As an RN, Certified Intuitive Eating Professional, and creator of the Food Attachment Model, Tiffany North helps people with disordered eating finally find freedom, balance, and satisfaction.
Tiffany’s passion is challenging the harmful systems of oppression, especially weight stigma and anti-fat bias. Her coaching focuses on secure attachment, Intuitive Eating, body respect, and Health at Every Size principles. She has worked with hundreds of clients and absolutely loves seeing their personal transformation.
She has been sober since 1998 and feels that recovery has informed her work and all areas of her life. When she isnt working with clients, speaking and writing, she enjoys seeking more fun, adventure, and play, especially traveling and time in nature.
“Intuitive eating is really about letting go of shoulds around food, letting go of this food is good, this food is bad, and instead, looking at food from a body attunement lens. So how does this food feel for me in my body? How does eating in this way feel for me and my body? What are the underlying needs associated with various body signals?” ~Tiffany North, BSN, RN, INC, Certified Intuitive Eating Professional
Nicole Vienneau 00:00
Welcome, everyone, to the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! podcast. My name is Nicole Vienneau. I am your host, and I’m also a Board Certified Integrative Nurse Coach®. And today we have the pleasure to interview another Nurse Coach from Portland, Oregon, which is exciting.
On the West Coast. Represent! And we welcome Tiffany North, who’s an Integrative Nurse Coach, intuitive eating professional, and creator of the food attachment model. This is an exciting topic because we haven’t had a lot of Nurse Coaches talking about food, and eating and all of those important things that we all do every day.
So I’m super excited to see where this conversation takes us, what pearls of wisdom Tiffany will share with us. And so we welcome Tiffany North.
Tiffany North 00:54
Hi! Thank you so much for having me on. Nurse Coaching is such a passion of mine, and has just been such a gift to me personally and professionally. So I’m really thrilled to be on sharing, and you know, hopefully giving people ideas about what is possible for them in their career.
Nicole Vienneau 01:11
Awesome. This is exactly why we have the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! podcast, to share our wisdom, to share our passions, to share excitement for Nurse Coaching and how we’re using it within the world. So, Tiffany, before we get into all those exciting details, we also love to learn a little bit about you and ask the question, how did you even discover Nursing? And what called you there?
Tiffany North 01:34
You know, it’s funny because I kind of didn’t intend to become a Nurse, which I don’t know very many Nurses who accidentally became Nurses. It’s hard to do, right? And yeah, so I was… I had a child at 18, I was going to college, I tried to go to massage therapy school, I tried to be a lab tech and nothing was really landing.
And I just really wanted a career that felt, you know, like something where I could really be helping people, but also where there was some, like upward mobility or some, you know, some opportunities to do different things, because I didn’t want to do one thing for the rest of my life.
And that part of it has been so perfect for me, because I’ve been able to do all kinds of things with it. And so yeah, I went into the kind of counseling office and in the college, and it was like, with the prerequisites that I’ve already done, what are some options, and they were like, Oh, you can, you know, go to do pre Nursing and try to go into Nursing.
And in Portland, it’s really competitive to get into Nursing school. Fortunately, they didn’t tell me that. So I didn’t know. I also had a partner at the time. And he was going to be a counselor or social worker, therapist, and, you know, he and I were talking about Nursing, and I was like, well, if you go Nursing, then you can prescribe medicine, if you become a, you know, Psych Nurse practitioner, and you can do therapy.
And he encouraged me as well. So he said… he said to me— and I still don’t know how I feel about this exactly, but at the time, it really struck me— he said, If you have the capacity or the capability to do something that not everyone does, then you have almost an obligation to do it. And at the time, it was like, okay, I can do hard things.
It really motivated me. So you know, and then you’re gonna get into like people pleasing and all of that if you really want to break it down. But at the time, it really opened my eyes to the idea that I wanted to do something that maybe not everyone was able to do, and help people in a way that not everyone can.
Not everyone can. To use my unique gifts. And so it really motivated me to go ahead and do the hard thing and do all the prerequisites and get into Nursing school. And he and I went at the same time. But ironically, we went to different schools.
I ended up working at the hospital associated with his school, and he ended up working at the hospital associated with my school. So… but it was great to be able to like have a study partner and get through Nursing school. So yeah, it was just sort of serendipitous.
Nicole Vienneau 02:10
That’s a neat story. Especially when you think okay, well, when you’re younger, and you don’t really know which direction you want to go in, and then what can you do? Massage therapy, lab tech, all the things, right? And then you know, finding someone to help you focus in. And then sometimes, you know, being shied away because you think something’s too hard.
And then the realization like, I can do hard things, I want to use my unique gifts, I want to be able to show up in the world in the way that I want to. And so off to Nursing school you went, graduated, and then what happened?
Tiffany North 04:43
Gosh, I struggled to get a job, actually. I ended up doing like overnight in these residential psych facilities for a while, which was, you know, okay, but it was not really knowing… I was working through a temp agency, so like not really knowing the people there and, you know, just didn’t really feel like I was having much of an impact.
And I thought I wanted to do like trauma ICU, you know, really intensive Nursing. Eventually I got an internship and but I wasn’t quite ready. And that was really heartbreaking. They sort of like, broke up with me. They were like, you’re not quite ready for this level.
And they brought me to this other floor, which was a head and neck neurosurgery/ neurology floor. And that floor was sort of a step down unit. And so it was a better fit for where my skills were at. It was still higher level than, you know, your traditional floor setting, but it wasn’t the ICU.
So yeah, so I had to treat patients, I had people who were, you know, who had like brain tumors, glioblastomas, brain surgery. Sometimes it was just like back surgery people, we had a lot of like stroke patients, we had a lot of the head and neck surgeries, so people who had total laryngectomys. And so it was a lot of variety. And that part was great. It was still staffed as a regular floor, though.
So it was like really intense. And eventually I hurt my back. So I had to, you know, do all kinds of things on light duty. I did a lot of auditing. So I’d have to like go into the OR and make sure people wash their hands and did the pause and made sure it was the right patient, you know, all that kind of stuff.
People did not love me being there. But got through that. And eventually, I had a neurosurgeon just say, you know, your back is not gonna survive if you keep, you know… you’re gonna have to… we got to try to make your back last at this point. And so I went into case management, and did case management on the oncology floor.
Then I went back to that neurosurgery/ neurology floor because even though it was the hardest case management job in the hospital, I knew the population really well. And they really needed a good support person. I mentioned earlier people pleasing. So I was working, you know, more than overtime, it was really not very… I didn’t get a lot of thanks for that job. And it was pretty grueling.
Eventually, I burnt out. And eventually, being burnt out, I was literally searching for another solution. And that’s kind of what brought me to Nurse Coaching. And that was also really serendipitous. I started selling skincare, which is hilarious, because I don’t… I’m not good at sales and I don’t even really care about skincare, like, you know, some people really do, you know, some people care about, like aesthetics and all that, and I just really don’t.
And so I started doing these, like, little talks, like skincare as self care, because I heard so many people say, well, it’s not so much the money, it’s more that I just don’t even have the time to wash my face at night. I was like, how bad is it that we don’t feel we can take five minutes at the end of the night to like wash away our day.
And so I started doing all of this, you know, speaking around self care. And at the same time, I went to a barbecue of another Nurse that I know. And she had a friend there who knew about Nurse Coaching, and she was like, that sounds more like Nurse… like speaking about self care sounds like a Nurse Coach thing.
And she was like Nurse Coaching, what is this? It just sounded so incredible and so much more holistic. And like you can really help people in a way that, you know, in the hospital, doing case management, I felt more like I was, you know, just a cog in the wheel of like, this is what your insurance will offer.
And we got to get you out of the hospital. And you know, just kind of like, eh. I felt like I was helping people but it was so limited. It was limited based on what their insurance offered and the hospital timeline. I didn’t feel like I was really helping people at the level I wanted to.
So that sort of pain for me of being, you know, exhausted, physically and mentally burnt out, and looking for a way that I felt like I could be more effective or more supportive of people, meeting people really where they’re at, was… it was like the perfect moment for me to hear about Nurse Coaching.
Nicole Vienneau 09:08
I love this. I love this because there were certain things that happened in your life, that kind of… that led you in this direction. You know, working in these high stress environments on that neuro floor, working with those high acuity patients and unfortunately hurting your back. But that caused you to move and shift in a different direction.
And then that job caused you to shift in a different direction. And then started sadly, moving through and facing burnout, and all of the sadness and loss and grief that’s associated with burnout. And then recognizing, oh boy, I need to find another job or something else. Because I’m burned out.
I don’t know… I just don’t, you know, not really sure where to turn at that point. And then being at a barbecue one day, and then, hey, there’s this Nurse Coaching thing, you might be interested in this, Tiffany. And then off you go in that direction. So tell us a little bit more about, okay, so you hear about Nurse Coaching, and then what happens for you?
Tiffany North 10:16
Yeah, I pretty immediately looked it up. I thought this other Nurse might do it with me, she ended up not doing it at all, actually. So it was… she was just my messenger, and I so value her for that. And when I learned about it, it’s so funny, because now I see it is so reasonably priced. But at the time, it was like, it felt like such an investment, you know, to do this.
And my husband at the time, you know, we had discussion around it, we had kids and, you know, a mortgage and student loans and all the things. I just had this knowing, I just knew that this was what I needed to do for me, even if I didn’t do anything with it. Because that was part of the question, it’s like, okay, you’re going to take this training, and then what?
Like, I have no idea then what. Maybe I’ll coach people around self care, or burnout, or just health in general, or, you know, who knows. But I just knew that I needed to do this, and that it was the right thing for me, even just for my own healing, you know, to really find a more holistic way of relating to myself, relating to my patients or clients, relating to other people.
It just felt… it felt very different than my experience of Nursing. Yeah. And when I went, my perception was like, not only was it different, it was like a whole different world. Almost uncomfortably so. You know, we would start at nine, first of all, which is like, in what Nursing world do you start at nine? And then we’d like… we would like get tea and greet each other.
And they would give us a journaling prompt and we would journal. And then we would like, share about it. And I would be like, what… it’s like, almost 10 o’clock, and we haven’t done a single thing. Like, at a time, I was like, when are we going to get to the content? You know, or the like…
Nicole Vienneau 12:07
So let’s pause here for a minute, Tiffany, because this is not the first time I’ve heard these stories. As fast paced Nurses coming into this world of Nurse Coaching, and yeah, where are we going to get… where are we going to start learning?
Tiffany North 12:22
Totally. That is the learning, right? That’s a big part of it, is like, learning to slow down. But yeah, it was really uncomfortable for me at the time. I had to… I mean, I also loved it, you know, but it was just like, I had to really kind of check my internal pressure and pace and urgency.
Yeah, so I took the training and I just loved it, I just, I really, I appreciated the mindfulness, a lot of the exercises that we did, I loved the connecting with other people, the sharing, the all of that. I think because I’d already been doing some speaking around self care, and you know, talking to people about that, and self healing around burnout, the concept of coaching felt really natural to me.
And just the learning… the personal growth and development aspect of it, that that is also valuable learning, that part really lit me up. So, did that. It took me a year to finish because my stepmom became ill and ultimately passed away, like, the weekend that I was supposed to finish.
It was really hard. But it was good, because I had, you know, a lot of practice and a lot of time to get really comfortable with the Nurse Coaching skills, and that role, and time to start really envisioning what I wanted to do with it. Which again, when I was going into it, I had no idea what I was going to do. Yeah.
Nicole Vienneau 13:46
All these significant things happening in your life almost to, as reminders, to slow down. Yeah. And so you completed the course, and you had some time in between to just kind of allow things to settle, allow the concepts to come into you a little bit clearer. And think about what you are wanting to do with this newfound training, newfound love.
And at the time, the conversation with the significant other saying, Well, what are you gonna do with this when you’re done? And you know, not even knowing. Not knowing, just trusting, trusting that this was going to lead you in a new direction, in a direction that was calling to you, that you could use your unique skills to share with the world. So now, fast forward because okay, so tell our listeners how long ago that was so we have an understanding of how long you’ve been at this.
Tiffany North 14:45
Yeah, and I can never quite remember the year or the cohort, but it was about 10 years ago. And yeah, it was really great for me. And I started sort of floundering around in the coaching world a little bit. It was, yeah, I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I was like, alright, I’ll get a business license, and I’ll do a, you know, website, and I’ll do, you know, the thing.
I’ll talk to people. I started going to a lot of networking events, which was really fun for me. I started taking a lot of trainings, there’s so many free trainings in the entrepreneurial world and did a lot of work around like my money story, and, you know, just things that… like blocks, you know, people talk about, like, these blocks to having a successful business.
And so worked on all that stuff. But I was sort of coaching people in this general health and wellness using the coaching principles, but I wasn’t focused enough, I think, and so it felt a little haphazard, because I didn’t, you know, it was like, I’ll sort of coach you on whatever, you know.
And eventually, my own health and wellness caught up with me. You know, I was still doing the healing from burnout piece, and turns out that I had developed a couple of autoimmune conditions, and started going down the very like, you know, naturopathic functional medicine route. Unfortunately, for me, that route led to intensify my disordered eating.
I’d had disordered eating, you know, since I was a girl. And, at one point, I really think I developed a case of orthorexia, and really struggled with food and my body image. So that again was, you know, I feel like a lot of these shifts have come from wounds of a lot of pain for me, and searching for a way out and searching for something different.
I was really fortunate to find someone who’s trained in intuitive eating, which I’ve never heard of before. I think I like went to the Brene Brown website. And then, like, saw one of her, you know, providers was in my area, like someone who was trained under her program, whatever that is.
And learned about intuitive eating, and did my own healing around food and my body. Then I started realizing that just about every— women in particular— but like most people I knew struggled with food in some way. And this was like a huge issue.
And that as the Nurse Coach, I could easily get trained in intuitive eating and support them in a way that, again, one of those things like not everyone can, because I already had the Nursing background, I already had the Nurse Coaching experience and background. And so I decided to focus entirely on food and body relationships. I got certified intuitive eating and yeah, it was just like… it felt like exactly what I was always meant to do.
Nicole Vienneau 17:32
That must feel just at ease, to find a place where you just feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
Tiffany North 17:40
Yeah. Yeah. And I’m so grateful for the Nurse Coaching piece, because had I not done that, I don’t know that I would have felt empowered to help people in this way. You know, there are… you can get sort of, you know… professionals can get certified in intuitive eating, so even just being an RN, I could have gotten certified.
There’s also like a layperson version, where you don’t have as much freedom to do what you want with it. But yeah, I could have gotten certified in intuitive eating, but I already really saw myself as a coach. I really saw myself as someone who wanted to help people in a very holistic way.
And I already had some of the coaching skills. So like, I remember in the intuitive eating certification program, people who were… you know, who had various professional degrees, but who weren’t coaches, some of the questions that they would ask, I’m like, oh, this is… they’re asking a coaching question, not an intuitive eating question right now. Right?
Like, they’re asking, like, how do you talk to people about… people would literally say, like, how do you talk to people about their relationship with food? And like, oh, well, I know how to talk to people about things that you know, about their health and things that they’re struggling with. And it just felt really easeful for me because I’d already been doing it, you know?
Nicole Vienneau 18:51
So good. So good. Okay, so we have to back up a little bit, because I would love, and I know our listeners would love to learn a little bit more about your understanding and how you define intuitive eating, so that we could follow along with you a little clearer and, you know, learn for ourselves too.
Tiffany North 19:11
Yeah, great. So intuitive eating was created by a couple of dietitians back in the 90s. So there’s a book and there’s principles and you know, similar to Nurse Coaching, there’s like a… in order to call yourself, you know, a certified Intuitive Eating professional, you have to go through a certain process.
So just that’s out there. Because there’s all sorts of people who will say like, oh, yeah, intuitive, you know, there’s even like intuitive fasting which is a diet, but anyway, it’s very like, people will use the language however they want. So it’s similar in Nurse Coaching that you know, there is a process for becoming certified in that.
And so intuitive eating is really about letting go of shoulds around food, letting go of this food is good, this food is bad, and instead, looking at food from a body attunement lens. So how does this food feel for me in my body? How does eating in this way feel for me and my body? What are the underlying needs associated with various body signals, right?
So we use body attunement a lot, but the scientific word is interoception. So that’s like, being able to feel your heart rate, being able to feel what’s happening viscerally for you. And so that’s a skill that we can develop. It’s not always taught in our culture.
So, often, we’re actually taught the opposite, we’re taught, you know, clean your plate, we’re taught your hunger is dangerous or bad or scary, you know, you should ignore it because you don’t want to eat, quote, too much. It’s often very focused on like, body size, like, if you’re at a certain weight, then your hunger is not valid, or is risky or dangerous.
We’re also taught to do that with our emotions, you know, don’t cry, suck it up, you know, just like, push past, move through kind of a thing. And so I feel like intuitive eating is actually very aligned with Nurse Coaching concepts and principles, because it’s very much based on body wisdom, and building body trust, and really listening to your body and honoring your body’s signals.
Nicole Vienneau 21:16
Thank you. Now we feel like we’re okay, we understand a little bit more about this. Because, you know, you do hear, like how you just mentioned, you hear a lot of different things. People who maybe aren’t certified, but they may have read an article on it, all of a sudden appear to sound so professional about it, and may not even be defining it as appropriately as what a trained professional with a certification would express themselves as.
Okay, so you found this intuitive eating, you educated yourself, you achieve the certifications, and now you’re using this and your coaching skills. So you know, what I what I love about Nurse Coaching is, first of all, Nursing— we got our education in Nursing, we may have specialized in certain areas within the Nursing field, within a certain specialty.
Mine’s intensive care. Yours is neuro and case management. I mean, all of the things, you know, we’re always exposing ourselves to something different. And then you found Nurse Coaching, so you layered on more education to your Nursing education.
So you’re layering on new tools, new theories, new experiences, on to your life experiences, and everything else too. And then you practice Nurse Coaching for a while just in kind of a general concept. And then you just kept getting called, getting called in the direction towards intuitive eating.
Then gaining more experience in there and new understandings, new interactions, new experiences, to layer on top of all of your other layers. And I just think that is the beauty of, one, Nursing, because we have so many opportunities, and also Integrative Nurse Coaching, because it has offered us new ways to show up as Nurses.
And then we take that skill, and then we’re looking for our real true passions, to combine it with that, and then showing up in the world as authentic as possible. If only it were all so easy.
Tiffany North 23:20
I mean, there’s a lot that goes into it, for sure. But I feel like Nurses are not the kind of people who really shy away from like, rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work and putting in energy, and even having patience, you know.
Because I didn’t know about Nurse Coaching, I didn’t know about how to care for myself through, you know, burnout, all of that stuff, I didn’t know how to… I didn’t know about intuitive eating. So you know, it’s sort of like, okay, these things are coming. And yeah, each stage kind of prepared me for the next one in a way that I so value now.
And like you’re saying, it’s also sort of like collecting these tools as you go. And there’s definitely tools that I use from, you know, my Nurse Coach program. Even now, I do a landing with my clients that I just like, made up, you know, it’s not… but it’s based on like, a lot of the grounding techniques and then mindfulness techniques.
And you know, we get like… we got like an entire little booklet of all these different mindfulness techniques. And at first, I felt like I needed to read from the script, and then I’d be like, oh, I don’t really like this line, I’m going to shift that a little bit or I want to add this little piece or, you know, whatever it was. And now I’m like, I could just make up a landing on the fly and it’s completely valid.
If it works for my clients, that’s what’s most important, right? So yeah, I feel like I’m constantly pulling in from my personal experiences, from my professional experiences, from trainings and books and podcasts and learning. And I get to use all of that in Nurse Coaching in a way that… that’s the integrative piece, right?
And in a way that I feel like I wouldn’t have known how to use a lot of these skills or apply them. You know, like, I heard this podcast, in my kind of regular Nursing job, I didn’t really feel like I could be like, oh, I can help you with this podcast.
But I now feel like I can use every tool available to me. And it’s not like you can’t do it at the bedside, or, you know, that sort of thing. It just really prepared me to be able to pull from different areas and flex them to meet the person that’s in front of me with them.
Nicole Vienneau 25:33
Yes, such a great explanation of our abilities to flex, right? To whomever is in front of us. And our allowance of that, letting that happen, versus being feeling a little more constrained sometimes when we’re working in a healthcare system.
Tiffany North 25:51
Yeah, and I think even for Nurses who become coaches in the healthcare system, while still in the healthcare system, it’s sort of this permission of like, okay, I can justify. You know, if anybody ever calls me before the board, I can be like, I have this training that’s taught me, you know, how to do this safely and appropriately. And so it is nice to… that empowerment piece, to bring in the holistic support for people. Yeah, it’s so beautiful to me, I love it.
Nicole Vienneau 26:19
Well, you make a really good point, you know, we aren’t doing this willy nilly. You know, there are theories and backup to what we’re doing. This isn’t just flying off the seat of our pants, or by the seat of our pants to make things happen. Although then, and there is creativity within what we do as well. Yet, it is based on theories. And it’s based on protocol. And it’s based on different experiences as well.
So thanks for bringing that up too, because, yeah, this is because we have done the hard things, right? We showed up. We’ve done the hard things, and we’re showing up. And we’re learning and experiencing as we go. So, I would love to know a little bit about what happens in a session when you’re working with someone with this intuitive eating style. Like, tell us a little bit more about this.
Nicole Vienneau 27:16
This is good, because now we’re starting to really understand some of the background that goes with this. So yeah, keep on going, Tiffany, this is great.
Tiffany North 27:16
Yeah, thank you. Yeah. So one of the things I didn’t mention is… so I did say, you know, it’s not based on shoulds. But it is an anti diet approach. So we’re not, like, this is a good diet, or this is a bad diet, or this is the diet you should use. And with that comes a lot of undoing of the systems of oppression that contribute to things like weight stigma, diet culture, anti fat bias.
So a lot of the time that I’m working with people, it’s looking at what messages have I internalized that are not helping me in my relationship with food, or my relationship with my body? What are the messages that taught me that my body isn’t to be trusted? Or that there’s something wrong with me if I eat, you know, a bag of potato chips, or whatever it is, right?
So we focus on building body trust, we focus on undoing messages of shame, self hatred, negative self talk around toward your body. We focus on if I’m not going to try to eat based on shoulds and shouldn’ts, then what do I do instead? Which is I think what most people are really curious about, so I’ll talk a little bit about that.
And we also focus on… I end up doing a lot of work around trauma with people because when you’ve internalized the message that your body isn’t good enough as it is, which we’re all sort of marinating in that message, then it creates what I— and this is part of my model— what I am looking at as an attachment wound.
It creates this wound with yourself that, you know, I’m not good enough as I am. And so I need to do something, you know, I need to change my body for it to be good enough. And that to me is an attachment rupture with yourself. It also can create attachment wounds and ruptures with your caregivers.
Because, you know, if your caregiver… a client of mine’s mother put her on a diet when she was four years old. If your caregiver puts you on a diet when you’re four years old, that creates, you know, attachment wounds.
And to me, trauma is any unhealed wound, and I don’t think we can really do work around why do you feel like you’re a bad person if you eat too cookies, without looking at the underlying trauma, some of the stored and stuck trauma in the body and then some of the, like I said, some of those internalized messages, that shame and self hatred that comes along with it.
So we look at how do we undo automatic negative thoughts? How do we counteract those messages of should, and build that secure attachment with yourself, that inner wisdom and that trust with yourself? So that said, that’s all the theory behind it. Not all, but that’s some of the theory behind it.
So what a session looks like is, well, first of all, I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to have like a per session, you show up as many sessions as you want, I wanted to have a really solid container. So this is another piece that’s cool about being a Nurse Coach is that I can choose what container I set with people.
So people, when they come to work with me, we have a free session, and decide if it’s a good fit or not, and then a free consultation. And then we work together for six months, minimum. So that’s, you know, we have a contract for that. And that’s because it took decades, you know, for them to get to this point with their relationship with food and body.
And it’s going to take at least a couple of months to work through some of that. If somebody didn’t need six months with me, of course, I’d be flexible. But most people need much more than that. So we have this really… this container of a lot of trust with each other, we know we’re going to be spending a lot of time together, and it creates a ton of spaciousness.
And within that six months, I offer unlimited coaching. So typically, I see people for an hour a week, but some people need to be seen twice a week, some people need every other week because of different learning styles, different pace, different, you know, preferences around support.
So typically, a person would come to me, you know, saying I’m struggling with body image, I feel bad about my weight, I feel, you know, I am struggling with like binge eating, or I’m struggling with restrictive eating, or I just really don’t know what to eat, I sort of eat whatever. And they’re really wanting to change the way that they eat, and often still try to… want to change their body.
And so we look at why is that? What is it about your body that’s concerning? What is it about your relationship with food that’s concerning? And then we start to try to tease out the underlying issues and the underlying needs there. So I still haven’t answered what is a session like.
Tiffany North 31:58
Thank you. Yeah, it’s very complex. I mean our relationships with food and body are extremely complex. We have the caregiver piece, we have the, you know, cultural piece, we have the community piece. And then we have like our own personal preferences, sensory issues, all of that, right? So there’s a lot of layers.
Yeah, so a session with me— somebody comes, you know, at their scheduled time, and we would do a landing. So it’s like getting comfortable, taking some deep exhales, I guide them through connecting with the outside of their body, how does it feel, like it’s support for them, gravity, that sort of thing.
And then we start looking at what’s the inner landscape like today? We would sit with a sensation that’s present, allow it to grow, really sit with it and be present with it. Then we might connect with our inner wisdom, see if we can offer some nurturance, or support or curiosity or compassion to that piece.
And then we’re going to zoom out and you know, look again, at are there any needs being signaled, giving some acknowledgement for our body. So this is a process that I call the five A’s. So it’s awareness. Awareness is huge and key. And this definitely goes back to my Nurse Coach roots, like so, so much. Acceptance. Allowing.
So, accepting everything that’s present is valid, and there’s room for it here. And then allowing, just really sitting with that, because that’s part of like, metabolizing, through whatever you’re feeling in your body. And then acknowledgement. So that’s kind of naming what’s going on and also offering some gratitude for your body. And then the fifth is action, question mark, or honoring.
And the reason there’s a question mark, is sometimes just having awareness, allowing that, you know, whatever’s happening in your body to happen, really feeling your feelings, rather than thinking about them, sitting with what’s present in your body, sometimes that’s all that’s needed. That’s the most critical part.
Sometimes it’s like, oh, I eat emotionally every time my mom calls me and we get in a fight. Right? Like, maybe I need to set a boundary with my mom. Or, you know, I’m super burnt out on my job. Okay, well, maybe there’s an action that needs to be taken there. But also, maybe you need your income, and maybe you’re not really ready to do the next thing, right?
So there’s a question mark there, and maybe there isn’t anything that needs to happen right now other than naming, hey, this isn’t working for me. And I want to move toward doing things in a different way that’s more supportive for me. So I created that just based on like, again, the tools that I’m pulling from all kinds of different places as sort of a process of connecting in with our body and then honoring it.
So in that process, not only are we practicing body attunement, I’m also helping… I’m allowing them to sort of borrow my nervous system and really settle into it. I’m sort of helping them through that process, but we’re also practicing how to build that trust with ourselves. Right?
And so we do that right at the beginning of a session and then we start talking about what’s happening with the person around food or their body, what’s coming up for them. And sometimes maybe they have… they went to a barbecue and somebody made a comment about their body or they have to cook dinner for their family, and their family is like everybody complains about the food or eat or whatever, right?
So they might just have some everyday life thing happening that we want to examine. And the principle here is that when we can retroactively look at situations that made us uncomfortable or hurt us, or were challenging, and learn a lot about what’s going on with our nervous system, learn a lot about what’s going on, you know, what are your preferences around food?
What are your needs right now? And sort of break that down and look at the patterns, because the patterns tend to be the things that keep us stuck, right? We tend to kind of act out these patterns over and over and over.
And so by going through things in session that are… that they’re struggling with, or that are coming up for them, I can help them see the patterns, and really come to clarity for themselves around what are the challenges here? What do I want to do differently? What feels… what’s working, what’s not working?
And we can begin to shift and have more sustainable change, closer to the relationship with food and their body that they want that’s based on their own inner compass, not somebody else’s list of shoulds and shouldn’ts around food and body.
Nicole Vienneau 36:24
Yeah, because we’ve all been exposed to all of those other people’s lists. Food in general, I think is a very powerful thing. We need to do it multiple times in a day. And everyone has their own thoughts and opinions on food and how that is and experiences in such, as well. So you’re helping people unravel that. So these thoughts and feelings and things that they want to address, it becomes their story instead of someone else’s story.
Tiffany North 37:00
Exactly. Yeah, yeah. And it can be really powerful when we ask our bodies how we feel about it, rather than taking— this may sound sort of nebulous— but when talking with someone about what’s going on, I’ll always have them pause, what’s happening in your body right now?
So you’re talking about the situation, you know, maybe you’re talking about, like, the holidays are coming up, and you feel like you have to… it’s frantic and you have to do all these things. It’s like, let’s pause, what sensations are happening? My shoulders are up to my ears, and there’s tightness in my chest and a lump in my throat.
And like, wow, okay, your body really has some things that it wants to say about this. And when we can listen to that, and then again, bring in that curiosity and the nurturance and the compassion, you know, if you’re looking at someone who has a lump in their throat and tightness in their chest, you know, what would you offer them?
So building that for ourselves, there’s a lot of wisdom there. So this kind of goes back to that Nurse Coach principle of honoring the client’s wisdom rather than our own beliefs about something— their own knowing and helping them get close and connected with that.
Sometimes it’s like, oh, I don’t want to do any of the holiday stuff. Or sometimes it’s like, oh, I want to do all the holiday stuff but what’s really important to me is this. Or I just need more self care around it. Or I just really need to set a boundary with my family that like nobody comments on my body, or nobody comments on the food that’s on my plate, you know, something like that.
And I can’t know that for them. I can’t know what is it about the situation that’s causing you so much stress or pain or sadness or grief? What is it that really hurts about it? And then knowing that, when we go to the body, we can get that information pretty readily.
What is the thing that’s going to feel supportive of this part of you that’s really scared or sad or hurt? Or what is it that’s going to make this situation more easily navigable for you?
Nicole Vienneau 38:56
And you’re creating this safe space for people to explore this. Many have never explored, I would imagine, you know, that that has not been safe, has not been a safe space.
Tiffany North 39:09
Yeah, and a lot of that is because of all of the shoulds. And the shame around, you know, there’s a lot of assumptions around body size. So, you know, in Nursing, we’re exposed to it as well, right? We’re exposed to a lot of stigma and anti fat bias and the way that people are spoken about that are in a higher BMI.
Even the BMI itself is problematic, because it’s based on… it was never designed to be a good measure of an individual’s health. And there’s actually a lot of… there’s a lot of racism built into the BMI system and the healthcare system around body size, as well. And so when someone’s at a weight that typically would be stigmatized, there’s a lot of self blame that happens.
And so there hasn’t been… it legitimately hasn’t been safe, right? And they haven’t had an opportunity to base their choices on how they truly feel, their own inner wisdom. Instead, it’s been trying to comply with the system that they’re being presented to.
Nicole Vienneau 40:18
Right. Just trying to fit into the mold that someone else created. So as I’m listening to you, I feel your energy. You’re, you know, passionate about this, and you are truly passionate about what you’re sharing and the work that you’re doing.
And so I’m curious to know some of the successes that you’ve experienced within yourself, maybe not with the clients. Clients, I’m sure they have plenty of successes, but I’m just curious about yourself and how you feel with doing this work?
Tiffany North 40:54
Yeah, so for me, personally, I… it’s interesting, there are so many ways that I don’t fit our typical culture. And one of the ways is neuro divergence. And so by doing this work, and really coming to a place… so the kind of foundation of all this work is that each person is valuable and worthy of love and respect, as they are, inherently. We all have inherent value.
And our value shouldn’t be based on, you know, being thin or looking a certain way, or even eating a certain way or any of that. But also like, your brain working a certain way, or having a certain level of achievement or any of that.
And that was a big part of my healing from burnout was really recognizing that my value is inherent, whether I got the things done on my to do list today or not, whether I work for the hospital or I don’t, whether I work, you know, 40 hours or 10 hours in a week, none of that shifts my value as a person. And so I feel like my own personal path has helped me come to that place of healing, which now I see as having secure attachment with myself.
We haven’t really talked about the attachment piece of things exactly. But yeah, coming to a place of secure attachment with myself. And because of that, I’ve sort of embraced my neuro divergence. Like, you know, the way that my… even my workflow, like I’ve been writing a book, the draft is complete.
And it has taken me a couple of years, and it’s been really challenging, because I’m not a writer, I just have a message. And so, and I’m dyslexic, and you know, all kinds of things, right? So it’s been really challenging, but I’ve ultimately come to a place of really valuing my neuro divergence, because of the way that my brain works.
And even this podcast might be difficult for some people, because it’s very, like, you know, conceptual and it’s kind of all over the place. That’s the way my brain works. And because of that, I’m able to see patterns where other people don’t. And that helps me in not only creating this model, but in my individual coaching sessions.
And it’s fun for me to have my brain be this way, right? I love listening to a podcast, and then like, oh, that applies to this thing over here. And oh, so and so might be interested in that. And you know, all of these sort of network connections light up in my brain. And so yeah, it’s been… that I think has been my greatest accomplishment.
And I feel like now I am… I show up as the person I am everywhere I go. So I tend to not go into spaces where I have to pretend to be something else. And I’m just like, this is who I am. I’m transparent, I’ll answer questions honestly, you know, even if I think the person might judge me, or they might not agree with my lifestyle or something like that. And because of that, I just have a lot more ease and peace and joy in my life.
Nicole Vienneau 43:50
And that’s all we really want, is for everyone to just show up like they are. Be who you are, your things are unique to you. And, you know, acceptance and ease and all of that. Yes, please, more of that. Yes. So we have a few moments left, and we’d love to know a little bit more about the food attachment model. And can you sum it up pretty quick?
Tiffany North 44:17
Yeah, I think I can. Yeah. So yeah, so the food attachment model was born… I was doing a little bit of research personally about attachment theory, and I realized that I had already healed my relationship with food and my body through this work. And so I realized that I was doing attachment work with clients. And it made a lot of sense to me.
So the idea is that there are folks who are more preoccupied and anxious around food. This is people who are always going on a diet on Monday, they’re always meal planning. They’re always they’re super focused on it, right? And then there’s people who are more avoidant attachment. And those people are people who are like, oh, yeah, I don’t really pay attention.
Maybe they don’t eat all day and they just have like, a box of cereal for dinner, or whatever, right? And then there’s people who are anxious avoidant and these are folks who, typically, have like a severe eating disorder, who are very… they’re kind of very avoidant of their body, they really don’t want to eat food, or try to avoid it as much as possible, you know, very, very anxious.
And then there’s the people who are just securely attached with food, who just like it, they enjoy it, it’s not a big thing in their life, right? And so if we can look at it from that framework, we can take, okay, this is where you’re at right now.
And we can work toward moving towards that secure attachment with self, which, again, has to do with like healing attachment wounds, letting go of shoulds, building that body attunement, because that body… the disconnection from body is so prevalent in our culture. And when we can come to that place of secure attachment, we don’t have to have shame about it anymore.
And instead, we can be flexible and meet ourselves where we’re at in that moment, whether you’re pregnant, whether you’re sick, whether you’re going through menopause, changes over your lifetime. But if you have that connection, and trust with your body, you can show up in that way rather than an anxious or an avoidance pattern.
Nicole Vienneau 46:05
Thank you, that makes complete sense. And I really appreciate how you just… you decide I’m going to make a model of my own, based on my experiences, and based on my learnings and using attachment model. And it just makes sense, right?
Tiffany North 46:21
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I actually had somebody suggest that I should create a model— this woman who used to be my virtual assistant, who was a… she was a teacher. And I was like, I don’t even know what it would be. But again, if I hadn’t been a Nurse, I don’t know if I would have felt like, empowered.
I’m like, Nurses make models, I can make a model. So yeah, so again, I’m so grateful for this path. And for Nurse Coaching. It’s just really led me to a place I couldn’t have ever imagined. And that is deeply fulfilling.
Nicole Vienneau 47:00
Yes, I’m thankful. And happy for you. Yes, yes, yes. Okay, so we have just a couple minutes left, so I love to ask a certain question. And sometimes you have to think about it. And that’s okay. Please tell us what is on your heart, that you would like to share with us today.
Tiffany North 47:19
I think that piece about, you know, the honoring part of the five A’s that I use. It can be so hard, because just as we have shoulds with food and body and, you know, all of that, there’s shoulds around showing up in a certain way, taking care of other people, you know, earning a certain amount, like all of that stuff.
And it can be really scary to diverge from the expectations and the cultural norms. But, you know, if you’re listening to this podcast that tells me that you’re somebody who’s seeking. And so I would just say, learning to honor that whisper from your body, of follow, you know, follow the… go down the little alleyway or the path or whatever it is that’s calling to you.
Honor that yes. Because, you know, there’s the cliche of like, life is short. And it’s really like, you’re the person, you’re the person who’s going to be… you’re the only person who’s truly in charge of what your own satisfaction and your own… really caring for yourself, right?
And so, if we’re able to honor what’s important to us or the things that we’re feeling called to do, it can really lead to so much more satisfaction, it can lead to so much more joy, it can just open up things that you would never expect.
Nicole Vienneau 48:42
Thank you. Thank you for sharing what’s on your heart.
Tiffany North 48:47
Thank you so much for having me.
Nicole Vienneau 48:48
Yeah, so Tiffany, how can we find you?
Tiffany North 48:52
My website is coachtiffanyrn.com. I’m also coachtiffanyrn on Facebook and Instagram and Tiktok and all the places. I do have a quiz if you’re curious about your food attachment style. And so that’s on my website, I think it’s like coachtiffanyrn.com/quiz, or you can go to the little drop down. That can be a fun way to learn more about your own food relationship. And you can also get on my email list through taking the quiz or going on my website.
Nicole Vienneau 49:19
Okay, well, thank you for sharing all those details, we’ll for sure drop the links into our show notes and on our web page. Yeah, this has been just fabulous just to soak up all your wisdom, and gives us things to think about, right?
And to consider and, you know, hopefully, if our listeners are needing some support in this area, to please reach out to Tiffany so that she can support you in this very important work that we’re all doing related to eating or related to any other issues, right? Yeah, because it’s all work that we all are doing to support ourselves so that we can support our communities as well.
So Tiffany, we also like to do little fun questions. Okay, so don’t think too hard. They’re just going to come off the top of my head. So tell us your favorite foods since this has been about food.
Tiffany North 50:19
My favorite food— I love all food— I’d say my favorite food group is like Asian food in general. And my most recent favorite food experience was being in Costa Rica and they had like deep fried… they deep fried like an entire snapper for you. Oh my gosh, it was the tastiest meal I’ve had in ages so…
Nicole Vienneau 50:42
That sounds so good!
Tiffany North 50:46
I also love cake. And it’s about to be my birthday, so I’m gonna be eating a lot of cake.
Nicole Vienneau 50:52
I love it. Well, thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate your time and your passion and just want to send so much love to you.
Tiffany North 51:02
Thank you very much.
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