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Our life coach and agony aunt Dr Pam Spurr answers your questions every fortnight. The author of many self-help guides her latest is The Emotional Eater’s Diet for anyone who heads for comfort food in times of stress or unhappiness. More about Dr Pam below.

Follow Dr Pam on twitter  @drpamspurr but not on FaceBook or her website www.drpam.co.uk – life, love & sex advice at your EEDCoverTimfingertips. To buy her book, click http://tinyurl.com/pqfhrvl

Our life coach and agony aunt Dr Pam Spurr answers your questions every fortnight. The author of many self-help guides her latest is The Emotional Eater’s Diet for anyone who heads for comfort food in times of stress or unhappiness. (Elaine, please put the link at the book title: http://tinyurl.com/pqfhrvl )  More about Dr Pam below.

Dear Dr Pam,

I am at least 9kgs (16pounds) over weight and I just don’t know where to start. I have tried diets in the past but it’s so hard to stick to them and I end up picking off the kids’ plates when I am hungry. I do want to lose weight though – but need help. Thanks for any advice!

Dear “Don’t know where to start”,

The very first starting point is that you and 95% of people have found classic diets don’t work. They might have great nutritional advice and tasty recipes but they don’t address the underlying reasons why people overeat or emotionally eat.

It might surprise you one major study found a full 95% of people who fell off the ‘diet wagon’ reported it was due to emotional issues, stress, unhappiness, etc., that sent them back to poor eating habits.

In my new book The Emotional Eater’s Diet I cover all of the major areas affecting people’s comfort eating including certain personality traits, emotional issues, confidence and self-esteem issues, relationship and work place issues, etc., that send them into a cycle of emotional eating.

So why are you picking at your kids’ plates? Are you really hungry or are you a bit stressed? Could you have a healthy snack if you need one during their meal time, rather than eating some of their meal – and then eat your own meal later?

This sort of picking is often stress-related and, heck, as a mother myself, I know how children’s meal times can be stressful.

I hope when you say you’re 9 kg overweight this is a reasonable amount and you’re not expecting to be like these images of perfection we see everywhere. My book is completely against unrealistic body shapes and striving for so-called “perfection”.

Instead it’s all about being a healthy weight where you feel energetic and well – and you use food to fuel your energy needs and to enjoy when socialising.

So if that’s a realistic goal, once you get on top of snacking and potential emotional eating you should expect to lose around about a kilo a week.

Anything quicker than that and it’ll bounce back faster than you can say, “I want some of my kids’ spaghetti hoops.”

Here are some tips to get started with:

*You’ve identified one of your hotspots as your children’s mealtime. What can you do to feel relaxed just before mealtime? What works for you to keep calm so you don’t want to stress-pick at food? Put that into action.

images*I’d bet there might be other snacking hotspots so keep a food and feelings diary for a week. Chapter 4 of my book goes into detail on this but simply in your tablet, mobile or notepad make a note of when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat, and was the food necessary or not, and was it a nourishing or junk food snack? At the end of the week look through it to see if you can identify other things that send you running for snacks.

*Next think of how you respond to these other emotional triggers that make you want to snack. What can you do that makes you feel better? Can you get in touch with a friend for a quick chat? Can you email a friend and tell them you’d like to meet up soon – just to get your mind onto happier emotional territory.

*Definitely build in stress busters like taking a brisk walk even for a few minutes. Even a five-minute burst burns off stress.

*Keep healthier snacks and foods around – a small handful of raw nuts and some veggie sticks are surprisingly filling. Get used to thinking positively about these and stop buying any junk foods. This will be great for your children too.

Finally, think about your mental attitude and not allowing the stresses and strains of raising a family to overwhelm you. In your case it might mean taking the attitude that, “Oh well, the kids played up a bit this evening but I’m doing my best. And it’s not the end of the world. Worrying doesn’t help me.”

Practice taking this “I’ll care a little bit less about the small things” attitude through every area in your life.

Good luck, Pamx

Dr Pam’s new book The Emotional Eater’s Diet – Understand your emotions and become a healthy weight for life! Is out now. (Link: http://tinyurl.com/pqfhrvl )

On Twitter @drpamspurr

Also visit www.drpam.co.uk