Maybe you’re the kind of person who worries about her good friend and her less-than-satisfying marriage. Or you’re fretting for your sister-in-law who’s recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. As it turns out, that empathy is a lovely quality to have as a person, but could be drawing from your happiness and contributing to your weight. Colette Baron-Reid, the author of Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much, believes this. Here the writer, intuitive counsellor and motivational speaker talks about the true path to happiness and weight loss for those with big hearts.
Q: How did this book come to be?
A: I never thought I’d write a book like this because it was my biggest shame that I couldn’t control my weight. The first time I had an inordinate amount of weight gain without eating enough food to justify it was when my mother died and I gained 85 pounds in less than three months. And I only was able to lose it once I stopped dieting and I went on this spiritual journey of self-love and really doing a lot of deeper inner work around the issues with my family.
Later, on a speaking tour, I started gaining weight even though I was a vegan vegetarian and keeping a food journal. But I put on 25 pounds. So I started looking at this relationship between empathy and weight gain because I was tuned in to all these people emotionally who wanted something from me on the tour and I was getting heavier. So I went on this research tear and came up with a theory which I could prove scientifically that people who intuitively felt the world deeper won’t lose weight on diets.
Q: What is the science behind your program?
A: Emotions have molecules called neuropeptides and neuropeptides are conversationalists. They go to the receptor cells in the body and the receptor cells are told what kind of hormone to secrete, so when you are under a fight-flight feeling because you’ve got too many stressors, you use food to ground yourself. The food is a detour from feelings.
Q: So if this isn’t a diet book, what is it?
A: It’s a program addressing those feelings — how do we teach people how to have healthier boundaries. This is really about how do we create a mindful, peaceful quality within us. We are all engaged in emotional experiences that aren’t personal to us but we’re required to respond to emotionally. So especially for those of us who have this sensitivity, this program teaches you how to manage those one day at a time and manage those emotions when come up. It’s based on mindfulness and meditation.
Q: What does this have to do with happiness?
A: It’s all about happiness. The book talks about how happiness starts with loving yourself and radical forgiveness and radical acceptance of ourselves. And when we do that, there’s a greater sense of peace. Happiness comes from acceptance. It does not come from getting into a size 4.
Baron-Reid shares her tips for changing the way you feel and eat
1. Eat Mindfully
Get in the habit of contemplating where the food has come from before you eat it and imagine the cycle of life with gratitude.
2. Take a moment
Before you put a “danger zone” food — such as a food that triggers a binge or self loathing — into your mouth, ask ‘What would grow if I planted this?’ Use your imagination to think about it for a few moments, and then ask ‘Do I still want this?’
Practice deep breathing before eating.
4. Calm down first
When overwhelmed, refrain from eating until you can bring yourself back into a calm state. Try deep breathing and counting your breaths.