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ACEs, Weight Gain, and a Solution that Addresses the Root Cause by. Dr. Felitti & Dr. Alman


For decades as a clinical psychologist and stress management expert, I’ve helped people discover the root cause of their disease, physically, mentally, and emotionally. In many cases, it’s rooted in adverse childhood experiences—ACEs.

Something I’ve frequently seen in my work with patients and clients is a connection between ACEs and an unhealthy relationship with food.

In these cases, food is used to cope with toxic stress and unresolved ACEs, and the side effect of that relationship is weight gain.

Because weight gain is simply a symptom of this coping mechanism of choice, it can be frustrating to try program after program to lose weight that never works long-term. That’s because most diet and exercise programs don’t provide a root cause solution for what’s causing that unhealthy relationship with food in the first place.

When adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and stress go unresolved, high-sugar, high-carb “comfort” foods can provide an escape route to temporary relief. Unfortunately, these foods can take the place of real solutions that provide healthy, sustainable, and true comfort on a deep, emotional level—not just one based on a temporary fix.

Dr. Vincent Felitti, the co-principal Investigator of the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and I are deeply aware of this. This is why, in March 2020, we teamed up with Liz Dickinson and Shannon Shearn, the co-founders of Relish Life to offer a comprehensive weight loss program that integrates the science of ACEs. Relish Life, a new program that offers a root-cause approach to weight loss, combines the best of psychology, behavioral health, holistic wellness, fitness, nutrition, medication, technology, and more to help people lose weight from the inside out.

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Dr. Felitti is an advisor for Relish Life and I’m the chief behavioral officer. Dr. Al Ray, who worked intimately with the ACE Study for over two decades at Kaiser Permanente, is Relish Life’s chief medical officer. As you can see, some big minds and big hearts came together to bring this into the world at a time when we need it most.

Over half of Americans have reported unwanted weight gain due to the pandemic, stress levels are off the charts, and people are becoming more inclined to cope with that stress in unhealthy ways. This, of course, is easier in isolation and in times of stress and uncertainty—and even more challenging with a high ACE score.

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Relish Life solves the root neurological and physiological issues that cause struggles with weight and health in the first place using a personalized and comprehensive approach.

The program includes:

  • Personal Physician: Monitoring your health and progress with regular calls, check-ins, and unlimited text/email support
  • Personalized Medication Plan: FDA-approved, stimulant-free, scientifically proven, and delivered right to your doorstep
  • Designated Health Coach: An initial strategy session and ongoing support and accountability via live check-ins and text/email
  • Expert Psychological Support: Weekly small support group counseling sessions with experts to uncover your ACEs and heal your relationship with food
  • Daily Inspiration, Meditations, Tips, and Tools: Elisa, a friendly chatbot and pocket cheerleader, helps keep you motivated and on track every step of the way
  • Members-Only Educational Portal: A library of mindfulness, hypnotherapy, fitness, and nutrition programs (with live guidance) for lasting change
  • Private Community: Gain access to our private Facebook group to connect with others and leverage the power of community on your path to health and happiness
  • A Mobile App: For even more access to the treatment team and resources (coming soon!)

If you struggle with your weight, we encourage you to find a root-cause solution for long-term results—not just a surface-level one that may seem easier at first glance but won’t last.

Turn to your ACE score to find the inner weight—the heavy, unresolved traumas—that could be leading you to cope with emotional overeating or poor eating habits, and start the process of healing from the inside out.

Relish Life can help you on your weight loss journey so you lose the weight and keep it off in a way that feels good. Click here to learn more and be sure to use code “PACES25” at checkout for 25% off.


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  • Dr.Felitti
  • Dr-Ray_whitejacket-1- 2
  • Relish Facebook Cover 5

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Comments (2)

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I love this program in concept but worry that the cost makes it inaccessible to folks without privilege.  The people who are more likely to have high ACES scores and could most benefit from the program.  Wondering if there is any work being done to have this covered my health insurance or Medicaid?

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