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When Food is Love ~ Diets Won't Work

If you are tired of yo-yo dieting and want to have a healthy and relaxed relationship with food you are not alone! Quick fixes don’t last. Many commercial weight loss programs are based on behavior change, calorie counting and meal replacements. Some claim to address emotional eating but may be just another diet in disguise. Diets increase a client’s inner critic and further disconnect them from their true needs. When emotional eating is not addressed, being at a healthy weight can only be temporary and often leaves the dieter feeling more hopeless and frustrated than ever.

A survey asked 1,328 psychologists which strategies were essential to losing weight and keeping it off. They cited that “understanding and managing the behaviors and emotions related to weight management” were critical. More than 70% identified cognitive therapy, problem-solving and mindfulness as “excellent or “good” weight loss strategies.

Mindful Eating promotes mindful self-compassion and self-empathy. It is my belief that a non-diet approach to emotional eating and weight management is the only longterm way for a client to achieve peace with food and their body. I have developed a mindful approach to weight loss and emotional self-care. Throughout the therapeutic process clients are encouraged to explore the triggers that lead to emotional eating. They develop the tools, strategies and rituals for establishing a healthy relationship with food.

The goal is to gain an understanding of how to free themselves from the “eating instead of feeling” cycle and to transform mind (and body) along the way. The therapeutic goals are to not use food as a mood regulator and end the familiar pattern of worrying about calories and dieting. A client gains an understanding of how the quick reliable “fix” of the emotional eating ritual has induced a “trance” state.

He or she learns to be in tune with their body and differentiate physical from emotional hunger. The therapeutic process is based on crafting and developing healthy rituals, i.e. taking a walk, talking to friend, having a cup of soothing tea, writing in a journal, and understanding the true need for comfort or relief. “I need a treat!” could mean: “I need a break.” “I need comfort.

Contrary to the seductive promise of fast weight loss, this kind of deeper work takes a minimum of six months to a year. The “heart” of therapy becomes re-mothering, strengthening the Self, and embracing the small inner child that needs emotional comfort. In moments of emotional distress, clients can use the following practice developed by Dr. Kristin Neff. This practice can be used any time of day or night and will help a client evoke self-compassion instead of reaching for food.

Self-Compassion Break

After placing both hands on your heart, breathe deeply in and out and speak the following words out loud or silently, in a warm and caring tone:

  • This is a moment of suffering.

  • Suffering is a part of life.

  • May I be kind to myself.

  • May I give myself the compassion that I need.

Based on evidence-based research as well as my own experience as a former weight loss coach I conclude that diets don’t work, long-term. A client’s relationship with food should be the focus of intervention, not the food itself. Without addressing the emotional eating component, weight loss can only be temporary. We all have the need for comfort and relief. My mindful eating and emotional self-care program is deeply rooted in positive psychology as well as self-compassion and mindfulness principles. Over time a client learns to let go of eating to cope with emotions and implements new healthy rituals, which replace replace the ritual of eating for comfort or emotional survival... over time.

I look forward to hearing from you. With compassion and kindness,



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