How to Use Emotional Eating as the Key to Change

The first step in making peace with food is in understanding what emotional eating is. To learn more about how I define emotional eating, click here to read my article, “What Is Emotional Eating?”

If you’re not sure whether you’re an emotional eater, click here to learn what the “Top 10 Signs You Might Be An Emotional Eater” are.
So You Think You’re An Emotional Eater
As mentioned in the first article, most of us eat in response to emotional triggers from time to time; it only becomes an issue if food is your go-to solution for every problem in your life.  However, our diet- and thinness-obsessed culture elevates this coping strategy to a full-out crime, and the sad result of this is that many people harshly berate themselves whenever they overeat or eat the “wrong thing.” This leads to guilt, self-loathing, and more often than not, more eating to relieve those unpleasant feelings.  None of these are helpful in any way.

In my work, I help people reframe each emotional eating episode into an opportunity for self-compassion and the development of a more intimate relationship with themselves. Yes, that means that you can see a binge as a “good thing” if you’re willing to take responsibiity for increased self-awareness and growth.  This concept is foreign to many, and requires that one suspend deeply engrained judgment and self-criticism, at least in the moment.  But the truth is, once a person does this, it opens up a whole new world, one in which you can learn incredible things about yourself, and the doorway is your relationship with food.

Here’s the process I usually teach my clients to accomplish this. It can be done the moment you find yourself craving […]

By |February 15th, 2012|Emotional Eating|0 Comments

New office location in NDG!

I am pleased to announce that I have officially joined the Sedona Counselling Centre located in the fun and lively Monkland village.  It’s a comfortable and serene space dedicated to helping people improve their well-being.  I’m looking forward to being a part of the team, and welcoming current and new clients to the centre!

Sedona Counselling Centre
5708 Monkland Avenue
Montreal, QC
H4A 1E6
(Corner of Harvard – above the Austrian Ski Shop)

Directions: Google Maps

By |February 1st, 2012|News|0 Comments

Accessing the Power of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be grateful for: colourful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

* Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make […]

By |October 9th, 2011|Self-Care, Tips|0 Comments

Self-Care: Becoming Your Own Best Friend

Need someone to work extra days?  Ask me.  Someone who’ll clean up the place because we’ve scheduled an open house?  Sure.  I’ll even bring the cleaning supplies.  Need someone to baby-sit your kids while you go away for a weekend?  I’ll do it.  Stay late?  Cook extra?  Loan money?  Run an errand?  Give up my bed, my book, my best outfit? You bet.

“This was my life,” said Betty, 42.  “I thought I had to do anything and everything people asked. Even if they didn’t ask, I’d find ways to accommodate them.  And if I couldn’t, I felt guilty.”

Betty was an expert, no-holds-barred, genuine “accommodater.” Somewhere along the line she learned that her needs weren’t important. In fact, she had been accommodating others for so long and doing it so well, she didn’t even know what her needs were.

What she did know was that she was unhappy, that she sometimes felt angry and almost always felt guilty.  She realized she allowed people to use her, but she didn’t know how to say no.

“To me, self-care had something to do with giving myself breast exams,” she said.  “If someone mentioned boundaries, I thought they meant property lines.”

“Self-care is an attitude toward ourselves and our lives that says, I am responsible for myself,” wrote Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More. It doesn’t mean you become selfish, cold, and dispassionate.  But you first become compassionate with yourself.

I often say in my work that the most important relationship that you need to nurture is the one you have with yourself.  Just like you might call and check in on loved ones every so often, you need to check in with yourself on a regular basis.  To practice […]

By |June 9th, 2011|Mind-Body, Self-Care, Tips|0 Comments

Fat Talk: Social Bonding or Socially Damaging?

Fat Talk.  If you’re a woman, you know what this is.  It happens when you get together with girlfriends.  It’s usually at its worst if you bump into someone on a “bad hair day,” (or what I like to call, more aptly, a “bad body image day”).  The conversation starts innocently enough, with friendly small talk, but inevitably one of you compliments the other on “how great she looks.” Both of you know this has nothing to do with her outfit, but with how slim you perceive the other to be.

Thus begins the volley of self-deprecating remarks.  “Gosh, I feel so fat these days, I don’t know how you manage to stay so slim.” This is met with, “Lord no, you think I look skinny?  I look so gross today, I ate like a pig at lunch.  You’re delusional!” And back and forth, with each defending her position as the fat one, and complimenting the other on how great she looks.

What’s really going on here?  What’s Fat Talk really about?  And do you realize how damaging it can really be?

The Purpose of Fat Talk

There are a few factors at play here, some of which perpetuate the diet mentality and contribute to the maintenance of body image and eating disorders.

1. The social acceptability of Fat Talk.  When ”French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano first came out (this was before I specialized in this area), I remember being very clearly impressed by the author’s statement that in France (and Europe more generally), it’s considered in bad taste to comment on one’s own weight or eating habits.  However, in North America, women regularly engage in Fat Talk as a bonding activity, putting […]

By |April 19th, 2011|Body Image, Dieting|0 Comments

“Dr. Julia” is now a licenced Psychologist

I’m pleased to announce that after having completed my doctorate in clinical psychology, I am now a licenced Psychologist with the Order of Psychologists of Quebec.  This means that in addition to being a part of this professional community, I am able to write receipts as a psychologist, which many insurance plans cover.  If you’re thinking of getting help with emotional eating or overcoming your weight management issues, give me a call today!  I’d be happy to schedule a free consultation by phone to see how I can help.  Click here for ways to get in touch with me.

By |April 12th, 2011|News|0 Comments

What to Eat: Three Questions to Ask Yourself

by Michelle May, M.D.

We are bombarded with conflicting messages about what to eat–often side by side on the same magazine cover. These confusing messages create internal conflict when what you want to eat must face off with what you should eat according to the latest expert.

Ironically, the definition of “good” and “bad” foods changes every few years so people feel confused and overwhelmed by all the conflicting and often arbitrary messages about what they are supposed to eat.

However it is possible to strike a balance between eating for nourishment and eating for enjoyment. In fact, one of the keys to optimal health and lifelong weight management is to nurture your body and your soul with the foods you eat.

So how do you drown out all the noise and find that balance when deciding what to eat? Start by asking yourself three simple questions when you’re hungry: “What do I want to eat?” “What do I need to eat?” and “What do I have to eat?”

What Do I Want to Eat?

The first question, “What do I want to eat?” may come as a surprise. But what happens when you try to avoid food you really want-like those Girl Scout Cookies that were delivered after you started your new low-carb diet?

First you check the label and confirm that they’re off limits so you put them in the freezer. Two days later they whisper to you from their hiding place, “Pssst. We’re in here!” You manage to resist them, instead munching on some olives, four cubes of cheese, a hunk of leftover meatloaf with a side of celery sticks, two pieces of low-carb toast–and yet you still don’t feel satisfied.

“Hey! We’re in here and we taste great […]

By |September 2nd, 2010|Food, Intuitive Eating, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

Beyond the Diet Mentality: Helping Clients Through Attuned Eating

This month’s article is written by Judith Matz, LCSW, co-author of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care and Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Therapist’s Guide to Treating Compulsive Eating.  I came across this article in the latest issue of Psychotherapy Networker, a magazine geared toward what’s new in the world of psychotherapy.  Aside from my obvious professional interest in the article, I was impressed with how clearly Judith outlines what it is exactly we do as therapists working with people who struggle with yo-yo dieting and emotional eating.  Although this article is written by a professional for professionals, I think it comes across as quite accessible and will demystify the whole process of how therapy and coaching can help you overcome your struggle with food.  Judith’s website can be found at 

Q: Many of my clients struggle with food and weight problems. I’ve helped them look at the emotional issues behind their overeating, but it doesn’t always help. What else can you recommend?

A: When I began treating clients with eating problems, I believed that once they understood the emotional triggers behind their overeating, their compulsion to reach for food would decrease–which in turn would lead to weight loss. Instead, I discovered that, although they could resolve issues around depression, anxiety, relationships, work, and self-esteem, conflicts with food and weight usually remained. In the early 1990s, after witnessing the failure of most diet programs, I learned a nondiet approach to treating compulsive eating, one that has enabled me to intervene directly in the diet-and-binge cycle and help my clients make peace with food, their bodies, and themselves.

In our culture, dieting is seen as the primary way to control […]

Listening to Our Bodies: They Know More Than We Do

The body holds much of the information we need to function at our best, but too often we ignore its messages and plow ahead with what our minds tell us. Perhaps because we’re not taught from early on to pay attention to internal messages as well as external demands, we frequently ignore our body’s communications.

So we take another extra-strength aspirin rather than investigating what’s causing our head to ache. We use more caffeine or sugar to give us a lift when we feel tired, rather than hearing our bodys message about needing rest or recognizing our fatigue as an early symptom of burnout we’d do well to heed. Or perhaps we’re so disconnected from the wisdom of our bodies that we have no idea what we really want to eat, reacting instead to the temptations that abound in our imagination and in the ads we see.

We fail to take into account the thousand little messages communicated to us by how we’re holding ourselves: the mouth that’s pinched and tight rather than relaxed. The fact that our shoulders are up around our ears, the knot of tension in our stomach as we promise to do something when closer consideration might tell us we are already over-extended.

These days it’s not uncommon for us to put deadlines ahead of the protests of aching bones or inadequately nourished bellies. (Is there hidden wisdom in calling a due date a deadline in the first place?) Instead of asking our body what it wants, we go for the quick fill-up or the comfort food that may be the last thing we really need.

So what to do to give your body an equal say in how you use it?

* Start with […]

By |July 8th, 2010|Mind-Body, Self-Care, Tips|0 Comments

Intuitive Eating: The Anti-Diet Approach to Eating and Losing Weight

In my last article, I explained why diets don’t work, and how they can actually do more harm than good (from causing weight gain to contributing to the development of eating disorders).  But if diets don’t work, and you really want to lose a few pounds, what will?

The answer is lies in looking at the ingredient missing in most diets: your relationship with food. In order for your weight to change, so do your thoughts, feelings and actions around food.  Intuitive eating, an approach developed by Eveyln Tribole and Elyse Resch, helps you do just that.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches people how to become more attuned to their bodies’ hunger signals, rather than keeping track of calories.  The process focuses on developing a healthy relationship with food, mind and body.

The basic premise is that we all contain an inner wisdom that knows exactly what we want to eat, and how much to eat at any given moment.  Skeptical?  Think of how a baby or small toddler eats: when they’re hungry, they know it (and so do you!), and no amount of pushing and prodding can get them to eat when they aren’t.  However, somewhere along the way many of us lose touch with our body’s hunger and fullness signals. Food rules learned at home or at school (“finish your plate!”), or being given food as a treat or a comfort, can eventually distort our natural relationship with food.

Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach that can help reverse this distortion.  It is also sometimes referred to as conscious or mindful eating.  However, it is also much more than that.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

In order to embrace this […]

By |June 3rd, 2010|Dieting, Intuitive Eating|0 Comments