Guess what? Your food problem isn't really about food.

Your food problem isn’t about food.

And it’s not about eating, or the fact that you need more willpower around Krispy Kremes.

It’s everything else.

I know that can be hard to hear.

If it was about food, then you could just find the perfect diet, and everything would be fixed.

But your food problem isn’t about food.

And until you figure out what is going on with the Everything Else that’s causing you to have a Food Problem, you will always have a food problem.

What is going on with your relationships?

With your career?

With your feelings about ambition, about authenticity, about success, about your story of who you “should” be in the world, and who you actually are?

With your family and their expectations, with your friends and their needs?

What is going on with how you spend your day and how you’d like to spend your morning, evening, and night?

Let me say this another way:

Are you dressing, moving, talking, laughing, loving, walking, sleeping, working, thinking and striving in a way that expresses your deepest, most truthful self?

One of my deepest beliefs is that food problems are barely about food at all. They are much more a sign that our lives are not in alignment.

Sure, there are practices that we need to do to examine our eating more closely (like eating when we’re hungry, stopping when we’re full, and eating without distractions), but really, the point of those practices is that they are the warning bell.

If we’re eating when we’re not hungry, something else is going on.

If we’re eating past fullness, something else is going on.

If we always need to be distracted, something else is going on.

So if you find it abhorrently uncomfortable even to contemplate not reading or going on your phone while you eat lunch, you have to figure out what’s up.

Is it uncomfortable to think of eating without distractions because you never get any time to yourself and this is your time to relax and have fun?

Or because when you put down your distractions, all kinds of thoughts and feelings come up that are completely overwhelming?

Or because you feel really awkward eating without distractions because nobody else at your office does?

Whatever your answer, it gives you a treasure chest of information about how you spend your day, how you deal with feelings and thoughts, and what your relationship is to your job.

You might need more time to relax.

You might need to deeply investigate your thoughts.

You might need to re-evaluate what you want out of your job.

I am extremely, intensely, passionately interested in this.

I am extremely, intensely, passionately interested in your deepest truth, your wants and needs and desires and everything you hate but think you should love.

I’m not particularly interested in dieting, or a perfect 10-step system for weight loss management.

But I am extremely interested in using food as a lens to understand core, essential insights about what we do and do not want from life.  


Here's the deal: this 'untangling what is actually, really causing your eating issues' ? It's really hard to do. 

Really, really hard to do.

Here at the Dessert Club, we've found that it's much easier to do with help. With the support of others, and a group leader, and a curriculum, books to read, and specific practices. It's easier to do it in bite-sized pieces, so you don't get overwhelmed and can slowly build up your skills. 

Because you can do it. So many of our past participants can attest to that. (Read more about their stories here).

So if you want to get started, join a group, friend :)

You can't solve eating issues without solving body image issues.

You have food problems because you have body image problems.

I’m sorry, but I have to say it.
In fact, this is a waaaay overdue message from me to you.

You know how you can’t control yourself around Nutella?
Or cereal?
Or mac and cheese?
Or tortilla chips?
Or peanut butter?

It’s because, on some level, you feel deeply convinced that your body must look a certain way.

I mean, think about it. If you didn’t need your body to look a certain way…

If it was utterly unimportant to you exactly what you weighed, or exactly what size jeans you fit into…

If you felt totally and completely confident that regardless of what shape your body happened to be, you would be loved and cherished, admired and valued, that you would be successful in work and school, make great friendships and have fantastic romantic relationships….

Would it particularly matter what you ate?

I mean, of course it would still matter what you ate. You would still get hungry, and when that happened, you would feed yourself food that made you feel good (in all senses of the word). You might sometimes even (gasp!) eat when you weren’t hungry, because we are sensual beings who enjoy food.

But as long as you felt pretty good in your body, you probably wouldn’t worry about it too much.

And if you stopped feeling good in your body? If you ate nothing but Cheetos and donuts for dinner one day? Well, then the next day you’d probably eat lightly and move your body so that you…oh, I don’t know, FELT BETTER.

Of course, you may be objecting: it’s not that I want to be thin, Katie. I just want to be healthy!

To which I would respond:

Of course, health does matter. But we can be healthy at a far wider range of weights than most of us “want” to be. And though health and weight are related, you can significantly improve your health without losing any weight.

Yes, it is true that at some weights your risk of certain diseases may increase. But you are not de facto unhealthy because you are at a certain weight. For example, some research suggests that health is determined more by activity level than by weight, even for obese people.

Let me say it again: You can be within a relatively wide range of weights and still be healthy.


You know what I think? I think that “I’m afraid of gaining weight/I want to lose weight so I can be healthy” is smoke and mirrors, for many of us.

It’s a way of having a reasonable justification for our obsession with “not getting fat.”

Look, I’m not going to say that I don’t get why you do it.

In fact, I do it too.

I mean, everything we see or hear or read or click on implies that beauty and success and force of character and happiness means being thin. I’m not going to say that there isn’t discrimination against heavier people.

Everything we consume tells us that everything we could possibly want in life would be put in jeopardy if we were fat. And we believe it.

But the sad, horrible, terrible, ironic, thing about this is that in our attempt not to gain weight….we end up gaining weight.

We ignore our hunger signals and eat too little. We lose weight.

Then we eat way too much. And gain the weight back. And then some.


So let me be clear: I’m not trying to encourage you to be "overweight" or “fat” or unhealthy. Far from it.

What I want is for you to look closely at your deeper motives.

You might think that the problem is your eating. And it’s true — if you are reading this blog, you probably have some sort of eating “problem.” I spend a lot of time on this blog offering you solutions for how to “fix” your eating problem — by learning how to listen to your body’s signals and eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full and respect its cravings.

But you want to know the deep, dark, ugly truth?

As long as you are not okay with your body, you will probably have a food problem.

So what do we do about that? Well, that is a BIG question. Stay tuned. I'll be posting a lot about this in the coming weeks.

Or for more practical ideas right away, you could sign up for the Dessert Club.


In the meantime, let me know what you think in the comments. Do you struggle with being afraid of “getting fat”? Do you feel obsessed with being a certain weight? What would your eating look like if you could let go of those fears?


On Health and Telling Yourself the Truth

"I just want to be healthier."

I hear this a lot, from Dessert Club members and people in the world. That desire to be healthier seems to motivate a lot of behaviors: running marathons, going to CrossFit classes, giving up sugar or soda or dairy or white carbohydrates.

But here’s what I often find, when I’m able to probe a bit deeper:

“I want to be healthier” is often a cover for “I want to be thinner.”

We run that marathon because hopefully we’ll get so “healthy” that we’ll lose a couple of pounds.
We want to give up sugar because hopefully we’ll get so “healthy” that our jeans will fit again. 

For the record, I think it’s fine to want to be thinner. Although I strongly object to the societal pressures that women receive to be thin, I’m not going to send the body positivity police to your door for wanting to lose some weight.

But let’s call a spade a spade. If you want to lose weight, let’s acknowledge that explicitly.

Why? Because if you’re not telling yourself the truth, you won’t be able to honestly and accurately prioritize your needs.

This “prioritization” thing matters. We all may have many different needs, and at certain points those needs may come into conflict with each other. But if you aren’t about about what you actually prioritize, you’re less likely to feel satisfied.

For example, let’s say that you want to lose weight, and you also want to be healthy. Great! But how do those two compare to each other in terms of priority? If you got much healthier by running a marathon but ended up gaining 10 pounds in the process, for example, how would you feel about it? Your answer to that question tells you a lot about your true motivations.

Or what about your desire for weight loss versus your desire to:

Trust yourself around food?
Honor your own hunger and fullness?
Eat foods you love?
Stop thinking about portions/calories/points all the time?
Go to restaurants and eat on vacation without worrying?
Feel like your weight is stable without you having to “do” anything?
Feel good in your body?

It’s worth acknowledging that it’s possible to achieve different goals simultaneously. You might feel better in your body as you get healthier, for example. But at some point, there will be trade-offs for everything. If you focus on losing weight, for example, you might need to stop eating foods you love, which might make you feel deprived and more likely to eat compulsively in the long run.

So when push comes to shove, what do you choose?

And if you’re saying that “health” is your top priority, is that really true? Or is “health” a code word for “thinness” (especially since you can be healthier without losing any weight).

Again, there’s no right answer, necessarily. But there is a truthful answer, for you.

My Exercise Role Model (it's not what you think).

I learned about exercise by watching my mom.

For my entire life, my mom has taken daily, 3-mile walks. She’s not fancy or precious about it – she just laces up her sneakers, wears old shorts and a t-shirt, and walks the same route in our neighborhood every single day.

It takes her about 45-minutes. But if she doesn’t have much time, she’ll squeeze in a 20- or 30-minute walk.

That’s it.

The thing that I have come to appreciate, particularly as I’ve gotten older, is how un-fussy and easy she is about it.

She’s not looking for a form of exercise that is painful, or that she dreads.

On the contrary, she walks because it makes her feel good – it clears her mind and makes her feel calm and happy.

She likes being outside, and she doesn’t have time to drive to an exercise class.

Of course, she also does it because it is good exercise. Walking nearly every day for most of her life hashelped her to stay fit and healthy and looking good, in my humble daughterly opinion (hi mom!). But walking isn’t something that is intensely painful or only feels good “after.” It feels good from the first step.

Part of the reason I wanted to share my mom’s story is because I’ve come to realize how deeply powerful behavioral modeling can be. It’s one thing to “get” something intellectually, and it’s a very different thing to see it in action, over and over.

I saw my mom lace up her sneakers, walk out the front door, and return revived and refreshed, every day of my life.

It wasn’t a big deal.
It wasn’t hard or painful.
It didn’t take much time.
It didn’t cost anything.
It didn’t require a ton of willpower.

She liked it, it was easy and felt good. So she did it every day.

I think that too often the “role models” for fitness that we see and think we should aspire to are people who are running marathons, or who have perfectly toned arms or six-pack abs. We think that we're supposed to want and work toward that level of fitness.

And we often think that it has to be time-consuming, expensive, complicated, or painful.

My mom showed me a different way.

Of course, I’ve tried intense workouts over the years. And I do enjoy a Pilates or yoga class once or twice a week, even though I have to drive to them, and they cost money.

But I always come back to my daily walk.

So I wanted to share it with you.

Not because you have to do it. Far from it! But simply because I don’t see this approach to exercise –moderate, super-easy, not-painful, cheap, and pleasant – advertised as much as I think it should be.


So here is Katie’s exercise regimen: 

1. Put on sneakers.
2. Open front door.
3. Walk outside for 45 minutes.

(optional) Wear a hat if it's cold.


With that in mind, my challenge for you this week is to take a walk. I mean it. Put on those sneakers, toss on a coat, get outside, and move that body.

And afterwards, I’d love to hear from you in the comments: Do you feel like only intense exercise “counts” ? What would you do differently if it was okay to exercise without it needing to be hard all the time?

Imagination Time


If you lived in a world where women’s bodies were all kinds of shapes… and there was nothing wrong, less love-able, less worthy about any of those bodies.

A woman could be thin and waif-ish, or solid and athletic, or curvy and luscious, or round and soft….and she would have exactly the same opportunities and options and respect.

And in that world of incredible diverse body shapes, there were women who were thinner than you and women who were fatter than you….and no one really cared.

Tell me: how would you feel about your body in that world?

I bet you’d still think about your body, on some level. You’d probably realize that your body wasn’t exactly the same as other people’s.  I'm tall, for example, and I notice that sometimes when I'm around people who are shorter than me.

You also might think about your body because you’d want to feel good or look good. You might want to dress your body in nice clothes, and make sure that it felt good inside. You’d feed it and move it and let it rest, as needed.

But you know what I bet you wouldn’t do? Binge and diet and obsess.


Well, friend, I’ve got news for you: we already live in that world.

There are, already, incredible diverse body shapes in the world.

You are not, I am certain, the fattest or the thinnest.

You are not the roundest or the flattest or the curviest or the most apple/pear/pineapple-shaped.

And I am certain that there are women who are loved by their sexy, smart, successful, insightful soulmates, who maintain hilarious, close, fabulous, deep friendships, and succeed at their creative, challenging, high-powered, or super-chill work in the world....who are fatter than you.

At the same time, there are women who also have those soulmates, those friendships, and that amazing work….who are thinner than you.

There are women who have all kinds of satisfying lives who are all kinds of shapes. And, of course, there are women who have all kinds of terrible lives who are all kinds of shapes.

The problem is that you have somehow gotten the message that your body needs to look a very specific way, that you need to weigh a weight that is in a very narrow band…in order to get what you want out of life.

So what happens?

You try to get your body to look a certain way.
You mess with the natural rhythm of the signals your body is sending you about hunger and fullness and cravings.
You lose weight, and then gain it back. And then some.
You completely lose track of the relationship between hunger and nourishment.


So what can we do about this?

It’s a complex issue, but one way of untangling it is to begin to ask the following questions, with fearless honesty:

  • Is it true that you need to be thin or slender or average or any shape at all in order to get what you want out of life?
  • Is it true that if you “get fat” or “gain weight” you won’t get what you want out of life?
  • Or, much more importantly, what is it about gaining weight that scares you so freaking much that you spend so much mental energy, emotional anguish, and precious, precious moments and days and years in this world doing everything you can to (often ineffectually) prevent it?

Your challenge this week is to think about it. Sit down and write your answers, or go lie under a tree and really ponder it.

And if you're looking for a supportive environment in which to explore these questions, join a Dessert Club! :)

How to start liking your body.

Remember how we talked about how if you don't like your body, it may mess up your eating?

Obviously, the follow-up question is: how do I start liking my body?

And that’s a hard, multi-faceted task. Today I want to talk about one important way: purposefully looking at a variety of women’s bodies.

Why This Is Important

This may be obvious but it’s worth saying: if you are judging others because of their weight or body shape, you are probably judging yourself.  And all of those negative judgments cause pain, for everyone involved.

The only way that I know to break the cycle of judgment is to notice. Notice, notice notice.  And that’s hard, because often when we truly notice, uncomfortable thoughts come up. Thoughts that we feel like a completely terrible person for thinking, like “she doesn’t look good,” or, “I hope I never, ever look like her.”

But it’s worthwhile to ask yourself: Is that true? Is it true that only thin women can be beautiful? Are all thin women beautiful?

And, perhaps most importantly: What does beauty mean, anyway?

I’m not trying to tell you what beauty is, and I can’t give you a pill or a quick 2-step tip to reverse what are deeply, deeply ingrained beliefs about what is beautiful and what is not in our world. You probably don’t want to be having unpleasant or even mean thoughts about other women’s bodies, and telling yourself to just knock it off doesn’t generally work (at least for me).

In my experience, the only way to even begin to work on this process is to gently, very gently, begin to pull at the strings of this knot, by noticing what is already happening, in a delicate, thoughtful way.

And maybe, just maybe, looking at women in a variety of shapes will remind you that your weight has much less to do with your beauty that you might have thought. I know that it did for me.


Your “Homework” 

1. Once a day for the next week, spend at least 5 minutes purposefully looking—really looking—at a range of women’s bodies.

If you don't know where to find pictures of beautiful ladies who are not “typical” models, here are some great sites with real women in a range of shapes, from slender to more full-figured:

2. As you do this, notice what thoughts and feelings come up about their bodies. Write down as many of them as you can, without judgment. It’s okay if your thoughts sound like a Mean Girl; the point is to notice them.

3. For now, your work is just that: look at pictures, have the thoughts come up, write them down, look at what you wrote down. That’s it.


But Katie, spending 5 minutes didn’t fix all of my body image problems!

Have some patience there, buckaroo.

This probably something you will have to keep doing. You’ve spent hours each week for your ENTIRE LIFE consuming images of mostly very slender people. You are probably going to need to make a conscious effort to look at other bodies, to remind yourself that it’s not just fat-you and Heidi Klum out there.

But I deeply believe that it is worth it. Because as long as you don’t think that you are beautiful in your body, and you don’t think that other women are beautiful in their bodies, you will struggle with your weight.

So let’s look at some fantastic women together. And let’s keep doing it.


If this post resonated with you, I’d love to hear in the comments: What was it like for you to consciously look at women in a variety of shapes? What thoughts or feelings came up for you? 

What you should do with your scale

Here’s my suggestion: get rid of your scale.

I mean it.


I say this as someone who was convinced, for a long time, that a scale was necessary.

During my college years, I had not one, but two scales. A girl needs a scale in her dorm and also her childhood bathroom, right? When I spent a summer working in France, I stuck a glass scale (glass!) in my luggage and brought it there, too.

I weighed myself every morning, but also, as my “issues” with food got crazier, sometimes in the afternoon and the evening and also just before I went to bed. Weighing yourself right before bed is essential because then you can make a prediction about what your weight might be in the morning. Obviously.

A resolutely analytical person, I was convinced that monitoring my weight would ensure that I made the “right” kind of decisions, the kind that makes weight go down.

Of course, this didn’t really happen.

What did happen was that I became obsessed with thinking about what the “right” decisions should be, and I beat myself up when I didn’t make them.

What did happen is that I would eat in secret, or eat in public in a kind of trance—without really noticing or enjoying or feeling full from the food that I was putting in my mouth.

What did happen is that tiny fluctuations in my weight that were probably due to water had the power to make me feel on top of the world, or like a complete failure.

And no matter whether the news was good or bad, I always felt like eating after being on the scale.

So my weight sometimes went down, but mostly it went up. I felt like such a freaking idiot.


Eventually, as I learned to listen to my body, I threw away my scale. In fact, I actually yelled “F*** YOU” as I threw it into a dumpster, and my mom heard it (which wasn’t my intention) and got kind of worried about me.

Despite that awkward situation, it was one of the best things I ever did.

Why? Because throwing away my scale let me make decisions about food based on how my body felt, without any fear of what the scale would say the next day.

It let me substitute the external scale on my bathroom floor for the internal scale of my own experience.


I know, I know, if you are a hardcore scale-junkie, you might be worried: if I get rid of my scale, what’s to stop me from gaining 40 pounds?

My answer? Your own experience in your body. That’s the only thing that can stop you.

If you are aware of how your body feels, if you tune into it, you can tell whether you need more cookies or fewer.

And seriously, if you start to gain weight, you’ll feel it. You’ll feel rounder around the edges and like there’s a bit more of a layer of padding all around.

I feel like that sometimes—pudgier, rounder, softer. Even though my weight has been relatively stable or gone down in the past six or so years since I started doing this, there are definitely times when I notice that my pants are fitting a bit tighter and there is more cushion in my hips.

And yes, even now, I sometimes start to freak out a bit about that. I sometimes start to think that I should weigh myself again so I can “make sure” to lose the weight.

But after a few extremely unhappy experiments with re-introducing the scale, I kept coming back to my truth:

Scales don’t help me take care of myself better.
Taking care of myself better helps me take care of myself better.  

So if you aren’t weighing yourself and you are feeling pudgier? Do what you need to do to take care of yourself so you feel awesome.

Which for me means walking every day, going to yoga, and making sure I have foods I love in my house—which, yes, includes homemade brownies with chocolate chips in them.

It also means doing my hair so I feel pretty and wearing clothes that are soft and I feel elegant in.

It also means setting healthy boundaries with others and my work, and making sure I have plenty of time to sleep and read books and watch Netflix and do random Internet surfing.

And after a while of that, I usually feel awesome. And my pants start to fit more normally.


So my challenge to you this week is to throw away your scale. (Bold, eh?)

Or if you can’t do that, tell me in the comments why you need to keep it. I’ll respond personally, and we can talk about it.

Because I hope you know, I really, really care about you.