Book Resources


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

Winter 2016 – Diet Survivors Group Newsletter


A Full-Day Workshop For Professionals
Presented by Judith Matz, LCSW
Friday, March 4th, Skokie, IL.
Complete info/registration link in our Update section

beyond newDiet Survivors Book


Welcome to the Winter 2016 e-mail!

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

As winter sets in with its frigid temperatures and messy snowfall, it's easy to wish this season away with longing for warmer weather. A recent lesson from a yoga teacher spoke to our tendency to look to the future for better days, and in doing so miss what is present. She shared a quote from an unknown source that "People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, and all life for happiness." Instead, she continued, "The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead." (Marjorie Pay Hinckley).

How many people put their life on hold waiting for the perfect body? How many times have you heard people say—or said yourself—once I lose weight then I'll be ________. That blank is typically filled in with words like happy, healthy, successful, confident, and the list goes on.

We were sad to see Oprah's new commitment to—and financial investment in—the Weight Watchers® program, which is a weight loss program no matter how it's wrapped up with a pretty bow. With all of the wealth and power that Oprah has—and all of the work she has done to empower women—it's a shame that her message tells us to put life back on hold and not be present in our own lives. Here's what we posted on our Diet Survivors Group Facebook Page:

There's a lot of diet talk already, especially with Oprah's new push for Weight Watchers® suggesting that "inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be." We're dismayed by these words, and we want you to consider that:

You're enough. Instead of making a resolution to lose weight, reflect on how you want to take care of yourself. How do you want to feed yourself? Move (or not move) you body? Pursue a favorite hobby or passion? Connect with others? Find stillness? What serves you best?

We invite you to lose the shame and blame that accompanies weight loss diets and, instead, gain the freedom that comes with attuned eating, body acceptance and positive self-care.

Letting go of diets and becoming an attuned eater is a wonderful way to stay present in your relationship with food—and with yourself. There's nothing to wait for!

When we stay present, we can notice moments that feel good to us, and that we might have missed as we rush through life. Of course, we're likely to notice struggles too. If you're interested in learning more about how our brains can hijack us and how to develop the skill of taking in the good moments more regularly, check out The Foundations of Well-Being Program offered by Rick Hanson, author of Buddha's Brain and Hardwired for Happiness.



Deprivation is a powerful force. Being told there's something you can't have increases the likelihood that you want it—regardless of whether it's something that will truly serve you.

When it comes to food, the deprivation of diets is one of the major causes of overeating or bingeing. Being told (or telling yourself) that you can't eat something because "it's too fattening" is likely to make you preoccupied with that food. At workshops we frequently raise the question: If you were told that starting tomorrow you can never eat ice cream again, what would you do tonight?

The answer is always the same: People say they would eat it regardless of whether they're hungry for it—and they'll eat more than their body needs.

The key to ending the deprivation that leads to overeating is to give yourself full permission to eat all types of foods. This is not a blank check to eat anything you want at anytime. Instead, the goal is to reconnect eating all types of foods to your physical signals for hunger and fullness.

Here are 5 key steps to ending the overeating caused by feelings of deprivation:

  • Stop judging foods as "good" and "bad." This means you're still stuck in the diet mentality. All foods can have a place in a healthy relationship with food.

  • Keep all types of foods available. If you only have "healthful" food around, you'll feel deprived when you want something that you've considered off limits. If you only have your "off limits" foods around, you'll have to eat them even if you're body desires something more healthful.

  • Remind yourself that these foods will always be there. If you know that you can eat the ice cream, or chips, or pizza, the next time you're hungry for them, then it's safe to stop eating when you're body feels full. If you tell yourself that starting tomorrow you won't eat that food again, you guarantee that you'll finish it now.

  • Talk to the rebel in you. After years of dieting, it makes sense that you want to push back against external rules that felt oppressive. Remind yourself that as an attuned/intuitive eater, you are in charge of your relationship with food.

  • Keep in mind the difference between the deprivation of dieting and making decisions about what to eat that will nourish you body. It's challenging when food choices affect health issues. You're always making a choice: how will I feel if I eat this food? Is that okay with me? What foods best support my body? Within the foods that do nourish your body, take the time to decide what will most satisfy you when you're hungry. It's understandable that you'll have feelings about needing to stay away from certain foods, but hopefully you won't experience that as the same kind of deprivation that comes from the categorizing foods as "good" and "bad" because of a diet for weight loss.

It's not uncommon for people to eat more than their bodies needs at times. But if you're finding that you get overfull on a regular basis, check in with yourself to see whether the deprivation that comes from believing you shouldn't eat certain foods is part of the equation for you.


If you belong to a health club or gym, you've probably noticed that the parking lot is a lot more crowded this month. It's an annual ritual for people to commit to exercise as part of their New Year's resolution to lose weight. Typically, people caught in this pattern work out for a while, stop going, and then feel guilty. Exercise quickly becomes part of the diet mentality.

We encourage you to unhook exercise from weight. Imagine that no matter how much you exercised your weight wouldn't change. Can you think of other reasons to move your body? Here are some of the reasons people give:

  • Health benefits (watch this video!)
  • Energizing
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Fun
  • Strength
  • Emotional well-being

Can you think of any other reasons that make physical activity worth it to you?

It's truly up to you to decide what best serves you. You are under no obligation to exercise if you don't choose too. At the same time, if exercise is something that's important to you—but you haven't figured out when, where or what to do—reflect on any obstacles in your way and take one step at a time!


  • Treating Binge Eating Disorder: A Mindful Approach to Recovery presented by Judith Matz on Friday March 4th 8:30 – 4:15 at Oakton Community College, Skokie, IL. 6.5 CEU's available. Follow this link to register – course # is HTH A74; $79 by 2/4, $109 after 2/4. If you'd like a brochure or need more info (registration system is a bit complicated!) contact Judith directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Here is the description:
  • Now that Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a discrete diagnosis in the DSM5, more people are seeking help to end their out-of-control eating. It is essential that clinicians recognize the difference between BED and "obesity" and that recovery from BED is more than a matter of self-control, weight loss, or even understanding the emotional triggers for overeating. In this engaging workshop, participants will learn how to integrate multiple facets of treatment, including the attuned eating framework, the role of shame and self-compassion, emotional regulation, body image strategies, understanding weight stigma and the Health At Every Size paradigm so that clients have the tools necessary to end bingeing and develop a health relationship with food, their bodies, and themselves.

Rhonda's Rewiring

(The following is an excerpt from Beyond a Shadow of a Diet ©2014)

"Rhonda realized that every time she watched TV, she automatically grabbed a bag of potato chips or popcorn, regardless of whether she was hungry.

Rhonda: I've been doing it for so long, I can't imagine not eating while I watch TV. That's just part of the experience. But then I end up feeling so uncomfortable.

Therapist: You've wired those two activities together over time, and it's really hard for you to break that pattern because, as we've been discussing, what fires together, wires together. Think about the winter when you back out of your driveway in the snow and a rut forms. That's what happens when you form neural pathway—you create that rut. But you can start to create some new pathways that will take you in a different direction.

Rhonda: I get what you mean, but that's really just how I relax at night.

Therapist: It's important to have a way to relax, and watching TV is part of how you do that. At the same time, you've been working really hard to honor your physical hunger—I guess we could say you've been working hard to wire eating with physical hunger! If you think about the need to take care of yourself in the evening, I'm wondering if you can imagine any other patterns that would feel caretaking.

Rhonda: I think I need to move off the couch where I always eat—I could sit in the comfortable chair instead. Also, I really like candles, and now that I think about it, it would feel really nice to light them while I watch TV. I think that would be very relaxing.

Over the next couple of months, Rhonda purposefully brought her attention to how she went about watching TV at night. She learned to check in with herself and ask if she was hungry: if the answer was yes, she chose something that was a good match and decided it would be okay to eat in front of the TV. [For some people it's important to separate eating from TV watching in order to stay more mindful.] However, she frequently discovered that she wasn't hungry and consciously sat in her chair with the candles lit, creating a calm environment for herself. Over time, this pattern became the 'new normal' for Rhonda."

Wishing you a season of warmth and wonder,

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