Denise Welch

On the inside, I’m crying

How CBT saved me from addiction

Former Coronation Street actress and Loose Women panellist Denise Welch has spent her life in the tabloids. Now 58, she’s quit drinking and smoking, got married and left daytime TV. Beneath the ice-blonde hair and piercing blue eyes lies a fragile soul.

Outside I might be putting on a brave face, but inside there are days when I’m crying.

Denise Welch

Until I gave up drinking, I never really had a weight problem. I’d certainly never had a sweet tooth. I could take or leave a dessert. But once I stopped drinking, I started getting massive sugar cravings and the weight started going on.

I heard about a weight-loss programme and I saw a brilliant opportunity to lose weight. I could have signed up to any number of diet plans, but I really liked their approach, which suggested that in order to lose weight, I needed to change my thinking. I signed up and committed to going to a weight-loss group, which gave me the tools. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a very practical and positive type of therapy widely used within the NHS to treat depression. And so my love affair with CBT began!

Having committed to the plan, I initially found myself reluctant to go to group.  While in my job I am generally a bit of a show-off, I am quite shy in that private sort of situation. And, of course, it completely changed everything for me. Everything.

I learned to pause before eating and ask myself if I was really hungry or whether I was just tired, stressed, in need of comfort. In other words, I got in touch with my reasons for eating. I found the CBT so helpful that I used the techniques to quit smoking last year.

In order to lose weight, I needed to change my thinking.

Denise Welch

There were times when I considered lapsing. But CBT teaches you to recognise the crooked thinking behind such moments. For instance, whether it’s reaching for the biscuit tin or having a sneaky fag, I might think: ‘No one is going to know. I so want one. I’m feeling so stressed’. Then I would ask myself: ‘But am I going to feel less stressed if I eat the biscuit or smoke the cigarette? The answer is no. Am I going to feel happy within myself? No. The biscuit or cigarette will last seconds and I will feel shit for the rest of the night’.

I can honestly say I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. That might sound like a cliché, but in my case it’s very much the truth.

Read more about Denise’s weight loss here.