In the interest of full disclosure, MY SECRET AFFAIR WITH CHOCOLATE CAKE—THE EMOTIONAL EATER’S GUIDE TO BREAKING FREE by Sunita Pattani, is a book for which I wrote the foreword. Pattani takes you by the hand and walks you through her journey from emotional eating to “normal” eating and effective emotional management.

What I find refreshing in MY SECRET AFFAIR is that Pattani champions the idea of finding her own way through her eating problems and respects the reader enough to ask her or him to do the same. Although she doesn’t provide cookie-cutter answers, her deep-seated belief in our inherent wisdom and desire to do right by ourselves carries the reader along as she describes her recovery and how it might inform yours.

Pattani begins with an assessment of where the reader is, underscoring three factors that form the foundation of realigning with appetite and natural body weight: 1) We need to look at ourselves as being whole; 2) Our natural state is one of well-being; and 3) Our urge to eat when we’re not hungry is a calling to find out what is really going on within us. Subsequent chapters describe the causes of emotional eating and the numerous reasons that diets are destructive to our minds and bodies.

She details the phases of eating—hunger, food choice, eating with awareness, and fullness—and describes what worked for her and what didn’t, including keeping challenging foods in the house which she calls “overloading.” Her view is that this idea doesn’t work for everyone and she’s right. Or, I might add, it may take a long time for it to work and there are other ways to become comfortable with challenging foods in the meantime. Pattani echoes something you’ve heard me say a million times, “At the heart of every emotional eater lies the lack of love for oneself.” This is a powerful statement, a reminder that non-hunger eating isn’t really about food and that in order to end emotional eating, you must learn to love yourself deeply and completely.

She also touches on all-or-nothing thinking and how to change irrational beliefs about food and weight. Some of the best parts of the book are her “Putting It Into Practice” exercises which provide specifics about how to know when you’re hungry and full, what to do with uncomfortable feelings, and how to accept your body at any size. If you want to read the story of how one woman went from where you are now with food, emotions, and body image to where you want to be, give MY SECRET AFFAIR WITH CHOCOLATE CAKE a try.