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Are You Suffering from Post-Traumatic Dieting Disorder?

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  • Are You Suffering from Post-Traumatic Dieting Disorder?

    Are You Suffering from Post-Traumatic Dieting Disorder?
    US News By Stephanie Steinberg
    9 hours ago
    You spent months swearing off carbs and sweating your brains out at the gym and were finally rewarded by dropping a few pant sizes. But then the diet ended, as did the trips to the gym. And those pants? Well, they no longer fit.

    This was your umpteenth diet -- the one that was supposed to work. When all the weight came back, and then some, you couldn't help but feel a deep sense of shame and guilt.

    It's what obesity expert Yoni Freedhoff calls post-traumatic dieting disorder.

    As he's seen with thousands of people who try severe calorie restriction, cleanses or any diet that involves suffering and sacrifice, people feel demoralized after regaining all their weight. They believe they failed.

    "The thing is, people don't fail diets," Freedhoff says. "Diets fail people."

    Freedhoff, founder of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, Canada, which focuses on long-term weight management, noticed how failing to keep off the pounds often led his patients to develop depression, lower self-esteem and relationship issues. There had to be another path to weight loss. So Freedhoff devised his own diet plan called the 10-Day Reset, which he lays out in his book, "The Diet Fix," released this week.

    The plan includes keeping a food diary, exercise, lots of protein and -- believe or not -- as much chocolate as you want. While he says it will ensure long-term weight loss success, Freedhoff warns the approach requires careful planning. "Weight management is complicated, he says. "If there was a quick and easy fix for everybody, the world would be slim." U.S. News talked to Freedhoff, who blogs for Eat+Run, about the 10-Day Reset and how it could help cure post-traumatic dieting disorder. His responses have been edited.

    In a nutshell, can you describe your 10-Day Reset plan?

    It's 10 days to try to help a person reclaim a normal relationship with food, healthy living and weight management. The societal message around weight management is that it requires suffering and sacrifice, and I don't think suffering and sacrifice work very well in the long run. So this is 10 days to try to reset a person's attitude and approaches to weight management to be both realistic and sustainable -- where food does not simply play the role of fuel, but also is permitted and encouraged for comfort and celebration.

    With the Reset, there are no forbidden foods and no required foods. How come?

    What I prescribe in "The Diet Fix" is a plan to help people troubleshoot what will work best for them. I don't think there's one size that fits all. And there's no such thing as the eat-whatever-you-want, whenever-you-want, as-much-as-you-want lose weight program.

    What's important is organizing a person's diet -- making sure people eat enough at every meal and snack, both in terms of calories and protein -- and making sure people don't eat too infrequently, so as to minimize hunger. If you're not hungry and go to the supermarket, it is easy to make thoughtful choices. Same with sitting down to a meal.

    You regularly write prescriptions for chocolate, chips, cookies and ice cream. Most diets steer clear of these foods, so why do you allow these?

    Food is a seminal pleasure that never lets us down. We might occasionally be disappointed with our friends and relatives or our jobs or our lives in general. If we happen to love a particular food, it does not disappoint. We've been celebrating as a species with food forever, and it is no doubt the oldest social network. To suggest that people aren't able to use food for those purposes is what makes some diets fail.

    So it's not about no chocolate, and it's not about all-you-can-eat chocolate. It's about the smallest amount of chocolate a person needs to be happily satisfied, and that amount will vary person by person, and even day by day. Some days might be worth none, and some days might be worth plenty.
    I'm not sure what to say about this. I'm all for people having more normal responses to food but unsure if additionally labeling food behaviors as traumatic is a good thing.

    I think it would be better if we stopped using food behaviors as surrogates for virtue and vice. There are no bad foods or good foods, no "cleanse", no junk foods; there's just what you can afford and what you like and what limits you need to watch to avoid being fat or skinny.

    That's it.

    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."