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Mothering

Mothering
originally published on NourishingtheMother

As a psychologist specializing in disordered eating for several decades, I have learned how to view “mothering” as an archetypal force and to recognize how those who struggle with eating and food are actually starving for “archetypal mothering.”

Archetypes are concepts that cross all cultures and all time. For example, if you could go back in time, you could find the concept of “mother” and if it were possible to go into the future, you would probably find the concept of mother. You can find the concept of mother in any culture on the planet.

Think about “mothering” as a verb, which means to soothe, comfort and nurture.

We often confuse the “energetic” of mothering with the object of mothering (our biological mothers) or the concrete, physical symbol of mothering (food). Many who struggle with disordered eating confuse physical nurture and comfort with emotional nurture and comfort. This is not surprising, given that for most of us, our very first experience of being soothed and nurtured was with food — either at our mother’s breast or from a bottle.

This is why we use the term “comfort food.” At some level we understand we are reaching for food when we want to be comforted. But we don’t consciously understand that the food is simply the symbol of the mothering we want, and can never really completely fulfill that need – just as someone wanting more freedom cannot get it by collecting American flags. The flag is the symbol of freedom, not freedom itself.

While is not unusual for those struggling with disordered eating to have some struggle or frustration with their own mothers, this does not mean that their mothers are at fault or the cause […]

Metaphors and Storytelling in Healing Eating Disorders [Dietitians Unplugged Podcast]

Metaphors and Storytelling in Healing Eating Disorders [Dietitians Unplugged Podcast]
I was recently interviewed by Aaron Flores and Glenys Oyston of  Dietitians Unplugged Podcast.

In this episode, Dr. Anita Johnston explains how she was first exposed to metaphor as a way of healing, and how this can be a source for a deeper understanding of our behaviors. She also takes a deep dive into the discussing the popular “log metaphor” from her book and why it resonates with so many clients.

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

 

Anita

 

How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food Through Myth, Metaphor, and Storytelling

How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food Through Myth, Metaphor, and Storytelling
I was recently interviewed by Diana Hill of  Psychologists Off The Clock: A Psychology Podcast About The Science And Practice Of Living Well.

In this episode, Diana interviews Dr. Anita Johnston, author of Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food Through Myth, Metaphor, and Storytelling. Dr. Johnston describes why myth and metaphors are effective strategies for uncovering and understanding the function and meaning of disordered eating. Dr. Johnston shares examples of metaphors she uses in her book to illustrate the complexities of eating disorder recovery. Dr. Johnston explores food as metaphor, the difference between emotional and physical hunger, and why recovery looks more like a labyrinth than a maze. Finally she offers resources for deeper study through her online course and support group at The Light of the Moon Cafe.

Key Points of the Podcast:

Do You Or Someone You Care About Struggle With Body Image Or Eating Concerns?
Are You Interested In How Storytelling And Metaphor Can Be Powerful Tools In Eating Disorder Treatment?
Are You Curious What Is The Function Of Disordered Eating?
Want To Know How To Respond To “Feeling Fat”?

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

 

Anita

 

Heal your Relationship with Your Body and Reclaim Power of Feminine Energy

Heal your Relationship with Your Body and Reclaim Power of Feminine Energy
I was recently interviewed by Dr. Nazanin Moali on the Sexology Podcast.

We discuss how to heal your relationship with your body and reclaim your power of feminine energy.

 

Key Points of the Podcast:

Why women today are dissatisfied with their image
How feminine energy is connected to the earth
Understanding your intuition and instinct
The resonation people feel with her book “Eating In The Light Of The Moon”
How food habits are linked to sexual desires and behaviors
The power of feminine energy and the need to understand it better
The need to have better support networks around ourselves

 

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

 

Anita

 

Women in Depth PodCast With Lourdes Viado

Women in Depth PodCast With Lourdes Viado
I was recently interviewed by Lourdes Viado on the Women in Depth PodCast.

We discuss Cracking the Hunger Code Through Storytelling and Metaphor.

Key Points of the Podcast:

How Anita became involved in this work 
Fitting in vs. belonging 
The red herring in disordered eating 
The significance of the feminine principle in understanding disordered eating 
What the food choices/qualities in disordered eating can reveal 
Redefining your relationship with food  
The significance of the moon & the inner mother 
The experience of disordered eating   

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

 

Anita

 

Exercise Resistance Syndrome

Exercise Resistance Syndrome
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Francie White about Exercise Resistance Syndrome.  Below you will find the transcription of the interview itself.

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

Enjoy!

Anita

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Dr. Anita Johnston: Hello. Dr. Anita Johnston here and I’m in California with Francie White. Francie White is the founder of Central Coast Treatment Centers. Her background is in dietetics, nutrition, exercise, movement, women’s issues. She’s basically one of the big thought leaders in the field that has to do with women and movement and nutrition. I wanted to speak with you today about a concept that you came up with called exercise resistance or exercise avoidance. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is and why it’s so important?

Francie White: Exercise resistance syndrome, for no better name at this point, is something that I realized was actually a syndrome, a complex of symptoms and issues that, when put together, added up to more than just, “I’m lazy” or having a bad habit of not being as active, or thinking one’s not athletic. It’s actually a syndrome — and many, many have it — of just repeatedly quitting what is actually a very natural, instinctive part of being female: and that is physical activity.  It’s either a pattern of fighting oneself, quitting and getting very, very inactive, getting anxiety with exercise, or actually flat out giving up and not exercising, just refusing to.

I know some people have physical disabilities and cannot exercise, and obviously, that is not the population I’m speaking to. It’s more the kind of throw in the towel attitude toward physical activity, and the point here is that it is a “curse” […]

Metaphor of the Eclipse

Metaphor of the Eclipse
 

Dr. Anita Johnston here. I’m in Boulder, Colorado, at the time of the eclipse.

It’s so interesting, because all the warnings are out: Don’t look directly at the sun without special glasses. We know that if you look directly at the sun you can actually burn your eyes. We’ve always needed the reflection of the moon — which has allowed us to see the light of the sun more directly.

Right now, during the eclipse, the moon is comes right in front of the sun and creates a shadow. You can see shadows on the ground, all in moon shapes.

When I think about what the eclipse means to me, I get so excited, because, metaphorically, the moon is the representation of the Feminine Principle, and it eclipses the sun, the Masculine Principle. And, just for a moment, they come into union. I think this is something that all of us need to experience, individually and collectively: the moon and the sun coming in together in union. In this moment here on Earth, we get the most incredible show. We can actually see what it looks like when the two come together, when the Feminine Principle is united with the Masculine Principle. It’s quite an incredible phenomena.

This has been something that I’ve been waiting for for a long time, internally, within my own psyche. I think this is a powerful place of balance, where the bright intense light of the sun is blocked by the moon so that we don’t get fried by it, so that we can bear it. This is a job for the Feminine Principle, the emotional, intuitive, relational aspect of our Being, that needs to come into balance with our […]

Take a chance to leave that which is now constricting in your life

Take a chance to leave that which is now constricting in your life
Hello, Doctor Anita Johnston here. I’m on Guam at Ty Ty Beach.

This is the beach of my childhood. I spent many, many days on this beach with my siblings, with my cousins, and with the hermit crabs.

The thing about hermit crabs, unlike other crabs that continually will have to make a new shell as they grow, hermit crabs have to, at some point in time when they outgrow their shells, go on a journey. They have to find a new shell. A new shell that fits the body that they’ve created.

So there always a time when the crab has to get very vulnerable because just like us, there are times that we outgrow situations in our life, and then like the hermit crab, there is a time in our lives where we get very, very vulnerable because you see, to leave your shell means that you become vulnerable to outside circumstances.

The hermit crab is coiled up inside the shell, and it’s little tiny body is shaped like a little worm. At any point in time, once it loses its shell to get into a new shell, it’s vulnerable to a bird that might decide to have it for lunch; or maybe a lizard.

So it is with us.
We have to find the courage from time to time, when we have to leave that which no longer fits us.

The lifestyle that we’ve been living that we’ve outgrown. Yeah, it is scary to become vulnerable and leave that part of ourselves that was once the perfect home — the way of living that was once the perfect fit, but that we have since […]

Fearless Rebelle PodCast With Summer Innanen

Fearless Rebelle PodCast With Summer Innanen
I was recently interviewed by Summer Innanen on the  Fearless Rebelle Podcast.

We discuss The Psychology Of Body Image & Eating.

Key Points of the Podcast:

How we lose the capacity to be intuitive and express who we are as children and why this influences our relationship with food and our bodies,
The masculine systems that contribute to the suppression of our emotions and intuition and their influence on the way we feel about ourselves,
The neuroscience of why we feel bad about ourselves and how to change it,
The contract between belonging and fitting in and why the desire to fit in creates a disconnect from who we are,
Three questions to ask yourself to get in touch with who you are and what you desire,
Why loneliness is really about a disconnection from ourselves versus a disconnection from others,
The gifts of PMS,
The art of feeling feelings and why it’s necessary
Plus so much more!

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

 

Anita

 

Food Psych PodCast With Christy Harrison

Food Psych PodCast With Christy Harrison
I was recently interviewed by Christy Harrison on the  Food Psych Podcast episode 104. 

We discuss how to make peace with feelings.

Key Points of the Podcast:

Anita’s relationship with food growing up, including her experience growing up in Guam and not knowing what dieting was until she got older
Diet culture, the thin ideal, and the “Twiggy” obsession in the early 70s
Anita’s experience in the Miss Universe pageant
Cultural differences in the beauty ideal
The limitations of the current body-positive movement re: age and body type
Matrilineal culture, matriarchy, and patriarchy
Anita’s educational journey
Applying meaning to our experiences
Feminism and women’s cultural issues
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Perceiving the nuance and the falsehoods in our culture
Why eating disorders have adaptive functions
Food as metaphor
The value of community support on this intuitive eating, non-diet journey
Setting boundaries and creating limits
Creating inner parents for comfort and protection
Compassionate curiosity
The metaphor of the feminine and masculine archetypes
Finding balance between the parts of our personalities

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

 

Anita

 

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