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

Gretel's Voice – Norfolk, England

As a child I was skinny and very tall. I ate huge meals, all home cooked; my mother was a good cook. And once a week my sisters and I would pore over cookery books and bake cakes and biscuits for the coming week. I never once thought about food and weight. The first time I remember being concerned about my weight and food intake was just before I got married. I didn't know anything about dieting, but I cut down my food intake considerably, lost a lot of weight and was very thin on my wedding day. I'm nearly 6 feet tall and I was an English size 10.

After that it all went wrong. I wasn't very happy and (with hindsight) I masked those emotions with food. I had 2 pregnancies, both good excuses for over-eating and I got very big indeed. I stayed at home with my children and basically ate all day.

Then I found out about diets and followed one after another. They all worked in the short term and I enjoyed being told what to eat and when and how much. I started to exercise properly and regularly, but in between each diet, the weight went back on and got harder and harder to shift. I began to spend mega-bucks on the "miracle cures" that came through the post; pills, powders and potions all promising me that I could eat what I liked and still lose weight. I went through hundreds of pills and suffered stomach upsets, diarrhoea and (most embarrassingly) chronic flatulence and the weight didn't "just melt away" as promised.

Eventually, I rebelled. I found the Overcoming Overeating book almost by chance and read it avidly. I found other "no dieting" books as well and read them all too. I don't have it sussed now, but I do know that a lot of what and when I eat is because of reasons other than hunger—boredom is my main one now. But at least I am aware of it and I am taking baby steps in the right direction.

I feel sorry for women who have not yet found out about not dieting; it's hard to listen to them talking about their diets and their 1lb losses and gains in the office every day. I would love to educate them all, but I think it's a path that everyone has to find for themselves, otherwise it just becomes another diet.