Episode 18 - Binge Eating (Part 1) with Naomi Brenner Joseph
Patricia Ciavarello: Hey, my name is Patricia Ciavarello and I am obsessed with all things motherhood and helping you keep calm in the chaos of motherhood and life's unexpected moments. I am a mom of twins with a doctorate in business whose world fell apart and had to pick myself up piece by piece. I am not an expert, but I have totally been there, and I am so far from perfect, but definitely not afraid to get real and vulnerable.
I teach you the secrets to motherhood and life I wish someone told me, because as much as we wish there was, nobody hands you a mommy manual. So pull up a seat, get comfy and get ready for me to spill my secrets. This is Real Mom Truths Nobody Tells You.
I am so grateful that you are tuned into this episode of Real Mom Truths Nobody Tells You.
Hello everyone. Today, we welcome a special guest Naomi Brenner Joseph, author of Binge and Sprint from Endless Cake to Recovery. Naomi is a confessed binge eater for most of her life and received her master's of science in speech and language pathology at Columbia University, and has treated children with feeding and swallowing disorders.
She is a successful entrepreneur and helps others find their best and healthiest self. Her goal is to touch as many people as possible through her vulnerability and give them the healing her story can provide. She is a mom of three and we are so excited. Naomi, welcome. So grateful to have you here.
Naomi Brenner Joseph: Yay. I'm so excited to be here. Thank you so, so much for having me on.
Patricia Ciavarello: Oh, it's our pleasure. So I really want to get into the story because I think it's just so interesting and I really commend you on your vulnerability and your courage, because I think it's going to help so many people, but let's start at the basics and let's see, where did the story of binge eating really start for you?
Tell us your story.
Naomi Brenner Joseph: So there are so many facets to this story, but if you want me to really pinpoint the beginning and this to me is really the start of everything. I was eight years old. It was actually my eighth birthday. So I was seven the day before, and I was given a key to my house. My mother worked late.
I'm the youngest of an all girls family. I needed to let myself in the house once a week. And this was very, very frightening to me. But I couldn't tell my family that I didn't want to , and I had to do what I had to and put on a brave face and soldier on because I needed to do what was expected of me. And I came into the house and I used food to calm myself and to keep me company it's keeping me occupied. And I feel like when you're eight years old, It's almost like a little bit of a reward. It was almost like my little eight year old.self trying to be a mommy and say, oh, I love you, honey. It's okay. Have a cookie. I'll make you feel better. But then when you take that with you for the rest of your life, and you use that to comfort you, you use that to, mask over abandonment, that everyone just sort of left you there. And there were so many other underlying issues and this was just sort of the culmination of all of them. But if you wanted me to pinpoint one moment, that's the moment.
Patricia Ciavarello: Wow. And how like insightful of you to even make that connection, you know, because so many, I mean, I know myself included becoming a new mom.
I felt myself in those like really stressful moments. Like I could totally relate to that and I'd be like, oh, I deserve it. You know, I had such a hard day, I'm going to have, you know, this cookie or, or that piece of cake. And it was almost like you said, emotionally soothing yourself in those tough moments, but also tying it back to when you were so young and make that connection. That's really powerful.
Naomi Brenner Joseph: I really feel like the stories that we remember most in our lives like if you would ask anybody to sit down and just write out the stories that they remember in their lives, there's always a reason behind why we remember those stories. And it's probably nine times out of 10 because there were such underlying emotion connected to all of that.
And it meant so much to us. That's why we remember.
Patricia Ciavarello: Absolutely. Absolutely. There's always, there's always a deeper, a deeper emotion behind, behind it. And sometimes, you know, it can be, it could stem from so early and, and making that connection and really telling your story truthfully, like it's amazing, right?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: Lots of reflection, lots of stuff coming up from under the porch.
Patricia Ciavarello: I know that a lot of us can have like a different idea of what binge eating is. So let's just take a second and explain it to us from your perspective, what is binge eating?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: So, binge eating is clinically defined as putting hand to mouth eating a lot of food when you're not hungry and there is a feeling of not good enough. There is a feeling of judgment. There is a feeling of being unworthy or there's depression. There's all of these underlying reasons. And basically what I feel is that we continue to put hand to mouth and we continue to eat because we're trying to find that just right thing that's going to soothe us,. but as we get older, we are less and less soothed by the food because the underlying emotions are still there. And so in binge eating, a lot of people, me included, switched from salty to sweet, crunchy, to soft. And you're trying to find that one food that's going to make you feel better, but you keep, keep going because the food that you're looking for doesn't exist.
There was no,food that you could eat during a binge that will ever, ever, ever make it better. And what my binges look like. I mean, if, if there was a camera in my kitchen, you would see me, first of all, binge eaters, it's, it's done in secret. It's, it's a shameful thing. And even if it's not a shameful thing, the person doing it feels shamed.
That's I think part of the package. So, you would see me going into my kitchen and you would see that I'm in a daze it's almost like something takes you over and you know, in your head you should be stopping but you just can't stop. It's just like another thing takes over. It's almost like you're in a trance, like you're just on autopilot and all of the cabinets fly open and the frigerator flies open, the freezer flies open, and I would just look for the most calorically rich thing I could find.
So it didn't matter how gross it was. Stale hotdog buns from the freezer that were, you know, frozen dipped in, you know, honey or, you know, jelly that was opened before the flood, you know, that sits, you know whatI'm talking about, that sits on the shelf, on the door and your refrigerator. Okay. And then your kids snacks dipped in the nutella, and then salty and then, you know, cheese or, you know, whatever, whatever it is, like standing at the kitchen counter.
And it's very, time-consuming binge eating, which is a little strange cause I'm usually stressed about not having enough time. So now I'm like super stressed cause now I'm wasting time and I'm shoving all this food in me trying to numb myself so that I can go on because I can't deal with whatever feeling I'm having.
And then toward the end, you know, when you just kind of can't fit anything else in you, you look around and you don't even remember what you ate and if not for the crumbs and the wrappers, I don't think I would ever be able to tell you what I ate. But then you kind of feel calmed at the end, but you're not really calmed.
You're just like in a sugar coma or a gluten fog. But you have sufficiently numbed yourself to be able to stuff, the emotion and move on to whatever it is you have to do next.
Patricia Ciavarello: And did you have like one particular moment? Was there like an aha moment for you that you said to yourself? You know what I need help? Like was there that one pivotal moment for you?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: You know, there really wasn't. How I ended up getting help was, just knowing that I had this battle. I remember it was on a run one day because I always kept my weight down. I was like an exerciseaholic, which I later found out there's actually a name for it called exercise bulimia and I was on a run and I was running past my friend's house and she was sitting on her stoop and I was just like, hi, I just was hanging out with her.
And she was saying that, she read this amazing book and I should read it. And that doctor, his name is Dr. Ira Sacker. He actually wrote the forward to my book. He's actually the top eating disorder specialist in the country has been for many, many decades. And, I read his book and then I was just decided that I needed to reach out to him because I needed to stop doing this.
Which was really, it was almost like okay. I want to be a singer, so I'm going to call Beyonce. So I just, I read the book and it's like, okay, I really want to do this. I want to call like this famous person, but I'm so glad that I did. And it really changed my life completely. I mean, over many years, but it changed my life.
Patricia Ciavarello: Wow. Oh, wow. That's that's awesome. And you know, when you were going through your postpartum journey, Especially, you know, with three kids, how did postpartum and body image and binge-eating come into play. How was that time period for you?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: So this was definitely one of the most intense, I don't want even want to say stressful.
I don't even know self-deprecating, I think could be a good word for it, points in my life. So my husband and I were married and trying to have children for about 10 years before we had our twins and we certainly had a lot of intervention. So I was completely pumped full of hormones, and you IVF girls know what I'm talking about.
So after I gave birth and I had wanted children for so long. And in my mid thirties when I had these kids and I was also a specialist in feeding and swallowing disorders. So of course I was going to be the perfect mother because I was a little bit more mature and I was a professional in the area.
And of course my twins were going to nurse and they would be perfect nursers and I would be mother nature and everything would be fine and dandy. So when I had them and I did not produce enough milk for one baby, let alone two. And they did not want to nurse. And what had happened was that, you know how like when you get out of delivery, so they give you that clicky to numb the pain.
I don't even know what's in there, it's a clickie. And so whatever was running through my veins because they were like, okay, you want to feel good for your twins. I'm clicking away at this clicky thing, and before I knew it, whatever was in there made me really sick, violently ill. And so they kept them in the nursery and they bottle fed them.
And, well, that was just the beginning of the end. So I feel like a normal mom would have said, okay, I'm going to give them what I can, and then I'm going to supplement them with whatever I can't give them. And we're going to move on from here. Yeah, no, to me, I spent months and months and months and thousands and thousands of dollars on lactation consultants on every learning, every method, having every piece of paraphernalia and pumping.
And I literally spent the first three months of their lives in bed topless with this thing strapped around me called it was like a big boppy, but it was for twins. It was called, I swear to you. It was called my breast friend and I had the two of them laying on it. I was like Bessie the cow. And every time I would try and feed them or pump, it was as if every single negative thing came rushing to the front of my head and I could feel the bile buildup up in the back of my throat and I had such postpartum depression. And when you're going through that, because feeding and nurturing your children is the most natural thing that a mother should certainly be able to do.
So when you can't, now you're a complete failure. And then the postpartum. gets worse, and then you don't deserve to dress yourself. And I did not treat myself nicely. And then I felt like I needed to compensate. So even if I went to the supermarket, I had a drag, at least one of them with me through the snow, it was just ridiculous.
It was ridiculous, but I couldn't see the lights. I could not see the light. I would come home from work. Sometimes I would have to just sit in my car on the driveway for 15 minutes before I got up the courage to walk back in, because I knew that I couldn't rest once I came home and there was one time where I was just so exhausted, I needed to lay down, but I had nowhere to go because I couldn't come home and lay down because once I walked in, I mean, what self-respecting mother doesn't walk into their house in the mean scoop up their children because they haven't seen them for a whole day. I mean, my goodness, what kind of a monster are you? So I drove myself to the only place that gave me peace Loehmann's and I parked my minivan in the Loehmann's parking lot and I laid down in the back of my van and I took a nap for 40 minutes.
It was the most glorious thing every did in my whole entire life.
What happened was that when they turned a year, I became pregnant, just kind of out of the blue. And with that birth, all of my hormones did a complete flip, and I went from being completely and utterly depressed and overwhelmed to euphoria.
I was euphoric, like there were birds chirping and there was rainbows and unicorns bearing gifts. It was just amazing. And then I, I did that differently. I, I dressed myself like a person. I went to the gap, I got a few mix and match pieces. I invested in a personal trainer and I started treating myself really nicely.
And that made all the difference for me. So that was a very long answer to your very short question, but I think moms out there can relate.
Patricia Ciavarello: I think it's so important. And I know personally as a twin mom, I think that so many mothers are ashamed to talk about postpartum and maybe are even a little bit confused by it, you know, because like you say, you know, you're supposed to feel this euphoria and this amazing feeling and sometimes it just doesn't feel that way.
And you feel confused, like why, why am I feeling this way? Am I a bad mother. And you start to beat yourself up and be hard on yourself. And instead of having some grace with yourself and really allowing yourself to adjust to this new role called motherhood and everything that comes with it. But I know for me personally, I had no idea what I was feeling.
I just knew I was feeling sad and overwhelmed and, and it almost made me feel a little crazy to be honest, because. It was so unexpected, you know, and it made me feel like a bad mom when really that was the farthest from the truth. And I, I think it's the more women that can bravely share their experiences, the more, it feels less foreign and it can feel okay to feel those feelings. And it has no impact on whether you're a good mom or not.
Naomi Brenner Joseph: Absolutely. I just feel like when you're going through it alone and nobody talks about it, you just feel like a freak of nature. And then when somebody opens their mouth and says, this is what happens, you're like, oh my God, I'm not alone.
It's not just me. And it's because it's, there's so much pressure and you want to be this perfect mother. You waited so long for this, this or these kids.
Patricia Ciavarello: Did you in that journey, especially with the binge eating, did body image come into play at all for you?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: So certainly, I mean, my binge eating always stemmed from not being worthy.
So every stage of, of everything that I ever went through, I came from a place of, I would use whatever stage in life I was going through. I would use it as a springboard to prove my worth. So when I wasn't worthy at all, or seemingly, you know, feeling worthy because I was by my standards, failing in that arena, then, body image came into play where it was almost like I wasn't allowed to purchase the new clothing for myself. I didn't deserve that. I wasn't allowed to go see a nutritionist that could help me. I didn't deserve to spend that money on myself. I wasn't allowed to invest in a personal trainer that is taking time away from your kids.
So. There was nothing that I could do to, to help myself feel better. I mean, and, and I was eating so much while I was pregnant because, I was never pregnant, you know, before much less with twins, you know, you're supposed to be growing. You know, so then I was just, I was bingeing so much.
I remember one time I was went to the Avenue and, you know, I had had a huge lunch before I left. And then I went on the Avenue and I saw friends. They're like, oh, we're going to lunch. Did you eat? Do you want to go? And I'm like sure! Yeah, it was just wild. And then not allowing myself the time or the money or the effort to get myself together.
Well, of course you're not going to if you're not taking care of yourself. That's going to reflect, but it was almost like that, remember how I was saying self-deprecation and not feeling worthy of being able to have it. And then it's circular, then you just kind of feel awful about yourself.
And so you, self-deprecate more because you feel that you don't deserve it and then you look more awful and then you, you know, and then you need the comfort to have the food to help you get through. And then it just becomes like a huge circle.
Patricia Ciavarello: Yeah, absolutely. After having my twins, that I had gained a lot.
And I, I was on bed rest actually for three months. So what was like stagnant in that hospital and just there was, there was really nothing to do, but lay there. Right. And I remember after the surgery, I had this vision in my head of like having a flat stomach. And you know, like I'm bouncing back right after pregnancy and the reality of what my stomach looked like after surgery, I'm like they left one inside. There's definitely something wrong here. And it took a really long time to honestly look in the mirror and almost except what I look like post having them, but not just accept it, but love myself where I was instead of trying to reach where I thought I was supposed to be. And I'll never forget.
One day I was trying to fit into these jeans and I was so uncomfortable squeezing them and buttoning them up. And at one point I was just like, why don't you just buy a bigger pair? Like, why are you trying to fit into the same jeans you fit in before you had kids? You're not the same person now. Like just buy a bigger pair.
It's okay. You know, and I think sometimes we hold ourselves to these standards that are just so harsh on ourselves and, and allowing ourselves to get whatever we need in that moment, I think is the greatest gift we could really give to ourselves.
Naomi Brenner Joseph: Yeah. Okay. Forget the fact that you are female human that just had two people come out of your body and quite an ordeal with IVF and then going back to work, and God forbid, you know, you have to love the woman, you know, the larger woman that you are at that time.
I mean, there was a season in every woman's life where she's going to be larger or smaller or. Whatever it is, but our bodies, we forget that our bodies look at the amazing things that they are able to do for us. It's just the stage where we are in life and we have to remember to be so kind to ourselves and love ourselves.
And, you know, there were all these women in my neighborhood that adapting these Lacy wonder bras, you know, for nursing and using coverups, like the Chanel scarves as coverups and I'm like why am I not doing that? Maybe if I had some designer clothes why can't I be doing that?
That's that looks much happier. Let's do that.
Patricia Ciavarello: Yeah, I can so easy. It can be so easy to get caught up in all of that and comparing and, you know, questioning if what we're doing is, is the right thing. And what do you think triggered you the most to binge eat?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: My main trigger is expectations. So, when someone is expecting something of me and I am afraid that I'm not going to be perfect or worthy in their expectations. So if somebody's expecting something of me, if I'm expecting something of myself or, if somebody is not expecting anything of me at all, but I think that they are, could be a trigger as well. It's all about finding your worth. Clearly binge-eating has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the emotions behind it.
And I do find that binge eaters are overachievers because they're always using every single thing that they come into contact with as a springboard to prove their worth.
Patricia Ciavarello: Very well said. And so true. And I know you talked about in the beginning, you know, that moment when you were eight years old, but what do you think are some childhood wounds that maybe contributed to your binge-eating that you can look back on now and say, I get it. I get how the connection was made. I get how that contributed.
Naomi Brenner Joseph: Well, I think for everybody it's a family dynamic. It all has to do with either how you were treated by a family member or anyone who really had an effect on you. So clergy, a teacher, you know, even the childhood schoolyard bully, sibling, older sibling . When we're young, children are very, very perceptive.
They're very good observers, but they're not as fabulous at interpreting the true meaning behind what they observe or what they experience. So a lot of times, they will take a comment or a recurring theme or how they are treated by a particular person on themselves. And that becomes their identity. You know, it's like the Scarlet A and then they take it into adulthood and wear it their whole life.
So I'm sure we know people that are always like, oh, I'm so clumsy or I'm an introvert or. I'm not good at public speaking or, I'm a terrible sales person. You label yourself and you create this identity, which is so not true and was not even yours to carry in the first place, but it's just, you take that and you carry it with you because you internalize it.
That it just becomes you. And I think that those childhood wounds are true for really everybody. And that's really how we develop our egos and our entire personalities. And it's, I guess our collective challenge as a human race to really examine those things and to leave them and to shed them and to decide who we want to be going forward.
Patricia Ciavarello: And like you said, it's that inner work and that inner journey that takes us from, from A to B. And how would you compare your self worth, say, I don't know, 10, 20 years ago to now, how has this journey evolved it?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: My goodness. I mean, I'm not even the same person that I was 10, 11 years ago. And there were so many things that helped me on that journey.
I mean, my whole book is really a series of stories, compiled about little lessons that I learned along the way. And you know, it's always about being forced to do the work, being forced to do the self development. And you have to examine yourself if you want to grow as a leader and especially leading for yourself, you're forced to do the introspection yourself.
You're forced to do the self growth. You're forced to find the real you or you'll never get out from under and I'm so, so grateful for this experience. And that led me on a whole other path, having children, I mean, my twins are 20, and their development, you learn so much from your children and their development, and you want to be a better leader as a mother.
There are so many things, so many experiences that I had, and certainly writing this book I didn't have the answers before I wrote it. I think the writing, it gave me the answers and gave me the experiences. And then of course, my mother, her passing, having to care for my father, that was, that was really the clincher for me too.
So I think that every life experience that you have is specifically brought to you so that you can learn that particular lesson. And overcome those challenges and the bad stuff won't stop coming to you until you figure it out. So dig in right now or it's never going to end.
Patricia Ciavarello: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, if you had one hope, you know, I'm sure you just shared with us what inspired you to write this book and then sharing your story.
But if you had one hope that this book could accomplish for others, What would that hope be?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: You know, the reason I really wrote this book was I figured if I could help one person not go through what I went through for as long as I went through it, then it would really all be worth it to me. I've spoken to people who have read my book, I've gotten messages and everybody takes something different. And it's really not just about binge eating. It's really about any addiction or life challenge, or it could be, you know, drugs or porn or alcohol or shopping or relationships or anything like that. And it's just about people finding themselves. Seeing them in my story, even if it's not exactly alike making those correlations, making those connections and taking those lessons and applying them into their lives. That's the dream. That's the dream.
Patricia Ciavarello: And I'm sure. That dream will come to pass because there is a lot of golden nuggets in your book that I know so many others will be inspired and learn from it. So please tell listeners, where can they purchase the book and connect with you?
Naomi Brenner Joseph: So the book is called Binge and Sprint, and you can purchase it on Amazon, or at your local bookstore.
And you can contact me through Instagram at @bingeandsprint, or you can also contact me through my website, bingeandsprint.com.
Patricia Ciavarello: Awesome. And you know, for all the listeners, we're going to post all these links in the shownotes to connect to Naomi and purchase the book directly. Thank you so much for joining for us today and to our listeners, be on the lookout for part 2 with Naomi next week where we deep dive into her recovery.
As always, I promise to be here for you and serve you and cheer you on every step of the way and spill all the secrets of motherhood and life I wish someone told me. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Real Mom Truths Nobody Tells You podcast. Until next time, keep on celebrating you because you, my friend, are so worth it. I am literally doing my happy dance with you because you just finished another episode of Real Mom Truths Nobody Tells You. I felt like that episode flew by way too fast. Right? If you want more head over to www.realmomtruths.com for show notes, and if you're looking for a new mom group to uplift and encourage you, and for helpful tips, be sure to join me and my community on Facebook.
The link is waiting for you at www.realmomtruths.com.