December 30, 2016

Stress Free 2017

Happy New Year! Make it your New Year's resolution to have a less stressful year. Go to the link below to to find out how to get my audio book (which teaches techniques on how to be less stressed) for 50% off (just $4.99).
With this audio, you get two therapists walking you through a new technique every week for 6 weeks to help destress and enjoy your life more. All from the comfort of your home.
Use discount code "2017STRONGER"


https://nancy-wilson.selz.com/item/56731605cca9180fe47b1c3a

December 16, 2016

New Therapist joins Wilson Counseling!


Wilson Counseling is pleased to introduce you to our newest therapist, Kenra Sulliavan! Kendra is a Licensed Professional Counselor with experience working with young children through adults from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Kendra began her professional career in the elementary school classroom.

After four years of teaching, she began working in the counseling field. At the core of her work, Kendra believes every individual is specially and uniquely created, and she delights in assisting individuals in achieving their full potentials.

We are very excited to have someone on board with such strong skills, background and a passion in working with children. She also has really strong skills in working with people who have gone through trauma and loss. 

If you think Kendra or any of our staff can be help you move past the places of pain in your life, please give us a call at 713-591-3612 or via email at nancy@wilsoncounseling.org.


Kendra's areas of  Specialization:


Children and Adolescents

  • Social skills
  • Divorce 
  • Developmental delays
  • Behavior issues
  • Loss of family members
  • Abuse

Adolescents and Adults

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma such as loss and abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Couples and relationship counseling

November 21, 2016

9 Mostly Polite Comebacks to Deal with Body Shaming Relatives



Some of you will be spending time with family this holiday. You know what they say; you don't get to choose your family. Family can sometimes feel all too free to talk about your body, your eating habits and your weight without any invitation to do so. It's annoying and even hurtful. For someone with an eating disorder, it can often trigger their eating disorder and signal for it to take over and rescue them from the body shame they feel.

Even if you don't have an eating disorder, but you have overzealous family or friends who love to get in your business, this article on revelist.com entitled "9 polite clapbacks to help you deal with body-shaming relatives" can help give you some good comebacks. They won't all fit for you, so feel free to be creative in coming up with your own comebacks. Your body and your food choices are your own. Don't let a well intentioned but mean comment ruin your holiday.





November 2, 2016

Seven Strategies to Ease Election Anxiety

image:nyt.com
I will be glad when the presidential election season is over. In the mean time, I am mostly avoiding the news. Here is an article from Mindful.com with other strategies to ease election anxiety.

October 26, 2016

Eating Disorders in the Elderly



Houston dietitian Amanda Holben was interviewed on the NPR radio show Houston Matters about eating disorders in the elderly. You can listen to the interview here:

http://www.houstonmatters.org/segments/segment-c/2016/10/26/eating-disorders-theyre-not-just-a-young-persons-problem

October 25, 2016

Is Body Tolerance Realistic?

I hate my body

How do you go from hating your body to not only accepting it but feeling more alive in it? Is that even a realistic or worthwhile goal? Can you imagine looking at the loose skin on your stomach, stretched from carrying children, or the cellulite on the back of your thighs, or the dark circles under your eyes made worse by nights of worry and thinking that your body is acceptable, even sometimes beautiful and miraculous? Are you just wasting your time even trying?


Hate -----> Tolerate ----> Liberate

In this video Dr. Jennifer Kreatsoulas proposes there are three stages in being liberated from body hate: HATE, TOLERATE, LIBERATE. This does not mean you always love your body, but you can learn to "neutralize the charge of hate, feel your mind quiet down, and feel more in sync with your body."


Neutralize body negativity

Kreatsoulas discusses how the use of yoga can get you closer to that place of tolerance and liberation. It is not a once-and-done experience, though. We must learn to go back again and again to neutralize the negativity whenever it tries to pop up. We have to become more accepting before we can appreciate and make peace with the particular body we are given.






September 27, 2016

11 Ways to Get Past Painful Break-ups

Breakups are really hard. I showed you why breakups are painful in my latest post which you can find here. In this post I am going to show you how to get past a painful break up.
  • Purge your ex from all of your contacts

  • Stay off of social media for a few weeks

  • Pack up photos or other reminders of your ex

  • Spend time with those who love you. Don't isolate even if that is all you want to do


  • Journal about your feelings

This photo was actually taken by my daughter (who is awesome). You can find here blog here. 

  • Write a letter to your ex (but don't send it). This is just for you
  • Acknowledge the good things about your past relationship (but don't over-romanticize it)
  • Spend time doing things that recharge you
  • Give it time. Rushing into a new relationship will not solve the problem 
  • Make a list of your goals and dreams. This will help you redefine the life you want and get you thinking about the possibilities.
  • Make a list of 10 things you like about yourself. This can help you develop some self-compassion. You have a lot to offer the universe. Yes, you!

Here is a little infographic to sum up the post. 


If you are struggling with the pain in your life,  professional counseling can help. You can call our Houston therapist at 713 - 591 -3612, or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more.





September 13, 2016

Why break-ups are so painful



Love hurts, literally


You can see the physical and emotional pain in the body language of someone who has gone through a recent breakup. It hurts to exist. It looks like it takes all their energy just to hold themselves up. The metaphorical weight of the world seems to be literally propped on their shoulders, threatening to crush them. And the distant, glassy look in their eyes betrays the fact that they are not fully present. It is too painful to exist fully in the here and now.

The most popular post I have ever written is entitled "Letting go of broken relationships." It resonates with people because so many people in broken relationships can't let go. We fear the breakup. We are wired to avoid pain, so why would we court it by breaking up with our partner? 

Some of the most depressed clients I have worked with are those going through recent break-ups. I had one client recently who commented, "My ex is already posting pictures of herself with another guy on Facebook. It kills me so badly. I don't know what to do" I think the language he used in that statement is both typical and instructive. It "kills" him to see his ex with another. He is talking about physical pain, not just emotional. 

The physical effects of heart break

Research shows that physcial pain and emotional pain are nearly the same. 
  • Emotional pain lights up the same pathways in the brain as physical pain
  • After a breakup the body often releases stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline which can lead to restlessness, chest pain, muscle tension, digestive problems and other physical symptoms
  • Brain scans show that cravings for an ex look like cravings for cocaine 

Your brain is hard wired to move on


Your pain is real, but it is finite. I had a friend who likened being depressed to being stuck in a giant pile of dung.  When you look around, all you see and smell and feel is shit. But, if you can just get past the dung pile, you will know that there is joy, richness, and life. On the plus side, new research supports the idea that your brain is hard wired to move on.  


If you are struggling with the pain of a breakup or a difficult relationship, professional counseling can help. You can call our Houston therapist at 713 - 591 -3612, or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more. 



August 23, 2016

Curvy is beautiful, too!




Are you trying to reach a biologically impossible ideal?


Being bombarded with media images of the "ideal" (read thin) body shape, it is hard not to start believing there is only one type of beauty. One of the obvious problems with that is that most of us don't have bodies like the women who grace the covers of magazines. The natural comparisons, however, cause us to feel dissatisfied and down about our bodies and to pursue biologically impossible ideals we can never reach. 





Your body is a masterpiece: strong, functional and uniquely beautiful!

I wanted to post some pictures of curvier women whom I think are beautiful to balance out the images that are probably thrown at you from tv, the movies, social media, and hollywood. Thin can be beautiful, and curvy can be beautiful, too. The important things is to learn to embrace and enjoy the body you were given. It is a complex masterpiece. 


Take a look at each of these women and pay particular attention to what it is that makes them beautiful. Each one has features that are unique and lovely.


Any of you who watch the tv show Girls know that Lena Dunham has chosen to put her average girl body front and center on the screen. Though I could do without some of the nudity, I appreciate that she is showcasing a sense of comfort with her body and normalizing a more reasonable standard of what many women's bodies actually look like. 



Mirror mirror on the wall...

Now take a look at yourself in the mirror and pick three things about your body that you are thankful for. Throughout the day, as you look in the mirror, or just go about your day, think about those features you like and express gratitude for them. We have spent enough time thinking about the thing we don't like; now is the time to think about what a beautiful creation we are. 

Tara Lynn

Jennifer Buckingham








August 2, 2016

What do your cravings mean?

image:gratisography.com


We all have cravings. Salty, fatty and sweet foods tend to top the list of foods we crave. Have you ever considered what your body might be communicating to you with cravings?

Your body is smart, so stop ignoring it


In a previous guest post  about learning to trust your body and its cravings, Courtney Wyckoff from momma strong.com pointed out that "Your body knows what it needs to survive. Every second, every day, its incredible web of communication and its interconnected system is in a constant pursuit of equilibrium. So when it comes to eating, it calls upon emotions and sensations at times to get the nutrients it needs." For example, when your body craves salt, it might be because your adrenal system is out of balance due to stress in your life, and salt can actually help heal that imbalance.

I like to imagine that your cravings are similar to the signs we see on the highway which warn of us of wrecks and slow downs up ahead. We can ignore them, but it is not in our best interest. Heeding the signs can help us adjust our plans, so we can get where we want to be. Learn to listen to and trust the signs from your body. Ignore them at your own peril.

Cravings 101: The cheatsheet 

Courtney put together the handy guide below to help you understand and respond to your cravings in a healthier way. Apologies if the graphic is not particularly clear; I couldn't figure out how to improve the image. But the content is very helpful.




July 18, 2016

What I have learned about race from being a therapist

image:gratisography.com


One of the privileges I have as a psychotherapist is that I get to know people in a uniquely personal way. In the therapy room, people often pour out their hearts as they seek change and relief from their pain.

We all have misconceptions


When I came into this work, I came to it with all of the preconceptions and notions about race that my particular background lent to me. Some of those notions were examined through my coursework in graduate school. But, I could never have learned to truly appreciate the complexities of what it means to grow up Black in America without all of the hours I have spent listening to my client's experiences.

As a therapist, I am called to bring empathy to a client's experience. I am a naturally empathetic person so it was not hard to listen, to care, to feel the pain. Empathy creates a safe place for my clients to be able to explore, process and to discharge their pain.


image:gratisography.com

It is impossible to truly know someone until you have listened to their story


I can think of one client whose background could not have seemed more different from mine. He is a Black man who grew up poor, in a dysfunctional and sometimes abusive family. He is also a single dad. As he spoke, I quickly found out we had more in common than I would have originally guessed. This client,  whom I will call Robert,  was struggling to know how to parent his children well. He was a very devoted father and family was a strong priority in his life.

I remember one session in particular that really brought home to me one of the disturbing realities of what it means to be Black in America. This was shortly after the teenager Treyvon Martin lost his life at the hands of George Zimmerman. Robert shared that he has had to educate his boys that they need to act differently because they are black. That they need to be more careful, more above board.

He instructed them for example, if they are stopped by the police in their vehicle, that they should have their registration and divers license on the dash of their car and their window rolled down ready  to hand to the police so that there is no appearance of reaching for a gun. What Robert has had to teach his boys that many of us have not, is how to stay alive. How to not be the victim just because they are Black.

There are more commonalities between us than differences


I have had hundreds of sessions with Black clients in my time as a therapist. Some of their experiences were completely different than Roberts. These clients have come in for all the same reasons as my clients of other races.  There is more commonality than difference after all.

It is this broad experience of listening to my Black clients, of empathizing, and of caring that has taught me that their is not one monolithic "Black experience." Sure, there are some threads that may run through the lives of many black people, but if you only focus on those generalities, you miss the human being behind it. You miss the most wonderful part.

I will always be grateful to my clients for their bravery in opening up, in being vulnerable. They have taught me how important it is to approach every individual as an explorer who has found a new treasure. Each life is deeply varied, deeply valuable. Each life matters beyond measure.

image:gratisography.com

We are all in this together


 If I had to distill some of the lessons I have learned about race by being a therapist, I think they come down to these 5 points.

  •  It is almost impossible to know someone until you have truly listened to their story 
  • We are not as different as the world would have you believe
  • Sometimes things that seem crazy make sense once we understand people's backgrounds
  • We are enriched by the diversity that people of different races bring to our lives
  • Walking with someone who is racially different from you in their pain is one of the best antidotes for racism

I have only begun to understand the unique plight of Black Americans who experience the dehumanizing effects of racism. I don't pretend to know what it is like to walk in their shoes, but the wisdom my clients have shared with me through their stories have shaped the way I see the world. When I think about my clients, I am hopeful that we are all part of one big human story. We are all in this together. 

#ListenFirst

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If you are struggling to deal with pain in your life, our Houston counselors are available to talk. Please contact us at 713 - 591- 3612 to find out how we can help.





June 2, 2016

Feeling distracted? Read about what mindfulness do for you.

image:gratisography.com 

By Wendy Evans, LCSW

Often when we are at work, we dream about the weekend, and on the weekends, we dream about vacation and on vacation, we worry about work.  These constant thoughts about the future rob us of the moment and can contribute to anxiety and depression.  Remaining in the moment enables us to live for today. 
 

If you do not learn to be mindful, you will never truly enjoy your life


Mindfulness is being in the present moment.  But what does this mean?  It means you are present in your body and aware of what you are doing.  You feel your feet on the floor, your hands in your lap, you notice when you get up and when you sit down.  You are present when speaking to another person and not thinking about your response but are fully engaged in what they are saying. 

Why is mindfulness helpful? When you are present in the moment, you are fully engaged in life.  You begin to train your brain to observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance without judging them to be good or bad.  Mindfulness means living in the moment and actually experiencing life as it happens.

Mindfulness can be a gift you give to others


When you are truly mindful with others, they feel it.  They know you are listening and engaged in what they are saying.  This makes relationships more meaningful and more enjoyable.
Staying mindful takes practice.  You can set reminders on your phone and each time a reminder goes off, come back to the moment, feel your feet on the ground, look around you and take in your surroundings, make sure you are being present with others.  If you find you are getting anxious about something and your mind is going and won’t stop, ground yourself by taking a few deep breaths and get back into the moment. 

Have fun and play with mindfulness.  You will be surprised at how you can reduce your stress, anxiety and even depression by simply ‘getting in the moment’. You can read more about the benefits of mindfulness in this article.


Mindfulness improves your physical, emotional and mental health


If you are struggling and would like to talk, please give us a call at 713- 591- 3612.  Wilson Counseling has Houston counselors available to help you work through difficult times and help you live mindfully with peace and joy.

May 4, 2016

Why we blame others for our problems

We will never experience intimacy in relationships if we blame others for our problems


"I don't share anything personal with my mom", my client told me. "My mom is one of those people who always blames other people for her problems.

When I was growing up she told me the reason we did not have enough money is because my dad had abandoned her by divorcing her. According to her, my dad was also the reason she did not have any friends, that she gained so much weight, that she had to live in a broken down house, that she was alone in life.

At first I thought my dad was a bad person, but I figured out after listening to my mom blame others for every problem in her life that she had a messed up perspective. I knew if I shared with her things I was struggling with, I knew that she would go negative, blame me or someone else, and the whole conversation would just depress me."


Blame is the discharging of discomfort and pain


Why do we blame others for our problems? According to Brene Brown, blame is the discharging of discomfort and pain. Instead of being vulnerable about our anger, frustration or other types of pain, it is easier to blame others. In this insightful and entertaining short from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, Brown talks about why we blame and why we should consider giving up this damaging behavior. Enjoy!





If you are having trouble letting go of anger, frustration, or other emotional pain, talking to a Houston Therapist can help. For questions or more information, please contact Nancy Wilson at 713 - 591- 3612 or via email at nancy @ wilsoncounseling. org.

If you would like to receive these blog posts automatically in your inbox, click on the subscribe link on the top righthand side of this page and enter your email.

April 13, 2016

Be strong and courageous


image:gratisography.com


"There is no passion to be found playing small -- in settling for alife that is less than the one you are capable of living." 
-- Nelson Mandela

A little encouragement for those of you who feel broken down.

When you feel unsure, try being courageous. If you don't feel it, do it any way. Strength only comes from doing the hard stuff in life. Fake strong till you become strong. Sounds trite, but try it and you will accomplish more than you thought possible. Try something you were afraid of; challenge yourself a little more each day. Don't be afraid to pursue the life you are capable of. Don't be afraid to fail. Even in the failing (especially in the failing), you learn to be strong  if you just keep fighting.

If you are struggling with the pain in your life,  professional counseling can help. You can call our Houston therapist at 713 - 591 -3612, or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more.

March 10, 2016

Trust your body to make good food choices: Emotional eating as friend

gratisography.com


Sometimes you just want to eat some doughnuts, chips, or ramen noodles. But, inevitably, there is a sense of regret. And then the internal berating: Why was I so weak? Why did I eat that crap? There are physiological reasons why your body has these cravings. In this guest post, Courtney Wyckoff of Mommastrong.com, writes about how you can make peace with your body and your cravings.

Your cravings are trying to tell you something

The truth is that our cravings are instructive. They are a flashing signal to our brains indicating what our bodies need. But we have to learn to read the signals.  Sound strange? Courtney Wyckoff explains below how to read the signals and honor your cravings and your body.

By the way, I will be talking more about Mommastrong.com in future blog posts. They are a fitness program for moms. Their slogan is "Instigating an adventurous life through strength that matters." I appreciate their focus not on weight, numbers, or an ideal body type, but instead on internal strength. It is this type of strength, after all, that motivates us to keep fighting, keep working out, and to keep taking chances, long after the guilt and body shaming have ceased to work.

*********************************************************************************

"Trust your body"

by Courtney Wyckoff

"Question:  Are you gonna tell your newborn infant to not associate an emotion when they are feeding?  Are you gonna ask them to deny the nurturing, the bond that is formed when they receive two essential nutrients all at once from the hands or boobs of their caregiver - love and food?

Heck no.  In fact, if you did, you’d be called into question by every single pediatrician in the world.  Well, at least the ones with jobs and credibility.  

I’m here today to redefine emotional eating.  This oversimplified label reminds me of back in the antiquated silly days when women were considered “hysterical” and it creates an equal denial of who we are as gorgeous lovely souls housed inside a working, miraculous animal of a body.

Your body knows what it needs to survive.  Every second, every day, its incredible web of communication and its interconnected system is in constant pursuit of equilibrium.  So, when it comes to eating, it calls upon emotions and sensations at times to get the nutrients it needs. 


gratisography.com

Your body is not weak; it just needs fuel!


And - listen up carefully here - when it asks for something like donuts, it’s not a reflection of your loose emotional hysterical self, but rather the animal in you saying, “Oh, I need quick fuel and the best place I got that from before was that weird round thing with a hole in it that was super duper sweet.  Yeah, that.  As many I can get right nowwwwwww.”   

Your body wants this because perhaps it’s all you’ve given it as a resource for super fast fuel.  Period.

The same goes for salt.  Your body craves salty things because it’s adrenal system is probably out of whack due to stressful modern stresses and salt is an effective healer of this sort of imbalance. 

We crave comfort foods when we are low.  When we’re depressed.  Why?  Because comfort foods usually involve a heavy carb load, aka society's latest nemesis in the form gluten, which contain opioid peptides—amino acid sequences that affect the brain in the same way opiates do, targeting your endorphin receptors and making you feel pretty darn good. 

Does all this make us undisciplined, will-powerless, unhealthy humans?  Does this mean we all need to learn to be "better," to be more in control, to fix our basic cravings and overcome what our body says it wants?  

No way.  Here’s the turn-around.

Are you an emotional eater?  Yes.  You are.  You and you and you and you.  Even you in the corner with your kale smoothie, yes you too.  If you are not, well, I may have to check your head for an outer space alien invasion chip.  Do you want things?  Yes.  Is food associated with something more than fuel?  Yes, it is.  This is not the issue.  The issue occurs when we deny the animal in us, when we over-control our food and behaviors, and when we convince ourselves that somewhere over the rainbow with the right diet and the right crazy fat-blasting workout regime, we will magically melt into our true healthy self.

Make peace with your cravings and your body

The next immediate thing that develops is a resentful relationship with your very primal nature.  Our bodies respond to restriction with a heavier focus on that which is restricted.  And then we binge.  We hurt ourselves.  And we enter into another label, far more appropriately designated than emotional eating:  Disordered eating.  

This is NORMAL.  NO ONE is immune to this reaction of the inadequacies of how we feed ourselves and care for our health these days.  Maybe the alien chip brain person, but not anyone I know and call a friend. 

gratisography.com

Develop a plan of action.

So, because I’m all about solutions, here we go:
  1. Separate yourself from the animal of your body.  Let it tell its story.  Look at it objectively.  What is it asking of you today, right now?  What has it been through?  How has it served you?  How has it failed you?  What is it missing for equilibrium?  Remember, it’s NOT YOU.  This is your body.  Purely physical. 
  2. When you experience a food craving, sit with it first.  Don’t react.  Put your hand on your heart and make a solid agreement that you will choose kindness and wisdom.  And know that if you can’t sit with it, then you need some outside help in doing that.  Seek that help.
  3. When you experience a behavior craving, sit with it.  Don’t react.  Put your hand on your heart and make a solid agreement that you will choose kindness and wisdom.  And know that if you can’t sit with it, then you need some outside help in doing that.  Seek that help.
  4. Start finding other resources for what your body wants and what its cravings are.  See the chart below to get a jump start on that.  Fill your day with these options and then be willing to wait a bit until your body starts wanting them.  REPEAT:  Be patient.  Your body will not want them right away.  It takes time.  Be patient.  Be willing to screw up.  Be ok with beginning again.  
  5. Introduce and reclaim indulgence not as a “fuck it, I deserve it” reaction, but as a conscious surrender to the beauty that it is to be here, amongst taste and sensation and life as much as you can.  
  6. Teach your body resilience.  No matter what, never blind yourself to a perfect diet or fitness program.  Do not, unless you have an allergy or specific condition, restrict yourself entirely.  Deliberately mess up.  Deliberately give your body reasons to bounce back.  Take a day or two off of exercise.  Take risks.  Eat a piece of cake.  Involve yourself with pleasure.  Be an adventurer in the sensations of being alive and remind yourself "I can handle this."
  7. Create a unique formula for your own individual wellness.  Do not bet on what works for Gillian Michaels or your neighbor with a six pack or that chick you saw at Kroger buying a gallon of kombucha.  Start building and refining what works for your composition.  What makes you feel good?  What makes your body feel like crap?  And if you have to walk away from a food or behavior because it is harming you, then grieve it.  Be emotional about it for as long as you need and then get re-aligned with that formula. 
  8. Do not run away from your vital self.   Like, ever.   Wait, a better word:  Trust your vital self.  Hold up, an even better word:  Love your vital self."
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Stay tuned for another article coming soon from Courtney about specific cravings, what they are telling your body, and how to satisfy them. It is really helpful!

If you would like help dealing with disordered eating, anxiety, or body image issues, talking to a Houston therapist can help. For questions about this, please contact Nancy Wilson at nancy @ wilsoncounseling.org or by phone at 713 - 591- 3612. 

*Article used with permission from Mommastrong.com. Headings & title have been added by Wilson Counseling. 


February 25, 2016

New audio resource to cope with stress and depression--now available from Wilson Counseling!


Who Wouldn't Want Less Stress?

It has been incredibly gratifying to see my clients go from being anxious and depressed to hopeful, joyful and resilient. There are many simple yet powerful techniques that seemed to work over and over. After years of teaching these techniques to clients, a colleague and I decided to record them so that more people could have access to them outside of therapy sessions. The audio recording is entitled "6 Keys to Conquering Stress, Anxiety and Depression: Learn to Thrive, Not Just Survive."


Learn to Start Taking Control of Your Own Life

In the audio you will learn to •      Calm your mind and body •      Decrease your stress and increase your productivity •    Deal with difficult people  •     Increase your confidence •   Get rid of the dark cloud of depression In short, you will learn to thrive in your life. 

Bring the Therapist's Voice Into the Comfort of Your Living Room 

A lot of clients have remarked that it has been helpful to have a recording of my voice walking them through the things we work on in sessions such as deep breathing exercises. If you think this will be helpful to you, I encourage you to get get my new audio book which is available on my website at www.wilsoncounseling.org.I am really excited to share this! 
If you would like help dealing with anxiety or depression, talking to a Houston therapist can also be extremely beneficial. For questions about this, please contact Nancy Wilson at nancy @ wilsoncounseling.org or by phone at 713 - 591 - 3612.

February 4, 2016

The Problems with the Paleo Diet (and Dieting in General).

image:gratisography.com

The Tragedy of Dieting

Most diets will fail you. It is hard to get clear statistics, but it generally believed that around 95% of people on diets will not be able to sustain the diets for very long and many will gain back even more weight than when they begin dieting. A 95% failure rate is a depressing statistic, especially after all of the effort, denial, and thought you put into dieting in the first place. Dieting can sometimes read like a tragedy, beginning with deprivation and ending with weight gain.

As a Houston therapist that works with people struggling with disordered eating and body image issues, I hear a lot of diet stories. I have one client, Danielle who told me about her mom taking her to the weight loss clinic at age 10. Danielle was the only child of a single mother, so she spent a lot of time with older women. Women who were always on this diet or that. Danielle was also a people pleaser. When her mom dieted, she wanted to support her, and make her mom happy, so Danielle dieted as well. The message imparted to Danielle from her mom and from society was very clear. Thin is good, anything else is unacceptable.

From Diet to Disordered Eating

In this scenario, food quickly became viewed as a problem. Food was something you abstained from. Your ability to abstain earned you status as attractive and disciplined. For a people pleaser, this need for positive feedback about her body became an addictive need.

But for Danielle, there was an inner struggle. Food was bad, the forbidden fruit, but it also provided her comfort. Mom worked hard and was often absent from the home. At those times, Danielle would snack constantly. The snacking distracted her from her loneliness and provided a kind of comfort. She would put on weight, and then regret the results and start a new diet. She was on a roller coaster of gaining and losing weight that she found very difficult to control. I think you can connect the dots here and see how this cycle ultimately led Danielle to a more dangerous struggle with bulimia that eventually brought her in to see me.

Debunking the Paleo Diet

One of the diets that many clients like Danielle used in their quest to lose weight is the Paleolithic  diet. The Paleo diet is a diet based solely on foods that are similar to those that were available to our early paleolithic human ancestors. This includes lean meats, fish, vegetables and eggs. It excludes dairy, legumes, grains, sugar, alcohol or coffee.

If you want to learn more about debunking the supposed scientific basis for the Paleo diet, I recommend this Ted Talk by Christina Warinner.



There are some positive aspects to the diet; however, like most diets, it does not allow for the broad range of nutritional choices that are best for our bodies. And it superimposes some narrow criteria for what is okay. Most of my clients already struggle with a very black and white way of looking at food as either good or bad. Conversely, they look at themselves as either good or bad depending on what they eat. In my work with clients, I instead spend a lot of time talking about intuitive and mindful eating. Moderation is almost always the best and most sustainable approach to good nutrition. Moderation in eating reads more like a romantic comedy, beginning with real need and ending in warm satisfaction. Avoid the dieting. Avoid the tragedy.

To read more about mindful eating, check out some of my previous blog posts here and here.

If you are struggling with the pain in your life,  professional counseling can help. You can call our Houston therapist at 713 - 591 -3612, or visit the Wilson Counseling website at www.wilsoncounseling.org  to find out more.