I started counting Weight Watcher points when I was 12 years old. By the fourth day, I was polishing off a sleeve of Thin Mints under my bed. Over the next decade I did South Beach, Atkins, gluten-free, the grapefruit diet, the Master Cleanse, Zone ... the list goes on and on.
Every diet was the same thing: The first two days went great, the third day I got really hangry (hungry + angry), and by the fourth day I'd be on the kitchen floor with a box of tissues and an empty pint of ice cream. What was my problem? Ashamed, nauseous and completely pissed off, it finally hit me: If this diet thing was gonna work, it would've happened by now.
I considered, what if the problem isn't me? What if the problem is the diet? What I discovered soon after is that there are two types of people out there: one type who has an education problem, who really doesn't know what she needs to eat to be healthy, and the other type is the person who knows what she should do but can't seem to make it happen.
For the first type, traditional diets like Weight Watchers and South Beach are great because they provide a simple educational structure for learning and executing healthy eating. As for the second type, we could write a damn good diet book ourselves with our wealth of knowledge.
The challenge doesn't lie in knowing what to eat and how much. It's in why we eat. It doesn't matter how badly we want to lose weight or how clear the system is. Because we have an emotional dependence on food, no matter how strict the rules are, we're gonna break them.
In the years since my dieting days, I've completely changed my relationship with food, upgraded my life and lost 30 pounds (no calorie counting or crazy workouts required). Now, as a coach and emotional eating expert, I've helped countless women all over the world create a life and body they love through my signature method.
First you need to know if you're an emotional eater, so you no longer waste your time and money on traditional diets that are never going to work for you. Next you need to find peace with food.
Here are five signs you're an emotional eater. If this is you, dieting is going to be a complete waste of time.
1. You eat when you're not hungry.
Hunger is our body's way of telling us we need physical nourishment. Now, when you want food and you don't have the growling, rumbling feeling in your tummy, it means you're craving emotional nourishment. For many of us, food is the fastest, cheapest, simplest way to feel entertained, loved and comforted. I can't tell you how many times I ran to the candy bowl at 4 p.m. because I was bored, or went through an entire pint of ice cream because I was lonely. I was never actually hungry in those moments — I just wanted to be filled.
2. You have food FOMO.
We've all heard the term "FOMO," aka "fear of missing out," but many of us equate it to seeing pics of our friends having fun without us on Facebook. Food FOMO is when we're watching a friend eat a cookie and wanting it to snatch it away and devour it, or when you're visiting your grandmother and shoveling her special meatloaf in your face because you're not gonna get it again for a year, or watching all of your friends have a third glass of wine and feeling the pressure to join in. We subconsciously believe that the magic, the happiness, the satisfaction is in the food, and we want our share.
3. You and your body are not such good friends.
Because most emotional eaters are eating more than they need to, and are overriding their bodies' natural signals (aka hunger) we tend to develop a bad relationship with our bodies. We pick ourselves apart in the mirror, call ourselves weak and careless for looking the way we do and convince ourselves that if we could just get ourselves together then we'll finally start dating or have more confidence at work. If you find yourself in this trap, I'm going to get you out by the end of this article.
4. You don't want other people to really know what you eat.
I remember secretly loving it when my boyfriend was working late because it meant I could eat whatever I wanted without feeling embarrassed. I had this idea that if he really saw how I ate then he wouldn't love me. When we hide our food, it perpetuates our belief that there's something wrong with us. And if people really knew what was going on, then they'd think we're a freak or a weirdo.
5. You feel guilty for eating.
You know when you dive into a chocolate lava cake at a restaurant and every time you put a spoonful of chocolatey heaven in your mouth you're thinking, "I shouldn't be eating this. I shouldn't be eating this. I shouldn't be eating this." What a buzzkill! When we do this we're completely robbing ourselves of the eating experience, which leaves us craving more and more of the "forbidden" food to feel satisfied.
I've helped hundreds of women find freedom from emotional eating all over the world through the Live More Weigh Less Lifestyle, and the thing that has helped me and all my clients the most is this very simple act: Have more fun.
Yes, it's that simple.
1. Having more fun means we're more entertained, less bored and have a list of things to do when things get out of whack. Next time you want a cookie, get a 10-minute back massage. Next time you want to down a bag of chips, have a dance party.
2. Having more fun makes us more attractive. A woman who's lit up, lights up a room and everyone wants a piece. This creates more attraction and romance in a long-term relationship and more suitors knocking on your door if you're single. Love is our deepest need, and if we're starving for it, we're always gonna fill the void with food.
3. Having more fun forces us to put ourselves out there. I can't tell you how many women I know who think that once they lose 20 pounds, that's when they'll start dating, ask for a raise or start having more adventure in their life. They end up sitting at home doing nothing and trying not to eat. All that boredom of course sends our cravings into overdrive. We have to start living our lives now, not 20 pounds from now. The fulfillment and meaning that comes from taking charge of our lives gives us the spark we've been searching for in our late night binges.
So many of us have been taught that we need to "weigh less in order to live more," but I really believe we have to live more in order to weigh less.
We have to stop waiting on the weight and start having fun — only then will we finally stop being a slave to food and get out of our bodies.
If you want even more ideas on how to create an incredible life and end your struggle with emotional eating, check out LiveMoreWeighLess.com.
As a full-figured woman who struggled with her weight for years, Sarah finally found the key that all diets were missing. After bouncing between fad diets and struggling with her body image, Sarah realized she had been “waiting on the weight” — waiting to be thin before she: got the great job, the great relationship, lived a life beyond her wildest dreams.
When Sarah stopped waiting on the weight, she finally did all the things that she had put on hold for years: going for her ideal job, flirting with her dream guy, going out dancing and living a fully engaged life. In her words, the late night “pity snacking” ceased with all the joy and activity this new lifestyle brought and finally created a body she loved.
Now as the founder of Live More Weigh Less, she believes that every woman deserves to have her ideal body, which is not looking like your 23-year-old self, your best friend or your favorite celebrity. It's about creating YOUR perfect body for your phase of life, constitution and lifestyle.
Live More Weigh Less is not about cutting out crème brulee or running 8 miles. It’s about embracing the life you want, right now. Living a fully engaged life is a great adventure; when you have adventure in your life, diving into a pint of ice cream seems less exciting.