The Self-Compassion Diet

reviewed by Kristine Morris

The Self-Compassion Diet: A Step-by-Step Program to Lose Weight with Loving-Kindness

By Jean Fain, LICSW, MSW

If you have invested in what Jean Fain describes as “countless one-way tickets to thin” and still find yourself despairing of ever reaching your ideal weight, then The Self-Compassion Diet, with its four-pronged approach to diet-free weight loss, may be just what you need to arrive at a healthy, sustainable weight. Fain, who has struggled with weight-loss issues herself and now calls herself “a mindful eater and compassionate weight-loss guide,” found that it’s possible to lose weight without guilt and self-loathing, and with more pleasure than most diets allow, by eating your favorite foods in moderation. “I have learned too much to consider anything as depriving and ineffective as a diet,” she says. “For me, mindful eating is the only satisfying, eff ective way to go.”

Fain affirms that by allowing yourself to experience satisfaction — a “no-no” in most diets — and letting yourself enjoy good food in good company (even giving yourself permission to eat for relaxation or reward), it is possible to lose weight, as long as the body’s signals are understood and honored. “Without satisfaction, dieters are doomed to regain whatever they lose,” she says. “But by allowing for satisfaction and choosing to pay attention to your body’s signals, it’s possible to have some cake, eat it too, and lose weight.”

Getting a grip on food-related issues is an intensely personal journey, and Fain’s simple, flexible approach allows readers to choose the weight-loss route that they find most exciting, whether it be the path of self-compassion (loving kindness), the path of hypnosis (positive suggestion), the path of mindfulness (conscious awareness), or the path of social support (compassionate community). Research in cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, and meditation, together with stories gathered from clients and personal experience, show how self-compassion transforms lives.

Instead of lists of forbidden foods and calorie-counting charts, Fain offers an “eat all you are comfortable eating” plan that leads to “intuitive slimness” and a new possibility for happy, healthy living.

Jean Fain is a licensed psychotherapist, writer, and a teaching associate in psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

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