Have you tried and failed to lose weight? Maybe a diet worked for you at first, but then you just put all that weight back on again?

Losing weight isn’t easy – otherwise, why would overweight people continue to put up with prejudice, disapproval and feelings of guilt and shame?

There is no genetic explanation why some people are unable to regulate their food intake. Research indicates that the answer may lie in our emotional relationship with food. It may not be real hunger that pushes us to reach for second helpings, but actually a response to an emotional need elsewhere, which is nothing to do with food.

One client complained that she was a chocolate addict and could not get rid of the habit. A born perfectionist, she could never take a break and relax, so the chocolate for her became a substitute for a good rest. Once she understood what was happening, she was able to acknowledge when she was tired and find different ways to relax.

Another client hated her job, so constant snacking became her way of not dealing with the issue. Writing a food diary helped her realize when and why she was eating and get in touch with her feelings of frustration and sadness.

Weight Management Counselling might help you discover what your relationship with food really is. During sessions the counsellor and client will cover the clients’ dieting history and any emotional events in their lives that might have lead to a change in eating habits, discuss the role food played in their families of origin, and focus on the way the clients see themselves now and build up resources necessary to initiate change. For some clients, just a couple of sessions are enough to set them on the right course, for others it might take months to unravel a complex emotional relationship with food and with their own body.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself now before you decide to embark on yet another diet:

1) What is your goal? Many diets fail because the target is uncertain. If you are not sure what your ideal weight should be, you will never be satisfied with the results, as you can always lose “just a few pounds more”

2) When did the problem started? It is possible that you started to overeat in response to an emotional trauma or a significant life event. If so, careful examination of the situation will help you deal with the real reason behind your overeating

3) What is your “dieting history”? If you already have an experience of a failed diet, try to describe it in great detail. If you will be able to spot when and why do you normally get stuck, you will avoid similar problems in the future

If you answer these questions honestly, you might learn to start listening to your body, to recognize your emotional needs and find other ways of dealing with them, rather than overeating.

Instead of fighting your body, you will begin to live in harmony with it, and to enjoy your newfound energy and drive.

Details of the case studies have been changed to protect confidentiality.

Anna Storey is a therapist on the welldoing directory. She runs Weight Management Counselling sessions. Contact Anna here