Sue: Part 12

Sue has made so much progress! She has mastered the art of eating only while sitting down. Once in a while, she legitimately forgets but she never says to herself, “Oh, I don’t feel like sitting down to eat this.” She is now convinced that this positive eating habit is essential to her success.

She has also mastered the art of eating moderate portions, even of junk food. When she goes to the movies, for example, she plans in advance to allow enough calories to have some popcorn and candy. Unlike most dieters, she doesn’t have to throw away the extra food before she goes to her seat. She’s able to eat the amount she had planned and then stop, even though there’s more left. Occasionally she feels disappointed when her food is gone, so we discussed the importance of telling herself, “It’s okay to feel disappointed. This feeling won’t last.” As soon as she starts to concentrate on the movie (or on another activity at home or at work), the disappointment vanishes and she notes that she is always glad later that she didn’t overeat.

 And finally, Sue has begun to accept that daily fluctuations in her weight are normal and part of the weight loss process. She continues to lose weight and feels so much better when she looks in the mirror—she’s adding this to her list of advantages of losing weight.

Dieters Need a Complete Diet for Life

I’ve been bombarded with questions about how my new book, The Complete Beck Diet for Life, is different from my first diet book, which did not contain a diet (eating plan) but did contain a six-week program to teach people how to diet. Most obvious is that the new book has a healthy eating plan that is flexible and enjoyable so people can modify it and stay on it for life.

Why did I include a diet? After publication of the first book, I received a couple of thousand emails and read a couple of thousand postings from online support communities who were following the program. I found that a cognitive behavioral approach just wasn’t enough. Although I urged people to find a healthy, well-balanced, nutritious diet, I found that people weren’t following that advice. They were choosing fad diets, unbalanced diets, diets that didn’t include their favorite foods, diets that allowed them to skip breakfast, diets that incorporated way too many carbs (and not enough foods to satiate their hunger), diets that were unnecessarily restrictive in choices or provided too few calories. Inevitably, dieters would stray from their eating plan, gain weight, get discouraged, and give up—then, after a few days or months, would try again with another inadvisable diet, and the cycle continued.

I also found out that many dieters should ease into making changes in their food intake, for example, changing just one meal at a time. They need to be guided in modifying a basic eating plan so it suits their tastes and lifestyles. They need to learn how to handle challenging eating situations where they don’t have control over the food that’s available or where others are pushing food on them. They especially need to learn exactly what to do when it’s not time to eat but they’re experiencing hunger, cravings, or want to soothe their distress with food.

In short, to be successful, dieters needed a complete program for weight loss, that incorporates a psychological approach (e.g., what to do when you’re feeling discouraged, disappointed, or deprived), dieting skills, an enjoyable eating plan, and techniques for keeping motivated for life. Most people think that just following a diet will be enough. I had previously thought that just learning essential skills was enough. But now it’s apparent—you need both.