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Chaotic Eating
Episode 630th August 2020 • Calming the Chaos • Tracy Kenela
00:00:00 00:25:22

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Episode Title: “Chaotic Eating”

#eating disorders #anxiety #depression #body shame #foodandbodyimage

Intro: In this episode, Tracy describes how some people use food or eating to cope with mental and / or emotional chaos. We will discuss examples of how mental and / or emotional chaos can happen and why food may be used or misused to cope. We’ll then take a visit into Tracy’s kitchen and examine some food-related triggers that could cause mental and / or emotional chaos. Finally, Tracy presents a solution to help those who are struggling with a “chaotic” relationship with food. The good news: There is hope for you to find a balanced sense of enjoyment when it comes to food and eating!


  1. How can mental / emotional chaos happen around with food and eating?

It’s easiest to break it down into four parts:

  1. Situations that cause discomfort, unease or distress
  2. Thoughts that occur because of situations and / or feelings
  3. Feelings that occur because of situations and / or thoughts
  4. Behaviors or actions taken to get relief or comfort from emotional distress


  1. Situations that can cause chaotic eating:
  2. A person is stressed out about passing an important test (Think, Feel, Do)
    1. “I MUST pass the test!” Anxiety    Overeat
  3. A person is overly focused on his or her body weight, shape or size (Think, Feel, Do)
    1. “I NEED to weigh….” (Fear,  Restrict Eating)
  4. A person is insulted, or gets into a conflict with someone (Think, Feel, Do)
    1. “I’ll show you!” (Anger,  Take it out on yourself, binge, purge or restrict food)
  5. A person loses something important, or doesn’t get what they want (Think, Feel, Do)
    1. “My life is hopeless.” (Sadness, escape life by binging, purging or restricting food)   
  6. A person receives negative feedback, or regrets doing or saying something (Think, Feel, Do)
    1. “I’m not worthy.” (Shame, escape the self by binging, purging or restricting food)


  • A chain reaction to chaotic eating – In Tracy’s Kitchen!
  1. You are actually physically hungry
  2. Seeing a certain food causes an emotional reaction
  3. You are unaware that you are feeling a painful emotion
  4. Body feelings are physically uncomfortable
  5. An effort is made to try and alleviate the physical and emotional discomfort by using food

IV: The “RADICAL” approach to managing your relationship with food and eating


Reflect on the unique struggles you are having with food, eating and body image.

Acknowledge any emotions that may emerge, and notice how they feel in your body.

Describe the emotional experience you have in your mind (thoughts) and body (feelings).

Intuitively sense your level of distress, and use adaptive skills to cope with painful feelings.

Communicate to yourself what you need, and then communicate your needs to others.

Allow yourself to accept and receive help and assistance from yourself and others.

Let go of your emotional suffering.



Beck, A.T. (1976). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. New York, NY: International Universities Press, Inc.


Evans, Y.,, (2020). Adolescent Nutrition – Assuring the needs of emerging adults. Springer Publications, in press, ISBN:978-3-030-45102-8




The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website has a lot of information if you would like to learn more about disordered eating:


The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP) is where I received my Certification as an Eating Disorders Specialist. Visit their website at


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Tracy also created a mindfulness CD called “On This Day.” This CD teaches you how to practice mindfulness in less than 10 minutes throughout the day. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and increase clear thinking in times of chaos.

You can purchase the CD on Amazon at or in digital format at


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Thanks for listening, and take care!




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