Who Would Your Clients Be Without Dieting?

by Natalie Shay | Follow on Twitter

A step-wise approach to replacing comfort foods with healthier options.

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THEIR FIRST REACTION MAY BE… Great! We feel free!

But, not so fast…

When you take a big comfort out of their life, it brings up a lot of emotions and even a feeling of loss.

They may think

“Where is my reward? Where is my comfort?”  

Food is not the only reward or comfort they have. It is a skill that needs to be learned.

Here are some ways to help your clients get over the hump, change their habits and still get comfort and rewards.

So how do they do this? And how can you help them?

First thing we need to figure out is what else feels good and brings them comfort other than food?  Before they create a list of ideas, remind them that these things may not feel as comforting as food, right now, but over time they will.

Let’s start changing their mind-frame and habits today.

Here are the steps they can do!

Step 1:  Have them create a list of activities that they find enjoyable.

These new activities may not feel enjoyable at their current weight, but still put it on the list!

Get them to pick 10 activities they think they may get enjoyment from.

It may be knitting, pedicures, walking, golf, ping-pong, going out with friends, painting.

If they are struggling to come up with ideas, I have a list of hundreds of ideas I give to my clients.

Step 2 : Have them break down the list into two columns

Their first list is activities they would consider doing now.

The second list is activities they would do if they were a bit fitter or more energized.

Your clients may be able to do all of them at any weight, but you want them to feel comfortable, so divide the list.

Step 3 : Pick one to start

Have them pick one activity that doesn’t feel too daunting and start doing it. Let’s incorporate this into their lives.

At this point it’s not a replacement for emotional eating, it’s just to start developing new positive habits without food being their only tool.

Step 4: Have them do it 6 times

It is important to give the activity a fair shot. It’s unrealistic to expect they will do it once and love it.

Get them to try the activity 6 times to see if they enjoy it and remember make sure they do not compare it to the feeling food gives them.

Step 5 : Have them notice what positive feelings they get and which they may be lacking that food gives them

Now that they have given the activity a fair shot, find out how they feel about it.

Do they get some enjoyment?
Do they feel like they accomplished something?

As I mentioned above, do not let them compare this to the feeling food gives them, they are very different! Our goal is to get them to feel something positive from other things and not just rely on food.

Along with the positive, it’s even more important to notice what they feel is missing. Have them notice what they still need emotionally or physically to nurture themselves.

Chances are if they having a sad day, they will need more than an active hobbie that is on the more soothing side.

Step 6: Have them pick one for each emotion

Get them to go back to the list and pick an activity for each emotion.

  • If they are feeling sad they may want a bubble bath.
  • If they are feeling angry they may want to hit a punching bag.

Once they got the hang of the first activity, start implementing new ones in their lives slowly.

Step 7: Have them write out what it would feel like to connect to this activity instead of turning to food.

This doesn’t mean they are always going to do it, but lets try it out and see how they feel. Even if you delay turning to food, that is a perfect start! They are on the path to stop turning to food for comfort.

About the Author
Natalie Shay

Natalie Shay is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in emotional eating. She struggled with her own weight for 20 years. She finally learned to stop dieting and lost 75 lbs. In 2007 she became a Registered Psychotherapist to help emotional eaters stop turning to food for comfort and lose weight without dieting. She helps support her clients and guides them to meet their goals to stop dieting and start living. **Want to support your clients to get off the diet roller coaster, stop eating emotionally, and lose weight? Get them to sign up for my Emotional Eating Toolkit.