255 Hope Street, Providence, Rhode Island
Living Lightly...
           from the inside out.
Do you want to release the heaviness from your mind, heart & body? I can help.
Receive Your Free Gift:
5 Trauma-Informed Tips to Heal Emotional Eating Click Here

Work With Me

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.

Learn More

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 mindfulness and self-compassion practices that help you befriend your body and nourish your soul.

Read My Blog

Emotional Eating & Trauma

Did you experience abuse, neglect, 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 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.

Learn More


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


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 host 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 holiday cookies your neighbor brought over?

If you can relate, you’re not alone. Many people do not learn healthy boundaries growing up, especially if they experienced early trauma. 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.”) While she’s sensitive to other people’s feelings, she is 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. The resulting resentment and anger she feels send her straight to the fridge. Can you relate?

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…)


Breathe: A Trauma-Informed 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…)


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…)


Your Beach Body Alternative

“Are you beach body ready?”
“Got those bikini abs?
“3 Ways to get killer thighs!”


Over the past month you’ve probably seen articles urging you to scramble and get your “beach body” ready for summer. I saw one magazine cover that said, “Get a great beach body in 3 days!”

Three days. No kidding.

I’m 66 years old and even when I was younger I always thought these Cosmo-type articles were annoying. I know this appeals to the desire to comfortably wear bathing suits, shorts, and sleeveless clothes. I get it. But fitness is for all season long, not just for summer. Wearing fewer clothes in hot weather can feel intimidating enough to those who already lack confidence with their bodies.

I have an alternative.

Instead of fretting about getting your beach body ready, how about making friends with your body all year long? Here are five promises to make to your body this summer… and to keep forever.

1. I promise to speak to you kindly.
(No self-criticism.)

Negative thoughts create stress in your body. Loving thoughts heal. When you catch yourself saying “I look awful” or “I hate my body,” simply notice, without judgment, and say to that thought, “OK, here I am again.”

Take several deep breaths. With each inhalation, imagine breathing in loving energy from your Higher Power (or Wise Self, Spirit, God—whatever word you associate with a higher spiritual energy). With each exhalation, imagine releasing negativity from your body. Then say to your body, “I’m sorry for talking to you this way”. Forgive yourself and move on. Stay determined. Changing habits of thought take time. By creating a space of love, self-compassion, and forgiveness, the cycle of negativity wanes and eventually stops.

2.  I promise to accept you the way you are and hold you with pride.
(Head held high; shoulders back.)

It may feel hard to think of accepting your body if there are aspects of it you don’t like. But when you stop fighting against your body, your relationship strengthens. One step you can take to feel more accepting of your body is to carry it with self-respect.  If you feel self-conscious about your body, holding it with pride may feel unnatural at first. That’s OK. Sometimes you need to “fake it ’til you make it.” (more…)


4 Powerful Ways to Express Your Gratitude

We’re coming up on Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. If you’re reading magazines, articles, and posts on the internet, you’re probably seeing a lot about gratitude right now.

While the holidays can be a joyful and blessed time, they also can be especially challenging when you’re struggling with emotional eating triggers, finances, strained family relationships, and the stress of this lingering pandemic.  Perhaps you feel a disconnect with this push to feel grateful if you’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or scared.

If so, that’s okay. Don’t deny your feelings. Acknowledge all of them. But know when to let it go so they don’t spiral out of control. Because it’s so important to remember that even with all the triggers and extra stress of the holiday season, there are so many blessings in each of our lives. And it is a beautiful and rewarding practice to take time to be thankful for these, big and small.

While you’re acknowledging all the gifts in your life, I want to encourage you to recognize the most important blessing of all: (more…)


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)


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…)