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

Summer 2015 – Diet Survivors Group Newsletter

beyond newDiet Survivors BookAmandaSyd


Welcome to the Summer 2015 e-mail!

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

With the 4th of July celebrations behind us, and the Labor Day holiday still off in the distance, it's time to settle into the rhythms of summer. Does the flow of your day change during this season? Do you notice changes in activity level or social patterns?

Along with a different summer pace, as an attuned eater you may also find that this season brings a change in the types of foods you prefer. Colors abound with the reds and blues of berries, the bright yellow of sweet corn and the deep orange of a juicy ripe tomato. Aromas from backyard grills bring to mind all sorts of yummy foods seasoned to perfection, and a hot summer day may call for the refreshing feel of ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato. No matter what your tastes, the key is to tune into what will satisfy you when you're hungry.

Beyond food, it's also important to tune into your other needs this season. What else are you hungry for right now? Notice that your needs are specific. What would it take to meet them? What's getting in the way?

We like to say that attuned eating leads to attuned living, and you can learn more about how this happens for diet survivors by clicking on our summer lesson, which goes like this:

As you learn to become an attuned eater, you will become more in tune with your whole self. Notice that you have needs in other areas of your life as well

Click HERE to read more!



How Well Do You AIM?*

One of the most common concerns from diet survivors is figuring out how much to eat. You may know when you're hungry and know what you're hungry for. But how do you decide how much to consume? How do you remember to pay attention? What if something tastes so good that you don't want to stop?

We advise people who ask this question to remember to AIM, which stands for:

Attunement: Notice your physical hunger and choose the food(s) that will satisfy you. After all, if there was no signal to start eating, then there's no signal to stop! If the food that you're eating isn't a good match, you may end up too full, but not satisfied.

Intention: Before you begin to eat, set an intention about how full you want to feel at the end of your eating experience. Visualize the food you're about to eat, and think about the level of comfort you want to achieve when you're finished—as well as 15 or 20 minutes later.

Mindfulness: Bring awareness to your eating experience without judgment, distraction, or expectation. You'll deepen the pleasure of the experience as you savor the taste and sensation of food, and you'll become better able to notice when you reach the level of comfort that you're AIMing for!

Keep in mind that "normal" eaters sometimes eat past fullness. The question is always, "What's okay with me?" If you find yourself eating more than you intended, be sure to respond with compassion rather than guilt.

*(Based on Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, p. 108.)


It's time to change the conversation about fat! The term "fat talk" refers to all of the conversation that goes on 24/7 about body size. More accurately, it should be called "fat-shaming talk." After all, fat is an adjective, but it's taken on a negative meaning. Here are some examples of fat-shaming talk:

  • Do these jeans make me look fat?

  • I don't eat carbs – they go right to my thighs.

  • Can you believe how much weight she's gained?

  • I need to exercise every day so I don't get too fat.

  • I have to go on a diet before I can start dating.

  • I feel fat.

A new book came out a couple of months ago called Fat-Talk Nation, which looks at the damage of our collective "fat talk." Here's the review Judith posted on Amazon:

Fat-Talk Nation gives us moving first person accounts and insightful analysis into how young people navigate cultural expectations around weight. Through the voices of Susan Greenhalgh's subjects we see that "fat talk" can express itself differently based on ethnicity and socioeconomic class, but its harm is universal. By the end of the book, it becomes painfully clear that the war on fat actually leads our youth to engage in unhealthy behaviors resulting in physical and/or emotional harm. Greenhalgh's message resonates with the experiences of my own clients; as a therapist specializing in eating and body image problems, I frequently hear how negative weight comments experienced as a child or adolescent contributed to a lifelong struggle with food and weight. I hope this book will be read not only by parents, teachers and coaches, but also by mental health/health professionals who, even if unintentionally, often reinforce the fat shame felt by so many.

We need to think about our own conversations and reflect on what messages we're giving to our peers, our children and even ourselves!

Read more about how to change the conversation in this blog Judith wrote called:

Let's Talk About the Other "F" Word

From the Amanda's Big Dream website, here are

10 way to change the conversation with the children in your life, no matter what their age:

  1. Avoid diet talk and dieting behavior in front of children (and altogether, if possible!)

  2. Avoid commenting negatively on other people's body weight, shape and/or size, as well as your own, in front of children.

  3. Refrain from criticizing your child's weight or appearance.

  4. Do not categorize foods as "good" and "bad".

  5. Feed your child and encourage physical activity using guidelines based on age, not based on body size.

  6. Compliment your child on positive behaviors and characteristics, rather than focusing on body size and appearance.

  7. Encourage physical activity for enjoyment and fitness, rather than weight control.

  8. Promote a healthy relationship with food. This includes honoring cues for hunger and fullness, providing a wide variety of all types of food, and sharing family meals whenever possible.

  9. Support self-care behaviors—rather than weight loss—as the road to happiness, health and success. Examples include getting enough sleep, good grooming habits, developing creative hobbies and interests.

  10. Teach kids that people naturally come in different shapes and sizes, and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.



  • Judith will be presenting a workshop at the 2015 Renfrew Conference in Philadelphia, November 13th – 15th 2015: Treating Binge Eating Disorder: Understanding the Problem. Implementing Treatment. Finding Solutions. If you're a professional interested in this topic, it's a great conference (and Gloria Steinem will be there too!)

  • Ellen's newest book Spark Seekers: Mourning with Meaning; Living with Light is co-written with Rabbi Baruch HaLevi and addresses the topic of loss and grief.

  • Spark Seekers

  • Read the Body Trust Insights interview with Judith here

  • 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.]

  • Join us on Facebook for words of wisdom and links to the latest articles

Wendy's Weight

As the summer months approached, Wendy found herself focusing on her body size. "I want to be able to go to the beach and feel comfortable in my bathing suit." Wendy had spent the past year working on her emotional overeating, and she now had ways to cope with her feelings that didn't involve eating.

"I was so sure that once I stopped overeating, I'd lose weight. I notice that I'm feeling more comfortable in my body, but I'm not ready to put on a bathing suit." As Wendy discussed her situation and the notion of "If I were thinner, then I could wear a bathing suit," she became clear that being able to go to the beach with her partner and their children was really important to her this summer.

The first question Wendy had to consider was whether she had a bathing suit that fit her and that she liked. It turned out that Wendy had been putting off buying a bathing suit until she reached a certain weight, which meant that she didn't have anything that would feel comfortable to her in the present. Wendy made a commitment to take several steps: she would go back to some body positive blogs she'd read in the past to remind herself that lots of people go through these negative thoughts, and at the same time, she deserves to be able to go to the beach! Wendy also decided to go to her favorite store when she would have enough time to try on bathing suits without feeling pressured. She recalled that she'd never felt comfortable in a bikini, so she would definitely search for a one-piece bathing suit. Wendy said she already owned a long skirt that would work well for her as a cover-up since she didn't feel ready to be so exposed at the beach. She shared her concerns with her partner, who supported her by saying that she loved her and it would be wonderful to all go to the beach together.

Wendy knew at some level that the people at the beach would be all different shapes and sizes. She decided to notice that people were having fun, and do her best to let go of focusing on her own size. After all, chances were that with all of the sun, sand and water, people had better things to think about! While Wendy reported back that she still found negative body thoughts surfaced as she walked down to the beach, she also remembered to gently remind herself that she wanted to live her life fully. As she splashed in the lake with her children, Wendy felt the weight of her worries diminish, and she knew that she was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Wishing you a summer of gentle breezes,

Judith and Ellen

Judith Matz, LCSW
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Ellen Frankel, LCSW
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Diet Survivors

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