The approach I take with my clients who come to me for weight loss is super unconventional. It’s unconventional because I’m more likely to ask them to add foods to their diet than I am to ask them to eliminate foods. I am more likely to ask them about their feelings than how much fat they want to lose. And I’m more I’m more likely to tell them to eat cake than I am to tell them not to.

Sometimes it makes them nervous.

I know you have tried all the diets and all the workouts and are desperate to understand why you can’t lose weight or keep weight off. I also know you’ve read or heard it all — calorie counting, paleo, vegan, sugar-free, fat-free, food-free. (Ok, I may have made that last one up.)

But what you maybe haven’t heard is your diets are stressing you out and your stress is making you fat.

And because you haven’t heard it, it’s going to be hard to be a hard pill to swallow when I ask you to put down the calorie counter and tell me why you want to eat.

I know my clients aren’t always ready to understand how their feelings affect their relationship to food. Even clients who think they are ready don’t totally understand what they are getting into. They come to me to address their eating habits so they can change their weight and while they are always open and cooperative about the feelings piece, they also always want to get down to business and make changes in their diet.

And since I’m all about meeting people where they are, I give the people what they want.

While I’m a big advocate of addressing feelings before fat, here are the most common factors I tackle with my clients in their first month of coaching:

Sugar

There tends to be a lot of sugar in my clients’ diets that they are overlooking. Many of my clients turn to fruit and simple carbs—bread, pasta, pastries— for a pick me up to get them through the day—even smoothies tend to have tons of sugar.

Whether it’s the good kind of sugar or the bad kind of sugar, too much sugar leads to a blood sugar (and mood) rollercoaster.

Rather than asking my clients to eliminate sugar off the bat, I ask them to add more healthy fats in throughout the day—nut butter, avocado, butter, coconut oil, ghee. Fats sustain you for longer, making you way less likely to reach for the sugar.

Overeating/Calorie Restriction

If I had a chocolate tart for every client of mine who barely eats during the day and gets home starving, I’d be hosting the dessert party of a lifetime right now. These clients think they are saving themselves the calories throughout the day, only to find themselves overcompensating for it at dinner time. It’s no surprise they’re overeating at dinner—they are literally starving.

This comes with a slew of problems. Not only do clients end up eating more calories in one meal than they probably would have eaten throughout the day, but they are sending their digestion into overdrive at the end of the day when it should be winding down.

Eat all your meals, people.

And while we are on the topic of eating all your meals, eat them slowly.

Slow Down

If you want to feel satisfied with your meal, you need to take the time to actually realize you’re eating. Put away all of the distractions. Look at your food. Chew your food. Maybe even take a long sip of wine in between bites. Then, and only then, will your appetite be naturally regulated and satisfied. Slowing down while eating is key to allowing time for the signals to reach your brain before you’ve eaten too much.

Give it a try: this week, sit down for at least one meal a day, take three deep breaths before you eat, and put your fork down between bites.  

I go into lots more detail about these practices and many others in my program Wake Up, Buttercup. Click here to check it out.