Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stop the Torment: Book Review

By now pretty much everyone in the developed world has heard about our obesity epidemic.  Ask 100 people about the cause and you'll get 100 different answers. 

The truth is, its a very complex issue and the 'cause' is the confluence of many, many factors.  In addition, on an individual level, the reason who someone is overweight varies from one person to the next. 

For many people in North America, there are emotional issues underlying their weight problem.  People often use food as an avoidant coping strategy, the way others use shopping, drinking or doing drugs.  Others use being overweight as a way to prevent intimacy due to insecurity, trauma or fear.

When I do weight-loss counselling, it is amazing how many emotional or psychological issues will emerge that are contributing to their weight struggles.

Because of this, I was eager to review the book by author, Joyce Lillis, Stop the Torment, which purports to help people "Conquer" their relationship with food.

Lillis is a life coach who, after yo-yo dieting for many years, successfully lost weight and has kept it off by transforming her relationship with food.  She now runs a weight-loss program called, The Metabolic Diet.  Now I can't tell you much about this diet plan, as there aren't many specific details, but the website does say that it includes:

  • Personalized Weight Loss Program
  • 6 – 9 Week Coaching including 21 day Stabilization
  • 24/7 phone, email, texting support
  • Weekly meeting and/or conference call
  • Psychological weight counseling
  • Recipes and nutritional guidance
  • Supplements to support weight loss
  • Tips on eating out and traveling
  • Weight Loss Maintenance Plan
  • Completion of Weight Loss Treatment

  • Doesn't sound bad, but this description of Phase I of the program makes me go "hmmm":

    The first three to six weeks of The Metabolic Reset Program you will follow an individually designed food program and with the support of the homeopathic appetite suppressant your body will release the secure fat deposits in the problem areas at an accelerated rate. During this stage you will lose weight rapidly with the program designed specifically for your body. During this period you will also notice a re-shaping of your body. Energy levels will be high, hunger and appetite low. Your body will not burn necessary fat that supports your organs and arteries. Your face will not look drawn as often results from diets you may have tried in the past.

    The homeopathic appetite suppressant contains ingredients that support adrenals, thyroid, liver, skin elasticity and much more.

    Frankly, I have not seen any scientific data supporting the efficacy of homeopathy...especially for weight loss!

    Anyways, back to the book.  I applaud Lillis for bringing attention to the fact that one's eating habits should not have an impact on one's self-evaluation or self-esteem, and that our weight problems may be due to deep seated emotional issues, but I pretty much think this book is useless.

    It starts will Lillis's own story, and then a history of the dieting industry.  Interesting but not really all that relevant for many readers.  There is a chapter describing physical hunger and natural instinct related to eating, which is important for people to understand as, like she points out, many of us have lost touch with our physiological nutritional needs, and eat for social, psychological and/or emotional issues instead.  In the following chapter Lillis describes the inner dialogue relating to a positive relationship to food versus the inner dialogue when you have a dysfunctional relationship with food.  Another chapter is devoted solely to the issue of emotional eating.  Throughout, the book is peppered with anecdotes from her clients.  There is a chapter on the scale and about how not to fixate on the number, one providing her definitions of terms she uses, and one she calls, "The Six Stages of Change,", which is essentially her spin on health behaviour change theory.

    In the chapter called, "Nutrition", Lillis mentions other factors important to maintaining a healthy weight such as exercise, sleep, social support, and stress management.  In the chapter about metabolism, she recommends eating every few hours and eating 'metabolism boosting foods.'   She also says that Dr. Oz says we need to chew every bite 20 times.  Oh, okay then, if Dr. Oz says, then it must be so!

    Her metabolism boosting foods, at least, are all healthy: whole grains, fruits and veggies, coffee, tea and dark chocolate, spices and hot peppers, lean protein, olive and coconut oil, beans, nuts, apple cider vinegar, and water.

    Lillis's 10 key concepts to success are:

    1. Weigh yourself daily
    2. Listen to your body not your inner critic related to eating
    3. Ask yourself if you are hungry when you have the urge to binge
    4. Enjoy indulgences when you crave them
    5. Eat until satisfied, not full, and don't feel guilty about having leftovers
    6. Breathe 4/7/8 before eating (I doubt most people will know what this means!)
    7. Slow down and enjoy food taking 20 chews per bite
    8. Eat every 3-4 hours and drink 8 glasses of water (this whole 8 glasses of water theory is bogus!)
    9. Surrender to your biological hunger and eat with passion
    10. Be kind to yourself

    I disagree with daily weigh-ins, once a week is enough since, as even she pointed out, you don't want to get fixated on the number!  Not everyone needs the same amount of water, so don't necessarily aim for 8 glasses, and 20 chews per bite is rather arbitrary, however, eating slowly is better for you and does lead to eating less.  The rest is definitely good advice.

    The last chapter is filled with exercises involving answering questions about yourself and your eating and thought patterns.  Again, I think she brings up important issues here, and things many people can relate to in their weight-loss struggles, but this book falls short of being a resource that most people can rely on to transform their relationship with food.  The whole book is less than 150 pages long, and it really doesn't spend enough time or go into enough detail on HOW people can do so.  It often takes months of intense therapy for my clients to have breakthroughs, especially if their dysfunctional eating behaviours are linked to serious trauma or emotional issues.

    In my opinion, if you are looking for a book that can help you develop a healthier relationship with food, pick up Yoni Freedhoff's book, The Diet Fix.


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