I promised a follow up to my Diet Rules Rant: Part 1.
For what good is a rant without some positive suggestions to counter the rant-worthy? 😉
The interview that I reported on in Part 1 was with Dr. Judith Beck, clinical Associate Professor of Psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
Dr. Beck’s approach to weight loss is given away in her Institute Name: Cognitive Therapy. And though her “rules” list reads to me like someone who has NEVER experienced the trials and angst of a battle with food, eating and weight, I DO believe there are very powerful elements of support with the cognitive therapy model.
And she makes some good points elsewhere in the interview. Tell me what you think.
Q: How does one begin to recognize the difference between pesky cravings and genuine hunger?
Dr. Beck: Chronic dieters call any desire to eat hunger. Anytime they want to eat, they label that as “I am hungry.” But lots of times what they are calling hunger is really thirst, tiredness, distress, cravings or anxiety.
My Thoughts: This I have found to be an absolute and distinct possibility. I call it “fuel signal mixup”, a great term I learned from my friend Jean Antonello. Those of us with a chronic dieting history have such cumbersome layers of experience with it that we don’t see the forest for the trees. Maybe I’m just hungry, or tired! D’oh! Check into it first and it may evaporate some of the problem.
Q: You write that people who struggle with their weight tend to think that thin people can eat whatever they like whenever they please.
Dr. Beck: The truth is that most people over the age of 30 who are thin do watch what they eat. The problem with chronic dieters is they have this profound sense of unfairness. They’ll say, “Why should I have to limit my eating if nobody else is?” I talk about the fact that many people do limit their eating, even if you don’t know it.
My Thoughts: This may well be true. We tend to think that everyone who doesn’t “show” a weight problem just has it easy and doesn’t need to pay any attention to weight management. This is in contrast to the obsessive compulsive dieters, of course!
I’ve always thought it would be great if I could do just what naturally trim people do if their belts get a little tight: cut back on the desserts and caloric heavyweights. And guess what? That’s exactly what I can do now, simply, easily, like never before. It’s taken a revolution of thought process, but I’m here to tell you it CAN be done. And we can “normally” manage our weight with the rest and the best. I promise!
Q: You describe several dieting skills. What are they?
Dr. Beck: The first step is to write down every reason you can think of why you would like to lose weight and read it every morning and every time cravings start to kick in….You have to build up your sense of self-efficacy. A big factor in going off your diet is the sabotaging thought, “I am upset, therefore I deserve to eat.” Or “There is no other way I can calm down unless I eat.”
I have an exercise called “the no-choice technique,” where I ask, “Do you stop at red lights?” And the dieter will answer, “Yes.” Then I ask, “Do you always feel like stopping at red lights?” They’ll say, “Yes, of course.” I then ask, “Do you struggle with yourself? Do you say, ‘Well, I really want to go through the red light, it’s not fair that I can’t go though the red light?’ ” They answer, “No, I just don’t go through.” Well, that’s because you’ve put stopping at red lights in your “no-choice category.” You may feel like not stopping, but that’s not relevant. The painful part about dieting is struggling over it, wrestling with painful desires. I take the struggle out of dieting by helping you retrain your brain.
My Thoughts:This analogy is really eye opening, don’t you think?
It shows how our pathology with any subject – in this case dieting – can interfere with moving forward and common sense. Red light analogy, hnh? One for the arsenal?
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