Excerpt One

Introduction

If you’re like me, when it comes to food you often feel that your mind is not your own. Despite what you know about excess weight and weight loss, you just can’t get yourself under control. Your behavior constantly surprises, disappoints and mystifies you. Your thoughts are always wandering to your next meal.

People like us really want to lose weight; we want to live healthier, happier lives. No matter what size we wear or how we struggle to rein in our appetites, we know exactly what to do to slim down. We just can’t bring ourselves to consistently make the right choices.

We’re stuck.

Every day, we wonder: “why did I eat that?”

After that second sundae, third helping, fourth chocolate bar or while staring into a now empty donut box, we ask ourselves: “why did I do that to myself?”

“What was I thinking?”

These questions buzzed around in my head for years, until I finally had to admit that nothing would change unless I could answer them. You name the diet – Weight Watchers, South Beach, Zone, Paleo, Mediterranean, Atkins – I’ve tried them all. And any one of them might have worked, if I’d stayed on it for more than a couple of days. But I didn’t.

I finally had to admit that I didn’t have the energy to start a new diet; just the thought of it made me hungry. In fact, the thought of anything made me hungry.

So rather than banging my head against the same old wall, I decided to take a step back and look at the real problem: my Food Crazy Mind.

Before starting the next diet or non-diet, before mounting the next excursion against my inner demons and even before taking another step towards a lifestyle change I knew I wouldn’t maintain, I decided to examine my thinking, the thinking that kept me fat.

Many of us struggle because we simply can’t make peace with our crazy eating. We’re sane until faced with a plate of pasta, a pastry, a piece of nougat or a slice of pizza. And I’m convinced that if we want to change our appearance, our behavior and our lives, we must first win control of our minds. We must set aside the shame and embarrassment of all the diets that didn’t work and all the promises we didn’t keep and take an honest look at what’s holding us back.

Our relationship with food is a challenge, not a punishment; it’s a window into our hearts. Those of us who see life through a haze of chips, pound cakes and cheese Danish, must examine not only our food choices, but the way we think about ourselves and the world around us.

How do I know? In addition to my own struggle with emotional eating, I’ve been a personal coach for many years. I’ve learned from experience that no two people are exactly alike; so no single solution works for everyone. We could spend our lives devouring every article on dieting and chasing every nutritional breakthrough, but it’s useless, unless we know ourselves well enough to choose a path that’s right for us.

If we want to know our minds, we have to shed some light on the negative, self-limiting thoughts, the faulty old connections, the deeply held and damaging beliefs and the habits that keep us from our goals – we have to deeply engage with our own inner life.

Once I accepted that I’d have to understand my thinking to manage my eating, I made a commitment to refrain from judgment and to simply observe, as honestly as possible, my thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. I opened my Food Crazy Mind and took a hard and uncensored, if not unashamed, look inside.

Instead of just eating, I got myself a journal (not a food journal, a feelings journal) and I started writing.

I kept eating, but I started writing.

I wrote and I wrote… and nothing changed. I hoped that writing everything down would fix my problem… unfortunately, it’s not that easy. The information was all there, but I needed to make sense of it. I had to find the meaning in my madness. So I pored over my journal again. I studied it for patterns.

And I found them!

In this book, I share the questions I asked myself and the answers I found. I’ve organized my insights into five steps that will start you on your journey out of emotional eating… and I’ve included my journal entries to show you exactly what I was thinking in my craziest moments.

Whether you’re a binge-eater, grazer, emotional-eater, compulsive-eater, or over-eater – whatever you call yourself – if you’ve lost control of your relationship with food, you can use my path to discover your own.

For most of us, the first step is the hardest. But the foundation of real change – change that is lasting and authentic – is self-awareness. It’s the result of choosing to hear and honor the voice of your own Food Crazy Mind.