Book Resources


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

Spring 2015 – Diet Survivors Group Newsletter


Welcome to the Spring 2015 e-mail!

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

As winter fades away, the magic of spring awaits us. For those of us who experienced freezing temperatures these past months (and a record 109 inches of snow in the Boston area!) it can be easy to forget that there's a lot taking place beneath the surface of the earth that's invisible to us. When the cherry blossoms burst into color in Washington D.C. (a bit late this year!) or the tulips blossom into a beautiful rainbow of colors, it's the result of all kinds of processes taking place underground that we cannot see.

What's been percolating beneath the surface for you over these past months? What are you ready to bring into the light of spring? With attuned eating as the root of your good self-care, let this spring season be your time to awaken so that you can blossom into your full being.

Our lesson this month is about what happens when we try to change our weight in ways that require us to ignore the wisdom of our bodies.

Have you ever watched The Biggest Loser? Nothing takes us further from our own truth than the constriction that comes from restricting food intake and trying to achieve a body size that's simply not meant to be.

Kai Hibbard, a former contestant on The Biggest Loser recently came out with her story of how this show is both physically and mentally abusive. Judith was invited to be part of a panel on Huffington Post Live. We invite you to sit back, relax, and watch this lively discussion. Click here to watch!



How do nutritional factors come into play for attuned eaters? This is an important question. Attuned eating means using internal, physical cues to decide when, what, and how much to eat. At the beginning of this process, you may find yourself eating many of your "bad" foods as you react to the deprivation you've experienced. Over time, however, attuned eaters pay attention to how foods make them feel: we often say that we've never met anyone who just wants cake, candy, ice cream and chips, but we've also never met anyone who just wants salads, veggies, and fruit. Our bodies like variety!

Our colleague Deb Burgard, Ph.D., co-founder of the Health At Every Size paradigm, developed a diagram to help people tune into eating patterns that are sustainable for that person. We all have different preferences—and different nutritional needs—so it's important to discover what truly nourishes you.

Think about the idea that foods have more or less deliciousness and more or less quality of fuel as you consider these four categories:

Not as tasty/high quality fuel: These are the foods people tend to eat in "healthy" mode to make them feel virtuous, and they may indeed serve our bodies well as fuel. They have a place, but if you choose them, consider whether there's a way to make them taste better to you so you will want to eat them (or, choose foods from the next category.)

Highly delicious/high quality fuel: the ideal foods to eat: you want to eat them for the immediate experience as well as the longer-term experience of how they serve to fuel your body.

Highly delicious/not as great for fuel: These are the foods people tend to feel "guilty" about eating, buy they have a place because they taste so good. Make sure you're paying attention when you eat them to maximize their deliciousness value, and consider whether there's a way to make sure they're kind to your body.

Not that tasty/not quality fuel either: Why eat anything from this group? These foods may be ones you eat out of habit, advertising, custom, etc. - there may be a reason to eat them but they're easiest to let go of if they don't do much for your body and don't taste good.

What foods would YOU put in each category?

Many diet survivors have found this to be a useful tool in making sure they don't get caught in the "shoulds" of eating "healthy" foods they don't enjoy, or the "rebellion" that leads them to eat low quality foods that they don't even like! Instead, use these four groups to figure out what foods provide you the nourishment you need when it comes to fuel, taste, and pleasure.

(Adapted from Sustainable Eating by Deb Burgard, used with permission.


An Amazing Analysis of Amanda's Big Dream by Jeanette DePattie

Did you feel shame about your weight as a child?

Do you know a child who has asked, "Am I too fat?"

Unfortunately, so many children already feel shame in their bodies—or worry about getting too fat. As a result, kids often quit doing things they love, which truly is a shame.


Judith recently announced that Amanda's Big Dream is now available. Jeanette DePattie, author of The Fat Chick Works Out, wrote a review on her blog that captures all of the nuances of Amanda's story – here is an excerpt of the message that will benefit both children and parents:

"…the situation described in the book will be familiar to many of us. Amanda dreams of landing a solo slot in the upcoming ice show. But a few careless words from Amanda's coach about her body size, send her into a tailspin. Amanda also faces giggles and whispers from others on the ice. However, with the help of an incredibly supportive family and an enlightened pediatrician, Amanda makes her way through the situation.

There was a lot to love about this book. The illustrations were colorful and lovely—conveying Amanda's emotions as she struggled with this situation. And the book demonstrates that adults are not always right about everything especially when they disparage us for our bodies. But I think the best thing about this book is the gentle approach. There is no big showdown. Amanda doesn't have to engage in a big confrontation where she wins. She doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. There's not a lot of magical thinking here. And without giving too much away, I love that there was no fairy tale ending. We don't know if Amanda will earn the coveted spot in the ice show. We don't know if she suddenly lands the jump she's been practicing. We don't get a big apology from the skating coach.

We do, however, see the damage that a mere few words of body shame can do for a young girl. This was no evil diatribe from the coach. There are no big Disney-style villains here. The coach merely suggests that Amanda's sit spins might be lower if she loses weight. But the damage from this statement winds its way through Amanda's life until she is ready to give up skating altogether.

But the book also shows us the power of some supportive words about body diversity as well. Amanda's parents echo the words so many of us were aching to hear as children. And the pediatrician serves as an authority figure—sharing a few basic HAES principles with Amanda that help her understand what she really needs to do to be healthy. (I think we all wish this pediatrician were real and that every child in the world could go to her.)

And the book doesn't demand that Amanda do anything special. She doesn't need to confront anyone or educate them about her weight. She doesn't need to skate harder or better than the other kids. She doesn't need to "win" to be okay. She just needs to accept that she's okay. I think this is a very important aspect of the book. So often in these sort of stories, the bullied character needs to impress everybody, change everybody's mind and be such an obvious winner that the whole world changes. But real life doesn't often work like that. And putting pressure on kids to "prove everybody wrong" about the fat kids is not only inaccurate, but dangerous in its own way. We don't want to teach kids to hate their bodies. But we don't want to teach kids that it's their job to be so special that they change everybody else's thoughts about their bodies either. Amanda doesn't need to convince everybody that fat kids can skate as well or better than any other skater. She simply needs to put on her sparkly costume and lace up her pink skates and skate. What other people think about her is not her problem.

The beauty of the book is its role in fostering real and nuanced conversations around the world of body acceptance for young girls. It's not magic. There's no perfect thought or behavior that will guarantee you will get the solo, be elected class president or prom queen. There is no magic approach that will get coaches to be nice to you and ensure nobody ever laughs at you again. There is your life and your choice. Do you choose to hate your body or to cherish it? Do you choose to put your skates in the closet or do you choose to lace up your skates and do something you love?"

Want to learn more? Visit

And PLEASE help us spread the word about Amanda's Big Dream. Buy it, tell someone about it, recommend it to a therapist, pediatrician or other health professional. Donate a copy to your local library. (We sell it at the lowest price allowable through Create Space/Amazon in hopes of helping the next generation to have a healthy body image and avoid the diet binge trap). Your voice makes a difference!


Sign up for workshops in Evanston and Deerfield, IL

  • Are you in the Chicago area? Join Judith for her two upcoming workshops at the end of April, Mindful Eating: Making Peace With Food

  • Evanston, IL: Sunday, April 26th, 10am – 12pm at Curt's Café South, 1813 Dempster (this is a fundraiser and all proceeds benefit Curt's Café.) $40/$50 at the door. Register at Eventbrite

  • Deerfield, IL: Thursday, April 30th, 7pm – 9pm, Indigo, 1456 Waukegan Rd. $45.00. Call 224-515-8117 to register.

  • It's not too late to sign up for Rick Hanson's Foundations of Well-Being online program, offering a wealth of information, guest speakers and experiential activities to promote mindfulness and calmness. Learn more by clicking here. (As an affiliate, we receive a small payment if you sign up through our link.)

  • Are you a blogger, journalist, or newsletter editor interested in writing about Amanda's Big Dream? If so, please contact Judith directly with the name of your publication to request a review copy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. [feel free to pass along this request to others who might be interested as well.]

  • Judith will be presenting a workshop on Binge Eating Disorder at the 2015 Renfrew Conference in Philadelphia, November 13th – 15th 2015.More details in the next newsletter. If you're a professional interested in this topic, it's a great conference (and Gloria Steinem will be there too!)

Cory's Conflict

At the age of 42, Cory wanted to become more physically active. She knew that some form of movement or exercise would help her energy level and keep her more flexible. She had a job where she sat most of the day, so it felt especially important to her to intentionally plan some type of activity at the end of the day and on weekends.

Cory explained that she joined a gym several years ago. Although she continued to renew her membership, she went so rarely—maybe once or twice a year—that she felt like she was giving away her money. Cory also signed up for a yoga class a few months ago. After she missed the third session she stopped going for the remainder of the 8-week series. "What's going on?" Cory wondered. "I'd really like to move my body, but no matter what I try, I can't seem to do it consistently."

For many diet survivors, exercise can become like a diet: you're "good" when you do it, and "bad" when you don't. Like a diet, it can feel like punishment for eating too much and/or being the "wrong" size. People often manage to exercise for awhile, then miss a time or two, then feel guilty, and then stop—until something motivates them again. Frequently that can be a New Year's resolution—have you ever noticed how exercise facilities become very crowded in January, but that it tapers off over the next couple of months?

Cory explored these possibilities, but concluded that something else was going on for her. She said she genuinely loved moving her body, especially participating in yoga and classes that involved some form of dancing. So what was the issue?

Cory expressed her concern that if she started to exercise she might lose weight, as she had in the past. While that wasn't her purpose in becoming more physically active, the idea of weight loss made her feel uncomfortable. In her experience as a yo-yo dieter, she received all kinds of compliments when the weight came off, but when it returned and no one said a thing, she was overcome with shame. She didn't want to go through that cycle again.

To make matters more complicated, Cory revealed that growing up, her parents repeatedly pressured her to exercise in order to get thinner. She realized that now when she exercised, she felt she was "giving in" to them, which made her feel powerless.

Through conversation, Cory came to understand that she gave her parents as much power when she didn't exercise because they wanted her to as if she exercised because they wanted her to. Instead, Cory needed to stop reacting to her parents, become in tune with the needs of her body, and honor what it was asking for.

With that insight—and a few false starts—Cory found some classes that allowed her to move her body with joy. She also increased the amount of walking she did as the weather got warmer. Although Cory still felt some anxiety about the reactions she might receive if she lost some weight, she became clear in her own mind that embracing an active lifestyle came from a place of self-care; it weight loss occurred, it would be a side effect of her belief in the importance of physical activity.

Wishing you a season of delight,

Judith and Ellen

Judith Matz, LCSW
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ellen Frankel, LCSW
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Diet Survivors

NOTE: If this newsletter was forwarded to you, we invite you to Subscribe by clicking the link at the bottom.

P. O. Box 108
Deerfield, IL 60015-0048