The “no-diet” diet

The Diet Fix

Working in Canadian Living’s health department, all kinds of diet books cross my desk. There’s always a new fad, miracle solution or some secret way of eating that promises to end your struggles with weight loss. But what if the answer to weight loss wasn’t a diet at all? Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director at the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, has spent decades studying weight loss and weight gain, dealing with patients whose diets have failed time and time again. And over the years he’s learned a lot about diets, most importantly that they don’t work.

In his new book, The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work (Random House Canada, $29.95), Freedhoff explains that the idea of dieting is based on making yourself suffer, and why would you continue to inflict suffering on yourself for a prolonged time? It seems somewhat like common sense, but in a society where we’re constantly told dieting is the solution, it can be hard to see that it might actually be the problem. Freedhoff coins the term “post-traumatic dieting disorder” to describe how dieting can become psychologically damaging, leaving people with shame, despair and weight cycling.

I knew I would like the book when, in the preface, Freedhoff announced that the one thing that was missing from most weight-management programs is a prescription for chocolate.

Though he doesn’t have much faith in most diets, Freedhoff doesn’t leave us in despair. He has his own 10-day plan that’s all about learning to live healthy and enjoy your life while you’re doing it. It’s not a quick-fix diet but a fix to the dieting mentality. He suggests that in those 10 days you can change your relationship with food for the rest of your life.

Sure, he calls for all the usual things—food journals, home cooking, exercise—but it’s less demanding, there’s no judgment and it’s driven by a mentality of acceptance. I especially love how he suggests silencing the critical voices in your head with a more constructive one. For instance, rather than feeling ashamed after slipping up, Freedhoff says to ask yourself: What can I do right now that will help a little bit?

One idea: Check out this book!