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The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating Acceptance and Self-Care

Fall 2012 Diet Survivor's Newsletter

Diet Survivors Book


Welcome to the Fall 2012 Diet Survivor's Group e-mail!

(Based on The Diet Survivor's Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care)

Autumn has arrived, and the colors of the leaves are dazzling! Walking around you can't help but notice the varying shapes and colors of trees that are changing before our eyes. What a great reminder that like the trees, human beings come in a dazzling array of different shapes, sizes and colors. How dull the world would be without this diversity.

Our appetites also vary as each one of us has different preferences for the types, textures and amount of food we need to nourish ourselves. Even as you develop a healthy relationship with food—eating when you are hungry, stopping when full, and choosing from a wide variety of food—you may find that, at times, your overeating returns. Our lesson this season is a reminder of how to gently return to attuned eating if you find yourself turning to food for reasons other than physical hunger. It goes like this:

Once you develop a consistent, normal relationship with food, remember to use the skills you've developed if mouth hunger returns. Read more here.



Does Halloween find you more frightened of ghosts and vampires… or the candy that accompanies this holiday? Does stuffing at Thanksgiving refer to something you eat… or something you do? With several holidays right around the corner, this can be a challenging time for diet survivors, and we wanted to offer a few tips:

  • You have the right to eat what you are hungry for: don't let anyone else's judgments get in the way of honoring your own appetite.

  • You have the right not to eat what you're not hungry for: don't let anyone pressure you to eat something you don't want. It's okay to say "no thank you," and if that person feels hurt, for example, it's their responsibility to deal with that feeling—not yours!

  • If certain holiday foods are "glittering" ask yourself if you've truly given yourself permission to eat them throughout the year. While people who restrict sweets often find themselves bingeing on Halloween treats, attuned eaters who have "legalized" sweets typically find that they are comfortable with the candy in their homes because—if they enjoy candy—there is always some around.

  • "Normal" eaters sometimes eat past fullness at holiday gatherings. Keep in mind that when you feel in charge of your eating you can decide just how much you want to have, even if you end up feeling too full—that's a different experience than feeling out of control with your eating.

  • No matter what happens, always stay compassionate with yourself. If you do find yourself overeating, rather than making promises to diet in the New Year, do your best to wait until your next cue of physical hunger to eat exactly what you are hungry for.

  • In fact, as New Years Day rolls around, remember to resolve never to diet again! As one of our favorite buttons said: It took a lot of willpower, but I finally quit dieting."

Weight Bullying in the News

There's a good chance that you've seen the video of news anchor Jennifer Livingston that went viral earlier this month. When a viewer told her that she was a poor role model because of her weight and that "obesity" was a poor choice to model for young girls, Ms. Livingston courageously called him out as a bully on her local TV station. "We are better than the bullies," she exclaimed. Ms. Livingston directed her words to children who cannot speak up for themselves, imploring them not to let themselves be defined by the words of one. As she moved beyond any personal shame she may have experienced by this focus on her body size, her message hit a nerve that opened up a national conversation, which we truly hope will continue.

Judith was asked to do an interview about the anchorwoman's response for the National Association of Social Workers, and you can read her Q&A on their website.


  • Judith will be speaking at ANAD's 2012 Midwest Eating Disorders Conference, Wellness not Weight on Friday, October 26th, 2012 in Oakbrook, IL. The title of her workshop is Overcoming Binge Eating: Finding Peace Through Attuned Eating and The Health At Every Size® Pardigm.

  • Judith continues to collaborate with illustrator Elizabeth Patch on their children's book, Amanda's Big Dream. The goal is to offer an engaging book for children that will help them to have a positive body image without a focus on weight loss. Stay tuned to for more information about how you can support this project!

  • Ellen's new book, Revolution of Jewish Spirit. is now available. While she leaves issues of eating and weight aside for the moment, anyone interested in the topic of spirituality within Judaism will enjoy this thought-provoking read!

  • Judith and Ellen are available to speak at your organization or university. Please contact us directly to discuss your needs. You can learn more about what we offer at our websites: and

  • Don't forget to "Like" the Diet Survivors Group on Facebook!


Randy, a married man in his forties and the father of three children, had been working on becoming an attuned eater for the past six months. He felt great relief to no longer be feeling the deprivation of diets, and loved the moments when he could make a truly good match for his hunger. In fact, Randy explained that most of his eating now occurs when he is physically hungry, and that most of the time he can figure out what he is hungry for. The problem, Randy laments, is that he keeps eating more food than he is hungry for.

When Randy explained his situation, he said that he knew when he was full, but kept going anyway. Rather than judging himself for overeating, the task for Randy was to become curious. He ended up feeling physically uncomfortable afterwards, so what was going on that Randy chose to overeat?

Randy was asked whether there was an emotional component to his overeating. In other words, if he stopped at the moment he was satisfied, what would he think about or feel? Was there something bothering him? Was there something he was putting off doing by continuing to eat?

After some reflection, Randy concluded that there was no emotional purpose served by his overeating. Instead, he revealed that he believed he should stop eating when he was "somewhat full" even though he didn't want to. When asked to elaborate on what he meant, Randy said that as he talked about this problem out loud, he was just realizing how he tells himself "it's better" to stop when he is just beginning to feel full, even though he often doesn't feel quite satisfied. It turned out that in the back of his mind, Randy was still pursuing weight loss, which to him meant that eating less was required! And, not surprisingly, the minute he told himself that he shouldn't have more than that, he felt compelled to overeat because of the sense of deprivation he experienced. He was falling into the diet mentality without realizing it, and turning the non-diet approach into a diet.

As soon as Randy made the connection of what was happening for him, he was able to make a conscious decision to approach eating differently. He would give himself permission to eat exactly the amount he needed in order to feel physically and emotionally comfortable. Making this gentle commitment to himself took away the pressure to eat only a certain amount at meal time. If he wanted to stop when he was somewhat full that was fine, but if he wanted to be fuller, that was fine too. Most importantly, he decided that he would now consistently ask himself, "How do I want to feel when I'm finished eating," and use that as his guide.

Randy saw an immediate decrease in the number of times he ate past fullness. Rather than deciding that he could only eat a certain amount, he gave himself permission to eat whatever he needed at a particular time. Paradoxically, this permission took away the feeling of deprivation that occurred when he thought there was a limit—albeit imposed by his decision—as to how much fullness was allowed.

Moving toward attuned eating is a journey that takes place one eating experience at a time. If you find yourself having trouble honoring your hunger or fullness, check in to make sure that you haven't established new rules about doing this "perfectly." When you diet, you're either "on it" or "off it"; you're either "good" when you "follow the rules" or you're "bad" when you "blow it." Nothing could be further from this diet mentality as you practice attunement, compassion and curiosity to develop a peaceful and satisfying relationship with food.

Wishing you a season of harmony,

All the best,
Judith and Ellen

Judith Matz, LCSW
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Ellen Frankel, LCSW
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Diet Survivors

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