If you want a weight loss coach, you need them to do life coaching too. So often we look towards optimising our nutritional balance, when really we need to look towards increasing our willingness to feel all of our feelings, says Life & Weight Loss Coach Laura Lloyd

‘How we do one thing is how we do everything’, is the adage. Which is why, although the coachign question answered in this video was around the emotional buffering involved in overdoing TV, I offer it to you now with 3 stories from my own life, where minor addictions and overeating started overlapping.

As a student, I got to spend a year in Venice, Italy. There, I learned to drink coffee.

Coffee is ‘great’ when you’re a student because of course you can get all your studying done in one go and then spend the rest of the time trying to understand Spanish people speaking Italian really really fast at parties.

Actually, that’s what coffee did for me: make me speak really fast and act hyper in social situations where I hardly knew anyone. I was worried I’d be shy. I was worried I’d be tired. I was worried I’d be boring. 

Coffee habits, for Venetians, went hand in hand with aperitifs.

My Italian friend explained to me (by way of persasion to accompany him to a bar) that a Campari at 6pm is perfect to counteract the coffee you’ve drunk earlier in the day.

I drank more than one coffee, therefore I needed more than one Campari.

As I started necking coffee, and my student loan got squandered merrily in bars, I also noticed that when I drank coffee, my stomach felt weird and for a while, I didn’t feel hungry. I could go all morning and not need breakfast.

When I did get hungry, though, a quick stop for one of those tiny breakfast desserts the Italians do so well would do it. A little frangipane. A little tartine di riso. Something sugary. A pick-me-up. Literally, tiramisu.

I should have had that tatooed on me: It’s basically how I have lived. Trying to change and manipulate my state. 

And if I drank too much coffee and couldn’t sleep at the end of it all, a large bowl of spaghetti or two would knock me out.

When I worked on the newsdesk at the Guardian, I’d finish work at 2 or 3am.

Then I’d want a readymixed gin tonic in the taxi on the way home to counteract the adrenaline and stress and reward myself for being the last woman standing.

Back at my flat, that’d be followed by oatcakes, cheese, any booze I could find from the kitchen (expensive dry as yack cooking sherry one night).

And Madmen until daylight came through the curtains.

When I was in theatre, I felt tremendous performance pressure.

I felt anxiety about being on ‘full presence’. Full creativity. That’s when I got really into Diet Coke.

At first it was one can. Eventually, 3 or 4 cans a day, and the first one by about 11am.

After a show, I felt so high. And such relief. I just wanted to drink booze and get level again.

I was sleep-deprived and tired because of my caffeine habits and alcohol habits. But never mind! Because I could always top up my Diet Coke levels the next day.

I ate the way a tired person does. Seeking comfort, seeking to reward myself for keeping going, looking for sugar energy. I got a thing for custard tarts and macaroons.

And I thought I could ‘afford’ the calories of indulgent foods, since I was working hard and the Coke only had 1 calorie.

My throat got sore. My immunity took a dip. I got tonsillitis (a classic for me) in the middle of a 3-week run of a show at a major venue.

The creative, wonderful thing I had worked for and wanted so badly turned into something I was trying to get through, survive, and putting my fellow actors through hell trying to keep the show on the road with me in it. 

These are just 3 stories from my work life, where all of my obsessions and eating behaviours began to overlap.

This is all good news, of course. When we start to take apart one habit, many other things in our lives are likely to change.

When I stopped drinking alcohol, I didn’t have any way to ‘come down’ and dispel the anxiety from too much coffee, so that habit became too uncomfortable.

My confidence from losing the alcohol then made losing caffeine a breeze.

But if we just try to change habits as behaviours, without ever understanding the emotional impetus behind them, and the thoughts creating that emotional state, we’ll probably just displace one addiction onto another.

The same as if you try to lose weight without solving the things that make you want to overeat in the first place.

You don’t solve your emotional motives for eating with an app or by ‘knowing more’ about how many calories are in things.

Sure, there may come a point in your journey when those pieces of information will help you be honest with yourself when you make your food decisions. But most of us don’t overeat through lack of knowledge. Because knowledge doesn’t drive your behaviour. You’re an emotional creature.

We overeat to buffer our emotions.

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