How to Diet: Food Rehab

Here’s some of the advice that David Kessler, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 1990 to 1997, gives in his book The End of Overeating to help you resist the pull of unhealthy foods.

1. Replace chaos with structure. Determine ahead of time what you’ll eat for meals and snacks. Block out everything else.


2. Practice just-right eating. Figure out how much food you need. (Odds are, it’s less than you think.) Put it on your plate and don’t go back for more.

3. Pick foods that will satisfy, not stimulate, you. What satisfies you is personal, but try foods that occur in nature, like whole grains, beans, non-starchy vegetables, and fruit, combined with lean protein and a small amount of fat.

4. Rehearse. Anticipate your moves like an elite athlete before a competition. For example, tell yourself, “If I encounter chocolate-covered pretzels, I’ll keep walking.”

5. Seize control. Stay alert to emotional stressors or other stimuli that trigger automatic behavior. Recognize emotions (like sadness, fatigue, or anxiety) that might lead you to overeat.

6. Stop that thought. Change the channel. Turn off the image of the trigger food before you start to debate whether to eat it.

7. Think negative. Pair the unhealthy food with a stream of (unappealing) images. “That’s the flip side of what advertising agencies do when they link an Olympic athlete to a pair of sneakers or an attractive woman to a new piece of technology,” says Kessler.


Other relevant links:

21 Replies to “How to Diet: Food Rehab”

  1. Tip #3 “Pick foods that will satisfy, not stimulate, you” is the one I needed to hear…and need to practice. I’d never thought of it this way. There are some foods I will eat until I’m sick (chips at a Mexican restaurant, cheese & crackers, etc). No doubt the carbs are controlling me and stimulating me. Next time these food are in front of me I need to apply Tip #7 🙂

    1. I was a carboholic and when I heard a nutritionist who I respected say, “If you give your body what it needs, you won’t have those cravings”. I went on her eating plan to prove her wrong and my plan didn’t work. Her’s did. After 30-40 years of carb cravings, I don’t have them anymore – not for the last 11 years! Yea – just know it can be done!

  2. Sounds like a good idea. It also sounds like a Nike commercial: “Just Do It.” Unfortunately, while some can “just do it,” others have a weakness in that area. Many of us pray before we eat–for the Lord to bless the food to the nourishment of our bodies. Why not add a line or two in that prayer for temperance–to eat in moderation those things which are good for us and to avoid those choices that are not? Putting the burden for developing healthier habits on a Higher Power is a great stress reliever when we struggle in the area of diet.

  3. I love the tips related to controlling impulsive behaviors. It’s a ‘win-win’ when one exerts some good old-fashioned discipline — you stave off eating foods you KNOW are excessive and often, unhealthy, AND the feeling of accomplishment after walking away gives strength, confidence, and momentum in one’s ‘journey’ to eat healthier, lose weight, put food in perspective — whatever the goal may be! 🙂

    1. Mix 1/2 cup of fresh fruit, 1/2 cup of low fat yoghurt and three ice cubes in a blender that can handle ice cubes. Blend yourself an icy smoothy. Refreshing, filling, satisfying and keeps you snack free until dinner. THis is part of my new diabetic diet and it is working wonders with those four o’clock cravings!!

  4. Use a small plate. And if you are going for sweets choose something that is individually wrapped, the unwrapping of each serving will help you to eat less. Find healthy alternatives to the snacks you can’t resist, that are similarly tasty (cookies- granola bar)

  5. 8. Feel extremely grateful for the food on your plate (yes, a plate), and savor each bite. There will be a next time to eat. Lucky you!

  6. It’s all mind over matter. I think the biggest problem we face is that we allow food to take the place of God when things get stressful and we need comfort. We’re going to the wrong source!

  7. I talk to myself like a child and say Too bad, that’s ALL you are getting, so be happy with what you have and quit complaining!

  8. I remind myself to always eat sitting down at the table, so I am not tempted to wander around with a handful of nuts, and so I don’t associate eating with the TV or computer or reading in my easy chair.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *