Take the guess work out of how much you eat

Take the guess work out of how much you eat





In an article from the New England Journal of Medicine in the early 1990s, ten overweight people were asked to estimate their calorie intake. Their estimations were off by about 50 percent. They thought they were eating about 1,000 calories a day when they were actually eating 2,000 calories.

That’s a remarkable difference. It seems from the research that people carrying excess weight often tend to be more inaccurate in estimating their calorie intake than ‘normal-weight’ individuals.

Shop Smartly
Lincoln University undertook a study back in the 1980s that showed that if you teach an overweight person to plan meals and food shop accordingly, then an average person could lose up to 10 pounds in three months. This was due to participants in the study reducing their number of impulse purchases when compared to food shopping without a list.

Impulse purchases are usually high-calorie and low-nutrition and can increase calorie consumption by almost half.

This organised way of shopping ensures that if it’s not in the ‘fridge, then no-one will be tempted to eat it! One fool-proof way of taking the guesswork out of what you eat is by keeping a food diary, even for just a couple of weeks.

Food diaries are a basic staple of all the weekly slimming clubs out there but you can super-charge your insights by not just keeping a food diary but adopting a food and mood diary instead.

Keep track of your eating
This not only keeps a track of what you eat but highlights emotional triggers attached to when you eat so that you can start seeing patterns around emotional eating or eating when you’re not hungry.

A template for the food and mood diary we created to use with our clients is included in the book ‘7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating’ (Hammersmith Books) I co-wrote with Liz Hogon. It is available on Amazon

It’s not just food that counts
In our food and mood diary, we also ask you to rate your hunger when you eat on a scale from zero to ten. Zero means you’re eating when you’re not hungry at all and ten means you’re eating when you’re ravenously hungry.

The mood part of the diary asks you just to pause and ask yourself how you are feeling in that moment you are about to eat.

Are you calm and relaxed or frustrated or angry? Just a word or two is all you need as shorthand to record your feelings.

A few days of a food and mood diary can offer some fascinating insights into habits around food and eating. It brings to mind a client who came to see me to lose weight. When I looked at her food and mood diary, it was clear that she grazed all day long and that was perfectly normal for her as she’s eaten like that for years. It became clear as our work together progressed that she was haunted by memories of her childhood.

Memories of childhood chaos can still trigger eating today
She recalled growing up in a chaotic household where meals were often missed or were unpredictable.

As a child, she had strong memories of feeling powerless and often hungry. As an adult, if she didn’t keep grazing on food, the slightest hint of hunger caused her to feel that old, familiar panic over not having enough to eat. Part of our therapy work together was to release her fears attached to those old memories so that they could be resolved and released.

No longer triggered she was able to regulate her eating, lose the weight she wanted and even safely feel some hunger understanding that as a grown woman she could provide for herself whatever food she needed.

Another food and mood diary insight came from a man in his 50’s. He had type 2 diabetes and was morbidly obese. He had come to me to see if it was possible for him to lose weight and remove himself from the NHS waiting list for bariatric surgery.

Being overly hungry can drive eating to excess
From his food and mood diary, he rarely ate before he reached a number ten on the hunger scale. From this, it was clear he was ravenously hungry by the time he ate, and such an intense hunger made it difficult for him to make sensible eating decisions. Also, long gaps between meals and his busy work meant his diabetes was poorly managed, and his symptoms were worsening.

Part of our therapy work together explored how little care he took of himself as he confided that having once been a very fit and athletic man he was ashamed of how overweight and ill he had become. He blamed himself completely and was so furious with himself that emotionally he had stopped caring for himself at all.

We also worked together with self-forgiveness so that he could break his pattern of self-loathing. By changing his belief system, he was able to make changes in how he thought and felt about himself. Firstly, he stopped pushing himself to the point of physical collapse and began planning and preparing some of his meals instead of always relying on take-outs and fast foods.

As he began to lose weight, his self-esteem increased and he re-discovered his pride. This was especially true when he had lost so much weight he no longer met the NHS weight requirement for bariatric surgery.

Find your a-ha moments with food
Food and mood diaries never cease to cause a-ha moments or provide useful insights. A surprisingly high number of client’s diaries’ show how much of what a person eats is of poor nutritional value. Often clients are surprised when I tell them they need to eat more nutritious food and not eat less as they may have expected.

This is often true of new mothers desperate to lose their baby weight. They are usually feeling so overwhelmed with their new baby that from their food and mood diary it is clear they are exhausted, and their nutrition levels are very poor. The pressure on mothers to be perfect is very damaging, so therapy work in many of these cases often involves reframing clients beliefs so they can let go of impossible ideals and standards.

Instead, the therapy work makes it okay for them to ask for help and to delegate wherever possible all the non-essential tasks. It’s also easy for new mothers to lose sight of themselves, so therapy refocusses them to understand how important their well-being is and that it’s not selfish to prioritise their own emotional needs too.

Keep a note of your eating
If you don’t have access to our Food and Mood template, you can use a notebook or your smartphone to create your food and mood diary and keep track of your eating and its emotional triggers. See if you can be a detective and work out what’s happening with food for you.

If you’d like some help with this process as a crucial first step in exploring your emotional eating, then do book an obligation-free discovery call with me.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Real hunger vs fake hunger

Real hunger vs fake hunger

If you graze and snack all through the day, it's easy to be confused about whether you are physically hungry or just fake hungry. Grazing and snacking can be such an embedded habit that some people have no idea what real, actual physical hunger feels like.

Are you so used to eating without thinking that you find it hard to stop even when your stomach is full?  Some people go even further and don't stop eating until they feel bloated, uncomfortable and completely over-stuffed.

Your eating can feel even more out of control when it happens in a sort of absent-minded way while busy doing other things like watching TV, surfing the net, driving, or at work.

Maybe you do this?

Do you find yourself back in the kitchen searching for something tasty shortly after eating a big meal?

Do you buy yourself ‘treats’ as part of the weekly grocery shopping that is a secret that no one else knows?

Are you ashamed of what you secretly eat and try to be clever at covering up your tracks and hiding any evidence from family or friends?

Well, you’re not alone!

If you recognise yourself in any of this, you too could be an emotional eater who confuses physical hunger with fake hunger and uses food to swallow down your uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness, boredom, loneliness or even just feeling fed up. 

I’m right here for you with everything you need

For nearly twenty years I have worked successfully with thousands of people to erase the triggers that make them want to eat when they are not physically hungry. They are people from all walks of life who blamed themselves for being overweight or for failing to stick to the latest fad diet. They thought their excess weight was because they were greedy or that they had no will-power but nothing is further from the truth.

For emotional eaters, the drive to eat it is not ever really about food and never, ever about a lack of willpower.

Even NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) who provide national guidance and advice to improve health and social care in the UK recognised a momentous shift in how the medical profession sees the future of adult weight management in their 2016 guidelines.

It recognised for the first time the need to include ‘talking therapies’ to tackle obesity, and this marked an acceptance that psychological hunger is as powerful, and as important to tackle, as physiological, or real hunger.

Dr Matthew Capehorn said, ‘We can make anyone lose weight (lock them in a cupboard and don’t feed them!) If we don’t address the underlying reasons why they became overweight, they will face precisely the same psychological problems they had at the start and are more likely to put the weight straight back on’. (Ref: Foreword to 7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating, Hammersmith Books, London)

The underlying reasons you put on weight can be resolved too so that you are no longer triggered by your emotions to eat when you are fake hungry.

Once your emotional triggers to eat are successfully erased you too can lose weight by eating only when you are physically hungry, stop effortlessly when you have eaten enough and enjoy feeling completely calm and relaxed around food.

I work with the most powerful therapy tools that have already transformed the lives of thousands of other emotional eaters to end their fake hunger so that they can eat for nourishment instead of swallowing down their emotions.

Contact me if you recognise yourself as an emotional eater and are ready to get the help you need to transform your relationship with food so that you can eat for nourishment instead of self-punishment.

Just click on the button at the top of the page to schedule your discovery call with me.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Brent’s Story – A therapy case study

Brent’s Story – A therapy case study

‘When I signed up for therapy with Sally I was already on the waiting list for a gastric band operation. Major abdominal surgery was something I wanted to avoid, so this programme felt like my last-ditch attempt to get my weight under control.

‘At the initial consultation, I weighed in at 24 stone and one pound (337 lb/153 kg). A week later, when I came for my first therapy session, I topped that with an additional half a stone (7 lb/3 kg) for good measure. Those extra pounds were a classic “Last Supper” response, coupled with the fall-out from the celebrations for my 58th birthday.

‘Clearly, I had a long way to go. I was under no illusions that my weight was causing me problems, but I was obviously not in the right frame of mind to fully focus on doing anything differently. I was disappointed in myself that I’d got myself in this state and felt pretty disgusted with myself for letting it happen. I had gone from being a well-built, strong athletic type of guy to someone who was classed as morbidly obese with painful joints, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnoea. And, I felt like had let all of that happen to me.'

‘All those negative opinions of myself are just great ways of beating myself up and keeping me stuck. Little by little I was able to let go of that self-blame and begin to do things differently.' 

‘I’m a bloke, so I like goals and structure. The first thing I did was set myself staged, with dated targets, towards my key goal of getting my weight down to 19 stone, nine pounds (275 lb/124 kg). That wasn’t an arbitrary weight by the way. That was the weight I needed to achieve to get myself out of the morbidly obese category as defined by the NHS' [UK’s National Health Service] BMI (body mass index) measurement.'

''I had to work hard to clear my self-doubts and to keep focused. When I began, I was pretty overwhelmed and certainly didn’t feel confident that I could make those changes happen. There were many two-steps-forward-and-one-step-backwards as I made progress towards my goal.'

'For me, I appreciated the hypnotherapy and visualising myself achieving my goal weight really helped me to get there. In all, it took me just under a year to get down to the 19st 9lbs target.'

'The key for me appears to be a sort of mindfulness – not only while eating but in keeping these issues, the decision to put my health first, the intention to be accountable to me, in the frame on a daily basis. This is what is difficult, because it is the opposite of what I have done all my life: putting personal issues on the back burner, but is it so good, and so successful, when I do it. And when you’re on a roll success breeds success.'

‘I achieved my steadiest, most reliable, incremental, week-upon-week, weight loss when I listened to the hypnosis-recordings every day; kept a food diary; when my wife and I worked together to plan out the week’s menu in advance; and when we shopped for our meals and snacks so that everything was available in the kitchen.'

''The food diary’s weekly tally of my drinking prompted me to face up to, and radically cut-down my alcohol consumption. That has stayed down ever since, as has switching regular takeaway dinners for more home-cooked meals.'

'I’d had a long belief that the B’s were responsible and that cutting out Bread, Butter and Beer would do the job! However just trying to cut out those with no mental support framework had in the past just been doomed to repeated failure with each pound or stone off followed sooner, or later with two back on!'

'Now, the lower carb diet worked, and is mostly still working for me, does not demand foregoing Butter – but the of course less I have the better (as Betty Botter might have said). Obviously Bread is out along with rice, pasta, chips, etc., and again, as my knees only allow me to perform limited exercise, Beer has to be off the menu.'

'The quality of the mental support framework comes and goes supported by firstly success, by personal relationships, by the hypnotherapy CDs, and by some sort of personal happiness index. – what a list of variables.'

‘It might make it sound as though my weight loss was all down to practical factors, but of course, key to all of this was me getting my head around the idea, the actual possibility, of me being able to lose the weight and that’s what I did in the therapy sessions. I had so much doubt at my own ability to make a difference in my own life that for that first year I carried on attending the hospital appointments for the gastric band procedure, just in case I failed. I kept those appointments all the way up to when I no longer met the NHS’s qualifying guidelines for surgical intervention. I had disqualified myself by no longer being fat enough!'

‘I found I struggled to stay focused when I took on a couple of property renovations and my life got very busy and stressful. It became all too easy to let my health priorities take a back seat while I focused on working hard. I began making poor food choices, often eating on the run. That whole mañana thing of “’I’ll take care of myself tomorrow” had been a bit of a theme for me for years, and had got me into the mess I’d already found myself in.'

'Being busy again, and under pressure, triggered me into those old patterns of behaviour of not taking care of myself. The therapy sessions helped me realise I could make other choices for myself, that I mattered, and that taking care of myself mattered too.'

‘The four to five stone (56-70 lb/25-32 kg) I reduced my weight by had many welcome health benefits. The practice nurse at my General Practice (GP) surgery ran the statistics and said I had improved my life expectancy by 20 percent. All of the readings from my regular blood tests were hugely better. My sleep apnoea had reduced from 40 interrupts per hour to initially 11 interrupts per hour, and now I keep meaning to return the breathing assistance machine to the hospital as I never need to use it at all, which of course is wonderful.'

‘I had a health scare last year driving back down to the south of England from Scotland with my wife. A few hundred miles into the trip I felt that tell-tale tightness in my chest and my heart was pumping ten-to-the-dozen. It was very scary.'

'We were in a part of the country that we barely knew and had to make our way to the nearest hospital, where I was admitted for tests. I was eventually diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition characterised by irregular heartbeat which can lead to an increased risk of stroke, or even heart failure. I can’t tell you how immensely pissed off I was.'

' I had done everything I was told to do - eaten more healthily, cut down on the booze and lost weight and then - sod’s law - this should happen to me. I felt all over again that my body had let me down. I know it’s not rational, but it’s how I felt. I was back in that abyss thinking that I had allowed this to happen to me, that it was all my fault. It took a while to haul myself back up and recognise that the weight I had lost had probably made the difference from me being here today or not.'

‘I had got complacent, I guess. I thought I had done enough, but I have decided now I’m ready to lose the next chunk of weight. I’ve set a new weight loss target. I’ve gone back to keeping a food diary and listening to the hypnosis recordings every day. I want to build on the positive health improvements I’ve already gained, and I’m keen to have more of the same. I’m talking to my wife about my plans as I know how well I can do when she and I work together, and she always loses some weight too, so everyone’s a winner!'

‘I understand now that I deserve to be well and happy and that no-one can do that for me, except me, and I truly want that, and I’m willing to work for it.’

Contact me if you feel ready to lose your excess weight through changing how you think and feel about yourself and food. Click on the button at the top of this page for an obligation free 30-minute call.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Emotional Eating Q & A Session

Emotional Eating Q & A Session

Emotional Eating Q&A

Emotional Eating Q & A with Examiner.com

Examiner.com journalist Betty Russell poses her questions to therapist Sally Baker about her work to transform emotional eating into successful weight loss.

Why do you have a passion for helping people lose weight?

The mind-body connection informs my work as a therapist, and when working, I am working with a client I tend to focus on the signals from their body to reveal and often, in turn, resolve their sub-conscious issues.

Carrying excess weight for many people is the outcome of a survival decision they made when they felt powerless to defend or define themselves in any other way. Being overweight is never just about food or lack of willpower.

Can you describe the tools you use to help people change?
I work with three main therapy tools. Originating in the US, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has been around now for over 25 years. It is easy to learn as a self-help tool and can be applied to alleviate a myriad of negative emotions. The technique involves tapping with two fingers on various points mainly on the face, and upper body. It works on the same energy lines, or Chi meridians as acupuncture, the traditional ancient Chinese medicine.

The second core therapy involves listening and interacting with a selection of short audio tracks. The listener taps with the fingers of both hands to a complex sequence of three rhythms.

Due to how the brain processes information, and in particular memory this therapy works wonderfully to reduce and even erase the emotional connection between negative feelings from memories, or events from the past whether they are real or imagined.

The third technique is Hypnotherapy which during a period of intense guided relaxation allows the subconscious mind to accept positive suggestions to support change and to help align the subconscious mind with the weight loss success that a client desires for themselves without triggering self-sabotaging behaviour.

How did you arrive at using this combination of therapies?
I came to use this combination of therapies with my therapist colleague and co-writer, Liz Hogon. We initially began working with EFT, and then hypnotherapy.

It feels as though we have had to explore a lot of modalities and techniques that are out there to ultimately find the most powerful and effective tools for successful weight loss.

What are the seven steps people can take to control their weight that you mention in your book?
We view the seven steps for people to resolve their emotional eating to be similar to the layers of an onion. We recommend people begin at step 1 in the book and work through to step 7 without skipping steps, or tackling them out of order. In this way, the journey begins with the present and unfurls the multi-layers leading to letting go, acceptance, and stepping up to a new way of living and loving oneself.
The seven steps are:
Acknowledging the present
Comfort and stress eating
Body image
Setting and achieving your goals
Breaking through
Digging deep
New day, new dawn

What do you have to say to anyone who thinks this is just another thing that won’t work for them?
By the time a person seeks help with their weight loss from a professional therapist, they are already experienced at every diet from Atkins to The Zone. They already understand that their overeating is not about an insatiable appetite for food but more an attempt to fill a bottomless void inside of themselves or to quell their often ever-present anxiety.

Clients who come to see either Sally in London, England or Liz in Melbourne, Australia feel over-whelmed with years of yo-yo dieting with failure inevitably following success.

Intellectually people understand how to lose weight, and are tired, and frustrated with their occasional weight loss success triggering a whole range of sabotaging behaviours that puts the weight back on, and keeps them stuck.

We begin the work by acknowledging the present, and that includes their fears that this won’t work for them as so many other things they've already tried for themselves haven’t worked either.

We gently explore an individual’s belief system to shift their perspective with the techniques we use so that the client can begin to embrace, and believe that there is a different way and that they deserve it to be their story too.

Anything else you want to add?
All the techniques we use in our therapy practices are simply explained in our book and in our new online course 'Overcoming Emotional Eating.' With the book and the course we have put together a compelling self-help resource for people to tackle their own reasons for emotional eating, and to facilitate their successful lose weight, once and for all.

7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating is available from Amazon as a paperback and as an e-version. For more information about Sally and Liz's online course 'Overcoming Emotional Eating' checkout

Contact me if you feel overwhelmed with years of yo-yo dieting and emotional eating. You can schedule an obligation free discovery call by clicking on the button at the top of the page.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Emotional Eaters over-think about food. Do you?

Emotional Eaters over-think about food. Do you?

​To understand the mindset of an emotional eater, it is vital to understand that their sense of self-worth is directly linked to the numbers on their bathroom scales.

A pound lost, or a pound gained can set the tenor of their entire day.

Foods are also never neutral. They are forensically studied, and determined to be good or bad.

Emotional eaters battle with their own body’s hunger, and cravings.

They know there have been times when they have succumbed, and eaten just one forbidden food for it to start a tsunami of bingeing, and sometimes purging with all the accompanying feelings of shame, and self-loathing.

An emotional eater’s attitude towards themselves and food isn’t logical. The extent of their preoccupation with the axis of food, and their weight is often a private source of great personal distress and shame.

The reasons for this over-thinking about food, body weight, and how they define themselves and feel about being themselves in the world are varied, and inevitably complex.

Liz Hogon and I specialise in resolving issues around emotional eating so that people who have struggled with weight loss for years can finally successfully lose weight.

We are also the co-authors of 7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating (Hammersmith Books, London).

The clients we see are mostly people who feel over-whelmed by the challenge of losing weight, and they can also often have other long-term health issues to contend with.

Non-emotional eaters have a different relationship with food. They also come in all sorts of physical shapes, and sizes and some may decide they are heavier than they would like to be.

With this realisation, they now have two main choices. The first would be that they now decide to lose their excess weight.

For non-emotional eaters, this would mean setting; reducint portion size, and maybe even incorporating regular exercise until they have reached their goal weight.

Unlike emotional eaters, they do not totally define themselves by how much they weigh. Therefore for them losing their excess weight is no more of a challenge than any other aspect of their lives such as learning conversational French, or taking up painting with water-colours as a hobby.

They often successfully lose weight, and even if they eventually pile on some extra pounds, they have the option of just applying their tried and trusted methods until they are back again at their goal weight.

Their second choice is to accept their expanding waistbands and buy bigger clothes sizes.

Anyway, most of the people they know are like them and are increasingly larger versions of their former selves.

Non-emotional eaters find it hard to feel their weight gain is that important when the trend of increasing pounds is a familiar trait with their partner, members of their family, and their friends.

They simply get used to buying a size, or two larger in their clothes, let out their belts another notch, and ultimately pay it little mind.

This feature was first published online by the Talking Health Partnership.

Contact me if you are feeling overwhelmed by your weightloss challenge. I can help you to target your body by changing your mind to end your emotional eating. Just click on the button at the top of the page to schedule a free call.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Melanie’s story – a therapy case study

Melanie’s story – a therapy case study

 A young mother struggled to balance the needs of her two children; her relationship with her husband and her own fears of inadequacy. She was self-medicating daily with food and alcohol to swallow down the secret negative judgements she made about herself.

Here's the story of how she transformed her life and using the insights she made from her therapy sessions with me to make the all important changes to halt a pattern of behaviour that no longer served her or her family. Details and names have been changed to protect her anonymity.  

At thirty-five Melanie was the heaviest she had ever been. The previous five roller-coaster years had taken its toll on her waistline, and her confidence. As she and her husband celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary, they tucked up in bed their children age four, and two before slumping onto the sofa with yet another takeaway, and bottle of wine.

‘Sometimes I wonder where that ambitious young woman who had her career all mapped out, and her life under control went. It’s as though I’ve lost sight of her under all the effort of working full time, and taking care of my girls.’ She said as she began to explain her feelings.

‘Everyone thinks I’ve made a great success of my life. A wonderful husband, beautiful children, and I’m respected at work,’ she paused, ‘That’s everyone except me. I’m terrified they’ll find out I’m not as capable as they think I am, and my daughters will grow up to realise I’m a rubbish mum. or my husband will lose patience waiting for us to have some quality time together and go off looking elsewhere.'

Her eye’s filled with tears as she continued, “Especially as I’m four stone (56 lb.) heavier than when we got married, and I can’t bear to have him touch me anymore.’

Gently we began to unpick what was happening in her life, and what was happening for Melanie around food. She talked about her comfort eating in her break times at work and eating sweets every evening in the car travelling to collect the children from their childminder. ‘I just crave sweet things. It’s the only thing that keeps me going’.

Working through the Time Line Protocol Melanie identified her reliance on sugary treats began when she was thirteen years old when her family moved house, and she moved from a small, rural school where she knew everyone to being the new girl at a much larger city school.

‘I’ve always been a bit of a swot. I loved learning, and putting my hand up in class to answer questions made me the target for a group of girls who made my life a total misery. I remember going home unhappy every day for what felt like ages, and my mum being off-hand with me. She said I was attention seeking, and causing her and Dad more trouble.'

She explained that her Dad had lost his job through ill-health which is why they had moved and she had no real idea what effect that was having on their lives.

'Now when I look back I realise they must have been worried sick about money plus my Dad who never really showed his feelings had depression around that time too which made things even harder for my mum.’

‘Pretty soon I realised I was on my own. I became a bit of a chameleon at school. I remember making a conscious decision to fit in. I even trained myself out of my country accent. I stopped being a goody two shoes at school, and learnt to out-bully the bullies. I made myself fit it. Inside I still felt lonely, but I just kept that to myself. I started spending my lunch money on sweets, and cigarettes with the other girls. If my mum, or dad noticed any difference in me, they never said. When I noticed I was getting fatter, I began messing about with laxatives, and bingeing and sometimes purging just like the other girls did who were now my friends. I carried on with that all the way through university.’

‘Oh yes, I made it to University. Right at the last minute I knuckled down and passed my exams. Inside I was still the girl who loved learning. I had just learnt to keep that a secret too.’

‘My boyfriend and I had only been going out together for about four months when I fell pregnant with our first child. We didn’t have to get married we just chose to. The way it worked out for us meant we didn’t even live together before the wedding. I suppose that was harder than I imagined. He wasn’t brilliant at sharing how he felt. I used to joke with him that he was even quieter than my Dad. We were only just getting used to each other when shortly afterwards we were getting used to being parents. It felt like we hadn’t had a moment to find out about each other, especially when I got pregnant with our second child so quickly.’

‘My secret eating, and bingeing kicked off again after our second child was born. After six months I went back to work full time with a brand new promotion as head of department at an inner-city college. I thought I could manage everything and keep all the plates spinning. I never told my husband Vic how overwhelmed I felt, I just hid it all. I was worried that he might be under pressure as he had changed from being a single man to married man, and father of two in just a couple of years. I was also afraid that if I told him how I felt he might think I was unnecessarily dramatic just like my mum had.’

‘So I just carried on with all the old coping strategies I’d developed when I was at school and university. I just kept all my emotions inside me and drank way too much, and binged in secret whenever I had the chance. My mum broached the subject with me during a shopping trip together with me being under a lot of pressure. I must have been in a pretty bad way for her to risk saying anything to me,’ she paused and momentarily laughed before becoming very serious again.

‘Everything that should have given me so much joy just felt hollow. Even my boys, who I adored, would be hustled through bath time and bedtime with me in a bad temper so that I could get them out of the way, and open a bottle of wine.

I think my mum could finally see how unhappy I was. She had picked up a leaflet for Sally's therapy practice, and she said she would pay for the sessions. I didn’t even try to put on a brave face or deny anything. I think I knew I couldn’t keep going on as I was which is why I knew I had to see someone and sort myself out. It’s quite telling that although I could admit to her that I needed help, I still kept the sessions secret from my husband for the first few weeks.’

‘Learning to use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) I realised how high I had set the bar for myself with the type of job I was doing while at the same time taking care of two young children. Initially, it felt like a big deal for me to consider the possibility that I couldn’t do it all. I also learnt in therapy how little of my fears, and doubts I had even admitted to myself, let alone shared with my husband. PSTEC (Percussive suggestion Technique was brilliant in helping to free me from all those horrible old memories of being bullied at school especially when no one at home wanted to listen to me. It was those early fears that I might not be heard again when I needed help that kept me from sharing how I felt with Vic.

Melanie smiled broadly, ‘I may have married Vic, but in all honesty, I had never really allowed myself to rely on him. When I was able to say to him that my life was all a bit too much for me he understood and heard me.” Melanie’s face softened, ‘I think our marriage properly began from around that time when I dared to share my real feelings with him.’

She continued, ‘In therapy, I forgave myself for not being a super-mum and for relying on booze and rubbishy sweet stuff to keep myself going. Free from all that guilt I was able to go to my Head Teacher to speak with her about reducing some of my responsibilities.

Now almost a year later even more changes have taken place. ‘I’m back to my pre-marriage weight. I’ve lost over four stone (56+ lbs), and I’ve cut my work down to three days a week.

Vic and I have monthly date nights when my mum and dad take the girls for a sleep-over at their house. I don’t drink at all during the week, and I don’t even miss it!’

She continued,’I thought admitting to my boss that I couldn’t cope would be the end of my career but that hasn’t been the case. I’m still ambitious, but I’m willing to take things more slowly now and enjoy these precious years with our daughters too. I’ve also learnt that it’s OK to ask for help. Vic is not my dad, and I’m not that young girl anymore who has to get by on her own. By asking for what I need I gave myself the opportunity to be heard instead of stuffing it all down with crappy food, and I’ve also got closer to Vic as he gets to know the real me. I feel fortunate. I could scare myself if I dwelt for too long on how things might have turned out but I’m too busy being happier to do that.

Contact me if you feel powerless in your life hiding behind drinking too much, eating junk food or carrying excess weight. You might need some outside help to transform your life from overwhelming to a life you can be proud of. It's worth a chat. Just click the button at the top of the page.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.