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Describe the big life you crave

By Michelle May, M.D.

In my last post, I eat my feelings, I shared just some of the MANY emails we received about your struggles with emotional eating.

It is very important that you understand that when you eat for emotional reasons, you are attempting to do something healthy: Take care of yourself. That means that despite a difficult relationship with food, your instinct is natural and you are NOT broken.

You are not broken, but your relationship with food might be. You may want to blame food and if you do, I get it. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like. I know how guilty and ashamed you feel about your secret eating. Hiding food. Hiding evidence. It’s painful. As I’ve said repeatedly, what you’ve been told about food in the past has actually made the pain more real and added to the shame.


I believe you deserve better. Hear that word, deserve. You may not feel it is true for you, and that’s okay – but that doesn’t make it any less true.

When you use food, your needs are being met in some way – and, you deserve a better way to meet your needs.

You’re not a failure. The relationship you’ve had with food has failed you. And, you deserve the bigger, better life you crave!

So, what does that bigger, better life you crave look like for you? This is not some far off goal. This is your intention for how you want to live your life each and every day! What would you love to do that your issues with food are preventing you from doing now?

I’d love to know! Please share your vision in the comments below!


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Francene says:

    My problem is that, although I deserve something other than emotional eating, I don’t know how to get it: a relationship with a man, including sex. I am 68 years old, and have been single all my life, and celibate for more years than I want to admit. So, massages, saunas, swimming, gardening, reading, art…all the great “other” things to do …do not come close to what I lack.. I do have great friends and good relationships with my family; it’s not that I am a recluse. I go places, do things, often needing to push myself. SO–how about this? What if a major cause of emotional eating (at least I think so) cannot be easily, or ever, remedied? How does this scenario fit into the “there is a better way to meet my needs” concept?

    • It sounds like you have a wonderful, full life and feel that there is still a missing piece for you since you do not yet have a partner to share it with. I understand that emotional eating may soothe that hurt temporarily yet it doesn’t fill that need. Perhaps a little compassion for yourself and acceptance of what is right now is a good place to start. And while your need may not feel “easy” to meet, it sounds like you are very resourceful. What are ways that you can expand your circle to include more people you might have a connection with? And are there additional options for meeting your physical needs?

  2. cynthia says:

    My bigger goal would be just what you said….that I am not broken….that I am enough…and more than that I have gifts that are unique to me that I can share and do share. The experience would be different though….that inner critic would either go away completely or would get very very very quiet. Because she comes with me now more often that I would like to admit even when I am sharing my gifts. So, it would be a more quiet life filled with joy and satisfaction and acceptance. And I would be ever so happy…..I am feeling it right now even with my aches and pains and cravings.

    • Acceptance, enoughness… these are wonderful intentions! I doubt your inner critic will ever go away; she thinks she is protecting you. However, by simply noticing the voice, you are in charge of how you’ll respond so it won’t need to hold you back anymore!

  3. Renee says:

    Thank you Michelle,
    Since we have had the orientation about your mindful eating program and training in June, I eat mindfully and eat all the foods I am used to eating and do not deprive myself. I have only over eaten, where I felt stuffed, 2 meals since June and do not ever want to feel that way again. I have gained confidence and for the 1st time in my adult life, I have not quit this training and feel that this program can be accomplished for the rest of my life. I’ve embrace this new lifestyle.
    THANK YOU for all your advice.

    • I’m so happy that this approach is resonating for you Renee! (I must also say that you will STILL sometimes overeat – that is part of normal eating! The difference is that now, it doesn’t need to trigger the eat-repent-repeat cycle.)

  4. Samantha says:

    I am realizing that I eat in an attempt to fill many emotional needs… One of the needs I had that was going unfulfilled was a real day off doing something fun… I really wanted ADVENTURE! So I looked around and rented an ATV for a few hours and went 4 wheeling around Pike National Forrest. Since it included lunch time, I packed a cut apple and a few pieces of cheese with water. Know what? I saw 3 moose at the burn scar up there and I forgot about food, and people, and stress. I sat there watching the moose and listening to the wind click through the aspen leaves that are already turning bright yellow and deep red…That experience just filled me up in a way very different with than food. So my advice, is be fearless! Try ADVENTURE instead of a cheeseburger!

  5. Lisa says:

    Dear Dr May,
    Lisa here. Just a note to thank you for last nights webinar (September 27).
    Some day, I will make it to Arizona to deliver your well deserved cheesecake for correctly spelling “dichotomous”.
    Although it was only an hour it impacted my life in a way that nothing else has.
    I began a process of self care today to address a major unresolved issue which in the past has prompted me to use food to shove the frustration and anger down. I contacted my lawyer and feel there is hope to get out of what seemed before to be a hopeless situation.
    Now I know there is at least a possibility of resolution.
    I am eager to learn more about your approach and will order your book on emotional eating; joining your community soon.
    After listening to so many others, you are the one who resonated with me on a cerebral and visceral level, as you showed not only what is going on, but why it is happening and what the remedy is. Thank you for giving me hope!
    With much gratitude,

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