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Articles
Totally Fad-Free Diet
South Beach Diet Critique
If Gluttony Is A Sin, Am I Guilty?
Chocolate: The New Diet Food
Diet Mania in Overweight America

Get Real Dr. Phil!

It sounded like Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live. Just substitute something like, I'm not going to eat any more Doritos cuz I'm beautiful inside and out! Applause, applause... cut to a commercial.

This fat one doesn't get kicked outa the group this week by Dr. Phil; what a relief. Hopefully she won'ąt get voted off by her peers either, for being such a failure. Let's add more personal failure and public humiliation to the already scalding pot of shame!

Our culture discriminates against fat people, and the public and private humiliation they face every day is being acted out on the Dr. Phil show. He's so busy trying to psychologize that he completely missed the most important point. People can't stay on their diets because they get bored! Humans crave stimulation and variety for biological and psychological reasons. He says it's not about the food; it's about a decision to do this for yourself because you're worth it.

But do what? While looking through his list of food to throw out I was saddened and enraged by the deprivation he's asking people to endure. Get rid of cookies, candy, potato chips, pretzels, taco chips, doughnuts, white bread, crackers, ice cream, syrups, jams, jellies, peanut butter, alcohol, and any food that can be classified as junk food. Replace it with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat milk products, low-fat or fat free foods or snacks, and sugar-free beverages.

This is a carbon copy of any traditional diet which works temporarily to knock off a few pounds. After a period of time people sabotage their own progress, since it becomes impossible to tolerate such intense denial. Dr. Phil says to simply talk nice to yourself on a bad day and go back to the diet. But he also says ya gotta be tough on yourself and get real about fat or get real fat. Commit to his diet or you are dropped from the program and branded a big, fat, failure.

One victim mentioned failing on diets because diets don't work, and because she talked mean to herself. He sidestepped the diets don't work part of the problem on his show and in his book. He seems to believe people abandon their diets for psychological reasons, often rooted in the past, which are perpetuated today by nasty self-talk. If your mother let you know you're a failure and you keep telling yourself the same thing, you'll never win since you set yourself up to fail.

There is some truth to this, but no matter how much understanding, insight, and good labeling you do, it's not going to make most people commit to a life of deprivation. Experts agree that weight control has to be a way of life, but all he offers is a drastic diet and a lesson in Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology 101.

Stop blaming the victims of faulty diets! If any other service or product failed for 95% of its users, we would agree that the product is defective; not the user! Dr. Phil misses this point completely.

The New York Times recently reported that comfort foods, like chocolate cake and ice cream, literally blunt the body's response to chronic stress. We need to learn how to manage these foods, instead of abusing or abstaining. The only fats he suggests are one a day, usually consisting of salmon or a smidgen of olive oil on a salad. Whoopeeee! We know that people with weight problems (and many without) tend to eat when stressed.

If behavioral distractions worked so well, we'd all be cured already. They're mostly tired, old, insulting, diet tools. Will people really trick themselves into eating less by using a smaller plates and cocktail forks for the rest of their lives? Get real, Dr. Phil!

People need healthy junk foods which can be programmed into their daily lives. What's the harm if someone eats an all natural waffle with a scoop of Breyer's ice cream for breakfast? In fact it's only 250 calories, so I say, throw on another scoop! The protein, fat, calcium, sugar, and fiber will hold you over till lunch.

Most respectable researchers agree that burning more calories than those ingested creates weight loss, regardless if they're from protein, fat, or carbs. Why not have a few handfuls of chocolate covered soy nuts for lunch with soup and salad? Why not a bag of Dudes Chips, which taste exactly like Fritos, but are made with corn, salt, and healthy oil. Now that's a diet people can stick to.

All of a sudden, negative self talk might cease, since there is no struggle, no failure, lots of pleasure, and biologically managed stress. Throw in a few psychological and behavioral coping strategies, and it might just become the end of diet mania in overweight America.