A Reading List for Yo-Yo Dieters and Emotional Eaters

I am happy to report that my online nutrition counseling practice is taking off. And the best part is that I get to work with my favorite patients/clients/customers: yo-yo dieters and emotional eaters. They are the folks that don’t feel good about their weight and the way they eat. A history of traditional diets knocked them off their natural course and, for many, childhood trauma had a role. Their weights cycle up and down because, unfortunately, diets make you fat. My job is to help them get off the wobbly track and back into the groove. It doesn’t matter if they have a medical condition; everyone has a personal best. When they stop dieting and their weight no longer cycles, better health always returns.

My Favorite “How To” Books for Intuitive Eating

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, two registered dietitians, wrote the 1995 classic, Intuitive Eating, that gave a useful name to the “non-diet” approach. The approach uses physical and emotional feelings (and knowledge) to guide intake and rebuild pleasure in eating. The mindset can be learned, especially with the help of a skillful teacher, and so to understand the ins-and-outs of intuitive eating, I always ask my yo-yo dieters to read at least one of these excellent books:

When I asked the LinkedIn Group of Intuitive Eating Professionals to recommend their favorite books, they also suggested books that address self-acceptance, self-care and spirituality, essential issues of breaking free. Here are some of the books for emotional eaters that they recommend:

Your thoughts: Which books help you to a healthy life and eat with joy?

How Diets Make You Fat

I’m going to let you in on a secret about losing weight: eat the number of calories you need to maintain your ideal weight. What am I saying? Restrictive diets are the reason why people don’t lose weight. Dieting causes binging. It’s as simple as that.

This truth was shown back in the 1940s in Ancel Keys’ Minnesota Starvation Experiment.  The esteemed Dr. Keys conducted a thorough scientific study of calorie restriction to gain insight into the physical and psychological effects of starving war victims and how to best refeed them after the war. The results were published in the Biology of Human Starvation (University of Minneapolis, 1950).

For the study, well-adjusted conscientious objectors to World War II volunteered to be placed on a diet with about 1,600 calories a day for 3 months. The men lost 25 percent of their natural body weight at a rate of about 2.5 pounds a week. As they lost weight, they experienced depression, irritability, impatience, and apathy. Food became an obsession: the men talked, read and dreamed about food. During the refeeding phase, they hoarded food and stuffed themselves until they became sick.

Dieting is Crazymaking

The body cannot tell the difference between intentional calorie restriction (dieting) and true starvation. That 1600 calorie diet is no different from what people do every day.  And who hasn’t met a cranky dieter who constantly talks about food and then goes on to binge?  Binging causes weight gain and the cycle starts all over again. The process makes me cringe.

And so everyone, regardless of weight, should simply eat the amount of food they need to maintain ideal weight. Overweight folks should use Body Mass Index (BMI) 24 as a reference point. This calorie calculator from the American Cancer Society shows how many calories you need and, to plan a healthy diet, read this article I wrote for Calorie Count  – or make an appointment with me!

Your thoughts:  Has dieting ever led you astray?

ARE foods addictive?

I just took part in a discussion on LinkedIn’s group for Intuitive Eating Professionals, centered around this question:  “ ARE foods addictive? And if there is some validity to this, how do we reconcile this with Intuitive Eating?”

I responded:  “
I wrote a little blog about a study done by Professor Bart Hoebel, the world’s leading researcher on sugar addiction. He worked with mouse models for more than 50 years.  He found that sugar is indeed addicting to rats, and about humans he said, ‘Rat studies cannot be applied to humans,’ and ‘food addiction is much milder than drug addiction.’ Humans are are subject to complex psychological and socio-economic factors, alongside the physical. If you want to read the blog, it is Addicted to Sugar at Calorie Count.”  It is one of my favorite blogs. I remember feeling inspired to write it. I love Bart Hoebel. I love the little mouse.

Also, I want to add that the original question for the Intuitive Eating Professionals group was prompted by this Bloomberg News article, Fatty Foods Addictive as Cocaine in Growing Body of Science. On that, I say the writer is mixing his fats and sugars (because they come that way.) And the mind is a powerful thing, as previously noted.

Your thoughts: Is food addictive to you?