How can hearing other peoples’ journeys with eating disorders help you on your healing journey? What have other people experienced through their eating disorders that can help guide you through yours? Can you come to a place of loving yourself without restriction? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks with Kailey Herron about her road to recovery.


Kailey Herron is a work in progress and she doesn’t try to hide it. She’s in recovery from 22 years of disordered eating and believes every painful moment of that struggle led her to develop an exceptional level of compassion, acceptance, and understanding. Small talk makes her uncomfortable, and while she has admirable boundaries, she is apt to oversharing. She believes in the healing power of validation, acceptance, support, and experience and teaches yoga because it is a safe space for that healing work to settle in. She lives in Northern California with her husband, two rescue dogs, one cat, and several neglected plants. Find out more and connect with Kailey here. Connect with her on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Get in touch via email:


  • Where it started
  • Hobbies taking a backseat
  • With more restriction came more damage
  • Coming to recovery

Where it started

Kailey moved away from a close-knit group of friends in a smaller town to California, to a bigger and unknown place, in her early teenage years. This intense change, coupled with budding signs of an eating disorder and the difficulties of puberty, gave way to Kailey using food as something that she could control in a space where everything was changing.
Food became almost like a little safety place where I could go and meet my own needs if I was feeling rattled or anxious or whatever. The ability to go and get some cookies or whatever felt really empowering to me as a little kid, so that started to set the stage. (Kailey)
For Kailey, her eating disorder felt similar to OCD due to it being an obsession with food. It started as an attempt to soothe herself and now, even in her recovery, she is able to identify that when she is feeling these same old urges again she can recognize that she may be feeling anxious or stressed and that is what is causing the old eating disorder to act up.

Hobbies taking a backseat

All of a sudden, I felt that the person I was, all of those qualities of my personality, my interests and my hobbies, all of that started to take a backseat and I could only engage with them after I had done all of the other behaviors. Often I didn’t have enough energy, you know, having an eating disorder is exhausting. (Kailey)
What energy was left over for Kailey after checking off her eating disorder “boxes” was often very little. This disorder hijacked her focus and started impacting, as it grew, how she lived her life outside of the disorder.

With more restriction came more damage

Whenever Kailey ate outside of her self-given parameters, she would come down hard on herself for having ‘failed’ because she used to see her disorder as wrong but diet culture as right, and felt that she just needed to get it right to be ‘healthy.’
I had thoughts along the lines of ‘okay now you just ruined this, you always do this’ and the pain of that was almost probably sometimes worse than the behaviors. (Kailey)
What Kailey has come to learn is that the more you restrict your diet and limit your variety in an effort to heal, the more you damage your gut bacteria and your digestive system. By damaging your gut, you damage the gut-brain connection that deals with the sympathetic and parasympathetic state, and anxiety then runs unchecked.

Coming to recovery

Kailey came to the realization that she needed to trust her body, not her mind, and let go of all restrictions. Now, Kailey can use old eating disorder triggers as directions for what she is feeling underneath that she needs to pay attention to.
Now when I have any urge or thought to restrict or lose weight, it’s an automatic turn-the-page and see what is underneath that, why am I feeling that way? (Kailey)

Books mentioned in this episode



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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