If you’d like to learn more about the Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating – Emily Rosen – then check out this brief and heartwarming video. Emily shares some details about her own personal journey, and what led her to her position in bringing the Institute to a dedicated worldwide audience. We think you’ll get to know Emily so much better, and you’ll come away with a great sense of what inspired one person on a huge mission to forever change the way the world relates to food, body, weight and health.
Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Emily Rosen here, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
I’d love to share with you some of my personal story, and how I came to do this work in the world.
Like so many people, my passion for nutrition and eating psychology is born out of my own struggles with food and body that for so long seemed insurmountable. When I look back at where I’ve been and where I am now, the distance I’ve traversed is huge.
I can say that I’m living proof that healing and growth are possible, and that one can not only overcome intense eating issues, but that we can use that transformation to help others.
I first started really hating my body when I was in high school. It’s no secret that young girls are pretty vulnerable to feeling that they’re somehow not good enough. It stood to reason that if the body I had was not the one I wanted, then I might as well change it.
So I went on my first diet when I was 15.
It seemed like a simple solution that made perfect sense. But this seductive approach didn’t quite work as intended, and I slowly slipped into an eating disorder without any awareness of what an eating disorder even was.
Before I knew it I was barely eating and exercising for hours a day into the wee hours of the morning. My world gradually became smaller and smaller. My life was a series of numbers. I counted calories, I counted fat grams, I portioned my meals in exact ways, I estimated as precisely as I could how many calories my exercise efforts would burn off, I weighed myself multiple times a day, and for me, eating and life was literally about “crunching the numbers.”
But in an odd way – I felt IN control and safe in the numbers.
In my chaotic teen years, my highly regimented eating and exercise gave me a sense that I was managing my world, I was in charge, and if something wasn’t working out in my friendships, at home, or in school – all I needed to do was focus on my diet and exercise even more.
Somehow, during all this time, I didn’t know I had a problem.
More to the point, I didn’t know I was anorexic.
All I knew was that I might just have just a little more body fat to lose.
And that as long as I was master of my appetite, then life felt just a little more manageable.
And then one day I cracked.
A close friend unexpectedly passed away and I found myself eating packets of dry oatmeal on my room washing them down with water. I ate and ate and couldn’t stop.
I didn’t know what was happening.
I couldn’t stop eating.
My heart was hurting and I could no longer sustain the meager diet I had created.
Instead of maintaining exquisite control of my appetite, I would now binge-eat for hours. I was ravenous. I had no idea what was happening to me. My life became an endless cycle of starvation and binging and purging. I struggled in this way for years.
Throughout this time, I felt broken and powerless, and imagined I might never be okay. My body and mind had betrayed me, and left me in a perpetual food prison with no easy way out.
A part of me knew that I had to maintain any kind of hope.
I desperately tried to fix myself by compulsively studying nutrition, learning whatever science I could that might save me, studied psychology and mindfulness, and I read every self help book that promised a breakthrough.
I was committed to figuring out not only how to find peace, but to figure out how this all happened in the first place.
How did I go from someone who loved food, ate when I was hungry, and stopped when I was full – to a crazed young woman who’d have panic attacks at restaurants and wake up in the morning to find myself covered in food wrappers from eating in my sleep. Yes, that really happened.
I remember so vividly one night, after a particularly violent binge-eating episode, sitting against the bathtub staring at myself in the full-length mirror. I was looking at my distended belly, bloodshot eyes, and swollen cheeks feeling defeated and certain this had to stop.
It was in that moment I swore to myself that I would figure this out – and then help others do the same.
I was clear that I wouldn’t stop until I was free.
It took years from that night to get there, but the clarity I had in that moment, and the promise I made to myself carried me when all else felt hopeless.
I think the good news in all of this was that I learned so much. Even though I didn’t immediately discover how to fix myself, get the body I wanted, bring my health back, and make my eating issues go away, I was enlivened. I was passionate about good nutrition, healthy eating, and the mysteries of personal change. And most important, I was suddenly inspired and eager to share what I was learning, despite how far I had to go.
I started teaching and coaching others.
I began working in weight loss camps for teens and families as a nutrition teacher and culinary director. I saw hundreds of clients during this time. I took every opportunity I could to work with people, hear their stories, share what I knew, and see what worked and didn’t. And I noticed something remarkable. The more engaged I was in my life and the more I felt like I had value to offer, the better I felt and the less I was consumed with obsessing about food and body.
As I saw children and their parents struggle with eating challenges finding little success with nutrition and exercise alone, I realized that if I truly wanted to help others in terms of weight, overeating, binge eating, emotional eating, body image and health – I needed to find an approach that was inclusive of all of who we are as eaters. I needed to go beyond giving advice about what to eat and what not to eat. For me, this was such an important realization, and it inspired me to want to learn more, and to discover ways to help people in this realm with truly effective strategies.
I came to the Institute or the Psychology of Eating in 2008.
Finally, things started to fall into place and make sense.
I began to let go of the shame and embarrassment I had around knowing so much about nutrition, meditation, anatomy and psychology – but not being able to help myself. The body of work I learned gave me what I needed to really get my head above water and to once and for all feel empowered around my relationship with food, and to reclaim my health in a bigger way.
My efforts paid off, and the vision I had of myself being healed and helping others was realized. I had no idea how liberated I could I feel.
I’m now free.
I don’t struggle with food anymore.
I haven’t weighed myself in years.
I can’t remember the last time I binged. I eat when I’m hungry. My life is no longer ruled by food. I’m not perfect, I have my moments of eating too much or judging my body but I move on quickly without losing any life energy or wasting my time in self-punishment or dieting.
I feel very fortunate to be able to take my own transformation and use it to fuel the work I do at the Institute. I’ve not only been able to dramatically heal my own struggles with food and body – I’m now able to serve others in a similar way. That to me is the beauty of this work. Each of us can use our own personal journey to serve others and do rewarding work in the world that supports us and makes a real difference
I want to confess to you that I wrote this video many times before deciding to share my story with you. I thought it might be better to share about my professional accomplishments, the trainings I’ve done, the jobs I’ve had – but I know deep down that what qualifies me the most to do the work I do in the world is my own personal journey.
I care deeply, and I work tirelessly to share what I’ve learned to ensure that the powerful and transformative work we do here at the Institute reaches everyone who needs it.
My wish for you is that if you struggle with food and body, that you know, without a doubt, there’s hope. That you’re not alone. That there’s a place to connect where you’ll be welcomed without judgment. And that your challenges are your greatest gift.
I know this because I’ve lived it, and I’ve seen hundreds of people heal and transform, and as Director if the Institute, I’ve watched as thousands of others in our tribe have found some hope and been deeply moved and inspired along their path to wholeness.
Here at the IPE, we’re on a mission to change the way the world relates to food, body, weight and health. We’re here to help.
We cannot allow another woman, man, or child to go down the road of needless struggle around food.
We need you to not waste another precious moment of your life hating your body or suffering in silence. We need you to be free. From there, anything is possible and we can start sharing our truest gifts and make the world a better place.
I hope you join me.
I hope you join us in a movement that’s making a real difference.
If you made it to the end of the video, I want to thank you for listening to my story.
I’m Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
I hope to meet you in one of our programs, trainings, or events someday.
To learn more about us please go to psychologyofeating.com
Thanks so much for your time and interest