How would you describe your relationship with food?
Eating is such a mindless task and so we often don’t pay enough attention to it. The thing is, there’s so much more to food, cravings, and eating than we think. The way our bodies get triggered and respond to those tells a lot about us.
Monique Pagan is an Emotional Eating Coach and Professional Dancer. Just like us, she had struggled with emotional eating. Now, she helps people overcome their battle with food in their bodies and find food freedom using her Lotus Method.
Monique Pagan is Board Certified in Neuro-Linguistics Programming, Emotional Freedom Techniques, Clinical Hypnotherapy, Life & Success Coaching, and TIME Techniques. She also has certifications in Integrative Nutrition and Pilates.
In this Episode, Monique Pagan talks to me all about emotional eating and explains the importance of understanding the causes of it, how to cope with it, and how to finally overcome it.
Episode 39 at a glance...
Work with Monique Pagan and learn more about what she does on her website.
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Mariana Thomas 0:00
Hello everyone, welcome back to this podcast, Mindfully Recharged, with your host, Mariana Thomas, and today's episode, Monique Pagan. Monique is an emotional eating coach. Monique is also a former professional dancer and someone who has a struggle with emotional eating. Monique is also a Board Certified neurolinguistic programming, and also a Pilates teacher, and certified in integrative nutrition. Yes, super excited to have her on this episode. So let's not waste any more time. So without further ado, let's get to it.
Intro Speaker 0:48
Welcome to Mindfully Recharged with Mariana Thomas. In this podcast, Mariana brings you mindful conversations and people that will develop and recharge you from the inside out so that you can increase productivity in your personal and professional life. This is Mindfully Recharged.
Mariana Thomas 1:09
Hello everyone and welcome again to our podcast episode today. Beautiful, Beautiful Monique. Monique, hello beautiful. What is going on?
Monique Pagan 1:24
Nothing much. I'm excited to be here. Thank you so much for this opportunity to share this time with you and with your listeners and to provide value. Yeah, I'm happy to be here.
Mariana Thomas 1:36
Oh, my goodness, the money we had to reschedule so many times, because of everything that's going on in our life, but I am so excited to have you on the podcast today. And so let me start by asking where does Monique's story begins, like, tell us about it.
Monique Pagan 1:58
Yes, yes. And I love how this is just divinely timed, right.
Mariana Thomas 2:02
Monique Pagan 2:06
So my story was through some emotional eating coach. And that's how I feel called to serve people. I can start with the story of how I - how I began on my own health and wellness journey. I just have a little background from Birmingham, Alabama, if anybody wanted to know that, but yeah, so it started when I was young. And I remember, I was walking out of the house, I was about to walk out of the house and my mother looked over at me and she said, "Oh, Monique, you need to suck your stomach in." And it was in that moment when I no longer felt safe in my body. It was at that moment when I realized that people were not just looking at me and thinking happy thoughts or good things and all about love. But they were judging me based on my body. And so from that time on, I was trying to do things to make my stomach look flat. I would suck my stomach and I got this habit of sucking my stomach in. I tried diets, I tried exercises.
Mariana Thomas 3:15
So what was the first thought in your mind once your mom say, suck your stomach in? And you know, I think it would most of us have done through something like that. What was the first thought in your mind at that age, Monique?
Monique Pagan 3:29
At that age, and honestly, I don't remember exactly I would say around seven or eight. But at that age, I remember thinking oh, I have to suck my stomach in. Let's do it, suck it in. But it wasn't necessarily about the thoughts, the internal dialogue, the language, it was more of how I felt in my body, how my nervous system reacted, how my heart capitated, or how I got stiff and a little bit sweaty. And so that's how that "trauma" entered my nervous system. You know, we think of traumatic events as something big. But trauma has this scale. It's a scale of things. It's on a sliding scale.
Mariana Thomas 4:15
Yeah, absolutely as I just can't imagine, you know, at that age having that feeling. Yeah, because I relate a little bit to that because my dad is a doctor. And I remember he used to tell me, you know things like making sure you don't get overweight or don't eat this and don't eat that, you know? Yeah, but I never heard my mother saying that. You know, and well, I lost my mother when I was so young. But I can't imagine, coming from a woman you know, it's probably worse. It's like "Oh, I can't look-" you know, women are supposed to look a certain way. Was that ever a thought?
Monique Pagan 5:03
I think definitely subconsciously, for sure that there's this ideal body that is considered sexy, that is considered lovable. And that's where we yo-yo diet and we try to fix ourselves, we try to fix ourselves by fixing our food or fix ourselves by fixing our bodies in the gym. And it's not that we don't need to eat healthily, it's not that we don't need to work out but it's the intention that we have behind it, we can do the same thing out of fear or we can do the same thing out of love. And it's really that intention that's going to give you a certain result if you're, you know, eating or starving yourself or approaching your food relationship with your food from a place of fear, from a fear-based place. Your body is gonna react to that a different way than if you were like, how can I nourish myself with this beautiful living food? How can I not give my body exactly what it needs? Your body is going to respond differently to that as well.
Mariana Thomas 6:13
It keeps you know coming to my mind is like how it did affect you in any way. I mean, like when you know those feelings and thoughts went through your mind at that time, even way before the feeling and thought or becoming an emotional eating coach. What did you go through?
Monique Pagan 6:35
Yeah, I went through the thoughts of how can I fix this? How can - what exercises can I do, and I never got any results. And so I gained this limiting belief of I can't do this. And so I would relive that cycle of I would eat entire boxes of Debbie cakes or zebra cakes. And it was more like a self-sabotage like okay, I'm never going to have this web summit so why even try you know or even if I started to see results, I had already developed this identity that I'm a person that slender, I am a slender person.
Mariana Thomas 7:24
Yes, you are!
Monique Pagan 7:25
Yeah, I'm a slender person. But I had like this push that little push. And so even if I saw results I would go back to it's like, let me eat let me eat let me eat so that I can still keep the identity in my mind of who I am.
Mariana Thomas 7:42
Wow, that's so interesting. So did you always feel like you have to push that little push in? Like, something that you got to do to? To be to be perfect? Maybe? Yeah, you
Monique Pagan 7:56
caused a little bit of body dysmorphia. I became a dancer, a professional dancer, I will be a dance class ballet class, modern class, sucking in as hard as I could. I remember not eating so much like over the summer and then coming back to class and one of my professors was like, you need to eat a little bit more. I was like, "Oh.."
Mariana Thomas 8:20
Wow. So what does it mean, to emotional eat? And I want to hear this from someone who is doing the work. You know, as an emotional coach, I'm sure you see a lot of people that is going through emotional eating. So what does it mean to emotional eat?
Monique Pagan 8:41
Yeah, it means that you're reaching for food for reasons other than health and hunger. It means that you're reaching for food as a coping mechanism to self soothe, to fill a void or to control, yeah.
Mariana Thomas 8:59
So it's what - what are you trying to control?
Monique Pagan 9:03
Well, it depends on the person, but it can show up, like, I'm going to restrict my food as much as I can. And that's how I'm going to control my body. Or I've seen some of my clients, they would be like in a household that was kind of chaotic, and the only thing that they can control was what they put in their mouth. So they will overeat because this is something that's in my control, I can overeat this food or I can restrict but usually control can show up in over restriction.
Mariana Thomas 9:35
So then, I will say that someone that is emotional eating is having a lot of mental issues as well. Right? They're thinking they're not good enough. So there's a lot of self sabotage in their part. You know, like in order to be a perfect person, in order to be better than who I am right now, I got to eat all this food, even if, you know makes me really sick, because I imagine that when you emotionally eat, you eat more than what you're supposed to.
Monique Pagan 10:17
It depends. It shows up differently for everyone. Because emotionally eating is over restriction as well. Even like eating, you might not even think that you're emotionally eating, quote unquote, emotional eating, but that is a form of disordered eating. That is a form of emotional eating.
Mariana Thomas 10:34
So how can I recognize when if I have emotional eating? So what are the symptoms that comes up when someone is eating because of emotions?
Monique Pagan 10:49
Yeah, this is a great question. Because honestly, it took me a long time to figure that out myself. I thought that in my journey, I thought that I had a sugar to a sweet tooth, or I was a sugar addict. I was like the self proclaimed sugar addict. And then it was this one day where I was like, going through learning my triggers. And I was like, Oh, this is what happened. So before I answer your question, if I can tell you a little bit of story. Yeah, I remember calling my mother and wanting to vent, there was something happening, I don't remember exactly what happened. But I wanted to vent I called her. And then as soon as I got off the phone, I wanted chocolate, like, immediately, like, I want some chocolate. And I was like, wait, what just happened? What just happened. And I just kind of went back through the conversation in my mind. And I realized that I didn't get what I wanted from the conversation. The conversation didn't go bad. It didn't go south. But I didn't get like a container, a safe container for me to just kind of vent. And I realized that I had missed a connection with my mother. And that's what caused that trigger. I knew exactly what I wanted. It came all of a sudden, it was in my mind, my body didn't feel hungry at all. And it was to disconnect me from the pain that I was feeling because I felt disconnected from my mom. And this particular story that I'm sharing right now was so pivotal in my journey, because it was also in that moment that I realized that I was looking towards my mother to give me something that I now needed to give myself as an adult. Yes, when I was a child, she, you know, needed to self soothe me, that was her job. But now as an adult, how can I show up for myself? So to answer your question, how you can recognize if your emotional eating, going back to my story, you're not physically hungry, you're eating and you're not physically hungry, or you create your cravings come on abruptly. It's all of a sudden, it's not something that gradually comes up over time, physical hunger happens slowly and gradually over time. Emotional hunger is like, boom, give it to me. Now. Another way you can tell is that it's in your mind. It's in it, I thought about it, I thought about chocolate it was and it was very specific. Whereas like, physical hunger, it's in your body, it's in your stomach, your stomach growls, and then anything can satiate that you can associate it with a wide variety of food instead of a piece of chocolate. It's like something very specific. Another way to know is that is insatiable. I don't know if you can relate to this. But I can remember times when I will go to the fridge, I will grab something, eat it. And then I will go back and grab some ADM is like No, that's not it. I go back and grab something to eat it. No, that's not it. So I'm continually going to the fridge to find something that's going to satiate me. But it's not the food. That's an emotional hunger.
Mariana Thomas 14:01
Yeah. You're trying to find something or to to complete something, right? Anything at the moment. Oh, yeah, I totally get it.
Monique Pagan 14:07
Yes. Yeah. And then once you do eat it, if you feel feelings of guilt, if you feel feelings of shame, it's because of the emotional hunger issue. You ate out of any emotional reason instead of a physical reason. When you are eating from an emotional hunger, you're disconnecting from your body. If you're eating from physical hunger, you're reconnecting with your body. If you're connected to your body, you ate for physical reasons, you're gonna finish your meal feel satiated, and you're not going to have guilt or shame around it. But if you experienced those get those feelings of guilt, those feelings of shame. You feel disconnected and uneasy. That's a cue.
Mariana Thomas 14:14
Oh, love that. I love I love that explanation. I love that explanation. You know, the difference between the emotion in how we are satisfying the emotion versus what makes my body my body feels good because I just nurture my body versus torturing my body with eating something that is driven by emotion. And I love that definition, Monique. Did I - did I? Did I get that?
Monique Pagan 15:28
Yes, you got it. And I love that you said torturing your body, because that's essentially what some people are doing. That's what I experienced, especially if we have like this underlying belief that we're not worthy enough or that we're not good enough, we're going to read and we're going to continue to show ourselves how we're not good enough by treating ourselves like a garbage can. I remember another moment when I was eating, and I felt like this nervousness in my body. And I was like, Why? Why do I feel this nervousness, and I realized that I felt like there wasn't enough food. And not only, which is ridiculous, because my fridge was packed, packed. But not only did I not feel that there was enough food, I felt like I wasn't enough. And so we have like this lack limit and scarcity mindset around food and in our relationship with food, because we have that with ourselves. And so the more that we can up our self worth, and know that we are good enough and know that we are enough, just as we are, then we don't have to reach for food to kind of feel that, that comfort that we might be seeking after
Mariana Thomas 16:41
I love that. Yes, yes, yes, it is incredible. Because you know, when I was growing up in Colombia, I remember my, my mom used to fill up a refrigerator with food and, you know, fruits and vegetables and, and I just always felt so happy. Just to know that there was a lot of food in my refrigerator. You know what I mean? And I will bring my friends to just give it to them. But I but I associated happiness sometimes, with just having the refrigerator full of food. That's, that's interesting. I said, I just realized that, Monique.
Monique Pagan 17:27
That's awesome. You're welcome.
Mariana Thomas 17:29
Yeah, a lot of things combined. Maybe I'll do an episode with that. But okay, so what is your personal relationship to emotional eating now that you have, you know, you not only overcame the emotion and feelings when your mom told you suck that tummy in, you know, and then going through life, becoming a dancer and thinking, I gotta suck it in the whole time. And I probably need to eat less. So my tummy doesn't push. Right? So what is that relationship to emotional eating now, for you.
Monique Pagan 18:13
It's a beautiful relationship. And I'm not gonna sit here and say that there are not times when I feel like I want to. But I know that whenever a trigger comes up, that is an opportunity to heal. That is an opportunity for me to give pause. And to understand why do I feel like I need to call my nervous system with food, or with any other thing for that matter. And so a lot of the times we can feel that trigger we can feel our system activate and we want to avoid that activation by eating the food. When when we have a better relationship with the trigger. And knowing that hey, this is my body telling me that it's ready to heal. Hey, it would, your body would not bring it up if it wasn't ready and the fact that you can feel it, the fact that you can notice it. It's like hey, can you see me? Can you acknowledge me? Can we discuss this and get to the bottom of it. And so that's why I think it's a beautiful thing. And emotional eating has been a blessing. The triggers are a blessing, because it's it helps me deepen my relationship with myself. It helps me deepen my relationship with others because we can only go as deep with others as we can go with ourselves. And I get this beautiful opportunity to share it with other people like you and your listeners and whoever else.
Mariana Thomas 19:46
Yeah, I love that because something just came to me is because you know that was a trigger for you when you were seven. But you can also identify all those feelings and emotions, when you get triggered by all the things doesn't have to be just all really food, right? But it's just like I get triggered by something. Okay, let me stop. Let me recognize that. Where is that coming from? I love that. I love that. That's the work that I do.
Monique Pagan 20:20
Yeah, and the beautiful thing is that when, when you shift your relationship with food, like when I, when I shift my relationship with food, that even if it wasn't that I was, wasn't craving the food. I started craving something else, it shows up another way, right? And you just get to go deeper with yourself, you get to peel back the onion, you get to peel back the layers and get to the true essence of who you are on the inside.
Mariana Thomas 20:46
But that's because you did the work. Yeah, that just reminds me. Many years ago, I had a, I had a friend, he was an alcoholic. And while he was trying to stop drinking, he will turn into cigarettes. So he was replacing the habit of drinking for cigarettes. So that's not doing the work for me. For me, it's just like, okay, where else, can I go with addition, versus looking in the inside, you know, looking in, what is really going on? What is making me reach for stuff, that my body, and my mind, and my spirit, my heart doesn't need? You know what I mean? That's different, that's different. That's why people need people like you and myself to help them realize that, that's why you need a coach, friends,
Monique Pagan 21:49
A coach or therapist or someone to mirror back to you your possibility someone, you need someone in your circle, not just someone you need multiple people in your circle, to stand in the gap to hold a higher vibration for you to let you know that this is what's possible for you, I see you at your highest potential. And now, when you have that those people around you, you can feel them tugging, you can feel them reaching down and pulling you up just from their energy because they know that you can do better they know that you can be better they know who you are, they're just mirroring back to you. So that you can see and get to know that
Mariana Thomas 22:33
Yeah, so she would say that a way of overcoming emotional eating is by recognizing the triggers by recognizing the the critical points that are triggering us. And also by reaching out to a coach. You know, reaching out someone that you just mentioned, is going to mirror those state that's going to guide you to become aware of what was really going on.
Monique Pagan 23:03
Absolutely the steps to, I love that is about presence. Presence. Being in the now being okay with being in the now if that trigger is coming up is coming up. Because you're either in the past, you're either in the future, or you're applying the past to the future. You're not in the now.
Mariana Thomas 23:23
And that's why I wanted to have you on the podcast because it is so aligned with the work that I do when it comes to mindfulness, right, being present, and recognizing who you are and what's going on right now. going deep inside. I love it. You know, I was just thinking about this profile client that I used to have actually a celebrity. And I remember her sharing with me that she will to the chick get food at night in her dorm by her bed. And sometimes she was waking up in the middle of the night. And without realizing she was grabbing the food and eating it. And she will never realize that into the next day. And I was like wow, that is really something because, for someone like me, they've never gone through that type of thing. It was, impossible to believe. You know, but when I speak with someone like you, they have worked with people with emotional eating. It's like yeah, that is possible. That is something that people actually do.
Monique Pagan 24:47
Yeah, I heard that several times. Several times when people are overeating at nighttime. I mean that's pretty special that she wouldn't remember that she was eating in the middle of the night, but That's usually when they're using food as a companion and for comfort and for them that's like their buddy that's their friend that's their lover you know that's their significant other and so usually in those times is about how can I show up for myself How can I love myself How How can I be my own lover? How can I comfort myself and even I don't know if your podcasts you can go into this, but like how can I sexually social for myself and or even I love to give this tool to have like a hot water bottle on the bottom like by your pelvis, especially for people who are single, because it's so soothing. It's so comforting. It's so like healing and when two lovers are making love, their pelvises are touching and you can feel the warmth. And so this can kind of mimic the warmth of that and it can be very calming and soothing and comforting for the person that's doing it.
Mariana Thomas 26:07
Yeah, yeah, we definitely can go deeper into that maybe behind the scenes, I'm going to tell you what I want to do now. But yeah, I love that this is this topic can go deeper and deeper. So at that, this is why I wanted to bring this on you guys. And obviously, you can always reach out to one of us to get more information in the show notes are going to be there so Monique's information will be there so you guys can reach out if this resonates with you, or you know anyone that needs support with emotional eating. So with that, how can someone work with you, Monique?
Monique Pagan 26:52
Yes, so you can go to my website www.MoniqueRPagan.com, M - O - N - I - Q - U - E - R - P - A - G - A - N. I have an online course it's a four-week program, you can sign up for that's where you don't we don't physically have to touch or virtually have to touch. But if you want to go deeper into the work, I am offering one-on-one programs.
Mariana Thomas 27:18
Absolutely perfect. So that will be on the show notes you guys if you want to reach out to Monique make sure you check the show notes. The podcast will be out and when that happens, you will know because you'll get an email. If you are not subscribed yet, please make sure to subscribe to the podcast and invite your friends and families to do so. We also of course, release everything on social media as well. This topic is really really important because it goes deeper than just eating food. Okay, this is emotion. This is feelings. This is a ton of things that are attached to this. So this is one bigger reason I wanted to bring this in. It resonates so much with the mindfulness work that I do. And so I hope that you enjoyed this episode, please reach out to Monique and I will see you on the next one. Bye Bye, everyone.
Outro Speaker 28:24
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