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

Winter 2014 – Diet Survivors Group Newsletter

Diet Survivors Book


Welcome to the Winter 2014 e-mail!

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

It's a new year, and that means we're all going to be inundated by some predictable occurrences. Depending upon where you live, the cold weather and snowy conditions have likely arrived creating a winter wonderland—or the most miserable time of year—depending on your point of view! Unfortunately, all of the diet ads have also arrived, often triggering angst and insecurity even for the savvy diet survivor.


Playing into the concept of New Year's resolutions, advertisers use the theme of becoming a NEW YOU in the New Year. This theme plays right into the diet mentality of "all" or "nothing" behaviors. Do you remember making January 1st promises in past years that "This time I'll be successful and stick to diet my plan?" Hopefully those types of resolutions are well behind you, but chances are you're hearing lots of diet conversations among friends, family and colleagues.

Winter is a wonderful time of year for reflection, as expressed in the words American author of Ruth Stout: "There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you… In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter… can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself."

What worked well for you this past year that you want to sustain? Are there certain areas of your life that you want to change? If so, what's the first step you need to take to move in that direction? As you welcome the New Year, keep in mind that the key is to develop sustainable behaviors or practices that support your physical, emotional and/or spiritual health.

Our lesson this month addresses the importance of supporting your physical health by developing a positive relationship with your doctor, and it begins like this:

See your doctor on a regular basis. Your body deserves good medical attention.

(Click here to read more.)



As you work toward ending overeating, it's helpful to consider the values underlying your approach to developing a healthy relationship with food. If you're working with a professional to help you on your journey, it's also important that he or she is aware of the values underlying the treatment approach.

The second of edition Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Comprehensive Guide to Treating Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating and Emotional Overeating will be available this April, and we've included a section called: Exploring Our Values. We hope that the following excerpt will be a helpful reminder of the empowerment that comes from letting go of the diet mentality and becoming an attuned eater:

"Up until now, we have presented information about the well-documented faulure of dieting for weight loss. Beyond these consideratons, we also invite you to consider the underlying values and outcomes of eating based on the diet mentality versus developing a healthy relationship with food that is not based on weight loss. In his book Mindsight, Dan Siegel describes mental health as a function of integration, in contrast to the states of rigidity or chaos (or both) that characterize the symptoms of disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This framework aptly captures the struggles of people who are caught in the rigidity of dieting and/or the chaos of bingeing. Attuned eating, (also known as intuitive eating) represents the integration that is possible as people learn to tune in and honor their natural cues for hunger and satiety; attuned eating will be described fully in Chapter 3. Comparing these different frameworks can help shift away from the diet mentality:

Diet Mentality Attuned Eating
External Rules Internal Cues
Rigid Flexible
Deprived Satisfied
Guilt Pleasure
Fear Trust
Preoccupied Empowered
Weight Loss Nourishment
Shame Compassion
Judgement Acceptance
Oppressed Freedom
In Control In Charge

As you reflect on this list, think about what you value for both your clients and yourself." (Matz and Frankel, © 2014).


You may have heard that First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on The Biggest Loser in November as part of her campaign to fight "childhood obesity." This was an unfortunate event since The Biggest Loser promotes shaming and bullying; in a recent study entitled, The effects of reality television on weight bias: An examination of The Biggest Loser, researchers found that watching just one episode of the show dramatically increased anti-fat bias and that this effect was heightened among non-overweight viewers.

In a remarkable effort, Lizabeth Wesley-Casella of and Chevese Turner of the Binge Eating Disorder Association organized a response including a petition and information packet. While they were too late to prevent her appearance on The Biggest Loser, Lizabeth and Chevese were invited to meet with Michelle Obama's Let's Move staff to discuss why so many people in the non-diet community were against her appearance on the show, as well as other options to promote positive messages. Lizabeth wrote in an update:

"Beyond discussing The Biggest Loser, Chevese and I engaged the staff in a surprisingly long conversation about weight stigma. We left feeling positive about the opportunities ahead for an open and educational dialogue and we look forward to working with the Office of the First Lady providing weight stigma information, resources and solutions."

Having a seat at the table is a tremendous victory! Congratulations to all who worked so hard to make this happen.


  • Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Comprehensive Guide to Treating Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating and Emotional Overeating will be available on April 7th. We've been grateful for the advanced praise and will send out a separate email closer to publication.

  • Ellen will speak on two college campuses: Northeastern University, Principles of Attuned Eating, February 13th and Harvard University, Harvard Thinks Healthy Panel discussion on intuitive eating on March 28th. If you are at these campuses, please contact Ellen for more info at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Binge Eating Disorder Association annual conference, April 24th – 26th in Denver CO. Judith and Ellen will offer the following workshops:

    ~Body of Wisdom: From the Personal to the Clinical to the Political, April 24th, Judith Matz, Deb Burgard and Carmen Cool [full day, pre-conference institute].

    ~What A Shame! April 25th, Judith Matz.

    ~Beyond Measure: An Exploration of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul and Freeing the Spirit, April 26th, Ellen Frankel.

  • Dietitians of Canada annual conference, June 12th – 14th, Ottawa, Canada. Judith will join Maria Ricupero RD to present a half-day pre-conference workshop: Supporting Our Clients On A HAES® Journey Toward Self-Acceptance.

  • Amanda's Big Dream will come to life soon! Illustrator Elizabeth Patch continues to illustrate Judith's children's story… and they both look forward to competing this project in 2014. ☺

  • Please "like" Diet Survivors Group on Facebook. Here's one of our recent posts:

    It's that time of year when we're bombarded by diet ads promising a "New You." Don't buy into these messages! Instead, focus on living your life fully and vibrantly.

    stop dieting

Lena's Light-Bulb Moment

In recent months, Lena found herself eating "mindlessly" during the evening. Lena felt good about her work with attuned eating: for most of the day she felt satisfied as she ate when she was hungry, ate what she was hungry for and stopped when she was full. Since no foods were forbidden for her anymore, she didn't think she was reaching for cookies, chips or even the leftovers from dinner because of any sense of deprivation. Although she used food in the past to calm herself when she felt upset about something happening in her life, she couldn't identify any situation or issue that felt particularly hard for her at the moment.

Lena agreed to pay attention to any thoughts or feelings she had as she mindlessly reached for food during the evening hours. She realized that because of a recent change in her job schedule, she was getting home later in the evening. She was still home in time for dinner, but she wasn't able to get some of the chores—such as paying bills, doing a load of laundry, or returning some personal emails—done before she sat down to eat. This meant that she had to do these tasks later in the evening; by the time she completed them, it was time for her to go to bed.

Lena made the connection that her mindless eating was the only way she felt she could slow down and do something for herself. She really did want to get all of these other chores done, but at the same time, it meant she didn't have any down time to just relax at the end of the day. As Lena considered her options, she explained that taking time out for herself has always been difficult because in her family of origin, if you "just sat around when there was work to be done," you were "lazy." Lena decided to challenge this belief, and said that although it doesn't come easy for her, she values the concept of self-care.

Lena made a decision: she would prioritize which tasks were the most important in the evening and work on them until 9:15 pm. At that point she would grant herself permission to relax in whatever way felt good to her—she might watch TV, read a novel or even go to bed early. As Lena listened to her need for some downtime, she no longer relied on food as the way to take care of herself.

Do you ever find that you turn to food in order to give yourself a break? Lesson #49 of The Diet Survivor's Handbook reads: Allow yourself some down time when you need it. You don't have to eat when you're not hungry in order to give yourself a break. After all, when you think about it, there's always more to do! Instead, trust your body to know when it needs a break, and then take it!

Wishing you a season of warmth and peace,

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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