I had the pleasure of interviewing a special guest, Celia Clark, on the Feed Your Soul with Kim podcast! Celia Clark is a food and body image specialist from Scotland. Celia brings a fresh perspective to our discussion by introducing the concept of Internal Family Systems (IFS) and its profound impact on our relationship with food and nourishment.

Understanding Internal Family Systems:

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a therapeutic model that recognizes that we are made up of different parts, each with its own intentions and desires.

In the context of our relationship with food, these parts can manifest as:

  • Urges to restrict food.
  • Internal drive to binge on food.
  • Engage in other behaviors that distress us around food or not around food.

Unlike traditional approaches that demonize these behaviors (parts), IFS treats them as solutions to unmet needs.

Celia Clark shares her personal experience, highlighting the positive intentions behind these parts. For instance, the part focused on restriction seeks to keep us physically small to avoid judgment and shame.

The part driving binge eating attempts to meet unmet needs for connection, comfort, and escape.

By understanding and connecting with these parts, we can build safety and trust within ourselves, healing the shame-based wounds that drive our challenges with nourishment.

Recognizing the Impact of overeating on Body Image

Body image is often a significant factor in our relationship with food and ourselves. Celia emphasizes that body image struggles are driven by specific parts within us. By recognizing these parts, we can explore their intentions and begin to cultivate self-compassion.

In Internal Family Systems we are asked to get curious about the intention of the part.

  1. What is this part trying to communicate about my body?
  2. What is this part struggling with?
  3. Is there something important I need to know?

Cultivating Nourishment Beyond Food

Nourishment extends far beyond what we eat. It encompasses how we care for ourselves in all aspects of life. Celia highlights the importance of being open to both receiving and offering nourishment.

Physical nourishment in terms of paying attention to our physical needs is critical:

  • Rest: be VERY mindful of your body’s need to rest.
  • Movement by engaging in types of movement celebrate you.
  • Clothing that reflects your body’s needs (i.e. fits well).
  • Nourishing foods

Emotional and Social nourishment is so valuable:

  • Increase self-worth.
  • Expressing needs clearly.
  • Practice healthy boundaries.
  • Soul satisfying relationships.

Embracing Curiosity and Validation

Curiosity is a crucial first step in the IFS process. By getting curious about our urges and behaviors, we can begin to understand the underlying needs and intentions of our parts.

Celia suggests journaling and self-reflection as tools to explore these aspects of ourselves. Validation plays a vital role in this process as well. By validating our experiences and emotions, we create a compassionate space for healing and growth.

Becoming the Internal Loving Parent

As we engage with our parts, it is essential to adopt the role of the internal loving parent. This means offering ourselves compassion, understanding, and support. Just as we would nurture and care for a young child, we can provide the same kind of love and care to our parts. By developing this nurturing relationship, we can meet the needs of our parts and alleviate the behaviors that no longer serve us.

The Transformative Power of Internal Family Systems:

Internal Family Systems offers a radical shift in how we approach our relationship with food and ourselves. By focusing on the intentions and needs of our parts, rather than external factors like calories or body size, we can create a more compassionate and healing environment. This approach empowers us to address the root causes of our challenges with nourishment, leading to lasting change and a healthier, more holistic relationship with food.

Lastly, as we cultivate curiosity, validation, and self-compassion, we create a space for healing and growth. Internal Family Systems offers a powerful framework for transforming our relationship with food and nourishing our souls, empowering us to live a life of self-acceptance and well-being.

Celia Clark and Internal Family Systems:

If you resonate with the concepts discussed in this podcast episode, there are several ways you can explore Internal Family Systems further.

Celia Clark offers one-on-one sessions, group work, and online courses to support individuals on their healing journey. You can find more information on her website, including free resources to dive deeper into this transformative approach. https://www.celiaclark.online/

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, and Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the best-selling book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration.

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms.

Wondering if you are an emotional eater? Sign up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz.