Food Issues

Podcast – Ep. 98 – The Connection Between Trauma and Eating Disorders.

As you begin to learn how your past affects your present life, you start putting the puzzle pieces together of why you feel the way you do, what your specific triggers are and where they stem from, why you struggle in certain aspects of life, and a myriad of other things start to come into focus and you have these “ah ha” or “lightbulb” moments when suddenly everything makes sense.

I’ve had many such enlightening moments during some very intense and difficult times in a therapists office, or working with a trauma informed coach. I can remember saying things like, “I never know that my self-esteem problems were because of being bullied. I didn’t realize that my learning disability may very well have developed due to childhood trauma. The problems with my weight and issues with food are not simply some genetic family problem, but have been intensified and increased due to childhood sexual abuse and other trauma. The list goes on and on, and needless to say this revelation was both empowering and disheartening at the same time.

Realizing that all of these struggles were not my fault, and were either caused by or greatly influenced by past trauma, took me down a dark road for a time. Sitting with that realization was difficult, but one of the ways that I began to work through it and reframe the shame, was to use this information as a learning experience. Something I could take to change the tide of what was ahead for me, rather than just accept that I was destined to suffer and struggle for the rest of my life.

One of the biggest hurdles that I continue to work through, is in the area of food, and because of this struggle I am always on the lookout for ways to discover and understand how the mind and body work in the wake of past trauma, and specifically in this case, with eating disorders, food struggles, and gaining weight.

My guest today, Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, joins me on the podcast to discuss the connection between trauma and eating disorders.

Born in Houston, Texas, Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross spent her childhood in San Antonio where as the oldest of five children, she comes from a long line of physicians and healers. Her mother’s father was a well-known physician in Bryan, Texas, who opened his own hospital and nursing school. His mother, Betty Love, was a Cherokee medicine woman.

Dr. Ross’s own personal health crisis and the diagnosis of her mother with Alzheimer’s led her on a journey to healing in which her perspective about medicine changed and her desire to focus on integrative medicine led her to the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Ross completed a two-year fellowship in Integrative Medicine, studying with Dr. Andrew Weil. Her path then led her to work as the head of the Eating Disorders Program and the Integrative Medicine Department at world-renowned inpatient hospital, Sierra Tucson where she pioneered the Integrative Medicine approach to eating disorder treatment. She currently works in private practice in Denver, Colorado, as an addiction medicine specialist and suboxone doctor who specializes in opioid addiction treatment. She also is a consultant for treatment centers across the country on eating disorders and integrative medicine.  You can learn more about her practice, and how she got started in medicine, by checking out her bio on her website, 

I’m so honored to talk with Carolyn on the podcast, and dive a bit deeper into some of the struggles with food and weight that are not only close to my heart but affect so many who listen to the podcasts and read the blog posts both here and on Surviving My Past.  During our chat, Dr. Ross and I discuss:

  • How do events from the past impact eating habits?
  • How much does trauma have to do with eating disorders?
  • Is food addiction a true eating disorder, and can you actually be addicted to food?
  • The impact of dieting on eating disorders, and the effects on our mind and body.
  • What is the relationship between weight and health, is it really about “calories in calories out?”
  • How do we develop a healthy relationship with food as trauma survivors.

Carolyn and I discuss these topics and more on the podcast, so you’ll definitely want to check it out and give it a listen. The information she shares could very well be life changing for you or someone you know, so please consider sharing this with someone who might need it.

If you’d like more information about Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, her Books, The Anchor Program, or working with her individually in the areas of eating disorders or addiction, head over to

free one hour coaching sessions - beyond your past






All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.

Podcast – Ep. 87 – Mental Health Advocacy from Personal Experience, with Charlotte Underwood

Living day in and day out as someone who has experienced extreme hardship from the loss of a parent, childhood trauma, addiction, eating disorders, and more, is hard enough as it is, but to speak about it publicly as you continue to face your past each day as well can be even more difficult. After all this is something that we’d probably rather push down into a dark corner of our mind, and never think about again.

It’s often a source that still has open wounds which are decades old, some of which still feel as fresh as the day they happened. Others, well the scars are there to remind us of what we experienced. Either way, those things that we’d rather forget, can be a source of motivation and encouragement, both for us and for those whom we influence each day, knowingly or otherwise.

charlotte underwood - author and advocate - podcast guest - beyond your pastCharlotte Underwood is an advocate, author, and freelance writer who’s dedicated her life to talking about areas of personal struggle in hopes of helping others and instituting the change that is so desperately needed in the areas of mental health care and support. Her content includes topics such as: Anxiety & Depression, Self-Harm, Suicide Loss and Suicidal Ideations, Eating Disorders, Bullying, and more. Bringing her on as my guest for this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, is something I have been looking forward ever since I came across her profile on Instagram and began following her work.

As she outlines on her website, I’m Charlotte Underwood, a young 22-year-old from Norfolk, UK. I am a growing mental health advocate and like to use writing to inform and support. On this blog you can keep up to date with my written work, both self published and through other means. I post a lot about mental health, depression, anxiety and suicide. I want to raise awareness as well as end the stigma.

I have been writing professionally for a year now but don’t let that put you off, for though it seems like I have little experience, that is not that case. I have written two E-Books and run my own growing and successful blog, soon I even hope to break my poetry out into the world! I have written over 100 Guest posts, …and have worked for The Metro, TalkSpace, Young Minds and The Content Wolf.

My content is focused on mental health and lifestyle, you can expect candid and thought-provoking content from me.

During my chat with Charlotte, you’ll learn:

  • When she first felt like something was wrong in her life.
  • What it’s been like for her living with a mental illness
  • How her recovery continues to progress
  • Ways that she manages daily life with her mental illness
  • What being an advocate means to her, and why sharing from personal experience is so important.
  • Seeking out mental health assistance in the U.K.; including her personal challenges and ways that she’s working to help change that process.

Charlotte speaks very candidly with a perspective that is well beyond her age. Indeed, she’s lived through some tremendous adversity, including losing her father to suicide and surviving her own attempt. Her honesty and drive to help others and bring about awareness and change, is inspiring. Her willingness to talk about the topics that many would rather avoid,  is and surely will continue to make a difference in this world.

There’s much more I could share about my chat with this incredible advocate and survivor, so head over check out my podcast with Charlotte Underwood, and learn more about her life and her dedication to helping others :).

Please consider following Charlotte on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where she is very active on a daily basis. Her blog is a great follow as well, and her two eBooks are available for download on her website.

Thanks again Charlotte for joining on the podcast, I’m honored to know you and to help share your message!

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP








All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.


Podcast – Ep. 76 – Vennie Kocsis – How Trauma Manifests Itself in Adulthood – Food Struggles

Trauma manifests itself in so many ways in our adult lives. While we’d like to think that “what happened in the past, stays in the past”, the unfortunate reality is that regardless of when a traumatic event(s) occurred, the effects last long into adulthood.  That’s not to say that there isn’t hope for healing, because I absolutely believe that there is, but we must first understand what’s happened and then we can begin to heal from it.

For someone who spent about 30 years ignoring those effects, it was quite a shock when I finally did start to confront all those memories and bring them to the forefront instead of leaving them stuffed away in a shoe box, in the back of the closet of my mind. “Out of sight, Out of mind” can no longer be an option when we start to deep dive into recovery. As intimidating as that can be, it’s also an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Being able to put the puzzle pieces in place, and shine light in the dark corners of our minds can yield incredible awareness and lead to self-compassion in ways that we never dreamed of.

Vennie Kocsis - Guest Podcast - Beyond Your Past

One of the struggles that I have faced my entire life, and most certainly as a result of childhood trauma, is in the area of food. Or better put, realizing out how unhealthy of a relationship I’d had with it for most of my life and finding ways to turn that around. Not out of guilt, but out of self-awareness and compassion for who I was, what I went through, and where I wanted to see myself in the future.

My guest, Vennie Kocsis, joins me on this episode of the podcast to discuss this particular aspect of how trauma manifests itself in our lives.

Vennie is an author, artist, poetry writer, and survivor survivor of Sam Fife’s Move of God cult.  My creativity is the therapy by which I have survived the memories of my childhood abuse. There are many  caves where memories hide out, and I intend to travel them all in this lifetime. I am raw. I am flawed. I am open and here without shame, to tell the true story of my own childhood. I write to survive, and I write for those who cannot find the words to tell their own story. Most of all, I write for those who cannot express it. For you, I give my heart and all of my tender parts.

I first met Vennie several years ago, through Twitter, and almost immediately we hit it off as friends and fellow survivors. Our mutual respect for each other as survivors and being willing to share so openly about our struggles, helped form a lasting bond of friendship that I value so much.

Her insight into the world of surviving some of the most horrific abuse imaginable has helped her in using her voice and talents to reach a huge audience with a message of hope and resilience. A message of finding ways to tell your story, and not be ashamed in asking for help.  To that end, not being ashamed to admit that she is still a work in progress, as we all are on our own journeys. She uses her book, Cult Child, her art and poetry to convey what’s in her heart both now and when she was experiencing the trauma first hand.

It’s real, it’s raw, it’s vulnerable, and it’s all about not being ashamed of who she is and the message that she has for the world.

In this podcast we cover topics related to food and survivors:

  • Self Shame with how, when, and what we eat.
  • Why dieting doesn’t work for us
  • Reparenting ourselves when it comes to food
  • Moderation
  • Lifestyle Changes
  • and more!

As you listen to the show, we hope that you’ll feel validated and encouraged with the realization that you are not alone. The struggles of looking at ourselves in the mirror each day can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be that way for the rest of your life.  Making small changes in our lifestyle and a conscious effort to give ourselves a break for a change, can be just the ticket towards finding that self-love and acceptance that’s been absent in our lives for so long.

This is the first in a series of how trauma manifests itself in adulthood, so be sure and watch for future episodes on other topics of being a survivor.

You can learn more about Vennie, her book “Cult Child”, check out her poetry and artwork, on  Be sure and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as well, @VennieKocsis.

-Matthew Pappas







All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.