Recovering from Binge Eating and Remembering: YOU ARE WORTHY! with Lucy Newport
We’re talking about recovering from binge eating today with Lucy Newport, the Binge Free & Worthy coach. Lucy helps highly sensitive and empathic women connect to their innate worth, free themselves from binge eating and feel more at home in their bodies.
CILIA: Should we start with sharing your journey with binge eating and then how you transitioned that into being able to help others with it?
LUCY: Yeah, sure. So this story isn’t unique to me in any way. It’s a really common binge eating story so hopefully anyone listening to this that struggles with their relationship with food, with their body, with their sense of worth, hopefully you can see yourself in parts of this and feel a little bit less alone.
Because the thing about binge eating is that it can feel really, really fucking lonely. So I feel like from a very young age I was predisposed to later on in my teens develop a binge eating disorder.
Some Predispositions to Binge Eating
One, I was a really sensitive emotional child and I did not know how to contain my emotions. I didn’t know how to process them. I felt really guilty for having these big emotions like I’d kind of explode. I’d have like big rage and I’d be like, oh my God, that’s so embarrassing and I’m so sorry to everyone. And yeah, I didn’t feel safe in expressing my emotions either. So this was like one side.
Another side is that I was definitely a very insecure child as well in terms of like my body image, how my body looked, but also in lots of other ways, like I’m not intelligent enough or I’m not cool enough or I’m not good enough at the things that you’re meant to be good enough at.
There’s just this real, real sense of lack and not enough. And on the body image side, I remember being so young, like when were the Spice Girls big when we were kids?
LUCY: 1997, yes. When I was like seven, seven, eight, I remember like looking at Sporty Spice and doing sit ups.
CILIA: Yeah, me too.
LUCY: She was my Spice Girl. And doing sit ups in my bed like every night being like, I’m going to do a hundred crunches because I want my tummy to look like Sporty Spice. And that’s just heartbreaking to think of this seven year old girl already in that mindset.
And then the third thing that I think led me to later on binge eat is that I definitely felt really restricted around food. So my mother was very health conscious and obviously she wanted to take care of us as a family and like there’s no blame there whatsoever. But, I was really aware of the things that other children were allowed to eat. Or it wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed to eat them, but I had much less access to those things.
So like my friends would have packets of crisps and chocolate bars and they’d have sandwiches with like fun fillings in them. And I’d have like a part of raisins and like cut up red pepper and like a hummus sandwich. And I’d be like, why don’t I get to eat all this fun stuff that other people that my friends get to eat.
So quite early on I had some some restrictive patterns with food and I would like sneak things from the cupboard when I could. Bits of chocolate or glacier cherries. Whatever I could get, I would get it. I’d even like eat frozen chips from the freezer sometimes because I’d be like, oh, that’s a fun thing even though this is just like totally disgusting.
CILIA: They’re chalky, right? Because they’re not cooked. And just really hard.
LUCY: It’s not fun to eat a frozen chip. So yeah, kind of all of that growing up. And then when I was 16, like, you know, and you go through puberty and then you’re suddenly a little bit more curvier and just really conscious of how your body looks. And that really hit me.
I very much wanted to like lose a bit of weight. Looking at photos now I could see I wasn’t a large girl in any way shape or form. But yeah, I wanted to lose some weight. And so again, bless my mom, she really tried to help me. We came up with this thing called the jar, where if I didn’t eat any sweet treats that day, I’d get a pound in the jar. I was like this is great. I’m gonna lose some weight, I’m gonna feel better in my body. And I’m gonna like, get some extra money. This is really great.
And I very quickly developed some, some patterns around my eating, which then led to binge eating. So my first memory of binge eating was going to Tesco’s with my friends during school, Tesco’s a supermarket here in the UK.
The first Binge
LUCY: It was our last year of secondary school so we were allowed to go out to the school gates at lunchtime. And we often went to Tesco and got our lunch, then sat in the park and ate it.
And I was feeling this real, just urge to eat something sweet, the urge to eat what I’ve been denying myself for a few weeks. We left Tesco, we’re going back to the park and I said to my friends, oh, my mum asked me to buy this thing for her, I totally forgot so I need to go back to Tesco
So I went off to Tesco on my own. And I bought two bags of Tesco finest chocolate chip cookies. I think most people in the UK would know what they are. They’re really good triple chocolate cookies. I bought two bags of those and then went into the toilets in the supermarket and ate all eight of those cookies all at once. Really quick in this state of panic, like, got to get back to my friends and I’ve got to get this food.
That was my first ever binge.
After that, I was like, oh, that wasn’t good. I’ve undone all of this dieting that I’ve been trying to do. I just lied to my friends. That didn’t feel good at all.
I didn’t really understand why that had happened, or how I could stop that from happening again. So I carried on. The jar continued, I continued to try and lose some weight and that kept going from 16 to 19 when I moved to London, when I was 19.
For a little bit of time then, I’d say that I “ate pretty normally”, like in quotation marks. And it was the first time I was ever making all my meals for myself. I was in charge of what I could eat. I could eat what I wanted whenever I wanted. And I really enjoyed that sense of freedom and going to the supermarket and picking my meals and all of that.
My relationship with food at that time was pretty good. And then things started to get really stressful at work, like really stressful. And I left the job in the industry that was what I thought that I always wanted to do. And that was a really low point for me because I was like I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. Now this is what I thought I wanted and it isn’t. And I’m here in London and I’m on my own.
I really turned to food at that point as a coping mechanism, as comfort. And I quickly gained quite a lot of weight. And as I gained weight, the restrictions became bigger because I was like, okay, I need tocounteract this. And this is then when I moved more into bulimic patterns.
I would be really like “good” again, air quotations, during the day. First in the morning, I’d have a light lunch, and then by the evening, I’d be like getting all of those binge urges. I’d go to the supermarket, buy all the things, all the crisps, chocolate cookies, just whatever, come home, binge.
And then I’d be like, okay, I need to do something about that. So I’ve just eaten like four or five days worth of food in one hit. So I would take laxatives and then I would go for a run.
On a “health kick”
LUCY: That was a pattern that probably went on for about a year and I’m not a runner AT ALL, I really don’t enjoy running. I tried to fool myself and fool my friends and family that I was doing it for my health. That I was on this big health kick and I’m going to do 5k races and then I’m going to get into half marathons. Yeah, I love running!! This is my life now, really!
CILIA: And they had no idea what was really going on at that point?
LUCY: Yeah, no one knew. So that’s what I did for about a year. Pretty much every night I’d take laxatives and then go for a run. And I had some really scary times in that where it felt like an organ was going to burst or something like that. And I’d be lying on the floor thinking, oh my God, I’m going to have to call an ambulance myself because I feel so sick.
But I felt too much shame to do that because I have to explain to them what happened.
LUCY: And that’s why it feels so lonely because it’s something you have to keep a secret from everybody.
LUCY: The shame around binge eating is such a massive thing. It’s really not talked about at all.
So I managed to pull myself out of that. At that time I was like, okay, I can’t keep taking these laxatives. They’re really damaging my body. Long term, this isn’t good. And I’m just going to stop running because my knees are completely ruined. Running on London pavements every night was just not good. And I was going to see an osteopath to try and sort that out. And I was just like, okay, I need to stop this.
But the binge eating didn’t really stop.
And my weight went up and down again, a lot.
During this time as well, where I was taking the laxatives and running a lot, there were times when my body was smaller. And I really remember people at this time saying things to me like, whoa, you look so good!! You look so good! You look so healthy!
CILIA: Oooh, and that does NOT help.
LUCY: And that does not help. On one hand, I was like, this is the validation that I’ve been looking for. This is what I wanted.
But on the other hand, I am anything but well and feeling healthy. And really, I just want someone to help me. And I don’t know how to help myself. So that was a really strange time like living within those two contradictions, being really aware of them.
Finding Mindfulness & Self Development
LUCY: So after that time, I think my weight kind of crept up gradually. People stopped saying these kind of things to me. I was also really struggling with anxiety. Through this, I got introduced to meditation and yoga, and all these wonderful supportive practices.
And it’s not like I started meditating and overnight, I was like, free from binge eating. It was this… it was this really long process.
Also learning everything I could about binge eating helped, because for the first few years, I didn’t know it was a thing. I’d never heard of binge eating. It was just this strange thing that I was doing. I didn’t know how to stop or why it was happening. Then I learned that it was an eating disorder, and that there are these things that you can do. So I started doing those things.
I started actively looking for help and there was coach that I really wanted to work with. We had a free consultation call- this was probably like, eight years into binge eating and my binge eating spanned a whole 14 years, like it was a long journey.
I didn’t work with this coach simply because I couldn’t afford it. And I know that that help would have been there for me had I asked for it, from my family. If they’d known that I was really struggling with something and that there was someone that could help me with that. I know that we’d have been able to like pull resources and get me that help.
But I didn’t want to have that conversation.
LUCY: So I didn’t, and I didn’t get that help. So it was years and years of piecing it together, working on myself, buying all the self-help books, the self-development books, doing all the things. And then 2017, me and my partner at the time went traveling for six months around Southeast Asia.
That was really good for me because it got me out of my comfort zone a lot. Lots of the patterns that I had from around binge eating, I couldn’t do them because I was always with someone. I was always with my partner. So I couldn’t have those like sneaky binges when I was on my own.
Also being vegan in Southeast Asia, there was a limit to what I could eat. Like most days it was rice and fish so there wasn’t… there was lots of Oreos. That’s all I remember being like the fun thing to eat in Asia. I can’t even look at Oreos now. I just ate too many during that time.
At the end of that period, I did my yoga teacher training. That kind of brought me into this deeper next level of self-awareness and connection to my body. I’m really grateful for that time.
Reaching out for Help
LUCY: By the time I came back to London, binge eating was more of a habit. Like it wasn’t really serving any purpose anymore. It was just something that I had been doing for so many years. It was just running on repeat.
There were lots of times that I could just stop a binge because there wasn’t that charge there anymore. There wasn’t that, Oh my God, I’m getting so much relief from this! I was just kind of going through the motions of the binge.
So at this time I was like, I’m so close. I want to get healthy again. And I, again, I didn’t have much money at all. I just come back to London. I hadn’t been working for six months. I was like, I want to make it as a yoga teacher! So my financial resources were really small.
I went to my doctor and I felt really scared about having this conversation. I remember being in tears as I told them about binge eating and the things that I did. I remember the doctor getting me to lie on the table and she felt around my stomach and was like, where do you feel the pain?
And I was like, well, it’s only really painful when I binge eat and I’ve not been binge today. So there’s no pain. And she…it was like…she completely washed over what I was saying.
Right, I’m going to send you some blood tests. And I was like, okay.. and then like, what about the binge eating? And again, she’s like, let’s just see about the blood tests.
I had the blood tests, got a call from the doctor: your blood’s all normal. It was a different doctor that called me. And I said, okay, that’s great. The reason I went to the doctors that I’m really struggling with binge eating and it’s been happening for years and I’ve I’m really wanting help.
And they’re like, oh, there’s nothing on this report about binge eating so you’d have to make another appointment with your doctor.
I was just like, okay, I’m not, I’m not going down that path. Cause I’d really struggled with going to the doctor for things like anxiety and the support that I needed really wasn’t there. So I was like, okay, I’ve been down this path before with that. I didn’t get what I needed. So I’m going to have to really like do this myself.
CILIA: At this point though, being able to speak out loud that you needed help, not only to the doctor and to the person that called you, but also the coach that you talked to before and didn’t end up working with that must’ve been some sort of pivotal moment for you. That you’ve already three times admitted out loud to somebody else that this was an issue.
Conversations about Eating Patterns are Important
LUCY: Totally and, it’s so scary because you’re thinking about the judgements that they’re having. When you hear about conversations about binge eating, they’re often quite dismissive. You get comments like, oh yeah, I overeat all the time or, oh yeah, I’d like I binged on a pack of crisps earlier. Or “people who binge eat, they just need more willpower,” things like that. Yeah, dismissive is the word that I would use.
Also I had told my partner Mark about my binge eating early on into our relationship.
LUCY: But it was kind of like, this is something that I do a little bit and it’s not that bad. I couldn’t completely hide it from him, but I definitely didn’t tell him everything either. It’s not like a conversation we had consistently where I was telling him what I’ve been going through or he was checking in.
It was kind of like this little conversation we had three times a year. And I know again, that support would have been there from him. I just didn’t feel like I could talk about it and being completely honest with him, which is again, is such a crappy thing about binge eating is not letting your loved ones in, in that way.
CILIA: I remember you made a post where you talked about how to tell your partner about binge eating and that’s coming up to share because of what you just said. Maybe we can talk about like how to move through those like blocks to tell people.
I also just want to… with everything that you’ve said, I’ve been like taking mental notes. I love how in the very beginning you mentioned that you were predisposed to binge eating and you mentioned it was because you were very sensitive, insecure about your body. I feel like so many girls can relate to that.
That’s something that’s so prevalent in media. Even now, little girls have social media with filters and it’s really important to think about what kind of thoughts about their bodies are we creating for little girls who are watching these airbrushed people?
LUCY: Yeah, I’m so glad I didn’t grow up like 10 years later because it would have been even harder. Like social media wasn’t really a thing until I was 16, 17, 18. Thank God.
CILIA: Yeah, I remember we had MySpace, I think when I was 16.
LUCY: Oh yeah, of course.
CILIA: But it was different. You had to wait till you got home and go on your computer it wasn’t on your phone.
But yeah, I could relate to a lot of your story that I also was very insecure about my body. I also really love the Spice Girls. I remember at age 11, like starting to make sure I would breathe into my chest because if you breathe into your belly, your belly expands and I somehow also got that same message that a flat belly is beautiful.
For me instead of getting curvy, my curves didn’t come and I felt like I looked like a boy. My body was very straight and I always wanted that cinch at my waist so then I would restrict food after a certain time, I would wear shoelaces around my waist to kind of like form something. But, I never told anyone, like my parents didn’t know.
I remember also having that same that pain that you said where you said that felt like an organ was going to burst. I remember having that too. And like telling my mom like, oh, my stomach hurts really bad. It feels like something is like moving around in my body. And yeah, and that that was just kind of like brushed over.
It is hard to like admit, that seriousness of what it is that you’re going through and that’s what required to get the help. So that’s why I wanted to touch on your article about how to tell your partner about binge eating. Maybe you can say it also how to tell any loved one, you know, whether it’s a partner or like your best friend, or like your mom or something.
LUCY: Yeah, for sure. I just want to say to what you said then about your experience and not feeling like you could tell anyone…. Dieting and trying to change the shape of our bodies in whatever way… it’s so normal. You go to work, or school, or you go and hang out with your family and it’s a conversation that people have all the time.
I’m doing this diet or all this is coming up, and I’m trying to lose weight for this. Oh, did you see Debbie has been on this diet? and how much weight she’s lost? And it’s something that is spoken about a lot and that is strive towards a lot. And I imagine that everyone having these conversations is also having this inward battle and these struggles. But we’re not talking about it.
That’s what I really feel like we need to start doing is having these conversations, which is what we’re going to get on to the moment. But when I first started talking about this on Instagram, so many friends and family members and all colleagues reached out to me and said, Oh, my God, I’ve struggled with the same thing. Or when I was 16, I also binge ate.
And there were women who were my closest friends when we were 16 and I was going through this and they were also going through this and we didn’t talk about it at all. The loneliness within that experience… we didn’t need need to have that.
So yeah, these conversations are really important. And in terms of having them, I think starting with the people that are closest to you and who you think will understand you. Maybe that’s a partner or a really close friend, or if you have a really good relationship with either of your parents starting there.
And trying to.. I want to say the word casual, but it’s not quite the not quite the right word that’s starting to try and have this conversation…and quite, again, lighthearted isn’t the word, but we feel like we have to bring everything to it. And “it needs to be” and it’s going to be this “big dramatic conversation”. And it doesn’t need to be.
It can be this really simple, hey, I want to talk to you. There’s this thing that I’ve been struggling with, can I tell you about my experience? Can you just just listen to it? It can be as simple as that. And just starting there and seeing what comes of it.
From my experience and the people that I’ve worked with, starting from that point, there’s often that other side, the other person saying, Oh, my goodness, I really relate to this. I’ve had this too. So you can kind of build this conversation around this shared human experience that so many of us seem to have, but aren’t talking about it.
Something else that’s really helpful to have is a little bit of information about what binge eating actually is, because so many people, they don’t know, like still they don’t know. They think it’s sometimes emotional eating or overeating. So being able to be like, look, can I show you this like article on my phone? This is something that I’ve been struggling with, would you mind reading that?
This way it’s not just you being like, oh, there’s this thing that I do and I’m really worried and them not really understanding fully where you’re coming from. Or that it is this thing that lots of people do.
This isn’t everyone’s experience, I know we’ve said that lots of people struggle with this, but it isn’t everyone’s experience. When I spoke to my partner, he hadn’t had that experience himself so it was really helpful to be able to show him some resources.
And again, coming back to that first point about kind of keeping it kind of light and “casual”, it makes it easier for it to be an ongoing conversation. It’s not like this big, oh, we’ve spoken about this thing. It was really big and scary, I’ve kind of got that vulnerability, vulnerability hangover from it and I don’t really want to talk about it again.
It can be this more ongoing open conversation where you can ask, or you can say, we had that conversation last month, well, this is where I’m at with that now. Or, I said that I’ve been struggling with this I actually feel like I really want support now, can you help me in this way?
And being really clear about it with yourself too:
- Why you want to have that conversation?
- Do you just want to be seen and heard in your experience?
- Are you looking for them to be more of a supportive role in your journey?
- Are you wanting like financial support from them? Like if it’s a parent or a partner in your family and you want to get help and can’t afford it yourself.
With that article, I wrote my side from it and then Mark, who was my partner for 12 years, we’re no longer together, but we’re really close friends. He then wrote an article that’s on my site from his side from his perspective as someone who received this information from their loved one.
I’ve had more feedback, more people coming to me saying that they’ve read the side from Mark because it’s given them such relief that it’s okay to have these conversations with people. And for the most part, if someone’s in your life and they care about you, they want to help you, they’re not going to shame you.
Freeing yourself through Present-Moment Awareness
CILIA: I think another piece to bring in to for people to even feel that courage to have these conversations, to initiate them, and to like you said, to drop in and see, why do I want to have this conversation? I think a great piece to bring in there is we talked about how yoga and meditation really helped you be in the present moment. And we were writing in our emails before that we want to talk about how present moment awareness and practicing mindfulness is super helpful for binge eating.
So I guess my question is maybe sharing a simple practice for anyone listening. I know there’s so many different mindfulness practices. So I don’t know if there’s one that stands out for you?
LUCY: Yeah, sure. So all of that, yes. Practices that bring us into the present moment… things like yoga, meditation, breath work, dance and walking. I think walking is like one of the best things ever, most underrated things ever.
CILIA: Especially out in nature.
LUCY: Yes. It’s good. Barefoot if you can in nature.
CILIA: That’s my favorite. Barefoot in nature. Let the soil just like get in between your toes.
LUCY: Yes! This is total tangent, but I’ve been doing this thing lately where I collect soil from like out on my walks and I bring it home and I put it in a big bucket with warm water. As I start doing my work, I’ve just got this like muddy warm water soil, but it’s just like the best thing ever. I absolutely love it. It’s my favorite thing.
But yeah, the present moment is just, it’s where, it’s where everything happens. You know, it’s where, it’s where life is. It’s where when you’re having those urges to binge, when you can bring yourself into that place, you can take that step back and be like, okay… what is actually happening here? Rather than reacting to that urge and just going all into that kind of binge frenzy energy.
CILIA: Yeah, like that, that moment that you mentioned where you bought those two bags of cookies and you just like quickly ate it before getting back to your friends. Mindfulness slows down that process, you catch the thought that you want to do it and there’s more time between the thought and doing the action. There’s more space.
LUCY: Yeah. And this takes practice. I first read the power of now by Eckhart Tolle in my early twenties and I was like, Oh my God, this is it!! But it was so many years of consistent practice. And sometimes also not very consistent practice, if I’m honest, of coming back to this moment and slowing down. Being able to have that choice.
Sometimes it’s the tiniest little moment where you’re in that space where you’re like, Oh, actually I’m going to choose a different path and not by the two packs of Tesco finest cookies. Also these practices, they bring us into touch more with, what is actually going on in my body? Like, how am I feeling in this moment?
Am I experiencing anxiety? Am I wanting to soothe this big uncomfortable emotion? What is actually happening in this moment that is, that is driving me to binge? So that’s been another part.
I feel like for up into my mid twenties, I feel like I was this floating head, like everything, my experience was all just up in my head. It was just thoughts.
LUCY: That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s like the rest of my body didn’t exist because I was so cut off from it. These practices, particularly yoga, bring your awareness to different parts of your body during the practice. I feel like I bridged that connection between my head and my body to be able to better understand what was going on there, which was a huge thing.
Food IS emotional
LUCY: Even in terms of hunger cues, like… I don’t think I ever really understood what hunger felt like. I never, never considered it. So I never really knew whether I was physically hungry, like needing food because my body needed energy, or if it was because I was in this like lax state because I’ve been restricting or whether it was because there’s this emotion that I was feeling that I didn’t want to feel.
Being able to identify, what is this hunger actually? Is it physical hunger or is it something else?
CILIA: That’s a great distinction that you also make in your mini course where you talked about all the different types of binge eating that it can be emotional. You can be running away from something that you want to feel.
CILIA: I didn’t even realize that I was a binge eater until I learned more about the work from you. Because when I was younger, I thought that binging went along with purging, that if you weren’t purging, you weren’t binge eating. To know that it also goes along with restricting, I’m like, oh, that makes sense.
CILIA: Yes, that was me. And I still do fall into emotional eating sometimes. If I’m stressed, I love me some chocolate and I know it’s not the healthiest decision.
LUCY: You know what though, that’s okay. And thank you so much for sharing that. Food is emotional. Like we can’t get away from that. It’s hardwired within us and it doesn’t need to NOT be that way.
Like when we’re little babies and we’re hungry and we cry and we’re given milk from our mothers, from the breast or from a bottle, from any other caregiver… We get that comfort, we get that warmth, we get the soothing sounds. We feel maybe our mother’s heartbeat. Like all of that.
CILIA: AWWWW…I’ve never thought of that! That’s so cute, mother’s heartbeat
LUCY: Yeah, all of that is wrapped up in our wiring, that comfort and soothing…. and also when we eat food, in those first few bites, we get a dopamine hit. Food IS pleasurable and comforting. And you know, that’s the way it is and we don’t need to like try and deny that.
But it’s when we use food to avoid what we’re feeling completely like there’s this uncomfortable emotion and I’m not even going to look at it. I’m just going to go straight to food. Or if, comforting yourself with food is your ONLY source of comfort, then that’s not great either.
So it’s recognizing that yes, food is comforting, pleasurable, wonderful and enjoying that aspect of food, but also having other ways of moving through uncomfortable emotions. And allowing yourself to experience that rather than numbing that out.
CILIA: I love that you just normalized that food is an emotional process and that it’s a inherently a pleasurable thing that we don’t need to step away from that. We just need to be mindful of: is this the only thing that I’m doing to comfort myself? Or not?
I think that’s a good kind of like segue into, we wanted to also talk about devotional cooking and devotional eating. Where we can instead, like switching our stress eating into.. I guess, love eating? I don’t know if that’s a thing.
LUCY: Yeah, love eating, that’s so sweet. Yeah, devotional eating and devotional cooking is something that I’ve really connected to in the last year. As I fully came out of binge eating and really reconciled my relationship with food and my body, it was like, whoa, eating and food. It’s just incredible. It’s this connection to life. It’s this connection to my body.
Food, the way food grows… we have this little seed and it goes in the soil and with water and sunlight and the nutrients in the soil, it turns into this whole, corn on the cob or beans, whatever it is. What an incredible process that is.
And being really thankful for like that abundance of food that we have and the way that we’re provided for and being thankful for the people who farm our food and get it to the supermarkets. Or wherever we buy food. That whole process being like, oh my goodness, thank you.
Really recognizing that because it’s so easy to just go out and buy something and eat it and that’s okay sometimes too. Of course that’s the practical nature of eating but also sometimes it’s really nice to really connect and to give thanks.
That being a devotional practice to yourself as well, to your body. Like really recognizing what it is that my body needs, being aware of maybe certain foods that I’ve been craving. Being aware of how much it is that I want to eat? Is it warm foods that I want? Is it cool foods?
Really listening to that and then preparing that food with so much love. Knowing that you’re nourishing your body in the way that it wants to be nourished and it just feels really, really, really good.
And then allowing that eating to be really pleasurable and tuning into all of your senses, like the taste, the texture, how it feels in your body, just letting it be this whole beautiful experience.
CILIA:Then that pleasure of the food is expanded tenfold when we take the time to really like slow down and think about where it came from and all that gratitude and then when we sit and eat to really taste it all.
For anyone like listening who doesn’t know where to start, my first introduction into devotional eating was through Bhakti yoga. When I was 25, I used to live next to a Bhakti yoga studio and in Bhakti yoga, devotional cooking is one of the practices that they do. While they cook, they’re singing mantras as they’re cooking.
They’re intentionally fusing love into what they cook. And when you go to a Hindu temple, they do that as well. They’ll read from the Bhagavad Gita, they’ll sing some mantras and then they have a vegetarian dish afterwards.
Everyone that’s preparing that food, they’re like singing mantras and they’re very like.. their intention is to just infuse as much love into the food as possible.
I think that’s a great branch of yoga (Bhakti yoga) to look into, to know where to start. Because for me, that was my change point in food. It went from “needing to eat healthy” to expanding that pleasure and expanding the gratitude.
Also thinking about, wow, these strawberries.. they were first a seed and there was somebody watering it and the sun came out and it rained and the soil had enough nutrients and just like so many things had to go right. The bees who fertilized the flower that then became the fruit, like there’s so many steps that we don’t think about with our food.
Adding that into your life can completely change your perspective on food. Then that food that’s made with love, you’re putting it into your body and then that food literally becomes like you’re a brain cell or like a strand of your hair or an eyelash, like it turns into what you physically are. And that’s so beautiful to think about.
LUCY: Yeah, so beautiful, totally. It’s just be 20 seconds of sitting with your plate of food in front of you and pouring that gratitude into it. It completely changes that experience of that meal for you and how you feel after it.
When you compare that to like that diet mentality and picking apart, oh my God, there’s this that I’m eating and that’s going to be this much calories and oh my God, I’ve got chips and they’re going to be really fattening. When you compare that to this, it’s just like it’s such a different experience.
CILIA: Yeah, yeah. And you can still like pour love into chips or crisps or cake. Something that I like to do if, I really only now do this if I’m on a road trip because when you’re on a road trip, at least here in America, the only food on the road is fast food. If I have to eat fast food, instead of feeling shame about it, I’m like, whatever nutrients are in this, my body is going to absorb them. And I’ll eat slow.
I wanted to bring that up because I wanted to talk about… how… what helped you deal with the shame and judgment piece? The self-shame and self-judgment piece that comes with eating?
LUCY: Shame and judgment in terms of like eating certain things or in terms of like how my body looked?
CILIA: Eating certain things and the part of like where you know you have a binge eating problem and a lot of shame and judgment for yourself can come through that. I feel like moving through that is maybe one of the first steps in changing. But you can also talk about the body stuff too, if you like, if that’s what’s alive.
Recovering from Binge Eating through “Normalizing” foods
LUCY: No, no, I get you. For me, it was looking at is this shame and judgment that I’m feeling about eating these certain foods, is this like helping me to have a better, more healthy relationship with food? Or is it hindering it?
If you look at it in this way, usually you can see that actually it’s taking you away from health.
CILIA: Yeah, what’s interesting is this piece of wanting to be healthy for a lot of us is the reason why the binge eating starts in the first place.
CILIA: And we’re like, we don’t want to eat this because it’s not good for us.
CILIA: That’s wild.
LUCY: And it’s the exact same thing with like the body side. Has what I’ve been doing been helping me have this healthy relationship with my body or has it been hindering it? And people often really worry about like gaining weight and binge eating recovery because one of the unavoidable really important things to focus on is like letting go of the idea of losing weight or maintaining the weight that you’re at in order to like go through this process. There’s often a lot of resistance to that.
I had a lot of resistance to that. And it’s again, just asking that simple question, has this focus on trying to lose weight and change the shape of my body helped me to get what I want in terms of how I look, or is it taking me further away from that?
When you sit with that question, it’s kind of like, oh, okay, yeah, I need to do something differently here.
CILIA: Did that mindset of stopping and asking yourself these questions… did this happen after you started practicing the mindfulness or before?
LUCY: After for sure. I can’t remember a particular like moment where I started asking myself these kinds of questions. But in terms of that shame part, in terms of what I was eating, do you remember like, I guess when we would have been like in our early mid 20s, there was the whole like clean eating thing.
CILIA: I feel like dieting has always been in our ears somewhere.
LUCY: Yes, it’s always been annoying.
CILIA: And the infomercials! I remember there was a pill called Hydroxycut here in America, where it’s like, just take this pill and you’ll lose weight!!
LUCY: Oh my goodness. Yeah, for sure. It has always been there. I remember when I was like early mid 20s, like really falling into that, like juice fasts and eating everything.
CILIA: Yes, the juicing was very popular in our mid 20s. Okay that’s what you’re talking about.
LUCY: Yes and like not eating fried food and everything just being really “clean”, like really “pure”. If you ate things that weren’t like that, then you were like “bad”. It was “wrong”.
From the outside, it probably looked like, you know, I was, I was such a good clean eater. I was always making my meals and taking them to work. I’d be really proud of what I was sitting there and eating. Then I’d leave work and I’d go to the supermarket and I’d buy all of these unclean foods and I’d go home and I’d binge eat on them.
It was being like, having this really strict mindset on “this is good. I’m a good person. If I eat this, this is the right way I’m looking after myself and eating this way is bad. People can’t know that I eat these things.”
Dissolving that good, bad divide and being like, okay, I’m going to eat this food anyway. I may as well start eating it within my meals, within the day and actually enjoying it and getting from it what I want to get from it.
CILIA: Yeah, actually allowing yourself to enjoy it
LUCY: Yeah, actually allowing it rather than it being this shameful hidden thing and being like, yeah, you know what? I’m going to have this chocolate bar at 4pm at work because I want it and that’s okay.
In me doing that, hopefully someone else can be like, okay, cool. Yeah, Lucy’s having a chocolate. I’m going to do that too because I’ve been really wanting some chocolate, but I always feel like I can’t because Lucy’s always so good in the office.
Taking away that divide of this, this is good food, this is bad food and really allowing those things that I want to be part of my normal everyday eating experience. And this is something that I teach in the mini course that you referenced before it’s normalizing these foods.
I know it’s not a very sexy word, normalizing foods, but this process of taking the foods that you would normally binge eat and bringing them into your everyday eating experiences in ways that feel really safe. This way you take away that really visceral, oh, I’m not allowed to have this so I really want it.
Because that is another part of human nature, we want what we can’t have. So eating these foods at times of days where you wouldn’t normally binge, maybe in the morning is quite a safe time for people to incorporate these foods. Eating them when you’re around other people because normally when people binge eat, they’re doing it in privacy.
Eating it when you’re already nourished or you’ve got food within you so you’re not eating on an empty stomach and you’re not going to eat more than you really want to. So it’s like, I’m having lunch and I’m going to have some chocolate after that.
All these little things that make these off-limit binge foods more “normal”. For an example, do you have Weetabix minis in the US? Do you know what they are?
CILIA: No, I’ve never heard of those.
LUCY: Okay, so they’re like little cereal, little Weetabix that are like chocolate chips and that was like one of my main binge foods. I’d only ever buy them when I was planning a binge, I would never buy it as part of my normal shopping. So I started buying it as my normal shop.
I’d eat it in the morning with my housemates as my breakfast instead of the like super healthy breakfast that I would have like previously made or having that with that. And letting it be just, you know, I’m having my breakfast, I’m eating the cereal, that’s okay.
Often in this normalizing process, we’ll like eat a lot of food or we will still binge eat on it, but gradually we learn, I’m allowed to have this. I’m showing myself that I’m allowed to have this. It’s not off limits. It is safe for me to want it. And I know those times and I do want it, I can get it…. So actually, I’m not having this big desire.
There’s this not that excitement or I’ve got to get this when I can because I’m not allowed it. That’s a little bit about the normalizing process and taking the shame out of those foods.
CILIA: And when we normalize things we want, how you mentioned the chocolate part, it allows us to really receive what we desire. I wanted to mirror that back because I know that you have this theory about.. what was it that you said? Something about having a hard time receiving. *checks notes*
You have a theory about empathic women who binge eat that they have a hard time receiving. Do you want to touch on that?
LUCY: Yeah, okay, this is a working theory and I’d be really interested in anyone else’s thoughts. This is something that I’ve recognized in myself and I’ve shared with a couple of clients and they were like, oh my god, yes!! So I’ve been having more conversations about this…
So I’ve been aware of patterns throughout my life of being in lack, not feeling enough and also restricting. This whole lack restriction thing and with food and not feeling like I’m good enough in everything.
And even like, not being able to receive presents when it’s my birthday, like feeling so embarrassed about it. People giving me things and me being like, oh, don’t look at me. It’s feels too much.
I think particularly with women who are like highly sensitive or empathic, when you feel, it can feel like a lot. So we kind of close off from feeling because it can be really uncomfortable. And because we’re closing off from feeling, we’re closing off from receiving.
That can be receiving in all kinds of forms. I’ve been talking about this lots in terms of my relationship with money, not being able to receive because there’s this part of me that’s really shut off from that. It’s quite subtle, but this is where I see my work with food and my body and everything in my life being right now is my ability to receive, if that makes any sense at all.
Being able to receive the nourishment that I need, being able to be seen by other people, being able to receive money, being able to receive the time that I need to rest and go through things without that, oh no, it’s too much to receive this. I can’t physically hold this because it’s too much.
CILIA: Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense because how we do one thing is usually how we do all things. So if there’s an area of our life where we can’t receive… with binge eating, it might seem like we don’t have a problem of receiving because you’re eating these large amounts of food, but really to be able to eat those large amounts of food, you’re checked out as that’s happening and you’re rushing through it.
You’re not actually receiving that food.
LUCY: Right, you’re not actually receiving it.
CILIA: You’re just rushing through so that makes sense to me, yeah.
LUCY: Yeah and that’s my practice now. When I’m eating, it’s just to receive the experience fully and breathing. It’s really simple, but it’s been such a profound thing in my life. And when I’m out on my walk, again, just breathing in, receiving what is going on around me, when I’m feeling a strong emotion, seemingly positive or negative, breathing in, receiving that.
It’s interesting when you do that, if you try it, to see how uncomfortable that might feel, to just receive something really simple, just to even receive a breath fully, it can feel like a lot. That just reminded me of you talking about pulling in your tummy when you were younger. When I first started going to yoga, the teacher came over to me and was like, when you inhale, you need to expand your tummy at the moment you’re like sucking your tummy in.
And that’s called reverse breathing.
I was just like, what? This took me so many lessons to understand that I’ve been breathing in reverse for years. I was, I didn’t even know that you could breathe in reverse.
CILIA: Yeah, where when you take a breath in, your stomach goes in?
LUCY: Yeah. Take a breath in, suck everything in, exhale, let it go just a little bit. So this act of fully receiving a breath and letting your tummy expand… When you’ve been in this place of cutting everything off, that can feel like the most liberating thing.
It sounds so small and so little, but it’s really opening up so much for me right now.
CILIA: Have you seen Rosie Reese from Yoni Pleasure Palace? She has a hashtag called stop sucking it in.
LUCY: Oh, no I haven’t
CILIA: She encourages women to post photos of their bellies just relaxed to show how being a little bloated is normal. I think she’s been doing that for a few years and now she has a shirt in her shop that says, “I’m not pregnant. I’m just not sucking it in.” And I love that. I love, I love that.
LUCY: That’s the lesson I love. I love that with this journey of mindfulness and getting to know our bodies, we allow a certain part of our bodies that we’ve been clenching to release and relax.
CILIA: And with this topic of binge eating, probably everyone would relate to sucking in their bellies and how freeing it is to allow your stomach to relax and exist.
LUCY: Yeah. My goodness. Yeah. And I find myself still doing it all the time. Like this unconscious, depending on who I’m around, especially suck in my tummy. And then when I become aware of it, it’s like, whoa, okay, let it go. Relax. Let yourself breathe. Let yourself take up the space that you need to take up because that’s, that’s my body. You know, that’s okay.
What does self-love mean to you?
LUCY: Self-love is very much about acceptance. Acceptance of where I’m at in any given moment and how I’m feeling. Because for a long time, I thought certain feelings were wrong and that I shouldn’t feel that way, even though I am feeling that way.
And acceptance of how my body looks on any given day. That’s what’s coming up for me right now is just being in that total acceptance and allowing of what is because it is.
What’s your favorite part about being a woman?
LUCY: Ooo, the favorite part about being a woman for me is the wisdom that our bodies carry. Everybody’s bodies carry so much wisdom, but the cycle of a woman’s body, the monthly cycle that we go through, the wisdom within that… and the wisdom in being able to grow a whole other being within us totally blows my mind.
And our bodies always know like what they’re doing. The cycle, we don’t have to tell ourselves to breathe. It’s, when you stop and think about it… it’s really, really mind-blowing.
I would never have said that like a few years ago. I used to really like hate the fact that my body went through this monthly cycle and that I had to bleed every month. This was something that I really pushed away. And I was like, it’s so unfair that women have to go through this–
LUCY: -and that men don’t. But actually, oh my goodness, what a gift it is that our bodies can do this and the information that is encoded within us it’s just incredible, deep, deep wisdom.
CILIA: I can relate, it wasn’t until 2021 where I started loving that I have a cycle every month.
LUCY: Yeah, same, probably around that same time for me too.
CILIA: I think there might have been a collective awakening with that within that time.
CILIA: Because a lot of people have ventured into…and it’s an ongoing thing. That was only two years ago and there’s still more deepening, for me at least.
LUCY: Oh my God, yes, so much. A few of my friends are going through pregnancy at the moment and I love hearing these little bits that they’re learning or they’re experiencing. Our bodies are incredible.
Where to find Lucy Newport
CILIA: For the people listening, where can they find you? And if there’s anything that you want to share specifically about who your work is for, or what kind of resources you’ll be giving for this episode, I’ll give the floor to you for that.
I specifically work mostly with women who are like highly sensitive or empathic and struggle not just with the restrictive side and diet side of binge eating, but also with the emotional side. I feel like that was my journey and I really relate to these women and there’s a lot I can share with them.
I’ve got two main resources that you can jump into. The mini course that Cilia and I have both mentioned, and that’s all about how to break out of that binge and restrict cycle and how to normalize these foods.
And the other one is a little masterclass on how to stop your emotional binge eating. So really getting into that emotional side. Both of these you can get on my website.
I’m currently making a quiz at the moment called, what is your binge eating recovery journey?
CILIA: Ooh, that’s fun.
LUCY: If that’s ready by the time this publishes, the link will be in the caption or show notes. And yeah, I work predominantly one-on-one with women. In the future, I will have a self-paced recorded class and a group offering, but this is something that I’m really taking my time on creating So it’s not imminent.
If you’re interested in working with me, just reach out.
CILIA: Yes. Thank you so much for spending this time with me, this has been great, Lucy. I’m so glad that we met.
LUCY: Yes, me too, so glad, thank you, Cilia.
Hey! I'm Cilia
Self Love Mentor & Embodiment Guide
I help women ground, feel, & express freely through mindfulness, compassion, and sacred ritual so that they can feel confident, fulfilled, and HAWT!