What Does Crying at Starbucks have to do with Permanent Weight Loss?

I witnessed violence at Starbucks last week.

Fists didn’t fly. No weapons were present. No blood.

But violence nevertheless.


When I arrived, I heard a terrible screaming and crying. A little girl – I would estimate her to be between two and three years old – was in a full-blown meltdown. If you’ve ever been around a child, you’ve heard that mix of scream and sob that sounds bigger than any adult can make.

The scene went on for over five minutes, but here’s part of what I saw:

Standing above her was her mother. Speaking loudly, almost yelling, she told her daughter, “Stop crying! Stop it now! You have no reason to cry. Stop it now! Right now. Right now. Stop it now!”

The little girl kept crying.

“You have to stop! Right now. Stop!”

Louder crying.

“We’re going to go back inside. And you can have cookies. Do you hear me? We’ll get cookies, but you absolutely cannot have a cookie if you are still crying. We are going inside and you will stop NOW so you can have a cookie. You want a cookie, right?”

I can’t tell you how I was affected by this scene.

It’s not my purpose here to judge or criticize the mom. I was a mom and I know no one who stands outside can really understand the dynamics and pressure of dealing with a small child.

But there was never a moment when the mother comforted her daughter. There was never a gentle touch, a soft word, or a smile. There was no space for the little girl to vent, or process her feelings, or naturally let them play out. There was never any eye contact – the mom never even got down at the child’s level.

Here’s my point.

All of us looking to lose weight have a moment like this in our past (or many).

It’s a moment when we needed something – comfort, connection, love, acknowledgement – but we got a cookie instead. And that moment – where the connection was forged between the message – here it was “stop feeling what you feel” – and food.

In my experience healing my own addiction, and working with thousands of clients, that momentary connection is powerful, because it is practiced over and over throughout life – becoming a powerfully deep neural pathway in the brain and an automatic response.

What was your moment?

In order to leave food addiction behind, and attain permanent weight loss, we need to know that moment so we can heal it.


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