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

Spring 2013 Diet Survivor's Newsletter

Diet Survivors Book


Welcome to the Spring 2013 e-mail!

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

Depending on where you live, spring is here… or at least around the corner! After a long, cold winter – at least in the cities where we live – warm sunshine and blooming flowers are very welcome indeed. Spring symbolizes rebirth, and this season is a great time to reflect on what types of self-care activities will help you to blossom!

For many people, exercise is a wonderful form of physical and emotional self-care. At the same time, as a diet survivor there’s a good chance that exercise has been part of your past efforts to lose weight. As a result, you may find yourself rebelling against exercise because it feels like punishment or is associated with guilt. If this is the case for you, we encourage you to unhook exercise from weight loss so that you become free to explore what type of movement feels good to you – and even provides you with joy!

This season’s newsletter encourages you to consider the health benefits of exercise at your current size – and without a focus on weight loss. It begins like this:

Fitness promotes health. As you feel ready, move your body in ways that feel comfortable to you.

(Click here to read more.)



The goal of becoming an attuned eater is to develop a healthy relationship with food. That’s different than deciding to eat only healthy foods! There is so much angst these days over what’s “good” to eat and what’s “bad” to eat, that food often causes more anxiety than enjoyment.

  • Remember that as you decide what to eat, the goal is to “make a match” that will satisfy your hunger. You may also take other factors into consideration as you decide what will truly nourish you. Perhaps you’re a vegetarian or keep kosher, and these philosophical views affect your choices about how to feed yourself. Perhaps you have some sort of physical illness or condition where eating – or not eating – certain foods supports your health and well-being. If so, deciding to make these adjustments to your food choices as you honor your hunger and fullness is an act of self-care in the service of promoting wellness, rather than an act of deprivation in the service of pursuing weight loss.

  • Ultimately, the question for you to consider is what feels good and what feels bad as you decide how to listen to your physical hunger. A cheeseburger can feel like a great match on a day that you crave protein, and it can feel like a terrible match on a day that your body needs something lighter in your stomach. Likewise, an apple can feel like a great match when your body craves something sweet and crunchy, or it can feel like a terrible match when you need something more substantial in your body.

  • By keeping all types of foods available, and tuning into your body’s needs, you’ll find that you can naturally incorporate healthy foods into your life. As diet survivors let go of judgments about what they should eat, we’ve never met anyone who only wants cakes, cookies, ice cream and chips. But we’ve also never met anyone who only wants salads, broccoli and oranges. (In fact, sometimes people find that eating “healthy foods” makes them feel like they’re on a diet – but we’ll save that for another time!) The difference is that rather than deciding to eat these foods because of external rules and restrictions, as an attuned eater you’ll experience the pleasure that comes from nourishing yourself from the inside out!


Save the Date!

Friday morning, June 28th, 2013

Whether you are interested in HAES on a professional or personal level, we invite you to join us for a workshop, Wellness Beyond Weight: What You Need To Know About the Health At Every Size Paradigm

Details to follow in a separate flyer

[This workshop is a pre-conference event for the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH)]


When Michelle Obama first announced her Let’s Move initiative, we were concerned about her focus on weight and her stated intention to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation. Although Let’s Move contains many wonderful components – such as making sure kids of all socioeconomic levels have access to fruits and vegetables and promoting physical activity, her focus on weight set a tone ripe for negative consequences: weight stigmatization and shame for kids in larger bodies, increased risk for eating disorders as children and teens try to achieve the “correct” body size, and the unintentional sanctioning of weight bullying as the message that “fat is bad” was reinforced. Not to mention the fact that kids at lower weights, but who have unhealthy lifestyles, could easily fall under the radar.

Like many, we believed it would be much more effective to promote healthful activities for kids of all sizes. Many of us weighed in on her position – at the time, Judith wrote a blog called Dear Michelle. It’s hard to know what reached her, but in a recent video chat hosted by Kelly Rippa for a Google Hangout, there was a definite shift in her focus. She was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying, "I have two young daughters. We never talk about weight. I make it a point. I don't want our children to be weight-obsessed. I want them to be focused on: What do I have to do, in this body -- because everybody is different, every person's body is different -- what do I have to do to be the healthiest that I can be."

This is a wonderful expression of the philosophy that underlies what is commonly known as the Health At Every Size™ (HAES) paradigm. We listened to the 35-minute video, and while we might take issue with a few of her comments, overall we are pleased to see the shift in her message. Here is another supportive quote made by the First Lady:

“…we need to focus on the health of individuals and not focus on weight or looks and measuring people’s worth in that way. It doesn’t help us as a society and it definitely doesn’t help the individuals who are struggling with this issue.”

We don’t know whose voices she’s been listening to, but we applaud her for this shift in attitude: Michelle, please keep moving! If you want to reinforce the direction of this new, positive message, you can join the chorus by writing to her:

Michelle Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500



  • Judith will present Overcoming Bingeing and Negative Body Image Through the HAES Model as part of the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) pre-conference event entitled: Wellness Beyond Weight: What You Need to Know About the Health At Every Size Paradigm. More details to be sent in a separate e-mail as the details are finalized.

  • Don’t miss the Association for Size Diversity and Health educational conference: Staying the Health At Every Size Course: Navigating the Weight Debate in the Evolving Healthcare Environment, Friday June 28 - Sunday June 30, 2013 at the Doubletree Hotel, Chicago O’Hare. Judith will present The Treatment of Binge Eating Disorder: Why the HAES™ Paradigm Matters as part of a panel on eating disorders.

  • Ellen will be the keynote speaker at the Samstone Lecture Event with a talk is entitled: Navigating the Journey: Women and Spirituality in the Material World. November 1st – 2nd, Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing, Titusville, New Jersey

  • Judith was interviewed, along with Linda Bacon, Ph.D and Laura McKibbin, MSW, for Social Work Today on the topic of Health At Every Size. You can read the article at:

  • Judith was asked to comment on weight bullying for an article in the NASW News. You can see her comments at:

  • Judith continues to collaborate with Elizabeth Patch on their new children’s book, Amanda’s Big Dream. Here is a sneak preview of Amanda with her pink skates!


  • Please add your "like" to our Diet Survivors Group Facebook page. We're posting more often and would love to have you join us. ☺


When Kelly began counseling for her binge eating, she told her therapist that most of her overeating occurred during the evening, after she came home from work. Kelly shared that she was undergoing a lot of emotional stress due to the recent break-up with her partner and her mother’s serious illness, and she knew this was triggering much of her bingeing. As the therapist listened to Kelly’s story, she also asked Kelly to describe her eating throughout the day.

Kelly revealed that she usually grabbed a yogurt and coffee on her way out the door to work. Although she liked to go to a nearby café at lunchtime for a sandwich or some soup and salad, she often found herself so involved with her work that she made do with the coffeecake sitting around her office or the granola bar that she carried in her purse. Upon further reflection, Kelly agreed that she was ravenous by the time she got home.

The therapist explained to Kelly that her body was not getting enough energy throughout the day, which set her up to overeat in the evening. Kelly agreed to try to honor her physical hunger earlier in the day and see if this impacted her binge eating. She was able to take a few more minutes in the morning to eat breakfast—sometimes she had some cereal and a banana along with her yogurt, and sometimes she scrambled a couple of eggs with some onions, tomatoes and cheese, along with whole wheat toast. She also prepared some hard-boiled eggs over the weekend and kept fruit available for days when she was in too much of a rush to cook for herself.

For lunch, Kelly decided that she still preferred to go to a local restaurant to get what she needed to make a good match for her hunger. While this worked for her sometimes, there were other times where she became so engrossed in her work that she skipped the meal despite her hunger. As Kelly came to accept that there would be days where she didn’t want to interrupt her work flow—but that is was still necessary to feed herself so that she didn’t become too hungry—she decided to stock the office refrigerator with a variety of frozen meals.

As Kelly honored her hunger throughout the day, she saw an immediate reduction in the amount of bingeing that occurred in the evening. She came to understand that by ignoring her physical hunger in the past, she had been uncomfortable during the day, less able to concentrate on her work, and at high risk of overeating in the evening. Now that she had taken better care of her physical needs, Kelly was in a much stronger position to examine the emotional aspects of her overeating, which became the focus of her therapy.

Take a moment and reflect on your own eating patterns. Do you honor your hunger throughout the day? Do you sometimes suppress or ignore your hunger signals? Listening to—and trusting—your body to tell you when it needs to be fed is an essential step toward ending overeating. Then, make sure you always have food available so that you can respond to your body’s hunger!


Wishing you a season of energy and ease,

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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