One truly wonderful psychological strategy to avoid piling on the pounds this Christmas…

Well Christmas is almost upon us! It is that time of year where we try to take stock and reflect on what has gone before and what the future will hold. The thought I’d like to share with you, and that I’d very much like you to hold on to, is that you are the one who determines the life you have, the size you are and how good you feel. In a way I think this has been the most important realisation I have made this year. It’s something I’ve probably always known, but it has become very clear to me this year.
Research shows that our external circumstances have some part to play in how we feel, but it is our thoughts, beliefs and how we experience our lives that shapes us inside and out.
I know Christmas can be a very challenging time of year for many many reasons. Food being a big one; the average woman consumes 3 days worth of food on Christmas day! So for anyone who struggles around food and weight, this next couple of days can be a source of stress,  anxiety and fear about being ‘bad’. So many of my clients tell me about the dreaded ‘Christmas diet cycle’: Crash dieting for Christmas Day, overeating the entire week and then starting some ridiculously strict diet on January 1st.
It doesn’t have to be that way.


5 Ways To Eliminate Over-Indulgence This Christmas

As a psychologist, I understand how stressful the Christmas period can be. But for any of you who have struggled with your weight and relationship with your body, it can be a particularly difficult time as there is much more socialising, getting dressed up, meeting up with people you may not have seen in a while. On top of this, a lot of these occasions centre around food! This can be an anxiety inducing recipe.  


The damaging food story a mother passes on to her daughter…

The Gilmore Girls returned to our screens over the Thanksgiving weekend. The show is about a touching, if somewhat idealized mother-daughter relationship.

While I never watched the original show, my little sister's excitement was so infectious I decided to indulge in some binge watching  with her (the only binging I engage in!).  The program didn't disappoint. My husband told me he read somewhere that it was like 'a warm hug' and indeed it was. Though something struck me while watching it over the weekend, and I realize that this is something I hear all the time in my clinic.


Eating in Moderation is the Key to Feeling Guilt-Free this Holiday

Thanksgiving is a time for fun, family, friends and celebration. Most of which revolves around coming together and enjoying food. However holidays can be a very stressful time for those who struggle with their relationship with food and their body. If you are the type of person who relies on controlling what you eat and counting calories, holiday periods can be very challenging as there is a lot more food available and your typical routine is disrupted. So today I want to share with you a very effective, practical psychological strategy that will help you get through the holiday season without binging, over indulging and piling on the pounds only to feel guilty and then delve into some restrictive diet  that your body will not thank you for. The key is eating in moderation.


How to stop binge eating: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach that works!

Struggling to work out how to stop binge eating is a common complaint that so many of my clients experience. The degree to which this is an issue for people varies widely, but today I’d like to share with you a cognitive behavioral therapy approach I use with my clients which they find extremely helpful when overcoming binge eating.

The key here is to actually write out the answers to the questions below, just as I encouraged you to do with the ABC sheet in my


Diets don’t work; it’s all in the mind: 5 strategies for lasting weight loss from a psychologist

Diets Don't Work. The Diet is Dead.
As a psychologist and psychotherapist, I have come across so many people who are frustrated and feel guilty about their body and their relationship with food. While there are amazing cookbooks and blogs out there communicating the benefits of healthy eating, they are missing the most vital ingredient in the weight loss battle: The mind.

We are constantly told how to lose weight: Eat less, eat healthily and move more. Then why isn’t that working? The rate of obesity is  increasing drastically, despite the abundance of wonderful healthy eating advocates.

So it’s time to acknowledge that diets don't work.

Research from UCLA found that up to two-thirds of diets fail, and several studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain. One study found that people who participated in formal weight-loss programs gained significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who had not. This research shows that the most likely outcome from going on a diet is ultimately to put on more weight than when you started. If people actually acknowledged this fact, then I am absolutely sure they would never diet again!

Diets don't work. Simple. So here are my simple and effective strategies for effective weight loss, without dieting! 

1. Enjoy your food

Diets don’t work, so no more limiting or cutting out foods you love. Only eat when you want and make sure it is something you will enjoy eating. You want some chocolate cake? Go ahead! Or a juicy steak? No problem. No more limiting yourself to diet foods which taste like cardboard and are not nutritious.

But likewise no more: ‘I have to eat because its meal time.’

Eat what you want, but you must feel hungry when you decide to eat. Food is delicious fuel, so wait until you hear that message from your stomach saying “food please” before you start eating. (Remember the hunger scale that I shared here, this is a very effective tool to help you develop body awareness and recognise when you are actually hungry).

2. Healthy gut microbes are essential

We are going to hear more and more about the importance of healthy gut microbes in the future. There has been a vast amount of quality studies done on gut microbes which indicate a strong link between poor gut microbes and obesity. So it is essential that you cultivate your gut microbes.

You can do this really easily by ensuring that you eat a diverse diet rich in healthy natural foods. Especially natural pro-biotic yogurt (not the diet kind), traditionally made natural cheese and foods that aren’t pumped with antibiotics or sprayed with pesticides. Aim to incorporate natural full fat plain yogurt into your diet. It must be fruit and flavourings free and must have natural probiotics. I recommend buying one made locally if possible.

3. Eat good quality food

70% of all diseases can be prevented with healthy eating. Our modern diet is comprised mostly of highly processed food which our body can’t digest properly. The key to a happy healthy body inside and out is to eat good quality food and avoid processed foods stuffed with chemicals.

Your skin, nails and hair will glow, you will lose weight, and your doctor will thank you! We now know that fat-free and low-in-fat only mean high in additives, sugar and flavourings. Stop buying anything that has ingredients you don’t recognise or can’t pronounce. Buy full fat milk, butter, good quality traditionally made cheese and natural yogurt. Get comfortable with the idea of making things, sauces, breads, etc. from scratch. As you start to eat good quality food that tastes amazing you will need less of it to feel fuller for longer! 

4. Eat artfully and when you think you might be satisfied, stop eating!

When you’re eating, it is important to sit down at the table, be present in the moment and focus on the food you are eating. Take the time to smell it, anticipate it, savour it, and CHEW EACH MOUTHFUL. We are so used to gobbling down our food that we don’t give our bodies time to recognise we are full. So it is essential to eat slowly and artfully, enjoying, savouring and chewing every single bite.

There is no need to eat everything on your plate!

Especially when eating store-bought portions or eating out. We tend to ingest far more food than we need. We eat a deli baguette, which is probably twice the size of what you need, but because it is larger the shop can charge more for it. Disturbingly, we are now being conditioned to eat larger and larger sizes and this is spilling over into our homes.

I encourage you to shrink the size of your plate, maybe when in re-shaping mode, use a side plate, a small cup, glass and bowl. Remember you can always go back for more!

But re-thinking your portion size is essential. Eat what you want but listen to your body and when you have had enough, stop eating! This is a muscle that we need to exercise to develop, as we have long lost the art of eating until we are full and instead eat until there is nothing left.

5. Stop trying to lose weight and feel good in your body now

Fall in love with your body again. Remember a time when you loved your body? Visualise that size, visualise how that felt, take a moment each day to do this. If you don’t remember a time, then pick someone who has a body you admire and visualise it as being yours. Feel the good feelings that come from having this body that you love. Do this daily.

Be kind to your body. Start to respect it and think about all the things you love about it. One of the biggest barriers to weight loss is the psychological barrier. If you think thin you will become thin. Stop looking enviously at slim people. Start reframing how you view your body.
“Thinking thin” will help you make healthy choices and will give you the psychological empowerment (not will power) to make healthy choices in line with this new phase in your life, where you eat artfully and enjoy feeling healthy and beautiful inside and out.

Diets don't work! To learn more about Artful Eating: the psychology of lasting weight loss, an approach where I will share with you the skills and tools to lose weight, enjoy food and achieve your dream body without the pain and restriction of dieting, check out my free training Artful Eating: Reprogram your mind to transform your body.