Just another diet book? It seems unlikely that The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The Five-Stage Program for Weight Loss (Oxmoor House, 2008) can be dismissed so easily. After all, the author is Judith Beck, clinical associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Her father, Dr. Aaron Beck, developed what is now a well-researched psychotherapy for depression—cognitive therapy—commonly referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT has been used successfully for a wide range of behavioral and psychological issues. Judith Beck released her new book in December of 2008 and follows one she wrote the year before, The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person (Oxmoor House, 2007), but this one focuses more on development of behavioral habits or skills. The 2007 book primarily used cognitive principles to help people lose weight by changing thought processes and related behaviors.
As described in an interview with the author in a San Francisco Chronicle article, this isn’t a lose-it-all-quick-and-easy diet book. But it is a description of thoughts common to dieters that need to be changed, how to change the thoughts by challenging them, recognizing reasons one wants to eat, education about good eating habits, food situation planning, and skills to practice. She also includes room for relapses of old habits, something many strict diet plans do not do.
She reminds readers that they needn’t feel ashamed since changing one’s health or body is a matter of learning skills. The tips she offers aren’t all original, but strengthen the thrust of its content. She offers some tried-and-true advice, with recommendations to take time to eat slowly or to make sure to sit down for a meal. Developing healthy habits that work for the individual’s optimal weight and psychological well-being takes priority over scoring a lower number on the scale.
In the interview, Dr. Beck said she found that people who came to her for cognitive therapy were also losing weight as a result. There’s no research cited to indicate that the book by itself will help dieters stop dangerous yo-yo dieting or even to change their lifestyles, but cognitive, or cognitive behavioral, psychotherapists working with clients on eating issues may find it a good addition to their client homework libraries. Readers of the book who aren’t in psychotherapy may find that they will have better success with the help of a cognitive behavioral psychotherapist in following the book.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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