part that can be frustrating for some the impact it has is immense it's so great because you're changing your body and your system and not just the head, not just cognitive, which we still need cognitive change.
But we're helping the body to sync up with that. So that's a big one. The gift of [00:31:00] permission is the other one that's huge. So when we don't have permission with food, we stay stuck in this forbidden fruit cycle where let's say I have the forbidden food and I'm restricting. Then I allow myself to have it, then I overeat, then I'm in this binge cycle, then I kick it back out, and now I'm restricting, and then I just rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.
So if I have clients rank their foods of what are their fear foods, and we start with what I call more of a lower charge food. Like a food that's sometimes goes bad, sometimes I'm okay with it. That's what we start with. And we do the exercise that I actually just explained.
I want you to eat this 30 minutes after a meal and the importance of that is so it's not filling hunger that we're literally eating it to experience the taste of it, the mouthfeel of it, not to fill us. I remember I would be like, Oh, I'm not eating dinner, I'll just go through Dairy Queen and get a big ol blizzard, right?
but I'm still hungry, because I wasn't satisfied, and so sometimes it's good to be like, I really don't want to do that for a meal, I really want that for a dessert, If we're reconnecting to the food itself, I want it to be just about the taste of the food because that's why [00:32:00] we like it.
That's why we want it versus I'm eating this food to fill me. Now, if it's something more savory, I want to make sure I'm pairing it with things that also help my satiation. So let's say someone has mashed potatoes. I want to make sure that I'm also having protein and maybe some of the vegetable in there to help.
That's going to also satisfy me. So I'm not just eating a plate of mashed potatoes, So it's not to create a rule, but it's more about how am I shifting to do I like this? How do I like it? So that part is a really big piece and the forgiveness piece of how am I embracing, forgiving my body and, or forgiving myself for the way that I showed up.
It's like I said, the somatic piece and even the intuitive eating piece even listing what I just said about the impact of diet culture. It's Oh my God. Yeah. I was totally taught that. I was taught that and didn't even realize I was taught that because it's hidden. Even when I'm watching movies or shows with my kids, it's Oh my God. Like my kids are like, mom, they just said there's something wrong because that person's fat or they say this or that. They know I'm about to lose we're not watching this show, this is terrible, but it's, they're inundated
Robyn: and we've all been inundated even when we
Shannon: were younger. Oh, for [00:33:00] sure.
Robyn: And, so it's perpetuated, and I'm sure, even our mothers. They were looking at ads of these very perfect looking women and they were trying to be that and, it's like this has gone on for
I think that's the biggest piece is we look at, and I'm saying this, I'm not discrediting that men are for sure impacted by this. But women are profoundly impacted by this and it really is there's a matriarchal generational piece that's there It's how was your mom? How was your grandmother?
How was your great grandmother? How was all that taught because that's what's passed down, So it's we look at trying to change the cycle it may not stop I look at My grandmother was very focused on body and food, and then so was my mom, and then I was, that was like my healing, it's why I do this work, it was literally brought to me as my gift of healing that then I can share with others, even though I am doing my best in my house to talk about body very positively.
I have a 14 year old daughter where, she leaves my house and she's [00:34:00] still in our culture. So it's a lot of navigating conversation. She still has friends who are going to talk about their bodies in a certain way. I may not completely end it, but I'm starting the breaking of the cycle.
And then she will further it. And then her daughter will further it, it goes down for generations. That's why they say your healing heals generations. That happened before you and after you, but it really does start, right? There's a big piece and we're looking at raising our kids, the number one thing you can do is to look at your own food relationship. How are you showing up with food? How are you talking about food? How are you talking about your body? They are little sponges that just. Soak it all up. So that part's a really big piece. So I still teach my kids, we have foods that your body need, like they need for energy for you to go play all your sports and to sit at school and to learn and to grow. And then we have foods that are just fun, but we need those foods that are really supporting your body. And we still need fun food.
fun food is still fair game, but we can't do all those things just on fun food because. It's like we didn't put enough fuel into the engine. So it's still that, but it's that, I have a client that came in [00:35:00] and his son was 14 and he was like, I'm so proud of him.
he comes home and he has. cashews for snack. He's like really prioritizing his protein. And so we're going on , this kid's like shutting down. And I was like do you ever take him to the grocery store? What about letting him pick out what he wants? And he was like I don't know if he brings that stuff in the house, I'm going to eat it.
I was like that's a separate issue. But what 14 year old wants to eat cashews as a snack? I don't know.
Come on! So it the dad's food issues were then onto his son's of I don't want to have Cheez Its in the house. I don't want to have goldfish in the house. I will eat all those. then we need to work on your relationship because you're totally messing up your son's relationship.
But that's super, super common. So it's really looking at kids also want to be kids. they want those foods. And so it's, how am I providing permission? And that one's a big piece. Like I've seen it with my kids where. If I bring a certain food in let's say I go grocery shopping on Sunday, and if it's gone on Monday, granted, I have four kids, so food goes pretty quick in my house, but if it's gone by Monday, I'm like, okay, I gotta buy more.
So I've done that with several foods where then I just buy in abundance. And I [00:36:00] also am claiming I have the financial means to do that. So there's privilege in being able to do that. But being able to see Oh, if I buy two boxes of this, now the second box literally just sits there because when I rewind and talk about that permission activity that I have, my clients do the one main part I forgot to say.
Whatever food they choose, they have to buy two of. So they have to buy two boxes of the cookies, two boxes of the chips or ice cream or whatever. Because the abundance piece, that part psychologically is a huge part of Oh, I better eat this now because it's going to be gone. Where if I can eliminate that of No, I Oreos.
I was like, once the first box of Oreos is gone, you need to go buy another box to replace it so you always have two. Wow. So you know, it's always there. And it literally, it helps to decrease that charge of huh, it's not a big deal. I don't really care. Wow.
Karen: So subtle. And yeah, I'm sure really powerful.
Shannon: unbelievable. You are like full of Wisdom, guidance, all of it.
Karen: what's the biggest one that you've utilized in your own life for your own [00:37:00] nutritional food journey? Has there been anything that's really stood out for you that's been a real game changer?
Shannon: For me personally, I feel like my two biggest pieces were permission with food. So that one I've really honed and really used I grew up obsessed with ice cream. My mom actually owned an ice cream shop when I was growing up and for a short, maybe two, three years, but it was in my young teenage years.
I was like, love it. My husband jokes you've literally been to every place in St. Louis But when I would get it, I would eat it so fast. Like it was just about having it. So really slowing down and tasting and allowing if I want it, I had it. And I just paid attention to like, how do I feel?
So Robyn, I know you're talking a little bit about your daughter, but I also have Hashimoto's. So I had to make a big change with taking gluten out of my diet and I knew that just Before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's, I was not doing well with gluten. I just had a lot of GI stuff, and I took it out, and it was, like, a game changer.
But there was a grieving to it not having delicious pizza. Because I'm from New York, and I love being able to fold my slice of pizza and have it, and I can't do that. [00:38:00] Same with not having Italian bread or French bread or good sandwiches. There were certain things. And there's grieving.
There is loss. and, some people can be like, Oh, just get over it, right? But there's literally a shift. Just the permission, and there was times where I was like, Screw it. I'm having the pizza. And then my stomach would kill and I'm like, Nope. it's not worth it. But I had to do that a couple times.
To be like, no, my body is really hurting and I'm hurting my body by doing this, so I'm not going to have it. So that part has been a huge piece. My other piece was really changing exercise. I had a lot of rigor and hardness in my exercise. And, part is aging. So I'm 46 now, so I can't do the same stuff I did when I was in my 30s, nor should I, just because of being perimenopausal and too much of all that actually increases more cortisol.
So just bringing more gentleness in has been a really big shift of just stuff I would say that didn't quote unquote didn't count, that was Always my stuff with, I was a collegiate athlete, but then it was also a personal trainer in a gym where literally I was picked based on how my body looked.
So it was a lot of healing with I [00:39:00] can just do things that feel fun and feel good. And that really does make a difference because then there's no cycling. It's Oh, this feels fun. I want to go and walk, or I want to go do yoga, or I want to go push this weight or whatever it ends up being, right?
that to me has been a really paramount shift. And then bringing in a lot of somatic stuff in my day to day. Like I said, one of my favorites is I just, Pause my day, I feel my feet seat back, just notice how I feel. One of the things I've also done is what's called nasal breathing, where you're just concentrating on breathing through your nose.
So I'll do this when I'm walking. So if I'm walking and talking, I'm breathing all through my mouth. even as we're talking, I'm noticing like, oh, yeah, I feel a lot up here in my chest because it's more sympathetic. It's more charged breathing versus breathing through my nose is more parasympathetic.
So it actually helps to regulate and bring my body down. Some people say you could put a piece of tape over your mouth, but that gives me a lot of anxieties. I'm like, I'm not doing that. But there are people who do that.
Robyn: I have friends who did it, and it really did help them tremendously.
Shannon: I did a Breathe strip when I was sleeping. I did that for a good [00:40:00] month. And now I just breathe through my nose fine. It is amazing. I recently just started doing vibration plate, not crazy, like strength vibration plate, but just that low because it brings in the shaking, which helps to regulate our system.
What is that? Ones that are gyms, they have handles where you stand on, but you can get them off of Amazon. It's just a little plate that you stand on and it just shakes. Now, of course there's a marketing.
As is everything, help you lose weight. I don't really see how that happens. But on a system level, because it brings in that slight shaking, it helps to regulate your system. It helps your muscles relax.
It helps. I even had my kids stand on it. One of my friends, she's the one who was telling me that she used it a lot and she's I just keep it in my kitchen and my kids want it. I'm like, that's a great idea. , I would never think that I would put it in my kitchen. Just as my friend said, she's I never thought that I would do that, but It's nice to just stand there and it does help. But even just gentle movement, for me, my system's more freezy, that's what my work has been it's how am I in a healthy down regulating place like that?
I'm finding healthy rest versus shut off and [00:41:00] countering that with bringing more healthy life force energy. So more of that sympathetic. So I do a lot of pushing Pushing on the wall, pushing on the counter, that helps to engage and I actually have quite a few of my clients that I'm doing this with as well of pushing against a door or pushing against a wall and pushing off and just noticing what happens.
you feel more bubbly, you feel more of this chargey space up in your chest. It's engaging more sympathetic energy. Allowing my body to hold more of that has been a big piece of just my journey in helping that and then bringing that in with my clients as well. And let's
Karen: talk a little bit more about that pushing because I'm very fascinated by this.
So we were talking before we started recording about my son, Graham, who just got his wisdom tooth taken out today, and they had to put him they had to use anesthesia to do that, put him out. And he was more terrified of the needle of the IV than he was. Of the actual procedure, and that's because he's carrying, I think, a lot of that fear from when he was just a baby, and he was given a lot of needles through his cancer treatments, and he's still [00:42:00] carrying that around, and I think it was hard for people in the dental office to really understand that, because he's, a 22 year old Guy and what's a needle.
He's been in, in and out of the ER for a lot of different things, but that one thing triggers him so much so that I could see it on the blood pressure machine. His blood pressure was really high. And Shannon that obviously he is carrying that trauma with him, but that doing some pushing might help him.
So if I were to go and explain that to him now, what would you. Have him do exactly. And is there a mindset to it that you have to go into that with or? Yeah, physical push.
Shannon: All of it, I would say it does help to do with a practitioner. So I think that part is a piece just as a safety measure.
But a part would be thinking about when you're young, and when you're having any of those treatments, natural response would be he wanted to push it away, but he couldn't. A piece would be inviting him to think about that, and then to notice, I would have him push off the door, and as he's pushing off to say stop, and repeating it.
But the part you really want to do [00:43:00] is as you're pushing, so right, like you're like in the, staggered stance, push up against the wall and I'm going to take a breath in and then on my exhale, I'm really going to feel my core. I'm going to feel my back and as I'm pushing off, I'm going to say stop.
So then I'm back out here and then I'm going to notice. So what I'm noticing is this charge, stop, and then I'm going to notice coming back down. So this is my sympathetic, my parasympathetic and then I would have him repeat it. Again, I usually have someone repeat something two to three times and just notice how do you feel because that was some of that incomplete processing that didn't happen and it's not a one and done so When we're working with the central nervous system, it's coming back, right?
It could even be like if he's at the gym and let's say he's bench pressing or he's doing a shoulder press, really think about the push. I like that as an addition. I love the door one because I have clients depending on what their situation stop. F you name it, right?
Like it feels. just like that because you're bringing more of that I am present, that power. And that's what we want is to help hold the capacity. So for me, with being more freezy, when [00:44:00] I start doing that, or started, I'm much better. Now, I would do that. And I would instantly start crying and not that crying's bad, but that's also trying to bring me back down because I'm more afraid of the power that I have.
That scares me. So I want to shut it down versus staying in it. So it's just knowing I had to do that really in small increments of being able to do it and stay in this. Okay. I'm okay. So the somatic worker that I've worked with, when I've done the exercise, it was like, I started crying and he was like, okay, put your arms up and it was feeling into just the power of. Having my arms off or I'm in its power span and can I hold this? So it's those little pieces of just working on how I'm engaging more healthy fight energy. my not great fight energy is rage.
Karen: I can see just using that as an exercise when anything is even overwhelming.
Emotion. Yes. Oh yes. Just to recognize the emotion and have an outlet for release, physically
Shannon: releasing. Yes, it makes such a huge difference. Another really great one is even just [00:45:00] dancing, stomping, throwing your almost looking at moving your arms and your legs, like drain pipes to shake out that energy.
It's actually utilizing our body and not just staying up in our head. So this is why it can just keep cycling because our body hasn't completed it. Now let's say I was in a session with your son, it would be bringing it to how it was as a baby. He may not remember all that stuff.
But like his body sure does. And then how am I helping him to feel more into the here and now? So him pushing and then him noticing his feet on the floor, noticing that he's in 2023. Like he's in his body as an adult, but it's, that's no longer there, but it's helping him to complete the cycle that was stuck.
And that's some of the hard part, especially when we have kids who have had stuff as a young kid. Like he had to do it. That was survival. Literally.
Karen: He's been carrying that around for such a long time and not letting it out is the thing that I'm realizing today he needs to do.
Shannon: And two if you were there with him. Hey, touch huge. I'm right here. I'm here with you. One, you're no longer alone to, you don't have to be scared. [00:46:00] Three. We're in 2023, let your system know we're right here.
So there are actually People of all professions in the somatic training, which is great. And one of the assistants in my training was talking actually about a dentist specifically who did the training, who then would recognize, okay, they're starting to get anxious and it would just be bringing touch.
Hey, I'm right here. You're okay. So now that person has become my resource. I can look at them even though I'm freaking out. They're my resource. They're helping me feel into the now. Yes.
Karen: so helpful. The body, it's as we always say, it's like what we're wearing here while we're human beings on the planet, but we are so connected to it in so many more ways, I think, than we realize.
And there's so much. In the body that we don't understand how it works. We don't always ask these questions to really help see that emotional and physical connection that we have. And this conversation has really been such a, I don't know, my, my mind is blown in so many ways about how much I don't know.
Robyn: agree. And I feel like. We've heard the term emotional eating, and [00:47:00] that is a term that I feel like I grew up hearing, and then I worked with Oprah, and so that phrase and that term was definitely talked about a lot during different shows that we did. However, this takes things to a whole other level and really understanding the emotions as well as the body.
I hope that this conversation really gets people to look into it and that this phrase and this method of looking at the way we do eat and do experience things in our body becomes the norm, becomes that mainstream phrase that we, turn to when we're really looking at things.
Shannon: important. Yeah. It's so important. One of the things I feel like I've learned so much and I've had wonderful teachers along the way is to look at and using emotional eating as the example. A lot of times it's those emotions we felt when we were really young that we felt alone in and we didn't know what to do with it.
And that's this part of allowing, it's coming back into the here and now of I'm not alone. I have. A network of people I [00:48:00] can reach out to, hopefully, maybe I have a trusted therapist. I have a family member I could talk to, a friend I can talk to, but I'm not alone in it anymore. And that's some of this piece of where we need connection.
That's the foundation of so much. And that's why we saw eating explode during COVID because there wasn't connection. Connection was so different. So many people shame themselves. I feel like with COVID, like I said, like everyone gained weight. I feel like. If you had trauma, you would for sure gain weight.
It's just what happened. And then you had people go the other way of I'm going to do a thousand sit ups a day. Like flip. But we needed touch and we need a connection. And that was taken.
Robyn: Totally. And something else you brought up with, which is also just, Being a woman, getting older, different things change, and what, to your point, what used to work doesn't work anymore, right?
Shannon: , you have to look at our culture with women, right? As we approach perimenopause and menopause, our bodies are meant to change, when we start our period, we gain weight. When we end our period, we gain weight. It's what's supposed to happen. Now that varies person to person. It [00:49:00] depends on your genetics. It depends on what lineage you're coming from. All of that makes a huge difference. It depends on how you're taking care of yourself.
When we look at what just organically happens as a woman, Sometimes we're fighting a fight that's my body's supposed to be maybe a little bit softer. And it's the shift is supposed to happen versus I'm not going to look like I did when I was in my twenties or thirties, that's just not going to happen.
And there's women still fighting for that. Oh yeah. So that part's a really big piece. And same on the flip, I'll have moms bring girls into my practice, 15, they've gained 30 pounds. I'm like, when she started period last year, she's gaining the weight that her body, everything that makes us a woman is fat.
It's fatty tissue. That's our boobs, our butt, our hips, our thighs, our stomach, the whole area, which a lot of women, that's one of my questions are what's the parts of your body that you feel uncomfortable with? Literally all the parts that make them a woman. So it's that's the shift, right?
Like it's the shift that needs to happen. I'm just celebrating what makes us a woman and our body and that we're supposed to shift and change.
Robyn: I just think this is the first
Shannon: of many conversations and,
Robyn: know I can speak for Karen. [00:50:00] We're so grateful to be connected with you now and really help to educate and facilitate healing.
For so many people that are listening right now. And
Shannon: yeah, I'm so grateful for the opportunity for the conversation. Cause I'm so passionate about it just from my own journey. And then just my work that I do, it's just, It needs to be so many people shouting this message.
Karen: What you do is you take the stigma and the guilt off of people for feeling like they're just weaklings or I'm just addicted to food or I'm just a bad person or all those things that we say about ourselves when we're not looking like everybody else and what you've done is just.
Totally shine the light on the why is this happening? And that's really where we all have to start is to look at ourselves and look at those situations and the why we're doing what we're doing. And once you start shining the light there, I feel then you can release the judgment. And then as Robyn saying, then you really heal because you.
Go to those places where the healing really needs to be. So what a magical thing you do. And thank you for doing it. And [00:51:00] thank you for sharing all of this with us. It's just been such an illuminating conversation. I
Robyn: couldn't agree more. And I feel like Shannon, you're going to be.
not a lot of somatic. I
Robyn: we're gonna have to regroup on this.
Shannon: need to be forming more groups and stuff because That's a part of just and group work just does a different level of healing. That's amazing. So it's all in the works.
Karen: So great. So good.
Robyn: And for everyone listening, if you'd like to work with or find out more about Shannon, visit Awakend Body. com and we'll have that link in our show notes as well. And again, we know we'll be talking to you again.
I look forward to it. I'm going to go
Karen: do some pushing right now. .
Shannon: My pleasure. Thanks for having me. It's been a joy.
Robyn: thank you so much.