Dieters Need a Complete Diet for Life

I’ve been bombarded with questions about how my new book, The Complete Beck Diet for Life, is different from my first diet book, which did not contain a diet (eating plan) but did contain a six-week program to teach people how to diet. Most obvious is that the new book has a healthy eating plan that is flexible and enjoyable so people can modify it and stay on it for life.

Why did I include a diet? After publication of the first book, I received a couple of thousand emails and read a couple of thousand postings from online support communities who were following the program. I found that a cognitive behavioral approach just wasn’t enough. Although I urged people to find a healthy, well-balanced, nutritious diet, I found that people weren’t following that advice. They were choosing fad diets, unbalanced diets, diets that didn’t include their favorite foods, diets that allowed them to skip breakfast, diets that incorporated way too many carbs (and not enough foods to satiate their hunger), diets that were unnecessarily restrictive in choices or provided too few calories. Inevitably, dieters would stray from their eating plan, gain weight, get discouraged, and give up—then, after a few days or months, would try again with another inadvisable diet, and the cycle continued.

I also found out that many dieters should ease into making changes in their food intake, for example, changing just one meal at a time. They need to be guided in modifying a basic eating plan so it suits their tastes and lifestyles. They need to learn how to handle challenging eating situations where they don’t have control over the food that’s available or where others are pushing food on them. They especially need to learn exactly what to do when it’s not time to eat but they’re experiencing hunger, cravings, or want to soothe their distress with food.

In short, to be successful, dieters needed a complete program for weight loss, that incorporates a psychological approach (e.g., what to do when you’re feeling discouraged, disappointed, or deprived), dieting skills, an enjoyable eating plan, and techniques for keeping motivated for life. Most people think that just following a diet will be enough. I had previously thought that just learning essential skills was enough. But now it’s apparent—you need both.

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One comment

  1. I’ve just finished the original Beck diet book; I started the program on January 19 and have lost 18 pounds so far, using Weight Watchers online as the diet plan. I have the workbook and the new book and plan to start reading those. Obviously, the material has been very helpful, and I’m delighted with the results. The one thing I find missing, though, is information specifically for people who’ll have to diet for months to reach even the top of the normal weight range for their height and age. The last couple of chapters of the first book deal with going into maintenance, which would be fine if I’d had to lose only about 20 pounds total. But since I’m only about a third of the way to normal weight, that’s premature for me. A quick look at the other two books suggests that they go over somewhat the same points as the original book, and although I’ll be interested to compare the diet plan with what I’ve been doing, Weight Watchers does involve a variety of healthy foods, particularly if the dieter takes care to follow the recommended number of servings of vegetables, etc. As I start the two additional Beck books, I plan to read and reflect on a chapter a day, as I did with the first book, in order to keep my mind on what I’m doing. All the same, though, this excellent program would be even more helpful if it included some chapters dealing specifically with the issues of long-term dieting, intended for people who aren’t close to being finished yet.

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