Diet Fix - Book Review

- POSTED ON: Jan 02, 2011

The Diet Fix, Why Diets Fail, And How To Make Yours Work (2014) by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, M.D.  promotes a sane, compassionate approach to getting a grip on food and weight. He points out that 90% of all diets end in failure and addresses how to fix the way we lose weight to make results last. 

Dr. Freedhoff, says, "at the end of the day if you don't like the life you're living while you're losing weight, you're virtually certain to gain it back." This book doesn't push or demonize any food group and provides a step-by-step process for a frustrated person trying to lose weight and keep it off in a healthy manner.

I've chosen The Diet Fix as the next book for discussion here in DietHobby's BOOKTALK. If you are interested in discussing the book or seeing videos about it be sure to check out that section.

This diet book doesn’t recommend any particular diet. It has no strict meal plan with foods that are either celebrated or demonized. There are no traumatic sacrifices required. No starvation, no cleanses, and no miracle supplements.

The Diet Fix contains no outlandish promises, no strict dietary rules, no excessive exercise, and no recommendations for supplements and potions. The book is a excellent science-based guide for anyone looking for credible advice on permanently sustainable weight loss.

Dr. Freedhoff starts out by listing “Dieting’s Seven Deadly Sins” which is the label he attaches to commonly held beliefs about dieting. These are:

  1. Hunger . "If I'm not hungry, my diet's not working." Dr. Freedhoff argues that any diet plan that leaves you hungry won’t be sustainable.

  2. Sacrifice. "No, no birthday cake for me, thanks". Dr. Freedhoff says that perpetual sacrifice of things that you enjoy will make any diet fail.

  3. Willpower. "If I close my eyes and run past the cupboard, I can make it to the bedroom without hitting the chips." Dr. Freedhoff says that willpower is important, but permanent resistance is almost certainly futile.

  4. Blind food restrictions. "The only way to lose weight is to kick this (insert food or food group here) out of my life".  Dr. Freedhoff is adamant we need to manage, but not banish, certain food groups.

  5. Sweat. "You have to sweat, and sweat a lot. Bonus points if you feel like puking.Dr. Freedhoff reminds us that moving more is not going to cause significant weight loss, and in the long run, you can’t outrun your fork.

  6. Perfection. "I have to be perfectly perfect or else I'll never lose weight".   Dr. Freedhoff says that striving for perfection will only bring disappointment, and that real diets must be flexible enough to accommodate setbacks.

  7. Denial. "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels" The diet was great—I just couldn’t stick with it” is a common refrain. But why couldn't they?  Dr. Freedhoff says it's because people need a payoff to offset their suffering. When weight is dropping, people can live in denial of their actual suffering, but when the scale slows down, stops, or starts going back up, suffering gets harder to sustain, and harder to deny.

 Next, Dr. Freedhoff lists “Dieting’s Seven Deadly Traumas”, which are going to kill your diet if you experience them for a prolonged period of time. These are:

1. Guilt
2. Shame
3. Failure
4. Depression
5. Despair
6. Binge Eating
7. Weight Cycling and Metabolic Shutdown

The core of the book is focused on what Dr. Freedhoff calls the “Ten Day Reset” that is designed to “reset” behaviors and recalibrate expectation about what a “diet” really should be.

Each day describes how to develop a new set of skills to support permanent behavior change.

One of the points that Dr. Freedhoff repeatedly emphasizes is in order to make permanent changes in your weight, you must be prepared to make permanent changes in your life. And the more weight you want to lose, the more of your life you must be prepared to permanently change.

Any intervention that is too difficult to sustain will eventually be abandoned, so Dr. Freedhoff emphasizes that one’s target weight must be based on a “best weight”.

The “best weight” is the point at which you’ve found a balance between your weight and your own satisfaction and willingness to stick to a plan. There are no promises of magical and unsustainable weight loss. This is an approach for a lifetime.

The ten days of Dr. Freedhoff's reset process are as follows:

1.  Gearing up: Scales, for you and for your kitchen, to measure and weigh food, and yourself, accurately. A journal for a food diary is essential. And buy food. Dr. Freedhoff emphasizes healthier choices and thoughtful selections, and recommends minimizing refined carbs, including juice, while promoting whole foods. He doesn’t demonize any food group, except artificially-created trans fats.

2. The food diary: All food has a metabolic cost, and it’s measured in calories. It’s promoted as a tool to guide eating, and make eating more conscientious. Dr. Freedhoff not only encourages logging what was eaten, but also the calories, when it was eaten, and any hunger cravings. There are a number of online sites and phone apps that make logging take only minutes per day.

3. Banishing hunger: Keep hunger pains at bay by eating regularly: Don’t skip breakfast, eat every 2-3 hours, and include adequate protein, for satiety, every time you eat. Your daily calorie “budget” needs to be allocated across your meals.

4. Cook: Regularly eating purchased and prepared meals make it more difficult to control portions and calories. Cook real foods focusing on healthy ingredients. Minimize using refined and processed foods as much as possible, but not so much that you’ll give up.

5. Think: Describe your best weight—one in which you’re living the healthiest life you can honestly enjoy.

6. Exercise: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but regular exercise helps keep weight off, and changes your attitude for the better. And exercise has enormous health benefits beyond any impact on weight. What exercise? Something. Anything. “Some is good, more is better, everything counts”

7. Indulge: There are no forbidden foods. Real life includes indulgences, and permanently denying yourself pleasurable foods, whatever they may be, makes any diet plan unsustainable. So one must learn to manage indulgences in a calorically-responsible way. Dr Freedhoff suggests asking yourself two questions: “Is it worth the calories?” and “How much of it do I need to be happy?”

8. Eat out: Cooking is crucial, but eating out is part of life for many—so navigating a restaurant successfully is an essential weight management skill. Dr. Freedhoff suggests knowing your calories, pre-eating, moderating alcohol, and making thoughtful choices between calories and food you’ll actually enjoy.

9. Goal setting: Behavior change is accelerated when goals are achieved. The two most important goals are (1) to eat the smallest number of calories possible --while still liking your life --and (2) to exercise as much as you can enjoy.

10. Troubleshoot: Making permanent change can inevitably lead to roadblocks, and Dr. Freedhoff looks at the commonly encountered roadblocks to sustainability.

Dr. Freedhoff is adamant that there is no one perfect “diet” for everyone, and while The Diet Fix provides some general guidelines for successful dieting, it doesn’t prescribe any one particular diet.

The behaviors and skills recommended by Dr. Freedhoff are relevant to any approach to weight loss. He says that as long as you’re enjoying any type of dieting approach, and you see that behavior as sustainable for you in the long-term, then that diet will work for you.

Dr. Freedhoff says, "If you don't like the life you're living while you're losing, eventually you're going to find yourself going back to the life you were living before you lost. " Doing this will cause your body to re-gain the weight-loss.

Dr. Freedhoff repeatedly emphasizes that healthy living is a lifelong approach—not something you can repair with a “quick fix” diet or detox.

Dr. Freedhoff tackles a number of diet and obesity issues throughout the book, blowing up cherished myths throughout. He says that:

Calories do matter.

Low carb/Low fat/Paleo/Vegan are all acceptable—if you can sustain it, and as long as you watch caloric balance. Dr. Freedhoff argues against demonizing any food, even chocolate, and he cautions that your diet must be sustainable.

The enemy isn’t carbs/fat/glucose/gluten. Cutting out food groups can sometimes deliver short term results, but they’re difficult to maintain over the long term.

Dietary fats are not the enemy. Saturated fat is not the health risk it was once believed to be. Unsaturated fats may offer health benefits, so ensuring these are part of your diet is probably a good idea.

There are no magical supplements. There is no persuasive evidence to support the long-term effectiveness of any supplement.

Artificial sweeteners are safe, and can be beneficial as part of a weight loss strategy.

Dr. Freedhoff talks about weighing and scale addiction.

He says that physiologically, plateaus don't exist. Unless it's a temporary trick of the scale, . . . if you're not losing, either you're burning fewer calories than you think; you're eating more than you think; or some combination thereof.

He says although there's no Plateau, but there IS such a thing as a "FLOOR". If you've truly stopped losing weight, there are really only two questions you need to ask yourself.

1. Could I happily eat any less?
2. Could I happily exercise any more?

If the answer is "yes" then you can tighten things up, but If the answer to both is "no", there's nothing left for you to do.

This is because if you can't happily eat any less and you can't happily exercise any more -- then it's unlikely that this will ever become part of your permanent behavior.

I enjoyed this book, and use many of its principles.  I am a long-time fan of Dr. Yoni Freedhoff's blog, Weighty Matters, and I've quoted many of his ideas and articles here at DietHobby.

Dr. Freedhoff has set up a special website for this book which contains an interesting and useful calculator to help people with his recommendations. It gives calculations for RMR, Calories, Exercise Activities, as well as a division of protein grams between meals and snacks based on individual caloric intake. I've included a link to this calculator here at DietHobby under RESOURCES, links.

You can also click HERE to go directly to his calculator.

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