Jan 08

Intuitive Eating, Not Dieting: Recent and Timely Books

The Latest Diet Trend Is Not Dieting: “Intuitive eating” encourages people to eat whatever they want. It might be great advice. Title of article by Amanda Mull, The Atlantic

I. How Not to Diet: The Groundbreaking Science of Healthy, Permanent Weight Loss by Michael Greger (2019)

Dr. Michael Greger is known for his expertise in nutrition; in fact, he founded the Nutrition Facts website. His main emphasis: plant-based eating. Per the publisher:

But How Not to Diet goes beyond food to identify twenty-one weight-loss accelerators available to our bodies, incorporating the latest discoveries in cutting-edge areas like chronobiology to reveal the factors that maximize our natural fat-burning capabilities. Dr. Greger builds the ultimate weight loss guide from the ground up, taking a timeless, proactive approach that can stand up to any new trend.

The trailer below sets it up further:

II. Ending the Diet Mindset by Becca Clegg (2018)

Clegg is a therapist with expertise in women’s issues and eating disorders. Check out her blog.

States the publisher: “By identifying the ten destructive Diet Mindsets, you can change your perspective on dieting and embrace a newfound respect for your body. Live a life free of obsession, and instead gain the courage to love yourself and find peace within.”

Kirkus Reviews, about the diet mindsets:

These include ‘The Deprivation Mindset,’ ‘The Mean Girl Mindset,’ and ‘The Shame-Based Mindset,’ all of which tap into potentially unhealthy personal traits as part of their base line motivations. Clegg deftly lays out descriptions of each of these mindsets and the thinking they typify. For instance, ‘The Bureaucrat Mindset,’ which can appeal to rule followers, the author characterizes as ‘Even though want to eat this, and it makes sense to eat this, I can’t—because it is not on my diet.’ And then there’s the extremely common ‘ABC Mindset,’ which thinks: ‘If I diet, I can lose weight, and then my life will be perfect.’

III. Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller (2016)

The title says it all. But you can also read an article at Refinery 29 that gives some backstory to the author’s creation of her Anti-Diet Project.

Adding to this, Kirkus Reviews:

Miller does take a look at some of the deeper reasons behind her compulsive eating, and it’s in these passages that her vulnerability comes through and her story becomes truly compelling. Readers will cheer for Miller to succeed on her ‘anti-diet’ diet of intuitive eating, her quest to eat according to her mindfully mined needs and desires, not according to a rulebook. It takes a lot of work to change a mindset that radically, and it’s slow going for Miller, who tends to trade one obsession for another…

As Miller herself summarizes about her ongoing process:

I am better, but I am not done. I no longer have a clear picture of what being done looks like, and I think, more than anything, that’s the change that’s made me better. When I stopped trying so desperately to starve and burn “before” away, I finally got to participate in right now. That baggage wasn’t going anywhere. So, I’d just have to bring it with me.

Sep 04

Health at Every Size: Intuitive Eating Vs. Dieting

Linda Bacon‘s book Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (2010) presents solid clinical expertise regarding intuitive eating versus dieting. The New York Times states that Bacon’s approach is about:

….listening to hunger signals, eating when you’re hungry, choosing nutritious food over junk. It encourages exercise, but for its emotional and physical benefits, not as a way to lose weight. It advocates tossing out the bathroom scale and loving your body no matter what it weighs.

Bacon, along with dietitian and researcher Lucy Aphramor, analyzed almost 200 studies about weight loss. As reported in a New York Times blog, The 6th Floor, they found supportive results:

…(W)hile dieting can result in short-term weight loss, the majority of overweight people are unable to maintain that loss for very long…(W)eight-focused dieters do not achieve many of the supposed benefits of weight loss. The data present no compelling evidence to support the generally accepted notion that a weight-loss approach will prolong life. Nor does it support the common belief that anyone can lose weight and keep it off through diet, exercise and willpower. Or that weight loss is the only way overweight and obese people can improve their health…(A)djusting your lifestyle habits with an eye toward improving markers of well-being like reduced blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, reduced stress, increased energy and improved self-esteem — independent of any weight loss at all — is a far more desirable goal for people of all sizes to pursue…

Incidentally, Bacon and Aphramor are the co-authors of the 2014 Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight.

Many in the lucrative diet and exercise industries, of course, will still maintain that everyone above a certain normative weight could certainly stand to shed those “ugly” pounds. However, as pointed out in another New York Times article:

What remains undisputed is that no clinical trial has found a diet that keeps weight off long-term for a majority. ‘If they really worked, we’d be running out of dieters,’ said Glenn Gaesser, professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University and author of ‘Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health.’

Glenn Gaesser is a big proponent of fitness as a better key to health and believes that exercise often doesn’t even help people lose weight—it’s actually better at helping people maintain weight loss.

The philosophy of the Health at Every Size (HAES) community can help you more than a diet can, at least in the long term. How? As holistic health counselor Golda Poretsky writes at Body Love Wellness:

…(S)tart anywhere. Start with anything that seems fun and/or even a little easy. For example, if you already have an idea of how you can exercise in a way that makes you feel vital, go for it. If you feel like you’re already starting to see the beauty in a diversity of bodies, focus your efforts on that. If you’re intrigued by the idea of really paying attention to your hunger and fullness and eating with that awareness, try that. Don’t start with the thing that seems really hard or incomprehensible.

Jun 20

Not Dieting Versus Dieting: Latter Leads to Yo-Yo Cycle

Not dieting versus dieting as an approach isn’t as easy as it might sound, especially if it sounds to you as though the former is the opposite of dieting. It’s not. It’s about making your own decisions day in and day out about eating, which often feels harder than not eating at all.

Non-dieters often are confronted with others’ lack of understanding of this approach. Back when I stopped dieting, in fact, there were few known supporters to turn to. I was lucky to find Geneen Roth, whose second book on this issue, Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating (1984), had just been published.

Roth’s revolutionary concepts have long included a list of Eating Guidelines as opposed to dieting guidelines:

1. Eat when you are hungry.
2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
4. Eat what your body wants.
5. Eat until you are satisfied.
6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.

Need more info about not dieting versus dieting plans? Dr. Karin Kratina points out one major trend: whereas dieting involves following external rules—and thus often leads ultimately to rebellion—non-dieting is about learning to recognize internal needs and cues.

In today’s world many other books and resources have joined those of Roth and her co-pioneers on the topics of mindful eating, intuitive eating, normal eating, and the non-dieting approach—and each of these buzzwords is usually pretty synonymous with the others. Interested in a good definition of normal eating? Evelyn Tribole, a co-author of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works, points readers on her website to her favorite, written by Ellyn Satter.

One of the more recent books of this genre is The Self-Compassion Diet (2010) by Jean Fain, a therapist. Tribole’s review:  “Jean Fain’s engaging writing style, complete with mini-assessments, helpful practices, and case-studies, will help you say goodbye to dieting, once-and-for-all, and feel good in the process.”

Below is Fain’s video explaining why diets often fail and how her book can help:

Tomorrow’s post will pick up with info from a recent article by Fain about the fat acceptance movement….