December 9, 2008

Dieting under stress

Perhaps this is the dieting breakthrough you’ve been waiting for?

This diet is designed to help you cope with the stress that builds up during the day.

Half of a grapefruit
1 slice whole wheat toast, dry
8 oz. skim milk

4 oz. Lean boiled chicken breast
1 cup steamed spinach
1 cup herb tea
1 Oreo cookie

Rest of the Oreos in the package
2 pints of Rocky Road ice cream
1 jar hot fudge sauce
Nuts, cherries, whipped cream

2 loaves garlic bread with cheese
Large sausage, mushroom and cheese pizza
4 cans or 1 large pitcher of beer
3 Milky way candy bars

Entire frozen cheesecake eaten directly from the freezer


1. If you eat something and no one sees you do it, it has no calories.

2. If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are canceled out by the diet soda.

3. When you eat with someone else, calories don’t count if you don’t eat more than they do.

4. Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER counts, such as hot chocolate, brandy, toast and Sara Lee cheesecake.

5. If you fatten everyone else around you, then you look thinner.

6. Movie related foods do not have additional calories because they are part of the entire entertainment package and not part of one’s personal fuel, such as Milk Duds, buttered popcorn, Jr. Mints, Red Hots, and Tootsie Rolls.

7. Cookie pieces contain no calories. The process of breaking causes calory leakage.

8. Things licked off knives and spoons have no calories if you are in the process of preparing something. Examples are peanut butter on a knife making a sandwich and ice cream on a spoon making a sundae.

9. Foods that have the same color have the same number of calories. Examples are spinach and pistachio ice cream, mushrooms and white chocolate. NOTE: Chocolate is a universal color and may be substituted for any other food color.

Dr Fishman comments:

These are silly dieting suggestions. But food control, even with real diets, is not key to eating disorders.

Eating disorders have to do with relationships and, importantly, how relationships are handled.

Our treatment of Compulsive Overeating, Bulima and Anorexia Nervosa emphases how relationships play a central part; suffers must strive to have relationships where they have a voice, to be equal and, very importantly, where conflicts are effectively addressed. To the extent that conflicts are not addressed, this smoldering antagonism can lead to compulsive overeating and other eating disorders.

In our culture, individuals especially women can be pressured to have a certain weight, to be thin, to be “stylish.” If someone in a relationship is making them feel bad about themselves, it is understandable to internalize it and think there’s wrong with them—it must be their weight.

This leads to tunnel vision—focusing only on the eating and the food. Instead, if the conflict the relationship is addressed, it’s much easier to control one’s eating.

6 Responses to “Dieting under stress”

  1. Donna Ryan says:

    I think the article is in bad taste. Sure, it’s meant to be funny and poking fun at “diet mentality” but for people with EDs, it’s not funny at all. I feel a sense of dismay when I read it, and for many it’s probably an all too close to the bone reminder of the hell they go through each day.


    • Dear Donna

      Thank you for your important and thoughtful note. Please be assured that by writing “diet” on the website, we mean no disrespect. It is used to emphasize the fact that with eating problems, food is not the only issue. Instead, the underlying problem is how conflictual situations are handled.

      Anorexia is a rare disease. If, as it is often said, the focus on fashion leads to anorexia, there would be millions of anorectics; instead the prevalence is just 0.5%. In my experience as a clinician for many decades, the relationship between food and weight follows like this:

      Within a person’s social context, when he or she is angry or upset, he or she may say “There is something wrong with my life. I’m upset. Perhaps if I were thinner, my problems will be resolved.” In some cases, the desire to control ones weight becomes compulsive and the eating disorder can assume a life of its own.

      There is increasing evidence that the social context is related to weight and food. For example, the work of Professor Nicholas Christakis of Harvard shows that our immediate social context can affect weight. Professor Christakis analyzed data collected over beginning in 1948 from the famous Framingham Study with over 5000 people and found that the people who are around those who are overweight can greatly influence them. This includes people who are immediately interface them, even if they don’t know the friend of a friend (Bond, 2009).

      We are currently introducing a program in which one component is social networking as an aid in controlling one’s food issues. In this program, people identify a Twitter buddy who they can contact whenever they are stressed and who will then support them through their stress. This counters isolation, a factor that exacerbates eating disorders.

      Bond, M (2009), Three Degrees of Contagion, New Scientist, 2689, 24-27.

  2. Jamie says:

    I thought this was a brilliant article and I have been ‘suffering’ from compulsive eating problems for over 30 years. It gave me a good laugh and in fact helped therapeutically by the use of paradox. Just goes to show that it wouldn’t do if we were all the same. Thanks for the article.

  3. a campbell says:

    Help, please I’ve had ed for 20years, I am married with 3 children and this is the only way i can make contact for help. I am shugging again (always shugging). What should i do (I can’t tell my husband as he has been going through as well for the last 20 years) I need to do this by myself.
    I want to be happy with myself I cant bear to be like this any longer.
    Thanks A

  4. a campbell says:

    I apologize for needing to place another comment. But need advice on what to do (now) I have got myself into a situtation where I can’t seem to eat anything and all I can think of is to exercise all the time.
    I cant sleep because my heart seems to pound hard and fast and because I have a really sore lower back.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Regards A

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