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           from the inside out.
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We’re spiritual beings having a human experience and everything we need is inside. When you connect with that inner guidance you can hear the whispers of your intuition — your Wise Self — guiding you to your best life. But sometimes it’s hard to access that guidance on your own. I can help you open the pathway to bring peace to your mind and heart and find solutions to the problems you’re facing right now.

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Find Inspiration

Discover new ways to overcome emotional eating, listen to your body’s cues and release fear and anxiety around food and your body, particularly if you’ve experienced childhood trauma. Read my articles for encouragement and inspiration on your journey. Learn practices—such as Ho’oponopono and Intuitive Eating—that help you befriend your body and nourish your soul.

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Emotional Eating & Trauma

Did you experience sexual abuse or other trauma as a child or teenager? And when you’re upset, is food your go-to source of comfort? There is a high correlation between early trauma, weight gain, and emotional eating. If this applies to you, join me for a healing journey that addresses the effects of childhood trauma on your body, mind and spirit and helps you heal emotional eating.

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work-with-diane

Welcome. I’m Diane Petrella.

I know it’s cliché to say, “wisdom comes through suffering,” but when we don’t allow ourselves to be victims, it’s true. I came to understand that the sudden death of my father when I was a child was the most spiritually important event in my life. It’s no wonder I would later develop a center for traumatized children and adults. I knew what it was like to feel terrified, abandoned and alone.

But more important, I knew how to get to the other side.

And no matter what is happening in your life right now, I can help you get to the other side, too.

Learn more about how I can help >>

Recent Articles

25
Apr

Breathe: A Trauma-Sensitive Tool for Intuitive Eating

For many who’ve experienced childhood or adolescent trauma, food became your emotional life preserver, and it’s understandably hard to let it go.

Perhaps you discovered how food helped you cope with overwhelm and stress when you were 16, 12, nine—or even four years old. Now you’re an adult, and it’s hard to sense when you’re actually hungry. When stress hits, tuning into your body’s needs isn’t what you think about.

You just want relief—fast.

The idea of intuitive eating can feel downright impossible.

Because when you feel stressed and scared, you’re not accessing intuition, you’re accessing survival instincts. That’s your fight/fight/freeze response. In survival mode, impulse overrides thoughtful reflection. Think about it: If you feel in danger you don’t take time to map out the shortest route to safety—you just run.

And sometimes you run to Burger King.

A Relaxed Body = An Intuitive Body 



So can you learn to practice intuitive eating if you have a history of trauma? The answer is yes. And learning to calm your body when stressed will help you make mindful and intuitive—rather than impulsive—choices. Calming your body activates the relaxation response. And it’s the relaxation response that helps you access your intuition and body wisdom.

Think of it this way: (more…)

10
Apr

Stress Eating: It’s About Your Brain (not the food!)

Do you compulsively overeat and struggle with your weight?

And, were you abused and traumatized as a child?

If you answered yes to both questions, you’re not alone.

Research shows that people who experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse in childhood are twice as likely to have a food addiction in adulthood as those who were not abused. If you suffered abuse or other adverse childhood experiences growing up, chances are your ongoing weight-loss difficulties stem from this past trauma.

Mainstream weight-loss programs entice you to buy their food, follow their diet plan, and count points or calories. While they may be helpful, they cannot offer you a path to permanent weight-loss if they don’t address the underlying reasons you overeat.

You may be surprised to learn that your continued struggles with emotional eating and coping with triggers most likely has little to do with food, although this is important. The deeper reasons behind your stress-related eating are neurological, rooted in your nervous system’s response to stress.

Let’s start with a mini crash-course on brain science and trauma that will help explain why you feel triggered to eat and hold onto extra weight. (more…)

23
Jun

Childhood Sexual Abuse & Weight Release: Making the Connection

Were you sexually abused as a child or teenager?

Do you struggle with your weight today?

Is food your go-to source of comfort when upset?

If so, you’re not alone.

There is a high correlation between early sexual trauma, obesity, emotional eating and body image concerns. If you can relate, you may be surprised to learn that your ongoing struggles with weight most likely have little to do with food and exercise, although these are important. The reasons behind your weight and emotional eating challenges are both neurological, rooted in your nervous system’s response to stress, and psychological, rooted in your conscious and subconscious trauma-based beliefs.

If you have a history of sexual abuse and struggle to release weight and feel good about your body today, you may have experienced the following:

  • You equate being thin with receiving unwanted sexual advances and feel vulnerable to sexual assault. These fears may be conscious or hidden in your subconscious mind, and, as you release weight they surface. You feel anxiety, experience panic attacks, or simply feel unsettled and don’t know why.
  • You feel uncomfortable being noticed, even in a positive way. After years of protecting yourself behind extra weight—your pounds of protection—you feel uneasy or self-conscious receiving compliments.
  • Because food, in fact, helped you cope, you experience a sense of loss or fear at the thought of no longer eating certain foods that have felt like your friends. Food was a source of comfort when people were either unavailable or dangerous.
  • You spent years detaching from your body to cope with the sexual abuse and have trouble creating a trusting—and loving—connection with your body today. Dissociation is a defense mechanism often used by sexual abuse survivors. They psychologically remove themselves from their bodies during the abuse and “watch” what’s happening from above. If you relate, understand that this helped you survive. But you’re safe now and can learn to reclaim your right to a positive and connected relationship with your body today.
  • When you experience trauma-based feelings such as fear, anger, helplessness, betrayal, shame, or guilt, it triggers emotional binge eating. Even minor stress can feel overwhelming because it brings to the surface those old feelings, causing an overreaction. Once those old feelings and pain are released from your mind and body, handling life’s stress becomes easier because you stop bringing trauma-based feelings from the past into today’s challenges.
  • You’re ever alert for danger. This is because childhood abuse affected your developing nervous system as a form of protection. You were in danger so, as a survival mechanism, your brain responded to help you always be on the lookout. But today it’s hard to easily distinguish manageable from unmanageable situations. Even minor stress can feel destabilizing. For example, you may experience an increased heart rate, a sinking feeling in your gut, or rapid breathing. That’s not easy to deal with, so you turn to food to ground yourself. You’ve probably discovered that certain foods—especially high fat and sugary ones—help ease the uncomfortable fear-based sensations in your body and soothe your overwhelming emotions.

(more…)

11
Dec

How Healthy Boundaries Lead to Healthy Eating


Do you say, “Yes” when you really mean, “No?”

Do you agree to make a dish, attend a party, or have overnight guests when your schedule is already maxed out?

Do you disregard your needs just to please others?

And does the resentment you feel about doing this send you running to the tin of Christmas cookies your neighbor brought over?

If you can relate, you’re not alone. Many people do not learn healthy boundaries growing up. With the added demands of the holiday season approaching, it’s crucial to your health that you know when to draw the line.

Me —> Boundary <— You

Boundaries are the emotional and physical borders we place between ourselves and other people. They reflect how we see and treat ourselves in relation to others.

Strong boundaries are essential for your health and self-care. They support you to make good decisions for yourself. Weak boundaries support others at your expense.

For example, Karen has strong boundaries and is very clear when she doesn’t want to do something. (“Thank you for the dinner invitation but no, I can’t. I’m looking forward to a quiet evening at home tonight.”) She’s sensitive to other people’s feelings but not ruled by them.

Suzanne has weak boundaries and often says, “Yes” because she fears displeasing people. (“Sure, I’ll meet you tonight,” she tells her friend. She then beats herself up, “Why did I say that?! I have tons of work to do!”) Her fear of disappointing people makes their needs more important than her own. But her resentment and anger send her straight to the fridge.

Honor Yourself

If you struggle with setting boundaries around your time and energy, somewhere along the way you probably learned your feelings and needs didn’t matter. Trust me, though, your feelings are the only things that matter. (more…)

09
Aug

Do You Want to Lose Weight…or Release Weight?

Why I (often) use the phrase, “release weight” rather than “lose weight”:

The terms “weight loss” and “losing weight” long have been associated with shedding those extra pounds. Because people search for information using these terms, I often use them, too.

But I’d like you to consider another way to think about letting go of your extra weight.

Words are powerful beyond measure. The meaning and intention of each word emits energy. This energy is on a continuum: From a high energetic vibration that uplifts you to a low energetic vibration that drains you… and everything in between.

When I work with clients, I’m vigilant about the words they use. I teach them to change their energy—and their perspective—simply by using higher vibration words.

So when it comes to reaching your desired weight, think about this:

“LOSS” means “the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value.” That definition doesn’t make you very happy, does it?

“RELEASE” means “allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely.” Sounds more uplifting, right?

The thing is, emotional eating and long-term weight issues are symptoms of something deeper. It’s not really about food and “losing” the weight. It’s about those painful feelings you’ve been holding in your mind, heart—and energy field—and learned to numb with food. As you allow the pain you’re holding onto to release—little by little—you lighten your heart. As you lighten your heart and no longer need food for comfort, you free yourself to gain confidence and unconditional self-love… and release the extra weight.

Here’s a simple exercise so you can see what I mean.



  • Get quiet. Close your eyes. Take a few breaths to relax.
  • Then, say to yourself three times: “I want to lose weight.” 

  • Notice the sensations in your body.
  • Clear that away and then repeat to yourself: “I want to release weight.”
  • Notice the sensations in your body.
  • Open your eyes.

What do you notice?

How does your body feel?

Does your spirit feel light or heavy?



Several years ago I posted this exercise to my Facebook page. Here’s what people experienced:


“Saying ‘losing weight’ caused me to tighten up. ‘Release’ was a much softer request allowing me to let go.”


“Freeing and pleasant verses yucky.”


“Lose weight caused me to feel anxious. Release weight left me feeling calm, determined and optimistic.”


“Lose weight immediately made me feel tight and release weight felt light.”



“It felt like to release something is to own my freedom to really love me and my body. No stress attached to saying release weight.”
 


Your Choice

You still may decide to say “lose weight” depending on who you’re talking with. But when you talk to yourself or like-minded people, practice using the term “release”.

It just may help lighten your journey.

And your body, too.

Did you try it? Please share your experience below!

(Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash)

12
Dec

This (Food Urge) Too Shall Pass

The 90-second rule is one of my favorite techniques to help my clients cope with stress and stop the urge to impulsively turn to food for comfort.

Here’s how it works:

Once you feel triggered with overwhelming emotion and feel that old urge to eat, it takes just 90 seconds for the stress you feel to leave your body. After that, you’re in charge, whether you keep the stress response going and head for the refrigerator, or clear your mind and allow the urge to pass.

I learned about the 90-second rule in My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr. Taylor was a brain scientist at Harvard Medical School when she suffered a stroke that left her unable to perform even simple tasks. Through her recovery she gleaned extraordinary insights about the mind/body/spirit connection.

This is what I learned from Dr. Taylor:

Although there are certain limbic system (emotional) programs that can be triggered automatically, it takes less than 90 seconds for one of these programs to be triggered, surge through our body and then be completely flushed out of our bloodstream.”

She writes about the chemicals released in her own anger response:

Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated from my blood and my automatic response is over. If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.

Powerful stuff.

But how does this help with emotional eating? (more…)

06
Oct

Why Your Weight Needs Your Love


“Aargh… I’m up a pound!”

“Oh, good… I’m down a pound!”

“Ugh… I can’t believe I haven’t even lost a pound.”

Sound familiar?

It’s easy to obsess about the number on your bathroom scale. If that number colors your mood and dictates how you feel about your body, however, your body won’t feel loved—and you won’t get the results you want.

To develop body confidence, it’s important to focus on the relationship you have with your body, not on what you weigh.

So here’s something crucial you need to do (and I bet you aren’t going to like it. At least at first.)

Learn to love your weight.

Yes, you heard me. Learn to love your weight. Here’s why: Your body carries the energy of your inner thoughts and feelings. Especially if you experienced childhood trauma and had no one to support and protect you, that extra weight most likely holds the energy of pain, sadness and loneliness.

Emotional eating may have been—and perhaps still is—your only source of comfort. And that weight can be like a cozy old blanket that helps you (and your inner child) feel safe.

What if you could shift from seeing the extra weight as pounds of fat to hate… to seeing them as pounds of pain that need your love? (more…)

28
Mar

Check on the Children During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Staying home during this pandemic is the right thing to do. But when it started, the first thing I thought was:

What will happen to vulnerable children in abusive homes?

These children aren’t going to day care, school, or after-school programs where astute adults can notice something amiss. The stress in their families, as in all families these days, is heightened. And in emotionally and physically abusive families, children often are the targets of parental stress.

Child sexual abuse isn’t triggered by stress. It’s much more insidious. What perpetuates sexual abuse is that it is a “secret” between the child and offender. Now more than ever, it’s easy to keep things secret when families stay at home and children are isolated.

All of these children are at risk. They’re in greater danger now that staying at home is the norm in most US states. For them, their homes aren’t safe havens with parents giving them fun things to do during school break. Many of these homes resemble prisoner-of-war camps. I wish I were exaggerating but I’m not. I’ve worked with these kids and heard first-hand their truth.

If you have suspected that a child was being abused, now is the time to contact your state child protective agency with your concerns. Or you can call the ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 (1-800-4-A-Child).

You don’t need “proof” and you can call anonymously. A child protective worker hears your concerns and their team makes the decision as to whether there is enough information to investigate. If there isn’t, your report stays in their system. If they get several calls about that child and family, they then take action. While all state laws are different, that’s generally how it works.

If you have contact information about a child you’re concerned about—perhaps the child of a neighbor, friend, or family member—reach out. (more…)