Dr. Judith Beck, bestselling author of The Beck Diet Solution and The Complete Beck Diet for Life, offers advice and techniques for losing weight and keeping it off.
Q. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to lose weight and keep it off?
A. It’s not their fault. No one ever taught them how to stay motivated every day, use good eating habits deal with hunger, cravings, and emotional eating, or get back on track immediately after overeating. These skills, however, are all teachable.
Q. How do thin people think, exactly? How is their thinking different from those of us who struggle with weight?
A. Thin people think differently in many ways. For example, they think that hunger is normal and to be expected. They know that hunger isn’t an emergency, that at worst, it’s mildly uncomfortable, that it actually comes and goes, and that food tastes better when they’re hungry. If it’s an hour before a meal and they’re hungry, they just usually wait, without even thinking about it.
Chronic dieters, on the other hand, are usually nervous about feeling hungry, so they overeat at meals and snacks, carry food with them, and plan when they’ll next have access to food. They think that hunger is unnatural, bad, and that it will get worse and worse until they can’t tolerate it any more.
I have people go for several hours without eating (unless they have an interfering medical condition). Every hour on the hour, they rate how uncomfortable their hunger is at the moment and how uncomfortable it was in the previous hour. It’s so liberating! People find out that hunger is easily tolerated, that it lasts for maybe five or 10 minutes tops, and then goes away altogether. It comes back, but again is only mildly uncomfortable and goes away again.