Food and Body Image


Ondina speaking at the Commonwealth Club on Emotional Eating and the Illusion of the Perfect Body (August 2008)

“Before I came to therapy I had learned how to harm myself with food and purging when I had big feelings. I sacrificed myself to make others happy. I was very anxious. With you, I learned so much and feel so different. I can identify my feelings, be with them, and use them to guide me. I’m far less anxious and have trust in the Universe. I cherish myself and care for myself by attuning to myself and offering myself care. I feel empowered….I’m more joyful. I can’t imagine what I’d be without you. Thank you.”
– [Melissa – name changed for confidentiality issues]

Do you obsess that if you only had the perfect weight, your life would work out?

So many people through dieting and body hatred have blocked their connection to themselves. The body instead of being our ‘home’ becomes the battleground. What we don’t realize is that in trying to control the body and suppress her appetites we also numb our capacity to feel pleasure and savor life’s abundance and flow. We count the calories, hate ourselves for slipping up and resolve to try harder. But what we are really doing is boxing in our life force through self-denial and self-denigration. Then we wonder why we feel so stuck and unhappy.

“When women begin to internalize permission to feed themselves as an act of affirmative self love, they rarely experience themselves as out-of-control or in thrall to their food.”
– Marion Woodman

I am a licensed psychotherapist and the former Director of the Eating Disorders Program at the Community Institute of Psychotherapy in San Rafael. I have extensive experience in working with eating disorders and body image struggles. I offer a non-diet approach to untangle the physical, emotional, and spiritual components of your struggle with food and weight.

Change does not happen by force, deprivation, guilt or punishment. Change happens with understanding and compassion. Healing a food and weight obsession can be a potential doorway to self-empowerment and a more fulfilling life.

I assist people to come home to their bodies and reconnect to their appetite for life.

Self Diagnosis Checklist for Eating Disorder

Adapted from The Eating Disorders Collaborative.

  • Do you feel guilt and remorse about your eating/not eating?
  • Are you terrified about being overweight?
  • Has anyone ever told you that you have a problem with food/weight/body-image?
  • Does the scale tell you how you feel about yourself?
  • Do you feel that food or thinking about food/body size controls your life?
  • Do you have a history of dieting?
  • Do you avoid eating when you are hungry or continue to eat when you are full?


It is possible to…

  • Be free from your obsession with food and weight.
  • Put an end to body hatred and dieting.
  • Break out of “the shame trap” and have an identity/self esteem that is not based on your weight.
  • Think and talk about your problems rather than eat/starve yourself about them.
  • Reclaim your body and appetite for life!
If you answered yes to 4 or more of these questions, chances are that you suffer from an eating disorder. Call Ondina at (415) 381-1065.

I offer confidential individual and couples therapy at reasonable rates (sliding scale available) in Mill Valley.

  • Relationship/ Marriage Counseling (traditional, poly, open, queer relationships welcome)
  • GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) friendly
  • EMDR trained
  • I accept PPO insurance with all insurance companies which cover out-of-network providers and can provide super bills to submit to your insurance for reimbursement.
  • Skype, VSEE (like Skype but more secure) and telephone sessions also offered.

Call for more information, or to schedule an initial session: (415) 381-1065 or email at

Ondina Interviews Judith Orloff, MD

Transforming the face of psychiatry, Judith Orloff, MD is an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and author of the new international bestseller Emotional Freedom. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality to achieve physical and emotional healing. She passionately asserts that we have the power to transform negative emotions and achieve inner peace.

Select a topic below to listen to Ondina’s interview with Judith Orloff on her new book Emotional Freedom and how her concepts can help people who struggle with food, weight and body image issues.

The first audio is for “emotional empaths” who might use food plus weight to energetically protect themselves. Judith talks about the need to develop more effective and healthy boundaries.

The second audio is more about activating your heart energy and connecting spiritually with yourself as a way to combat addictions.

Video of Interest



Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight

By: Linda Bacon. 2010.

This book addresses the dangers of dieting and in Linda’s own words: “As long as we’re focused on changing our bodies — which the data shows isn’t going to happen for most people, anyway — we are missing the real benefits that come from caring for our bodies.” For more about Linda Bacon, PhD and the power of the Health at Every Size *HAES) approach go to her

Your Dieting Daughter – Is She Dying for Attention?

By: Carolyn Costin. 1997.

Includes a wealth of ideas: sound nutritional guidance, “fit or fanatic” exercise, a “What Do I Do When?” chapter, and discussions of eating disorders and the family. A unique feature of this book is its description and evaluation of popular diet plans—an eye opener for anyone who has been sucked in by the multi-billion dollar diet industry.

Eating in the Light of the Moon

By: Anita Johnston, PhD. 1996.

How women can transform their relationship with food through myths, metaphors and storytelling.

When Food is Love

By: Geneen Roth. 1991. Penguin Books, New York

A very readable and engaging book about a compulsive eater’s struggle with intimacy and food. She describes her healing journey through the  childhood hurts and her issues around food and weight to true intimacy.


By: Marilyn Wann. 1998. Ten Speed Press

Because you don’t have to apologize for your size! This is a wonderful fresh approach to reclaim your body and live healthy at any size. Check out her website too:

Addiction to Perfection. The Still Unravished Bride

By: Marion Woodman. 1982. Inner City Books, Toronto, Canada

A Jungian approach that looks at the mother/daughter relationship and the repressed feminine. Marion explores how the addiction to perfection alienates women from their ability to nurture themselves. Finally, she explores the body/spirit connection and how food rituals replace the authentic need for spiritual ritual.

Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder

By: James Lock, MD, PhD and Daniel Le Grange, PhD. 2005. The Guildford Press

Parents, read this book if you want to become more empowered in the battle against the eating disorder that has taken over your child’s life. Learn how to read the danger signals and know what to do about them. If your child is in treatment for an eating disorder, this book also has excellent  explanations for understanding what you’re really dealing with.


NAMED is uniquely dedicated to offering support to and public awareness about males with eating disorders.

Andrea’s Voice came into being following a parent’s (Tom and Doris Smeltzer) worst nightmare: the death in 1999 of 19-year-old daughter, Andrea, after 13 months of bulimic behaviors. Since then they have created various eating disorder prevention/educational presentations (which have now been given as Keynotes at hundreds of universities, conferences and organizations nationwide and internationally), and this web site to educate others on this so often misunderstood illness. It includes an ‘Advice for Parent’s’ Blog.

An excellent resource for parents with eating disordered children/ teens- Check out this site for a more empowered approach for parents.

NAMED is uniquely dedicated to offering support to and public awareness about males with eating disorders.

“Beauty is not a single image, but the active embodiment and celebration of the self.” Check out this site to participate in the radical re-imagining of what true beauty is, where it can be found, and how we can invite it into our lives.

A body loving site for everybody!

This community-based organization raises awareness about eating disorders and sponsors an annual professional symposium for health  professionals and educators.

For more on the Health At Every Size Approach which allows you to move from a relationship to your body as “battleground” to body as “home and sanctuary” check out these excellent and

The Association of Professionals Treating Eating Disorders (APTED) offers low fee/ sliding scale psychotherapy referrals, support groups, and  resources to individuals with food, weight and body image issues in the Bay Area.

Nurse’s Guide to Eating Disorders

For a very detailed guide on everything you ever wanted to know about eating disorders and more go to this ‘Nurse’s Guide to Eating Disorders.’