We are just as bummed as you are about all of our author events being cancelled–we know why it was necessary, but it’s okay to be accepting of the necessity and devastated at the cancellations at the same time. We were really looking forward to these events, dangit!
We know that online interviews can’t quite make up for an in-store event, but we’re hoping that they’ll help tide you over until we can reschedule for when we reopen!
Marcella Friel was meant to come to Fort Collins twice!–we had to cancel in January due to weather and again in late March due to coronavirus. I’d say the event was cursed, but we’re here with some questions for Marcella about her book, Tap, Taste, Heal, and her mindful eating history to tide you over until we can reschedule. Here’s the interview:
I did a quick Google search to see what the basic definition of mindful eating is, and came up with, “paying attention to food, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgement.” Do you think that’s accurate? A little basic? How would you expand the definition of mindful eating and what it means to you and your readers?
That definition is certainly a great start! I like to define mindful eating as synchronizing body and mind at the meal table. Another way of saying it is “allowing food to be food.” For so many of the women I work with, layer upon layer of traumas and beliefs are tied up in the simple act of eating—around how much is okay, for example, or what other people will think of your food choices. And if you try to practice mindful eating while dragging that kind of mindset to the meal table, then you’ll just keep getting one step forward, two steps back.
What I’ve learned in my work as a food and forgiveness mentor for women is that the most sustainable, most abiding solutions for yo-yo dieting, binge eating, emotional eating and sugar addition have to go much deeper than just “paying attention to your food on purpose.” And that’s where the tool of EFT Tapping comes in.
Your website defines Tapping, or EFT, as a self-help tool that reduces the emotional impact of memories and stress. How does it work?
I give a detailed description of Tapping in the first two chapters of Tap, Taste, Heal.
Some people refer to Tapping as a form of emotional acupuncture. Tapping involves fingertip tapping on points that are at or near the ends of certain acupuncture meridians to reduce the emotional impact of stressful memories and experiences. The Tapping acts as a kind of circuit-breaker on the electromagnetic signal of the distress and diffuses its emotional trigger.
The book actually opens with a truly miraculous story of a client of mine who was severely addicted to diet soda—we’re talking cases of it stockpiled in the garage. After a few rounds of Tapping, she was able to absolutely let it go, to the point where, 18 months later, she forgot she even had the addiction! I get to witness those kinds of miracles happening all the time, and it always amazes me how powerfully this simple tool can liberate the core issues that women have been struggling with for decades.
How did you discover tapping and mindful eating, and connect them?
I was a natural foods chef for 20 years and taught culinary arts for 9 of those 20. So I’ve always had a through line, so to speak, to mindful eating. As for Tapping, one day I went to see my hairdresser for a cut. She said, “Hey, I’m doing this new thing called Tapping, wanna try it?” She let me through a few rounds of it, and an issue that I had been holding on to for about 20 years just went poof! I was sold right then and there.
Around 2013 I was working as a chef and teaching culinary school and felt the need to bring a depth charge to my work. I wasn’t sure what that would look like. Shortly after that, my life began turning upside-down, and both my chef and culinary instructor jobs disappeared. Over the next several years I certified as a Tapping practitioner and thought, “Well, I’m a chef, and I do this Tapping thing now, I’ll just help people figure out what to eat.” I had no idea what I was getting into!
When women began coming to me and telling me their stories of trauma and struggle, I realized pretty quickly that I was going to be working at a much deeper level than just “eat this don’t eat that.” So that’s when I began to teach about how the industrial food system sets us up for addiction, and the importance of meal prayers and blessings, and how to let go of shame and perfectionism, and the utter uselessness of dieting—all of which I talk about in the book.
What advice do you have for people who might be skeptical about your methods of healing, or who aren’t sure how tapping can help them?
Not all methods of healing are for all people, so I always encourage folks to trust their inner sense to find what’s right for them. If you’re not sure if Tapping can help, why not pick up a copy of Tap, Taste, Heal and give it a try? I also have a YouTube channel with about 60 different Tapping videos on it, so you can test the waters there as well, if you like.
We have to ask–what was it like working with Pema Chodron?
Pema’s a great lady and a very sharp businesswoman. I admire her tremendously and respect her leadership. She listens and responds thoughtfully, as you might imagine; and then she also has a playful side that she lets loose once in a while. She’s quite a bit older now, obviously, and so is spending more of her time in retreat. We haven’t been in touch for many years so really can’t say what it’s like to work with her these days.
Was there a moment in your past that you can pinpoint as the moment you wanted to be an author? Or did the book happen more organically out of your other work?
I actually wrote about this process in the introduction to the book. In October 2017, I was caught in the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, California, where I used to live. It was the largest fire at that time in the history of California, and since then there’s been at least 5 fires that have been much larger. It was quite a terrifying experience. As I was evacuating my guest lodging and trying to stay in touch with friends whose houses had burned down, I kept sending up a prayer to the Universe, “Please let me be helpful in whatever way I can.” I got pretty sick with smoke inhalation after that fire and had to rest for several weeks when I returned to Colorado. But later that fall, I was working late one night when an email came in from North Atlantic Books asking me if I wanted to submit a proposal. When I got that email, I knew it was the answer to my prayer.
So Tap, Taste, Heal not only contains a lot of personal guidance for healing unmindful eating; it also explores the myriad impacts our industrialized food system has on society and on the planet. Given that this book was literally born in flames I really felt it was important to incorporate the climate message. So many of us feel helpless in the face of climate disaster. What we don’t realize is how much power we have to slow down, stop, and reverse climate change simply by changing our personal food choices. It really cannot be underestimated.
What author, dead or alive, would you most like to have dinner with?
I’d love to get into the kitchen with Julia Child. Somewhere around 2004 I binge-watched about 100 early episodes of her first TV Show, “The French Chef,” shot in black and white in 1963 in the basement of WGBH in Boston. Hers was the very first cooking show ever on TV, and it was incredible. She was so knowledgeable and authentic, absolutely unafraid to make mistakes, and she never apologized for herself. Ever! Plus, she was 50 when she got started. I can only imagine that having dinner with her would be the event of a lifetime.
Thank you so much, Marcella! We are excited to meet you in person once we’re open and allowed to have events again!
You can order Tap, Taste, Heal on our website, or call the store between 10 and 2 to have us ship it to you!