The Diet Trap Solution by Judith S. Beck and Deborah Beck Busis

The Diet Trap Solution focuses on CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) psychology to help find answers to the most common reasons why people overeat. It’s not a research book nor is there a diet plan or cookbook. Rather, it is a book addressing the behaviors/habits/situations that cause the overeating. The authors write in a very breezy and friendly tone and the 177 page book can be finished in under two hours. I’ve read quite a few diet/health/eating issue books that deal with CBT and this is by far the most user-friendly, eschewing psychobabble for realistic situations and examples. As such, it doesn’t feel like endless preachy theory by someone who has never had an overeating problem.

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The book breaks down overeating issues into the following trap categories:
– Emotional eating traps: “If I’m upset, I deserve to eat.”
– Stress traps: “I’m too busy and overwhelmed to keep on dieting.”
– Food pusher traps: “I can’t disappoint people by turning down food they’re offering me.”
– Family traps: “I shouldn’t ask my family to make changes just because I want to lose weight.”
– Travel and eating out traps: “It’s okay to indulge when I’m away.”
– Holiday traps: “It’s a special time (e.g., Thanksgiving). I should be able to eat whatever I want.”
– Psychological traps: “I have no willpower. I just can’t resist.”
– Getting of track traps: “I’ve already blown it for the day. I might as well keep eating and get back on track tomorrow.”

The point of the book is CBT: make yourself aware (cognizant) of your situations and decisions. This means writing down benefits of losing weight and analyzing situations that would affect that goal. The authors want to guide readers to make better decisions and to avoid sabotaging “in the now” decisions that ultimately defeat the long term weight loss goal. You will have to carry note cards with you for awhile until you retrain impulsive behavior and really learn to stop and think about what you are doing. A great example is how easy it is to justify eating poorly all day if a dieter ‘falls off the wagon’ at one meal. A reminder card would be used to reiterate that every bite counts – and eating poorly the rest of the day is a poor justification to defeat long term goals.

There is a quiz at the beginning to see which traps you are most likely to fall into – often it can be more than one.  After that, readers will write down all the benefits of the weight loss and keep those handy so they can also write down the supposed ‘benefits/justifications’ of an impulsive action that breaks the diet. E.g., eating out with your spouse at a fancy restaurant. If he/she is annoyed that you won’t go with them, the analysis shows that a short term benefit of the spouse not being annoyed is hardly equal to the benefits lost from not losing the weight (e.g., why is their temporary happiness so much more important than your own long term health/happiness if you lost the weigh because you didn’t go?).  There is a lot of food for thought (no pun intended) in the real world people examples used in each chapter.

The information is presented in an ordered and intelligent manner, showing excellent thought gone into the book. Each chapter has an introduction to the trap, real world pitfalls, escaping the traps (creating escape plans), and a summary ‘reflect and recommit’ of why a reader wants to escape the trap. There is also a handy chart of the escape plan that has columns for: sabotaging thoughts, reminders, and to do list (e.g., for emotional eating, the escape plan sabotaging thought is, “I’m lonely. I deserve to treat myself with extra ice cream”. The reminders is: “It’s true that I’m lonely. I need to accept the feeling and deal with loneliness in another way.” And the to Do List: “Start buying only a single ice cream treat each day to eat at night. Throw away the pints of ice cream that are already in the freezer.”).

Readers will have to go to the author’s website to download forms – and of course expect the usual bombardment of plugs for the authors’ diet books and other items. On the site is the usual hard upsell (pop ups, sign ups, etc.), for which I deduct one star (so tired of feeling like dieters are ripe for ponzi schemes disguised as ‘additional products’). But the quizzes are in the book and do not need to be downloaded. Nor do you need any specific diet to follow the book. This is more of a companion to any diet you have currently chosen rather than a stand alone.

In all, I liked the ease of the read, friendly tone, excellent organization of material, and real-world, grounded examples. We all know overeating is more than just an issue of shoving food in the mouth; eating better AND dealing with the psychology side really need to be addressed in tandem for true lifestyle change.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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