Traci Mann, PhD and professor at the University of Minnesota (and co-author of several of the papers listed on my Scientific Lit page), was featured recently in this LA Times article talking about why we should give up dieting. I’m pretty excited, as you can imagine, anytime a HAES®-minded professional gets some serious traction in the media!
Professor Mann doesn’t mince words right out of the gate:
“You can stop dieting and still be healthy,” Mann said in an interview about her new book, “Secrets From the Eating Lab,” an overview of dieting, willpower and health. And if you’ve lost weight on a diet only to regain it, she said, “it’s really not your fault” but more likely the result of your biology, stress and the allure of “forbidden fruit.”
Preach sister! The article went on to say:
If you want to stay thinner than your body’s natural range allows, Mann said, “you’re going to be dealing with that five or six times every day — meal times, snack times, when you should be exercising. It’s going to have to become a huge main focus of your life. That just seems crazy to me.” (emphasis mine)
Crazy doesn’t even begin to cover it. This was the life I led for a chunk of time, and it left little time for other, happier pursuits. Like blog writing!
Professor Mann advocates for something she calls the “leanest livable weight,” which she describes as “a weight you can maintain while having a normal life. If it’s a weight you cannot maintain, that is not your leanest livable weight.” I don’t love the use of the word “lean” because I think it implies a certain image of thinness, something that many of us will never come close to achieving. But I understand what she is saying and frankly it’s coated in enough honey that even HAES® skeptics might find it palatable. And I’m all for making the non-diet message as accessible to as many people as possible.
As I thought more about this concept of leanest livable weight, it struck me that I was there: my life is livable, normal (well, normal for me) and enjoyable, and my weight is now stable. My leanest livable weight means I get to enjoy two slices of pizza for lunch and some frozen yogurt after to celebrate a friend’s birthday. That’s livable.
Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again will apparently include some tips to help improve eating habits. One example was to eat a vegetable before (not with) a meal to cause you to eat less of the meal. So, while I think eating vegetables is great, I’m not necessarily for “tricking” my body into anything. If I eat less than I need, I’ll know it in an hour. If you like your vegetable with your main entrée, eat it that way and just focus on how your stomach feels as you eat. That said, starting your meal out with a salad isn’t the weirdest or most unpleasant thing a person can do. I’m crossing my fingers that her eating tips aren’t restrictive in nature and are just easy things to do to encourage better eating.
I can’t say whether I recommend this book or not because I haven’t read it yet, but it looks promising, and I’ll get behind almost anything that shows the diet industry for what it is: pure profit on a shoddy failure of a product. I just purchased it online so I’ll let you know in a few weeks if it’s worth a look from a HAES® perspective.