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Calming the Chaos

Calming the Chaos is a podcast by Licensed Mental Health Counselor Tracy Kenela. She uses profound and often humorous stories from her own life to illustrate how chaos can show up, and how emotional it can be! Anxiety, depression, fear, worry, shame and overwhelm can be managed using a variety of simple tools, skills and techniques. Tracy uses her experience as a counselor and her own personal work to provide you with hope…as well as some simple coping techniques, support and encouragement... that will help you move toward a more peaceful and enjoyable life.

Nov 29, 2020

Episode Title: “Chaotic Holiday Eating”

Intro: In this episode, Tracy interviews Stacy Schilter-Pisano, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Eating Disorders Specialist / Supervisor, and Site Manager at The Emily Program in Lacey, WA. Stacy and Tracy help listeners understand why some people struggle with food, eating and body image, especially during the Holidays.  


  1. Why do people experience chaos around food, especially during the Holidays?
  • Internal Stressors = Thoughts that are distressing. 60% of the time, people are thinking: What did I eat? What will I eat? What do I look like? What do I weigh?
  • External Stressors = Situations or events that happen in the world that are distressing
    • Family togetherness when family members make negative comments
    • Isolation from family or friends during the time of expected togetherness
    • Financial concerns
    • Busy Schedules, School and Work
    • Returning home from college during the holidays and facing possible judgment
    • Family comments about how your body has changed (appearance-related comments)
    • COVID-19 and the impact of isolation on our body shape and size
  • TIP: Be aware of / avoid any appearance-related comments (i.e. “You’ve got that COVID-19” or “You look great…you’ve lost weight”)
  • TIP: Focus your comments on the person, and who they are (vs. what they look like)
  1. Food-Related Stressors: Family Comments about Food
    • “I shouldn’t be eating this” or “Today is my cheat day”
      1. TIP: Enjoy the food and the company without excessive comments or pressure on yourself or others
    • “What you’re eating doesn’t look very good” or “You can really put it away”
      1. TIP: Be mindful of your comments on someone else’s eating experiences
    • “You need to eat more (or less)”
      1. TIP: Be supportive! Keep your loved ones out of the spotlight
    • “I’ll need to work this meal off later”
      1. TIP: Keep the focus off the effects of the food – appreciate food and family
    • “I’ll starve myself for the big meal, then go to town eating.”
      1. TIP: This effects blood sugar, and sets us up for overeating later. It’s best to regulate your eating all the time to keep blood sugar regulated.


  1. Fear Foods: Look at the Pie!
    • Pie Thought #1: “I’m afraid of the pie.”
    • Pie Thought #2: “I never get pie. I want pie!”
    • Pie Thought #3: “This pie will make me gain weight”
    • Pie Thought #4: “This pie will make me behave in ways I don’t want!”
    • Pie Thought #5: “Am I expected to eat this pie?”
    • Pie Thought #6: “Who made the pie? What’s in it?”
    • Pie Thought #7: “What will people think if they see me eating the pie?”
    • Pie Thought #8: “Someone expects me to eat this pie now!”
    • Pie Thought #9: “Maybe this pie isn’t so bad…it has fruit in it.”
    • Pie Thought #10: “What are the ingredients? Is the pie safe?”
    • Pie Thought #11: “I’ll avoid the unhealthy crust”
  2. TIPS to handle internal, external and food-related chaos

TIP: Attend to your body’s actual experience of hunger and fullness

TIP: Speak the truth about your hunger and fullness

TIP: Think about and enforce your own food boundaries

TIP: Honor and respect your own food choices, and the choices of others

TIP: Empower each other to make our own wise choices with food

TIP: Stay on your own plate!

TIP: Know who is at your table and cope ahead (try not to “catastrophize”)

TIP: Have a safety plan and / or a support person to contact

TIP: Take a breath and consider leaving the area for a bit

TIP: Talk yourself through it like a best friend would

TIP: View yourself through a compassionate, non-judgmental lens – be kind to yourself!

  1. Bonus Tips
    • Stay out of the WEB
      1. Avoid comments about Weight
      2. Avoid comments about Eating Behaviors
  • Avoid comments about body weight, size and shape
  • Approach your loved ones for support
  • Practice body attunement, noticing hunger and fullness and responding appropriately
  • Set and keep food boundaries
  • Be non-judgmental, compassionate and flexible
  • Practice mindfulness for flexibility (our pets can teach us!)
  1. Information about Stacy and The Emily Program:



Listen to Calming the Chaos!

Main podcast website:

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Email Tracy at

Tracy also created a mindfulness CD called “On This Day” that teaches you how to practice mindfulness in less than 10 minutes throughout the day. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and increase clear thinking in times of chaos.

You can purchase the CD on Amazon at or in digital format at


Thanks for listening, and take care!