Ditching Diets by Gillian Riley

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I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about the book Ditching Diets by Gillian Riley for awhile now.  In the meantime, I’ve read another of her books Eating Less – Saying goodbye to overeating.

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I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m in the right mind space or what but I really connect with what this woman says about our addictive desire.  Truly, my overeating is never based upon hunger.  As far as my overeating being based upon emotions, yes it’s true that I overeat because of or in response to emotions; however those emotions can be positive or negative.

The bottom line for me (I think) is that my overeating IS based upon addictive desire and my inability (until lately) to just BE with that desire and not act on it.  Maybe that’s why these two books resonate so strongly with me.  It was truly like the proverbial light bulb moment when I read Ditching Diets and since then, I’ve been dealing with my addictive desire in a much more positive manner.

One addictive desire I constantly indulged in was a breath mint habit.  Yes, I know it sounds absolutely bizarre, but every time I got in the car – I popped two breath mints into my mouth.  By the time I was to the end of the road, I’d pop 2 more.  If I was by myself in the car, I’d do this several more times until I arrived at my destination.  I also did this when walking through the kitchen.  Want to eat?  Pop a breath mint instead.  Bored?  Try a breath mint.  Lonely?  You guessed it – breath mint.  Total additive desire.  The calories or lack of calories aren’t the point…..it was a total addictive desire.

Since reading Ditching Diets – I’ve not had a breath mint.  Yes, I’ve been tempted at times, but I just observed the desire and didn’t open the breath mint box.  I still have 2 boxes of them – one in the kitchen and one in the car.  Just to remind myself of my triumph over those little white suckers.  Just ‘being’ with my addictive desire has also helped me overcome a ‘just a bite of this’ habit while preparing meals.  The thought still crosses my mind at times to just have a bite, but most of the time, I’m able to recognize it as an addictive desire and not indulge the desire.

Ditching Diets seems to be a concise, fine-tuned version of Eating Less.  I think Ditching Diets has enough information to get most people moving forward in addressing their addictive desires yet I did get additional valuable information from Eating Less.  I’m sure I’ll continue to refer to both books.

One of Gillian’s key points is that we have choices.  Sounds so basic – but it’s true.  We can either make choices to support our goals or not.  We just need to be honest about the consequences of our choices.

Another key point I took away from these books is that weight/fat loss is not the best goal to make.  A better goal is health, self-esteem or being able to do something we can’t do now.

She writes:  “It’s about eating in a way that supports and enhances your emotional and your physical wellbeeing.  It’s about correcting the balance from a situation where losing weight is everything to just having it be one factor.  It’s fine to have both kinds of motivation.  Most of us do.  We will always want to look as good as we can, and I do too.  What makes the difference in achieving this is having both of these kinds of motivation in a good balance.

When you draw the focus of your attention away from your weight and toward looking after your health, you immediately start to boost your self-esteem.  This is because you are affirming that you value yourself enough to give your body what’s best for it.  You motivate yourself toward having a healthy relationship with food rather than looking a certain way.  You can have both.  You can have the best of health and look great too, but if you prioritise your health and self-esteem you will connect with a considerably more powerful and enduring source of motivation.  Then, the weight loss pretty much takes care of itself.”

One more point when dealing with addictive desire is “you’ve got the option not to satisfy your desire, or at least not to satisfy it quite so often.”

She also goes on to explain how when we DON’T satisfy our addictive desire, it helps create new brain paths in our prefrontal cortex so that we are less likely to dive into these addictive desires in the future because we are reprogramming our minds.

“You either reinforce this memory by overeating once again, or you start to let it go by leaving it unsatisfied.  If you leave the addictive desire unsatisfied, you get to be in control of your overeating, and it fades because you are no longer feeding and reinforcing it.”

One of my favorite quotes:

“I could go ahead and satisfy this desire by eating some toast or I could just let myself feel this unsatisfied addictive desire.  Yes, it’s uncomfrotable but I’d rather have this feeling than spend the rest of my life overeating.  It’s worth it to me because it means I’ll feel more in control and I’ll enjoy my lunch more.”

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One Response to Ditching Diets by Gillian Riley

  1. I definitely can identify with the premise of this book (and with what you wrote about your own behaviors). I’ve avoided the word “addictive” for years, but yet, that’s exactly what my eating behaviors point to. As I further my Buddhist practice, staying in an uncomfortable moment and feeling it rather than running away has been goal lately. NOT easy, but in the end, worth it. Thanks for posting this!

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