Siri Khalsa-Zemel talks weight and emotions

Khalsa-Zemel is a Women's Way Weight Management coach

How are emotions tied up with food and weight gain?

It's unique for each individual. There are associations that we make, sometimes formed very early in childhood, or sometimes in adolescence. It's very common for women to have struggles with food that stem from relationships with parents, or their childhood—it can get tricky. This process I coach is about forming new associations with food, learning new behaviors. But it is important to recognize that a food association you've had 25 years is not going to change overnight—or in a month.

What's different about your approach?

It sounds cliche, so I hate to say it, but the simplest thing to call it is a mind-body-spirit approach.

How did you start working spirituality in?

I was raised Catholic and always felt very spiritually connected to God. When I moved to Knoxville for college, I adopted the Sikh religion, which is an Eastern religion, and it was then that I began to meditate and deepen my spiritual practice. My husband is Jewish and so with him, I worship in the Jewish tradition. When I coach, my job is not to hit someone over the head with a Bible, but to introduce the idea that a spiritual component is a part of weight and their relationship with food.

Are there common ways women relate food to emotions in a negative way?

Absolutely. Depression is a big one. Anxiety. Isolation. Negativity, which can also be described as fear.

Are there any specific foods that are common triggers?

Sweets is a big one for many clients, typically associated with depression and emptiness—trying to fill up a void. But they're also associated with a pleasure component. As adults, we have so many responsibilities that food can often symbolize a sort of return to youth, a relinquishing of responsibility.

Are certain foods "bad"?

Nope. I focus on a relationship where a woman is in control of food, both general and specific. Sweets, for example, aren't "bad," but for some they may be a danger food.

Do you have a danger food?

Of course. Brownies.

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