The food you eat has an undeniable impact on your life and relationships. How can you reform that influence and start over if you've had a restrictive approach to it all this while?
In today's episode, we explore the story of Elise Museles, a certified eating psychology and nutrition expert, creator of the Food Story Method and platform, and host of the popular podcast Once Upon a Food Story. Elise's upcoming book, Food Story: Rewrite the Way You Eat, Think, and Live, talks about changing your relationship with food to step into a new and more satisfying life that is healthy not just for you but also for the people around you.
She joins us to talk about her transformative journey, switching her profession from a well-established lawyer to a certified nutrition expert, how she learned to challenge the way she thought about food, and major snippets from Food Story, her latest book.
What was that pivotal moment in Elise's life that prompted her to take action about her "perfectionist" relationship with food?
It was the day Elise graduated from law school and was enjoying the milestone at a celebratory dinner in a restaurant with her boyfriend (now husband). They had booked the table three months in advance due to the high demand of the place and were over-the-moon about it.
It all changed when Elise realized that most of the food served on the table were those she didn't have. She was uncomfortable around the food, and her boyfriend sensed it too. He responded to the situation and explained how difficult it was for him not to see her eat. Elise realized that her dysfunctional relationship with food was also affecting him, and she broke up with him that very moment. She decided to mend her ways with food, not just for him but also for herself.
What did Elise's healing journey look like?
After returning to California to work with the US Department of Justice, Elise started to connect with food more profoundly. She began to search for the ingredients and different nuances of food and cooking. Elise tried to discover where the ingredients were sourced, started going to the farmers' market to see the processes behind it, and presented food more beautifully. This way, she let go of a lot of fear surrounding food and learned to build a more positive connection with it.
What resources did Elise use to help her in the process of rewriting her relationship with food?
Elise shares that books had a significant impact on changing her relationship with food. She learned the different aspects of diet-eating, nutrition, and food varieties, making her better aware of her choices. Elise, however, recommends not to go through any limiting "diet" beliefs, outdated theories, and restrictive ideas around food.
What are Elise's thoughts on food rules?
Elise doesn't have any rules when it comes to food now. She believes there's a fine line between food rules and being aware of what your body needs. Your body understands for itself what food is necessary and what is not. You have to be more mindful so you don't mistake unnecessary cravings as your needs. Remember, the key is to get rid of any guilt or shame around your food choices.
How does Elise describe the emotional aspects of food?
The food you eat can take you back in memory to those times you enjoyed having it or first had it. You reminisce about the moments and experiences surrounding those times. That's why Elise explains; food is emotional.
The best way to understand this is to think about how people's relationship with food changed during the pandemic. We resorted to comfort food because it made us feel better, and it's not wrong. However, if you regret your action, later on, you know your choice is unhealthy. Hence, if you know your food choice will make you happy after you have it, it's good for your body. And if it's not, you know you don't want it. It's all about being connected to yourself and understanding your body. This way, your relationship with food becomes happier.
How do your thoughts affect your health, metabolism, and nutrient intake?
You must've noticed how stress is a deciding factor when it comes to your food choices. Some of us tend to eat more when stressed, whereas others tend to be the other way round. No matter what you eat, you won't get the full value of the food unless your thoughts are in harmony with it. If your mind is occupied with concerns and worries about your food, your body lets out a stress response that stops you from imbibing the full value of your food. As Elise explains, "What's in your mind is just as important as what's on your plate."
What is the Story of Perfection (from the eight disempowering food stories in her upcoming book)?
Elise shares that many of us tend to have "unrealistic, impossible" standards around our food choices. We're caught in the rigidity of black and white, healthy and unhealthy, and often go after the wisest choice. All this is so that we achieve the notion of "perfect", which is hard to release.
What is the Story of Shame (from the eight disempowering food stories in her upcoming book)?
Elise's story of Shame tells us that we associate a lot of shame with our food choices and ways of eating. It is essential to have open conversations to help us get over the same.
What is the Story of Confusion (from the eight disempowering food stories in her upcoming book)?
Elise shares that many of her clients with perfectionist food attitudes tend to be confused around them because of the associated stress and overthinking. They feel overwhelmed and exhausted trying to abide by all the rules, opinions, and information. Elise explains that the key is to eat what works for you the best.
What is the Story of Escape?
According to Elise, the story of escape is more complicated than the other stories. And that's because, most often, we're unaware of what we're really trying to escape or why we're even feeling like behaving that way. You need to understand your "why" before making those escapes.
What is the Story of Not Enoughness?
It is a very common feeling, especially among people today. You see people post stories and content that seem too good to be true, and you keep pushing your bars till you reach just the right "enough". It's a human characteristic to feel something is not right in you in such cases. But this has to be overcome.
What is the Story of Overwhelm?
Tony Robbins says, "complexity is the enemy of execution". Our choices around food and diet could become so complicated over time that we begin to lose ourselves to the strategies and consecutive actions. We need to simplify these ideas to the simple thought that our body knows what's best for it.
What is the Story of Later?
Elise's story of later is especially applicable to parents who lose themselves in the process of caring for their kids. They postpone their happiness to a future that's far away and unknown. It's up to all of us to decide if we want to change the script of our lives and stop pressing the "in future" button on ourselves. Taking care of yourself needs to be on priority always.
What is the Story of Despair?
The story of despair, as Elise shares, is the most important to her. It talks about not losing hope even when the times are tough. There are times when you could feel you've practiced your food habits for so long that it's challenging to get over them. The real deal is getting over that trap, restoring hope, and rewriting your story.
What is the Food Story Method discussed in Elise's book?
Healing isn't linear, and it applies fittingly in the case of food choices too. You have to constantly go back, evaluate your disbeliefs around food, and get over them. You need to discard those messages that don't serve you any longer, release thoughts stuck in your body, and regain clarity on what works for your body at the moment and what doesn't. Adapt and improvise your food story as you progress over time.
What is a simple way to incorporate Elise's tips into your life?
Start by taking three deep breaths. It helps slow down your thoughts, reconnect you back to your body, and connect you to the present.
Connect with Elise:
Find her latest book here!