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4. Believe that you deserve happiness

I want people to see that overcoming their problem with food isn't just about willpower or thin thighs or a flat belly. It's not a banal problem that can be fixed like that. When people turn to food when they're not hungry, they're using food as a drug. And the question is: Why? It could be an expression of boredom or loneliness or sadness or anger. But to me, people who use food when they're not hungry, and don't stop when they've had enough, are indicating that they've given up on themselves. They're basically saying that the only pleasure or the biggest pleasure I have in my life — all that's left for me — is to eat. And that's a spiritual issue, as well as a psychological and emotional one. All of us are longing for something that we can't even name. You can call it the meaning of life, or wonder, or mystery, or you can call it God. But there's a longing for something many of us can't quite put into words. I want people to see how they are filling that longing with food — and that if they stop, they can rediscover themselves and realize that there are other, healthier ways to feel good and to really, truly live.

5. Eat when you are hungry

We're conditioned into the diet mentality of what we're supposed to be eating. So when I first tell people at my retreats that they should eat what they want, there can be an initial "Oh, wow, she's telling me I can eat everything in sight!" That's not what I'm saying. There's no way of skipping through that stage of feeling like you've suddenly been let out of prison and now you're going to eat brownies. But I know that when I first stopped dieting, I ate a couple weeks' worth of chocolate chip cookie dough, and I felt sick. That's what happens. You'll find very quickly that a diet of brownies and ice cream doesn't give you energy. It makes you sick and spaced out and depressed. Your body will gravitate away from sugar and fat, and you will reach your natural, healthy weight.

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