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26 March 2011


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Becca Balmes

I haven't read the book, but from this synopsis I believe I can say I won't ever read the book.

I'm currently doing a very similar weight loss process to that you outline going through in your blog archives. I'm a recovering glutton, have had very little self-restraint with food or material pleasures for most of my life. I'm learning, VERY slowly, how to follow rules and train my impulses to conform to a longer-range goal than simply feeling good in the moment.

It's an incredible feeling to be succeeding at this, and when I hear "experts" tell me that what I'm doing is unhealthy or impossible, I automatically discount the rest of their advice.


OK, this wasn't at all a "synopsis" of the book! Only a highlight of one of its problems. I actually think there is some good stuff in the book, Becca, so don't discount it yet. I will be writing more about it. There are some useful principles for thinking about what she calls "eating competence," some good ideas for feeding children, and even some recipes.

She and I definitely wouldn't be in agreement about how to "treat" gluttony, but I would chalk a lot of that up to different philosophy (and there's nothing wrong with that -- I don't think eating problems have a one-size-fits-all solution, and her approach is probably the right approach for some people.) Personally, I'd want to see some numbers about how successful are the clinics or practices who use her philosophy before making up my mind for sure.

The book is simply not *about* morality. It's not part of her worldview that she's throwing out there. It needs a supplement.

I have a suspicion, too, that her work has given her a bit of blinders about it. I think she works with enough people with serious, serious eating disorders and sensory issues and other clinical diagnoses, that the problem of simple lack of restraint is maybe wayyyyyy under her radar -- all the folks who won't ever seek eating-disorder treatment because they don't have *that* kind of a problem, but still are unhappy with their difficulty exercising self-control.

edited to add: Oh, and the techniques for mindful eating ("tuning in," "finding your stopping place") are in there, which are real tools to learning to deal with gluttony. Of course, you have to be able to control yourself to practice them. So you have to be willing to take a non-gluttonous step to begin -- you have to exercise "restraint" to learn her method that she calls "unrestrained."

(Man, I just can't get over how much I dislike those vocabulary choices. But the term "restrained eating" is apparently already-established technical term in the field of eating disorders, so we can't blame her for that. LMK when "out of control virtue" enters the DSM-IV.)

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