Have you ever wondered why you turn to food for comfort?
Have you ever felt this compelling need to please everyone around you?
These two things aren’t just habits or personality traits - they’re often signs of deeper, unaddressed trauma. And they are both very connected!
My guest this week, Ilaria Petrucci, Emotional Eating and Fitness Coach, has walked this path herself and now uses her knowledge and experience to help others navigate their journey to healing emotional eating, and deeper self-discovery.
Ilaria breaks down how childhood trauma can manifest as emotional eating and people-pleasing, acting as distractions from our internal wounds.
She lays out parallels between emotional eating and emotional spending and discusses the importance of self-talk in practices like budgeting and dieting.
As Ilaria shares her unique somatic approach to breaking the cycle of emotional eating and re-establishing a connection with ourselves, she also underscores the importance of our healing journey being a lifelong process.
But it’s not just about healing, it’s about turning our wounds and trauma into our purpose, using them as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks!
I can't for you all to listen to this lovely episode! I hope you enjoy it!
Ilaria Petrucci is a qualified Fitness and Trauma-informed Coach who specialises in helping women overcome emotional eating and achieve their fitness goals without falling back into old habits.
Having struggled with emotional eating for years, Ilaria perfectly understands the frustration and root causes of these cycles and is so passionate about helping women break FREE from this, build deep confidence, achieve their fitness goals, and finally feel good in their skin.
Connect with Ilaria:
Free Gift: How To Deal with Your Emotions Without Food
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~Podcast theme song by The Jilted Irony
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Money Healing Podcast. I am your host, nadine Zommelt, and today I have got she's a coach and she has a very special name that I'm gonna do my best to honor. How beautiful her name is, because it's Italian in origin and I don't speak Italian, but let's do this Elaria Petrucci. Welcome Elaria. Yeah, she's giving me the thumbs up. I did it right. It's very good, thank you. Yeah, awesome, awesome. So tell us about yourself, and I was hoping that in this episode, we can, you know, help our audience see how childhood trauma can manifest in our day-to-day life, and I always talk about its manifestation in our relationship to money. However, elaria has a very different, yet same take to this subject, because Elaria is well, tell us about yourself. Why should I introduce you while you're here? You will do it in a much better way. I did the name right, so the rest is yours.Speaker 1:
Thank you, Nadine. Thank you for having me First of all. it's always great to have such conversations with like-minded people like yourself, and I love what you said about how childhood trauma manifests in our adult life, and I know you focus on money and money is certainly an area where it shows up, like relationships is another area, and career all of that. But if we then look at the whole picture, where it all starts is the relationship with ourselves, like our relationship to money, our relationship to others, whether it's friendships or romantic, our relationship to food or other substances, our relationship to the external world. It's nothing but a projection and a reflection of the relationship with ourselves. So I always say that this is where we have to begin To heal anything on the outside. We have got to be brave enough to look within.Speaker 2:
Beautifully said. I mean, yeah, going within to heal the outside, rather than going outside to avoid looking within.Speaker 1:
Yeah, and that's where we all struggle, isn't it? It's on the outside, trying to fix things on the outside, and in what I do at the moment, I focus on helping women with getting fit who struggle with emotionally eating, and my approach is very different to what I usually come across, because emotional eating is an emotional problem. Our emotions don't want to be fed, they want to be felt Our weight and this is I'm talking from knowledge and qualifications, but I am mostly talking from experience, because this has been my life journey. I struggle with emotional eating, I struggle with people pleasing, I struggle with my relationship with money and I struggle with wanting to feel good in my skin, and weight became my problem. My body image became my problem for so many years and I completely took over how I would show up for myself or wouldn't show up for myself, how I would see myself talk to myself, every single area of my life, and what it always comes down to is the inner world. But for the weight to be my problem was easier. So our weight and our body image becomes our problem and it's almost like that's convenient, so that I don't have to look at myself and I'm going to be so busy trying to fix what's outside of me and I don't have to look at. Okay, why do I actually eat all my emotions? Where did those emotions come from in the first place? And that's how I always link it with people pleasing.Speaker 2:
Okay, wow, that's a very, that's a very. What do you call it? Like a different not different, but unique approach of looking at the connection or the interconnectedness between our trauma, how it manifests in people pleasing and how it also can look like emotional eating. So I am very guilty of emotional eating and it's funny how the way that our childhood trauma manifests in our day to day life really informs our specialty and our expertise as people who want to serve others and help others with their own trauma. So my biggest struggle was not really my emotional eating. My biggest struggle was how I was hiding behind a budget. In the beginning, years and years ago, I was trying to heal that void within myself by making myself busy with following this budget and like squimping and saving here and there. That was a hobby, you know, like I got such a high and I felt so like awesome and productive in such a weird way when I would like buy something for $10 less. Or like just busy, like busy work, just so that I don't look at the money wounds that are inside of me and my. Actually my background is in nutrition. That's my under and post grad, so yeah, so the topic of today is how our childhood trauma manifests as people pleasing and emotional eating and like budgets, like how people go. Oh, I've got a really, really shitty relationship with money, so I'm just going to go and find a budget. That's the same with eating. I have a shitty relationship with food. I emotional eat. So what do I do? It's like I, emotionally, I do emotional spending, so I curb my spending through going on a budget. I emotionally eat, so I curb my eating through following a diet. So it's pretty. We're pretty much like, yeah, like we're walking in the same path but on two different lanes but speaking the same language, and that's why, this is such a rich, yes so many parallels.Speaker 1:
So something that comes up for me as you're talking is you know you said about budget and how important, like what I teach my client is, how important it is how we talk to ourselves, Like I would ask my client within the fitness world in terms of diets. But we can do it with budget. If you think about sitting down and sorting out a budget, how do you feel in your body? Like, what are the first reactions? And if you then do the same with diet, is the same thing? Restriction yeah, you want to spend more than what you already your budget might be. You think about sacrifice the things that you can't have. As opposed to that, if you sit down to write a spending plan, or you sit down and write a nutrition plan, how different does it feel in your body? And I would encourage anyone who is listening to this to just give it a try. When you think about spending plan, suddenly I feel excited. You know, okay, what do I want? Do I want a spending plan so that I can have well, you know, a holiday in this place, or buy myself something here, or save for a bigger purpose, whatever it is, but there is a big shift in the body. Same thing when I'm talking about nutrition plan rather than a diet. I am feeling like abundance. I am loving myself. I'm thinking about nutritious food going into my body from a place of love and not from a place of. I can't have this because I don't deserve it, but it's because it's bad.Speaker 2:
And then making. See, the thing is that the thing the my worst, like the my least favorite thing about the parallels between a budget and a diet is that they focus on restriction, they focus on discipline, but the worst part is that they focus on making you wrong for wanting things. You know, when you call it a diet, when you call it a budget, there's no space for your soul's desires, there's no space for creativity. That's more about like, if you want something that is outside of this budget, slash diet, then you're wrong and you need to start conditioning yourself to want the things that are just within this thing that I'm giving you, this plan, this formula. And that goes back to what you said about the way we speak to ourselves and the relationship that we have with ourselves, within ourselves, is the base of everything. So when we're looking at something outside of ourselves to heal us, we're actually just really like overriding and bypassing, aren't we?Speaker 1:
Yeah, we're avoiding the deep work. Yeah, we are telling ourselves. We want to believe. And I get why. You know, I've been wanting to believe that if only I lost weight I would be happy and all my problems will go away. And I wanted to believe that, yes, because to actually sit down and think all right, okay, so I need to actually look at how I show up for myself in this world. Why is it so hard to say no? Why do I always put myself last? Why don't I? I don't even know what my needs are. In fact, I don't even know my desires are. Why do I find it so difficult to not make myself available every time somebody asks me to be available? Why is it so hard to? Why am I always the only one that is there for everyone? But when is my turn, cricut?Speaker 2:
No one's there. We're there, no one's there. Yeah.Speaker 1:
That's the hard part to work on, because then you start to do the work yourself. You start to say no people drop off. You know they live your life whatever reason. So that's the hard stuff to face. But in the process what happens is, every time we do something that we think that we have to do, we are supposed to do, so that we can get that approval, that positive feedback that make us feel OK with ourselves, that self-betrayal, because we are not honoring the truth, because if I'm saying yes to you when my insights is screaming no, then I'm not being authentic Right and you're not being, you're not honoring yourself.Speaker 2:
I'm not honoring myself, and I mean people ask why don't I have the self-trust that I like to have? And that is the base of it is when you say yes instead of saying no. That is how the trust, your self-trust, starts to break.Speaker 1:
Yeah, I'll say you. So, trust is never. It never had a chance to even form, because we are going, like you said, we're going back to childhood. So people pleasing is a trauma response to fear, by definition, which means that at some point in our childhood, within the first I'll probably say the first one to three years of our life, we learn that for me to stay connected to you as my parent or caregiver, I have to give myself up, Because it's not safe for me to be myself with all of my range of emotions If my mom tells me off for being loud. I quickly learn that to get mom's approval, I have to be quiet, and so I shut myself down. I shut down the part of me that wants to play and run around and be loud, because that's what kids do. Kids aren't supposed to be quiet. I don't have kids, but I guarantee you with my child development training, kids are not supposed to be quiet and tidy and not messy. That's how they explore the world, they explore themselves and they express. And so we learn that for me, to keep the connection, which in childhood is a survival need, I have to abandon myself to connect to you. And we bring that into adulthood until we find ourselves suffering, struggling with one different reason or another bad relationships, bad relationships with food and all that and so on and so on, and then we hopefully sit down and face the real problem.Speaker 2:
Sitting down and facing the real problem is actually scary. That's why 90% of the population not audience to this podcast or certain you know, in the avenues where we work and play like as coaches, I feel like we do attract a large cohort of people that are ready to do the work, that are ready to go within, but when I speak about, like 90% of the population that are outside, that is the hardest thing to do to sit with these emotions, because from looking at people spending patterns or money patterns in general, people would do anything and everything to avoid feeling that one feeling that they were scared of feeling when they were between the ages of 0 and 3 or 4. So for me personally, it was a fear of rejection and fear of being alone and abandonment. So throughout my whole life, I can see how that manifested in so many different ways in my relationship with money, in my relationship with my business, in my relationship with food as well. So tell us a little bit about your journey, your personal journey, because I'm really interested to see how you made these connections throughout your life and how your deep healing informs the work that you do for your clients, because, like you said, this is not something that we find a lot in the fitness and nutrition world, for example, and one of the reasons why I quit nutrition is because I knew that it was an outside in approach. Only later on in my life I faced the same obstacle that I was facing back when I was getting not certified but getting my degree that we need to go inside to go out. But I approached it from my own trauma, which was mainly around money, because that's what was happening in my childhood home. So tell us about your journey, ilaria. I'm really curious to see. I'm curious and, like in wonderment, I just want to hear about your story. I'm sure everybody else does too. You speak so beautifully, so go ahead, sure.Speaker 1:
So as a young teenager, my dream was to be an athlete, and so I've always been into fitness. I've always been passionate about moving my body and just had a natural interest in sports. I've played different sports and etc. When I was still living back home, but I always I remember feeling inadequate. I remember feeling out of place. I remember feeling not enough and this started way before I was even a teenager and one day I just found myself binging, not knowing, not understanding what I was doing. I remember feeling very alone, very out of place. My parents just changed town so I had to leave all of my friends, everything I knew, and I was about 12 years old and I think that actually impacted me so much more than I even still realize, because I don't have any memories of my life before 12. I really struggle with memories of that and I think because of this big move my whole world completely changed and my first urge to eat was around the age of 14. So this big move was definitely a massive trigger for me as a 12 year old and early teens. So from the age of 14, that's how I started coping with life, and I didn't know at the time, but I was very quiet. I was a people pleaser. I grew up in an environment where I didn't feel safe because my dad had anger issues. So I remember actually having a conversation with my mom when I was probably around 20, I'm 41 today so when I was probably around 28. Happy birthday, no, not today as in today, but I mean today.Speaker 2:
Oh, not today today.Speaker 1:
I always get this. Why is she on a podcast? No, I always get this. I say like, oh, I'm 41 today, but what I mean is as per today. That's why I have to start saying You're 1981. 1981.Speaker 2:
October, 26 of October. So, anyway, when I was about 20, I remember I was in therapy and I asked my mom some questions about my childhood, because I didn't have any memories and they always bothered me Like I want to remember myself as a little girl and I remember my mom saying that I used to mumble, like my words wouldn't come out properly because I was so afraid to say something wrong or do something wrong because the consequences would be my dad having like a rage event, rage moment and there's a little girl. It was very scary, it was like a sudden change of environment. So I've always walked on eggshell and really didn't feel safe at home, which is, for a child, the place where they should absolutely feel safe and I brought this into my adult life, as you do.Speaker 2:
As we all do.Speaker 1:
And it's not until I was probably about 30, about 10 years ago that I really started to realize I'm making the connection between abandoning myself and the self-betrayal there's not honoring my needs. How am I showing up in relationships? Why am I always feeling this anxiety? Why am I always feeling so overwhelmed? Why do I overcommit myself so much when I barely have energy for myself? But I literally felt I became really aware of the fear of disappointing other people, which, until that point, it was so ingrained in how things are that I never even questioned that things could work differently, that there was a different way. To me. It was like well, obviously I'm going to give myself up for you. There is no other way.Speaker 2:
I mean, this is something that I'm really I'm sure that a lot of our audience is going to resonate a lot with. I resonate with it, so yeah.Speaker 1:
Yeah, and so then what happened? And then is when you start asking yourself better questions like okay, if there? was another quality of your life yeah, is the term by the quality of the questions you ask yourself. And so that was the first, that was the first, I think, big breakthrough to actually tell myself I don't have to say yes if what I mean is no, but for me I was just being kind. You know, I don't want you to think that I'm a bad person, I don't want you to think that I'm not kind, but that's not about. It's not about kindness If that includes me abandoning myself every single time, and by no means. Sometimes you can put yourself aside to be there for a friend or for a partner, but that has to be kind of like the exception, not all the time, automatically. Just I remember, yeah, I remember just being asked to do something by a friend or whoever, and literally changing my whole plans around that request so that I could say yes, so that I could just make them happy, and realizing that I can say no. And you know what? if they don't like it if they don't like it, it's okay. That was my second breakthrough I can be okay even when other people are not okay with me.Speaker 2:
Wow, and what do you think that taught your nervous system?Speaker 1:
The nervous system. That's where the work has to happen and that's when things really really changed. The nervous system is wired within your pattern. So what I've learned is it's all about to teach your nervous system safety For us. And I want you to hear this from a child perspective, because if you hear this from an adult perspective, of course you're going to say, well, of course it's safe to say no, like your life is no endanger if you say no. But this is your inner child, this is the child part of you, the wounded part of you that is showing up. And so to literally just be with the discomfort, rather than spend money on it, eat on it, drink on it, watch TV or avoid it in any way, just ground yourself in your body and be with the discomfort, because the healing happens when you reconnect with yourself and you bring yourself your nervous system to safety. So, teaching what safety is it is safe to say no. It is safe to disappoint people, because every time you choose to not disappoint them, you're choosing to disappoint yourself, exactly when we choose to disappoint ourselves. We know, like you know what I mean. Like you say yes, but you know that you're betraying yourself. There is a knowing inside of you. Where do you feel that?Speaker 2:
knowing, I think. Do you feel it somewhere in your?Speaker 1:
body Absolutely, and people different.Speaker 2:
People feel it in different ways, Different ways yeah, that's why I'm curious how do you feel it?Speaker 1:
Yeah, I feel it in my chest and my throat. Oh wow, for me, yes, for me, it's in my sacral area.Speaker 2:
Like girl, you're not on the right track with this. So it's literally my gut that's like yeah.Speaker 1:
So that's I mean, we know. So become sensitive to that body sensation that says no, you don't want to do this, so say no. But then you say yes because the subconsciously saying yes is safer. And the subconscious will always win. Always. The nervous system will always win over the rational. That's why we need to teach the nervous system. Yeah.Speaker 2:
So how did all this tie into food for you?Speaker 1:
Yeah, well, food. Yes, I love the ask me this question. So, which goes perfectly with what I was just about to say, we have this knowing that we ignore, right, because not because not ignoring it is not safe, right, it's a danger. And when we ignore it, what happens within us are emotions arise of anxiety, stress, resentment. We just know that we are not okay, we are not honoring ourselves, and these emotions are uncomfortable. And because we don't know how to deal with these uncomfortable emotions, we find an outlet, we find an escape. For me it was food, for a lot of people is food, some people is alcohol, some people is overspending, and it's not like we don't know how to deal with all of these other behaviors.Speaker 2:
Yeah, sometimes it's all of them together in different parts of your life, depending on the day of the week. You know, like Monday to Friday you could be overspending on online shopping and then going out to eat at night with your friends and then overdoing it there, and then on the week and it could be overdoing it with alcohol or whatever.Speaker 1:
So you have different phases in your life. You know you go through an emotional eating phase and then you go through an overspending phase. You know, but it's a way to not so much to cope with it People say it's a way to cope with but it's actually a way to avoid and escape those emotions that we don't know how to deal with. And then you ask you know, if you ask me, what was food giving me at the time, it was a sense of relief. And when I speak to my clients and I asked them the question, what do you get from binging Every single time? Is comfort, a sense of relief, or, like literally they cite, like they go like finally, I'm doing something for myself.Speaker 2:
Yeah, so walk us through what you do with clients. So let's say, I come to you because I have emotional eating, so walk us through your process. And just to you know, I'd love to have people have a taste of what you do because I think it's great.Speaker 1:
Yes, so my approach is very somatic. So I'm NLP qualified as an NLP master coach and I'm trauma informed. I've done my studies with Gabo or Matei, I don't know if you're familiar with his work who?Speaker 2:
isn't yeah.Speaker 1:
So hi, so I would work with people on mindset level, because it's important to understand what they consciously are aware of and what their beliefs are and what are the thoughts that come into their minds. And then we work with the body. So emotion, emotional level, it's in the body. So we focus on sensations, inner child healing and we do the work at body level to help them and teach them how to process these emotions that nobody has ever told them Because, like I said at the beginning, emotions don't want to be fed or they don't want anything else but to be felt. But we need to learn how to feel ourselves, how to be in our body, how to recognize, because the origin of trauma is a disconnection with ourselves. So the healing is in the recognition to ourselves. So this is like the focus of my work. Then some clients then come to me because they want to also get fit and I'm also a personal trainer. This was like one of my first businesses I ever started when I was in my early 20s. So I'm a fitness coach and with that we work with the science of training and nutrition, Because I think that also in this industry, in the fitness industry and trauma emotional coaching industry. When it comes to emotionally taking, you have to resolve the emotions. I need to know how to do that. But then if your goal is to get fit, then there is still a part of missing where there is a science when it comes to getting in shape and learning how to eat for your body and how to eat for nutrients, to feed your body properly, not just to lose the weight and look slim. Let's make health our value, not just the outside looks. But then if you then just work on the science of fitness and training and you're struggling with emotional eating, that part is going to be massively overlooked. So I kind of bring the two together. So if you're somebody who struggles with eating and emotional eating and you want to get fit whether that means putting on weight or losing weight, it's different for everyone but ultimately you want to feel good in your skin then I can help you for both, in both areas. So you have like a whole container where you can be supported like the best of both worlds really.Speaker 2:
Yeah, and I love the things that you share on Instagram too. Thank you, tell us about where people can find you online because, like I keep saying, the work that you do is still unique, and if anyone out there is struggling with the things that you mentioned, I mean I'd love to point them in your direction, obviously. Thank you, nadine.Speaker 1:
Yes, so Instagram is definitely the place where I show up the most, and you can find me at Ilaria Petrucci underscore coaching. I also have a Facebook group called Stop Pleasing, start Living. I can send you the link. If you want to link it down in the comments, send me the link In the notes and I also have a freebie that I love to offer to anyone who wants to download it. I just written it, actually last week, and is how to deal with your emotions without food.Speaker 2:
Oh, wow, yeah, I'd love to pop that into the show notes as well. So if anyone is able to download it and get the content, so something I love to ask all my guests is what turns you on in life and, in this context, how I would like to reframe this question is how does your life look like after all the trauma healing? Because I know that we feel more and enjoy more of the present moment. So tell us about what turns you on in life and how your life looks like after all the healing work that you've been doing.Speaker 1:
Well it's. There's one thing that I want to point out that a lot of the times, healing is interpreted as I'm going to deal with this and this thing is going to go away, and it's not so much. It's not so much what healing is, it's not so much Right. So healing is about getting to know yourself and how you're programmed and loving all those parts of you. You know those parts of you that when you were a child you had to, you know, shut down, repress, push away because they weren't accepted, because when that part was showing up within yourself, like saying the being loud thing, you were told off for being loud or you were not approved of. So it's reconnecting to those parts and love them and allow those parts to be there in your adult life. So, whether it is, you know, reconnect to play. That's why children play a lot, because through play you find yourself, you express yourself, try different things and just exploring. And so life with healing is, has a lot more possibilities, right, because trauma limits your possibilities in life.Speaker 2:
Disconnected from your intuition too?Speaker 1:
Yeah, If you're disconnected with yourself, you're disconnected with the world and with the people around you. Ultimately, and even like people, pleasing in itself, it gives you a false sense of connection, right? Because if I can only be liked by you, if I do everything you want me to do, then what does that really say about our connection, how genuine our connection is? So life with healing is more intentional for sure. Yeah, beautiful, yeah, yeah.Speaker 2:
And playful, and more freedom.Speaker 1:
There is freedom. There is freedom to express yourself, and there is no diet that can give you that. So you have to know through the process and you said something before you said it's hard to face yourself, and I always say isn't it just as hard to not face yourself and and lie to yourself by believing that a diet will give you what you're looking for? And you waste so many years in your life telling yourself that, when actually the easiest option is to do the work? So they're both hard. Just choose wisely which hard you're going to. Yeah, and you're going to go, yeah, to go with yeah.Speaker 2:
And to your point earlier, gosh, I love that you said that A lot of people in this personal development world put healing as a thing on their to-do list. You know whether it's a long-term to-do list, because they have this impression that it's something they can take off like tick healed, I'm healed now. Yeah, it's so. Not that you know it's a healed is very different than healing, because it's a journey, right, and it's a journey back to you. And then the more you level up in life, the more your patterns are going to show up, and the deeper I go in my business, for example, the deeper I need to heal certain wounds. I mean, it's really not. It is, in a sense, it is healing your wounds, but it's first of all healing your relationship with these wounds, not allowing them to take over your life. Yes, absolutely, and knowing that they're there, they're part of your life and, like you said, it's loving all parts of you, and in that loving of all parts of you, life just opens up.Speaker 1:
I mean the sunshine looks different when it, you know, comes through the window.Speaker 2:
You just are. You have that sense of presence, that creativity in your mind, that space where you can feel more and connect more to life.Speaker 1:
Yeah, and it's an amazing sense of empowerment, because actually you come to realize that you it's not just that you have the power, but you are the power. You are the power, you are the power of choice, you are the power of resiliency, you are the power of freedom, and so you can live the life that you want, if only you're willing to do the work that needs to be done for you to get there.Speaker 2:
I always say, your trauma and your wounds are. You know, they are the path to your purpose. They're not the obstacle to your purpose. So it's through healing, not overriding your pain, it's through feeling. Alaria, you are a gem and I'm so glad that we got to record this episode and share it with the world. I look forward to having you on again and collaborating with you. Thank you.