‘The Complete Beck Diet’: A GoodTherapy.org Review

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 Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Danny


    February 9th, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Is there really any truth to this? I mean maybe these are depressed people who just happen to have lost their appetites and are now seeking therapy to treat the depression. maybe this is where the correlation actually lies. If not then sign me up for some therapy because I really need to lose some weight too!

  • Noelle


    February 10th, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    Me too!:-) What an added bonus to your therapy sessions.

  • Georgia


    February 11th, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    What this means for me is that people are finally taking the time to make themselves a priority and heal rather than continuing to mask their problems with food and other addictions. It makes a whole lot of sense to me that people going through the therapeutic process wil realize the things they are doing to contribute to their overall poor health and they are finding ways in therapy to overcome this. It is part of the whole healing process.

  • Victoria


    February 13th, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    The whole cognitive therapy experience was such a positive one for me for many different reasons but above all else it helped me to learn who I really was and the things that I needed to do to take care of myself both emotionally and physically. I think that this is what ot does for so many people. It is a time for reflection and understanding, and most of all getting in touch with who you are and the things that you need in order to succeed and survive. I would recommend cognitive therapy for anyone undergoing any stresses and down times in life but it truly did help me to change mine for the better.

  • Carla


    February 14th, 2009 at 1:58 PM

    If this is so beneficial for helping people to lose weight then why are there so many fad diets yet so few who need to lose weight turning to this sort of treatment? Is it becasue this is not the quick fix that so many of us who need to lose weight quickly desire or is it becasue of the demons that we are afraid of confronting when meeting with a therapist and trying to hash out all of these issues? hey I am thinking it could be both of these things. . . for me anyway. Therapy is scary. I know that there are things in my life that I need to address but man I know that will be a lot of hard work. I admit that I am always looking for the easy way out, hence a large part of my own problems with food are solved right there with that statement. I am writing a bit in jest though. I have been thinking for a long time now about trying some sort of therapy or hypnosis to help me deal with many of my own issues which revolve around my weight and seeing the benefits here in print spur me on toward completion. I will update all to let you know what happens in this adventure.

  • high diet

    high diet

    March 5th, 2009 at 6:02 AM

    I think i agree with carla, I’d rather choose to be hypnotized.

  • Cody


    August 12th, 2009 at 6:07 AM

    Thanks for the great article.

  • Ganhar Dinheiro

    Ganhar Dinheiro

    August 17th, 2009 at 3:36 PM

    Me too! What an added bonus to your therapy sessions :)

  • Nivethan


    December 12th, 2009 at 4:23 AM

    I am also!!!!
    Thanks for the great post!

  • Silky


    December 30th, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    really nice bonus for the therapy sessions

  • Maria Mcdonald

    Maria Mcdonald

    May 11th, 2010 at 12:12 AM

    i absolultely agree with carla . I am also always looking for the easy way out, hence a large part of my own problems with food are solved right there with that statement. I truely believe in cognitive therapy it also helped me.

  • healthy


    June 14th, 2010 at 5:46 AM

    It will be quite difficult to change the thoughts of the people but it is not impossible.any way very nice post.

  • Briank


    December 17th, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    2 years ago, Dr. Beck’s book helped me to lose (and maintain) 60 pounds. She’s doing a workshop, in Philadelphia, in January 2011 that focuses on the skills I learned. Check it out – beckdietsolution.com

  • Sandy


    June 27th, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    Really helpful post. I am also under depression due to excess weight. But now thinking to go for this therapy.

  • william


    July 8th, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    There are several reasons I like your post, you made the point that one should focuses more on development of behavioral habits or skills and that you should think like a thin person

  • Dukan


    July 9th, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Thanks for the review. The diet sounds interesting.

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