2 Reviews of Beck Diet Books by the American Dietetic Association

Reviewer Suzanne Farrell, MS, RD praises The Complete Beck Diet for Life for not sugarcoating the time and effort that dieting requires and recognizing that lifestyle changes are a work in progress. Farrell specifically recommends this book to people struggling with weight loss and registered dieticians. To read the review, click here: http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=10412

In her review of The Beck Diet Solution: How to Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person, Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, LMHC commends Dr. Beck for offering good tools to help readers adopt healthy lifestyles. She also notes that the plan’s requirement that the dieter write down his or her goals and anticipated reactions to specific situations is good for people with difficulties dealing with spontaneous situations. Dorfman specifically recommends this book to yo-yo dieters who have tried countless diets but keep gaining back the weight. To read the review, click here:  http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=10444&terms=Beck+Diet+Solution

Inflexible Eating

When I introduced the notion of following a food plan inflexibly to Robert, he initially experienced both anxiety and skepticism. Robert asked me why he couldn’t just make substitutions when he felt like it as long as the calorie count remained the same. Here’s what I told Robert:

It’s essential for you, and all dieters, to learn the skill of inflexible eating before you move on to flexible eating. By inflexible, I mean making a plan ahead of time (either the night before or that morning) for the coming day, and learning how to stick to it exactly, with no substitutions. Once you can do this, you’re ready to start flexible eating—making a plan and then sticking to it but making substitutions if/when you want to. And to start to calm your [very normal and expected!!] fears, I can tell you that really learning inflexible eating is one of your best insurance policies against regaining weight down the line.  Once you become really get good at this (and of course it will take practice, but the more you practice the better and better you’ll become), you won’t have to worry about regaining weight. If five, ten, or fifteen years from now you begin to see the scale creep up, all you’ll have to do is return to making your food plans ahead of time and sticking to them, and your weight should begin to drop. It’s SO important to learn this skill now—so that you can use it in the future and for the rest of your life.

Hearing this, Robert understood why it is important for him to learn the skill of inflexible eating. He was still nervous about trying and failing, but I told him that every one makes mistakes when learning new skills; it’s what makes us human!  I expect Robert to make mistakes, but as long as he learns from his mistakes and keeps trying, he will eventually become good at this.

Amy’s Business Trip

Amy came in this week feeling quite defeated. Although she had previously been doing quite well with making food plans and sticking to them, she had been on a business trip earlier this week and hadn’t been able to write down her food. She viewed the trip as a complete “failure,” which left her feeling demoralized and unmotivated. As soon as I heard this, I realized very quickly that Amy was probably catastrophizing the trip, and viewing it as much worse than it actually was. I asked Amy what she had done right on the trip, and initially she couldn’t think of anything.  I then asked her if she had practiced any of her other skills during the trip. After thinking about it, Amy admitted that she was still very conscious of eating everything slowly, sitting down, and while enjoying every bite. Even though she ate at restaurants for every meal, Amy said that she always worked hard to make smart food decisions and never finished the whole portion she was served.  She also consistently resisted the cookies and muffins that were served throughout the day as snacks, and she always chose fresh fruit for dessert instead.  And because of all these things she was doing right, Amy didn’t gain a single pound on her trip.

It can be hard to believe that in light of all these things, Amy could have viewed this trip as a complete failure, but this happens often to dieters. They tend to focus only on the things they are doing wrong, or not as well, and completely discount all of the many, many things they are doing right. I asked Amy to take another, more objective look at her trip. When squarely faced with a list of all the things she deserved credit for, Amy was able to realize that the trip wasn’t a failure even a little bit – in fact, for the most part it was actually a huge success. Once she stopped catastrophizing and put the trip in perspective, Amy immediately felt better and even more confident about her ability to handle trips in the future.

Cindy’s Anxiety

Cindy has been having some anxiety about the future. She successfully lost 43 pounds and has been maintaining that loss for over 8 months, but she still has negative thoughts and images that pop into her head from time to time. The most common one is that she sees her future self standing in front of the mirror, trying to zipper her jeans, and realizing that they have become too tight. She experiences a sickening realization that none of her clothes fit anymore. Her heart sinks as she steps on the scale and sees how much weight she has regained.

I discussed with Cindy the fact that this visual in her head of trying to zip her jeans is making things so much harder for her! I helped Cindy replace that visual with a much more realistic one. In this picture, her future self steps on the scale and notices that it has gained 3 or 4 pounds. But instead of experiencing that sickening feeling in her stomach, she immediately becomes problem-solving oriented. Cindy breaks out her diet notebook and her Beck Diet Solution book, reads her advantages of losing weight list, reads back to the times when she was doing inflexible eating, and sets up an eating plan for that very day. Because she has already firmly mastered the skill of following a plan inflexibly, it is not difficult for Cindy to put herself back in that mindset, especially because reading her advantages list has concretely reminded her why it’s worth it to do this. Within a week or two, Cindy already sees the scale going back down. This is completely realistic, and helped put Cindy’s mind at ease.

Katherine’s Changing Tastes

A dieter, Katherine, was recently talking to me about a subject matter I hear over and over again from dieters. She told me that one of the biggest changes she has undergone since starting the program is that now she is much happier and satisfied with less food. In the past, Katherine said she always liked to eat very large portions of food, and didn’t feel satisfied until she had eaten an enormous amount. But once she started making plans and really working on eating slowly, while sitting down, and enjoying every bite, she found that she didn’t need nearly as much food. Katherine said that the simple act alone of really tasting each bite gave her so much more satisfaction than when she used to eat so many more bites – but without really tasting any of them. 

Katherine was also surprised by the fact that her tastes have really changed.  She said she used to eat a lot of fast food and fried foods, but ever since she started eating less but enjoying her healthy food more, she can’t really stomach her old way of eating. She says that really fatty or fried foods have completely lost their appeal, and when she does eat them, she often feels unwell after.  While this isn’t necessarily true of everyone, I do hear, again and again, exactly what Katherine was telling me.  People’s tastes truly do change, even if they are convinced in the beginning that they never will.