Azure Moyna has written a memoir about her journey to healing from an eating disorder and how her childhood trauma and family dysfunction contributed to the development of her food and body image issues.
You will learn:
1. How and why family dysfunction can lead to an eating disorder
2. How writing a book can be a form of therapy
3. The role food plays and doesn’t play in binge eating disorder, food addiction and emotional eating
STUDY GUIDE : HOMEWORK
Start keeping a journal of your own journey to healing from binge eating, emotional eating or food addiction. Challenge yourself to limit what your write in your journal to: positive changes in behavior or thinking, affirmations or quotes that inspire you and what you’re grateful for.
Guest bio: Azure Moyna is writer and coach. She holds a Master’s Degree in Regulatory Affairs, a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience and is a certified coach in Eating Psychology. Azure has overcome child abuse and a resulting eating disorder and is passionate about coaching and writing about issues relating to food, body, mental illness, familial dysfunction, societal treatment of overweight people and the healing journey. Azure is the author a memoir about her healing journey entitled Fullness.
Link to book “Fullness”: https://amzn.to/2JlCKNG
Schedule a free consult to discuss your food and body image issues: https://findingyouranchor.as.me/consult
The Anchor Program is a 12-week non-diet program offering ONLINE group and individual sessions for the treatment of binge eating, emotional eating, food addiction and compulsive overeating. Want to learn more about the Anchor Program? https://AnchorProgram.com
Hi everyone and welcome to podcast number 75, getting up there, close to a hundred. So today we’re going to be talking about, well, I’m going to be interviewing author. The name of her book is “Fullness” and the author’s name is it’s a beautiful name, actually I really like it Azure Moyna, Azure Moyna and Azure is a writer and a coach, she holds a master’s degree in regulatory affairs, a Bachelor’s in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience. And she’s a Certified Coach in Eating Psychology, as your has overcome child abuse and a resulting eating disorder and is passionate about coaching and writing about issues relating to food and body image. And she is the author of a memoir called “Fullness”, which I just mentioned, which is about her own healing journey from her eating disorder. So I hope you’ll really take the time to listen to this and I want to just talk a moment about listening in a critical, critical thinking manner. And I don’t mean criticizing Azure in any way, shape or form. I just mean that a lot of times, particularly when someone talks to you about a product or. You know, especially a diet, that it has to do with food and body image issues. We just automatically get excited about it and it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and it’s going to solve all my problems. And what I liked about interviewing Azure is that she was very open and honest about her progress. So listen for those notes where she talks about what she has accomplished, how writing helped her in her journey to healing, and also what she’s still struggling with. And that, that will give you a more realistic picture of her journey and also, uh, of what any healing journey consistent cause it consists of bumpy roads. It isn’t all you write a book and then you’re perfect and nothing ever happens. So I hope you’ll enjoy my interview with Azure Moyna when we talk about her book Fullness, stay tuned.
Welcome everyone. Today I have a very interesting guest who’s going to be talking about her new book. My guest is Azure Moyna and she’s written a book called “Fullness”, which really recounts her journey to healing from an eating disorder and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Dr. Ross: Welcome to the, to the show Azure.
Azure: Thank you so much for having me.
Dr. Ross: And I see your books that they’re behind you, Fullness.
Dr. Ross: One of the things I found really fun about your book was that each chapter was named by, from a food or about a food. How did you decide to do that?
Azure: Well, when I was writing my book, um, I followed Natalie Goldberg who’s an expert memoirist and she was, Oh gosh, sorry, she was talking about structuring ideas. And some people doing it based on different time, you know, times or, or whatever. And so since my book had to do with the relationship with food and food being so paramount and you know, food not just being food for someone with kind of background. It just felt appropriate to, to name each chapter a, a significant food, and to really demonstrate that, um, you know, that personification of food for someone with disordered eating.
Dr. Ross: Yeah. And one of the other things you talk about in your book is how there’s a part of you that kind of your younger self that is healing at the same time as your adult self. Can you tell us what, first of all, tell us a little bit about your life right now and about yourself. And then we’ll dive into the question of what, what was life like for your younger self.
Azure: Sure. Um, so I, um, live in North County, San Diego. I, my first career has been in the bio-sciences. So, I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience, a Master’s degree in Regulatory Affairs, which is kind of like, a legal degree, but specific to registering biomedical products. And, um, and then I am a Certified Coach in Eating Psychology, um, which resulted from my own healing journey and, uh, you know, kind of the culmination of all of my personal development work. Um, and I’m married and I have a young daughter.
Dr. Ross: Aw, that’s great. So you have a young daughter, has that brought up any triggers for you about your own younger self?
Azure: It’s been very cathartic and healing. Um, especially because she looks a lot like me, very similar body style. And, uh, and so it’s actually been quite healing. Um, although I will admit, um, you know, the love that one has for a child, it’s just so such a consuming, overwhelming, wonderful love. And so there have been moments where, you know, it, um, I’m so happy to be able to raise her a different way than I was raised. Um, you know, but it is a little sad sometimes to know that I did not receive that type of love myself.
Dr. Ross: So tell us a little bit about your growing up years. I know there was definitely issues with your father who you described as sociopath. Yeah. Is, uh, my, my father was, um, you know, describe, you know, uh, I should preface it by saying that the, the professionals that I work worked with, um, did not have a chance to meet my father directly. So, um, you know, it’s not a reliable diagnosis, but, um, that he would, they considered him to be as a malignant narcissist bordering on sociopathy. And, uh, and so life growing up was a very scary, um, it was a very scary time in place. My home growing up, um, the only emotion that he showed was anger and that was all the time. And, uh, you know, would fly into kind of violent, violent rages. Um, and you know, it was physically, verbally, emotionally and financially abusive of my mother and then myself after my mom left.
Dr. Ross: So your mom left the family and you were, did you have any siblings or were you alone?
Azure: Yeah, I have a younger brother who’s a year and a half younger.
Dr. Ross: So you and your brother were left alone with your dad? Yes. Um, I mean, as primary custody, um, uh, you know, my, my mom, uh, had what normally, typically fathers might have in a custody, um, like every other weekend. So, uh, so yeah. Um, but our primary residence was, yeah.
Dr. Ross: And are your parents still alive?
Azure: My father is deceased and my mom is still alive.
Dr. Ross: Okay. What does she think about you writing this book and kind of coming out of the closet with the family secrets?
Azure: Yeah. Um, yeah, I love the way you word that because, um, you know, growing up with narcissistic family systems, um, the kryptonite is the truth and very much a taboo to actually tell the truth when you have a background, a family background like mine. And so I’m not the most popular person in my, in my family, both immediate and part of my extended family. Um, because these types of familial systems, uh, run deep and there are, uh, belief systems around that, that, um, you know, that just get really ingrained, uh, that public perfect and the real life behind the scenes is something that you just endure.
Dr. Ross: Yeah. So how is it that you’re, uh, you know, your, your household filled with abuse led to your eating problem?
Azure: Well, um, to be honest, it was so early and ingrained. I couldn’t tell you when I first sought out therapy, which really, um, You know, sparked off my entire healing journey. Um, my therapist asked me, uh, when the first time I remember bingeing was, and I couldn’t tell her because it was so young, I would estimate that it had to have been maybe around five. Um, it just felt like it was kind of always that way. Um, what led to that is, um, you know, narcissism can be very focused on appearance and, um, my appearance was something that my parents fixated on a lot. Um, they were very concerned about my weight and preoccupied with it from an extremely early age. And so, um, I was, uh, fed, uh, I was sort of fed one thing, my brother, another thing, um, I was often sent to school and bed hungry. Um, I was weighed every morning and sometimes in the evening also, um, you know, so their preoccupation with it, and then dieting me from an early age, combined with the, um, the dysfunction and you know, and abuse and violence at my house led me to sneak food and so I hid food under my bed. Um, or, you know, kind of behind, behind books in my, in my headboard and that type of thing, um, and would sneak them when my father sent me downstairs to my room, my, my, um, our rooms were downstairs instead of upstairs, like most houses. Um, but a common night, my father would get mad at my mom and it would become violent and when it was really about to become very, very violent. Um, he would send me downstairs with my brother to watch TV, to dry, to drown out the sound of him hurting her. And so I would eat while that was happening. So I would sneak things like peanut butter, you know, from the garage where we kept, you know, sort of bulk items.
Dr. Ross: When did you start to realize though that you had a problem that at that your relationship with food was really a problem?
Azure: I think I always had a knowingness, um, You know, from, uh, uh, grade school age, probably. Um, I noticed that the way that I was with food was already very different from my friends. They were, you know, they would eat part of their lunch and leave the rest of it. Like, you know, they would throw it away or, um, you know, and I would eat every last more soul of what I was given, which was restricted of course. But, um, you know, I had such a scarcity mindset and you know, I was just very preoccupied with food and I noticed just subtly that it seemed to be very different from my friends at Girl Scouts and, and friends at school and that type of thing. So I think I always knew that it was disordered, but I felt like it was just me in the whole world that had this problem. You know, it was, is very relieving when I, when I first really started to think of this as, wow, maybe this is an eating disorder, maybe there’s something, you know, maybe there’s other people out there there’s a name for it. And other people out there that suffer the same types of issues that I have. It was so relieving to feel like the only person in the entire world who did this.
Dr. Ross: I’m just wondering, you know, what do you feel is unique about your story? What do you feel after you’ve written the book? You know, you, you know, I’ve written a number of books, so, and one is a personal memoir. So I know that when you write a memoir in particular, you know, you’re kind of reliving some of the stuff that has happened to you. So when you went through that process, What did you realize about yourself that you’re about your story that’s different or unique from other women who have had similar problems?
Azure: Sure. Well I think, um, It’s maybe a roundabout way of answering it. But when I was going through my own healing journey, I, um, I love memoir. And so I was seeking out memoirs, um, about healing from disordered eating, and I really found a lot of them to, um, gloss over the details, um, in my opinion, uh, you know, cause I of course knew what it was like for me, the, the emotions and just kind of the, the sorted details really of bingeing and the, um, emotions that spark it. And certainly that follow a binge episode and, and just kind of the, the inner turmoil and torment and that type of thing. And, and I was really like wanting more from the books that I had been reading. And I was like, gosh, I feel like these books are great. Like, I appreciate them, but I want a book that like really goes there, like all the way there that doesn’t hold anything back. And so, I thought, well, maybe I’m the person to really write this type of story, um, and write my own story and really be committed to fully going there and sharing, not just kind of saying, Oh, and then I ate a large meal, but like really describing in detail. So to give, um, to one to de-stigmatize for women that are out there that have had this type of background, um, and also to provide context to people who, who don’t have a history of this, but to give them a better understanding of what it’s really like for someone like me. So that’s why I wrote the book and the process of writing it was, um, very cathartic. It was, um, I had already done a ton of therapy and, um, other healing practices like coaching and all kinds of “woohoo” kinds of things and stuff. Um, but there’s, there’s something about memoir that really ties it all together. Um, and I, it felt like the story went from being alive inside of me, like it’s own entity to now living on the paper and there was such a relief in that.
Dr. Ross: How has your life changed since you went through that process?
Azure: Um, the process of writing it. Oh gosh, I feel so healed. Um, you know, I had, um, I mean, healing of course is, uh, is a continual, a continual process.
Dr. Ross: Right?
Azure: Like, wow. I thought I was healed before, but this is sort of like an up-leveled my, my healing. Um, and it really allowed my, my story to be in the past, basically. You know?
Dr. Ross: How have things changed in terms of your eating disorder and your feelings about your body and all of that?
Azure: Yeah. Um, so, um, I went from a place of like complete disgust and disdain for my body and shame to self-love body acceptance. Um, you know, I do, I will admit, um, you know, especially living in this culture. There are times that, uh, one can get tempted to kind of go back into diet mentality and that type of thing. Um, and so I certainly don’t want to paint a picture of like, Oh, and, um, All is healed and, you know, happily ever after, because it is a process even after you’ve done the bulk of the healing work. Um, and, uh, you know, when having a healthy body that feels light and vibrant and that type of thing is it’s kind of my next chapter. Um, so now that I don’t engage in binge episodes, you know, any more or, I mean, maybe like very, very occasionally, you know, it’s, um, just trying to have the most healthy and consistent relationship with my body of self care.
Dr. Ross: So how did your, um, how did you recognize, or did you recognize any spillover with your problems and your daughter?
Azure: Well, I’m very cognizant of my daughter, my daughter’s relationship with her body. Because my, my, I mean, it’s hard to know like what came first, the chicken or the egg, you know, um, with, with my family. But I certainly know that with the, the level of body shame I believe was kind of the first, um, like the seed that grew into this huge problem for myself. And so, um, I’m very conscious of you know, not introducing any body shame, um, you know, and focusing on, um, you know, not just appearance, but her qualities as a person and instead of focusing on like, Oh, we move our body. So our body can look a certain way. It’s we move our body because it feels good to move our body and our bodies want to move. And you know, we eat vegetables because it makes our body healthy and strong and vibrant and it, and run well, you know, instead of it’s because they have the fewest calories. You know?
Dr. Ross: So your mom’s still alive. How, how has that relationship evolved?
Azure: I will say, uh, it’s, it’s strained for sure. You know, she, her choice to leave when I was 12 had, um, a significant impact on my life. You know, my, um, my abuse, I had already been abused, of course, you know, with the food and the weight and some verbal and emotional abuse, but it really escalated after my mom left because my dad replaced her with me as his primary target. Um, and so, um, yeah, she, I mean, she, and I should preface this by saying that she, she had, uh, I mean, she was significantly abused and that affects someone’s psyche. You know, and I think that I have forgiven her for her choices, but it is sometimes hard to reconcile having a relationship with someone who can’t see how their choices have impacted you and let alone be apologetic for those. So, um, it’s something that’s, I’m still working on, um, in all, in all transparency I feel like if fullness were focused on, you know, healing, my eating disorder and my relationship with my father and, you know, maybe a future book would be devoted to my mom.
Dr. Ross: You know it’s pretty common though, that these kinds of problems start with family dysfunction and or that it’s not just your relationship with food, but it’s your relationship with your parents who are providing the food you, who you’re dependent on for feeding and nourishment and encouragement and support and so on. So it’s very common that people in recovery from an eating disorder also have to work on, you know, the relationships that they’ve had with parents and caregivers. So what do you think is the most significant insight that you had about why you had an eating disorder? Like when you were starting your journey I’m sure a lot of people said, well, just why don’t you just go on this diet and lose weight and then, then you’ll feel better about yourself. And were there any insights that led you down this path rather than. You know, the chronic dieting path?
Azure: Well, I think, um, certainly the chronic dieting path was part of the journey, the journey and the, um, the constant yo-yo dieting, the you know, trying again and again and again, and just kind of. It not yielding results or yielding temporary results, but knowing that there’s still, it’s not integral inside, you know, I think that’s what led me to know that you know, there’s something more and you know, as, um, as described in the first chapter of my book, for me, it was kind of, um, the catalyst was really like a near death experience where after a binge, I woke up choking on my own vomit and the, that really shook me awake and said, okay, there is something, this is more than just like, Oh, I’m a chronic diet or there’s something more serious here. And it was something I sort of vaguely knew always, but, but it really brought it to the surface with a level of urgency that I decided, okay, no more dieting. There’s something deeper here. And I, of course always knew that there was a relationship with, with my abusive upbringing because, because food was so much at the center of it anyway. Um, but I wasn’t probably emotionally ready to tackle it yet until that happened. So, but I would certainly hope that for other folks out there any folks that are hearing this, um, I hope that they cannot wait until it gets to a point like that. Um, yes.
Dr. Ross: Yeah. I think it’s so seductive to keep trying the latest diet, keep looking for the perfect, you know, the next one is going to work or the next one is going to work when in point of fact, just point blank, diets don’t work. There is no diet that works other than what your body wants you to eat and tells you to eat and what feels good for your body. So it’s just amazing that there’s a $65 billion industry that banks on people’s failure to, you know, the industry succeeds because people fail, you know, the diets fail people. So it’s just, you know, it’s in all the work that I do with individuals in my online program for binge eating disorder and food addiction and emotional eating, I think almost everybody who comes into the program has finally gotten to that point where they just realize, you know what, there’s something else going on here. It’s not about the diet and I’m not the you know, I’m not the one who’s failing, it’s the diets that don’t work. And that seems to be a critical turning point for a lot of people who, who are going through this. And it sounds like you’re still on a journey. So what, what else is left for you in terms of your journey? What, what is your aspiration ongoingly for yourself and your body image and your relationship with food?
Azure: Yeah. So my, um, so if, if “Fullness” was really intended to kind of chronicle my, um, my healing of my abusive upbringing and my eating disorder, my next book, which I’m currently working on is really taking, um, the healing as far as the relationship with my body to the next level. And I think it it’s, um, it’ll be more relatable for, for really any woman, you know, whether they’ve had disordered eating or not, because I’ve never met a woman who didn’t at some point have, um, some strange relationship with their body. And so. That’s really my next chapter. And of course I get my own healing, you know, from diving into these topics and then I get to share that with, um, with whoever reads my books. So, um, yeah, so that’s my next steps.
Dr. Ross: Well, it’s great having you on, and I wish you the best of luck with your current book “Fullness” and I will put in the show notes if people want to get the book, a link to the book and a link to Azure’s, do you have a website Azure?
Dr. Ross: Okay, so we’ll have all of that information in the show notes and thank you for listening, Dr. Carolyn signing off.