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

Spring 2014 – Diet Survivors Group Newsletter

Diet Survivors Book


Welcome to the Spring 2014 e-mail!

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

Spring is a time of rebirth. After what turned out to be a very long and cold winter for many of us, we're ready to welcome spring and see what blossoms! For us, this spring is the culmination of many projects we've been working on. We're especially excited about the publication of the new, updated edition of our book: Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Comprehensive Guide to Treating Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating, and Emotional Overeating. We'll be sending out a separate email with more information very soon—including some special discounts—but here is a sneak peak at what it looks like:

 beyond new

We just love those juicy strawberries on the cover!

This season, our lesson is about the importance of sharing family meals while staying true to your own appetite. Whether you're celebrating Easter or Passover, trying to feed a family, or getting together with friends to socialize, we hope this lesson will be a helpful reminder to honor your own hunger and fullness. It goes like this:

Sharing food with friends and family is an important part of our culture. It is the being together, rather than eating the same food at the same time, that keeps us connected.

(Click here to read more.)



What if there was a simple practice to help you build your positive experiences with attuned eating? We've been so impressed with the work of Rick Hanson, and we've applied his strategy of "Taking In The Good" at our workshops. Take 30 seconds to give this a try the next time you have an attuned eating experience!

Frequently, people who struggle with issues of overeating use all or nothing thinking, so that a "bad" experience may lead to a belief that nothing is going well in your relationship with food. As with other aspects of life, it's important to deepen and embody your positive experiences as they occur. In our updated edition of Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, we adapt them as follows:

  1. With your eyes closed, think about a time you were hungry, ate exactly what you were hungry for and stopped when you were full.

  2. Now, savor the experience as you hold it in your attention for the next 10, 20, or 30 seconds rather than getting distracted by something else. Soften and open to the experience; let it fill your mind; give over to it in your body. The longer something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in implicit memory.

  3. Intend and sense the experience seeping into you, perhaps as a warm glow spreading through your chest.

As Rick so eloquently explains, "any single time of taking in the good will usually make just a little difference. But over time those little differences will add up, gradually weaving positive experiences into the fabric of your brain and your whole being." This is a wonderful technique to use on your journey to become an attuned eater.


Talking about weight stigma isn't always easy. So many people carry shame about their body size, and weight stigma refers to the way that people are stereotyped or discriminated against based on their shape or size.

Weight stigma has a significant impact on people seeking health and mental health services. Rebecca Puhl, researcher at the Rudd Center, reports that weight bias has been documented in studies of physicians, nurses, medical students, mental health professionals and dietitians. One of the many unfortunate outcomes of weight stigma is that because of embarrassment over being weighed and/or fear of being lectured or disrespected, women of higher weights are delaying – or even skipping – preventative services.

If you're a health care provider, consider taking a test online that measures your implicit attitudes toward weight by going to Harvard's Project Implicit at You can also read Judith's latest article in the Psychotherapy Networker: Beyond Lip Service: Confronting Our Biases Against Higher-Weight Clients

If you're someone who struggles with going to the doctor because of your body size, you're not alone. We hear from so many women that they postpone – or never go to – regular appointments because of their anxiety or distress about how their healthcare provider will deal with weight. Because that stigma is often internalized, the shame you feel may keep you from getting the care you deserve.

It's important to keep up with your medical care. If you're doctor either humiliates you about your weight or only offers weight loss as the solution to your problems, consider finding a doctor who will treat you with respect and address your issues without only focusing on weight. Here are a few strategies used by Diet Survivors:

  • Let your doctor know that you struggle with an eating problem (or disorder), and that focusing on weight loss is counterproductive for your recovery.

  • Ask your doctor if he/she ever sees the problem you're presenting in thinner patients. If so (and the answer will always be yes!), what advice is given to them? Let your doctor know that you'd like to receive that same advice as well.

  • If you're starting with a new doctor, you may want to let him/her know about your needs ahead of time. Visit our online appendix to read a sample letter. (If the appendix tab doesn't appear, please check back soon – our publisher is in the process of uploading it.)


Beth's Bind

At the age of 35, Beth decided to seek treatment for her Binge Eating Disorder. She'd tried to control her overeating through diets, but a good friend recently suggested that she might have an eating disorder. As Beth began counseling, she started to put the pieces together about how her binge episodes were connected to painful events in her life including the death of her mother at an early age.

Beth reported that she felt desperate to end her bingeing, but sometimes it felt hopeless. In her calmer moments, she would eat foods that felt nourishing and delicious to her, and she loved that feeling. But at other times, she found herself driving through one fast food restaurant after another, or going through multiple bags of chips. As she engaged in this out of control eating, Beth ended up feeling physically uncomfortable and emotionally drained.

Beth realized that she was in a bind. On the one hand, in times of great emotional distress, as painful as her bingeing felt, it was better for her in that moment than experiencing her emotional pain. At the same time, if she kept eating, she felt terrible for hours afterwards.

Beth worked on having compassion toward herself. When she began to binge, she started to ask herself if she could stop. She slowed down enough to ask herself how she would feel at the end of the binge, and if that was okay with her. She began to develop alternative ways to soothe herself such as a warm bath and a mindfulness practice, and there were times that she was successfully able to interrupt her binge.

At the same time, Beth began to accept that for now, there would be times when she would choose to binge. Rather than yelling at herself, she began to change her internal dialogue: "Something must be bothering me and this is the best way I have right now to take care of myself. I look forward to the day when I no longer need to do this."

As Beth stayed actively engaged in her counseling, she also came to realize that ending her bingeing was a process where the length of her binges would decrease over time and there would be more time in between binges. Anticipating that the binges would still occur allowed Beth to become curious about what was triggering her overeating, rather than yelling at herself. Although Beth had a long road ahead of her, she felt committed to her journey to become free from bingeing and to healing her emotional pain.

Wishing you a light and breezy season,

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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