Book: The Beck Diet Solution by Judith S. Beck
Genre: diet book
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Publication date: 2008
Summary: The Beck Diet Solution by Judith S. Beck sounds like a diet book, but there’s no diet in it. The real focus is described by the subtitle: train your brain to think like a thin person. It’s a six-week program applying Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques to weight loss. Each day provides a new task or lesson, although there is an invitation in the supporting materials to take more than a day as needed for some tasks. The premise of the book is that failing to lose weight does not come from a lack of will power but from a lack in one’s skill set.
Here’s a description from the introductory material of the book, p. 19:
The Beck Diet Solution is a psychological program, not a food plan. It doesn’t tell you what to eat — you can choose any nutritious diet you want. That’s because any reasonable diet will work for you if you have the right mindset. The Beck Diet Solution teaches you how to get yourself to eat the way you’re supposed to eat. It shows you how to talk back to the I don’t want to, I don’t have to, or I can’t voice in your head.
Thoughts: The Beck Diet Solution (the pink book) is the first of two books on similar topics by psychologist Judith Beck. I read the other book at the beginning of my weight loss journey and it was vital to my success. It’s called The Complete Beck Diet for Life (the green book) and it does have a food plan in the book, although I mostly ignored that and chose my own way of eating. I tried several times to work my way through The Beck Diet Solution, but only succeeded in completing the full six-week program recently.
The skills covered in the two books are similar, but I found the arrangement of The Complete Beck Diet for Life easier to handle–several skills per “Stage” but less of an expectation that a “Stage” would be completed in any particular time frame. I apparently do better working on several related skills in a one week or two week period than I do working with one skill per day. A lot of people find the opposite to be true and have better success with The Beck Diet Solution‘s day by day format.
Since I had already worked my way through the green book, the pink book was a kind of refresher at a time when I was making the last push toward my goal weight. Many of the skills I had become quite adept at, like “eat sitting down.” Some continue to be challenges for me so revisiting them in the pink book was very helpful, like “identify sabotaging thoughts.” A few of the skills I have ignored all along and take some gleeful satisfaction of successfully losing weight without following that particular rule, like “eat slowly and mindfully.” Although, I have to admit that I eat more slowly and mindfully than I used to and it is, indeed, one of the keys to my success. I just don’t eat as slowly and mindfully as the book says I should and I think that having one little rebellion to the rules is also a key to my success.
Appeal:This works. It should appeal to anyone who finds it difficult to attain and maintain a healthy weight in the current food environment. I do have a couple of precautions based on hesitations that people have with the Beck books.
First is the word “diet.” If you have read books or been in programs for which “diet” is a dirty word, then it will take some re-training to accept Dr. Beck’s usage of it in these books. Try substituting “food plan” instead for awhile and see if that helps. It did for me. There is nothing in these books that encourages a short-term or drastic approach so the reasons normally given for avoiding the word “diet” don’t apply.
Second is the rules-based approach. I picked up The Beck Diet Solution shortly after it was originally published and sent it back to the library after skimming it. There was no way that I was going to submit to the rules and general bossiness I perceived in the book. After gaining 40 pounds in a year, I changed my mind. I obviously needed the structure of rules. It also helped that I put my inner teenage rebel to work in a different way — she’s in charge of subverting our modern industrial food system with its engineered hyperpalatable food stuffs, insidious marketing, and profit over public health mentality (The End of Overeating by David Kessler provided the framework for that subversive activity). I’m in charge of navigating through all of that to a sane and healthy way of eating. If you can’t get past the bossiness of the Beck books, here’s an alternative: Book Review: The Eating Well Diet by Jean Harvey-Berino. I would love to know if someone tries The Eating Well Diet — I have no way to evaluate whether the rigor of the Beck approach is required for success or if this kinder, gentler approach can be just as effective.
Challenges: I completed the Foodie’s Reading Challenge months ago, but I love the collection of books we’ve developed at that website, so I’ll add this one to it. Check out the Weekend Cooking post at Beth Fish Reads for my culinary adventures: Weekend Cooking: Review: French Classics Made Easy by Richard Grausman.