Inside: Book review for Take Charge of Your Diet: A Self-Help Workbook using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Press sample provided.
If you are trying to lose weight, whether it be for medical reasons or just so that you fit into your favourite pair of jeans, it can be tough going. There are so many diets out there, all promising the earth but rarely delivering on those promises. Sylvie Boulay’s book talks you through various exercises using CBT to change the way you think about food and your reasons for losing weight.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is often associated with treating depression or for use with drug/drink users. However, it can be applied to many situations and in this case with helping people who wish to lose weight but struggle with overcoming their habits that are geared towards overeating in certain situations.
As someone who has struggled with binge-eating and overeating for most of their life, I was particularly interested in the techniques and how they may help me to find balance. Hopefully this review will help you to decide whether the book can help you too.
About the author
Sylvie Boulay started a counselling diploma to help a friend who was suffering from mental health problems. After she achieved her person-centred counselling diploma in 2000, Sylvie made a career change and started working with people affected by alcohol, drugs and gambling problems.
She first worked for a charity (Aquarius Action Projects) setting up a gambling service before moving to an NHS addiction clinic where she worked as the manager. While working, Sylvie did a second degree in addiction studies at the Leeds Addiction Unit.
Sylvie also completed a diploma in counselling children and young people. She has also been in private practice. Sylvie has been a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) since 2004.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
CBT is based on the fact that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are all connected, with each affected the others as you go through each day. Negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle that affect your physical sensations and actions – in this case it would be the fact that you’ll feel like you need food and head into the kitchen.
CBT helps you to break down your behaviour patterns into smaller parts and then gives you the tools needed to help break the patterns and improve your state of mind.
Using CBT for weight loss
Whenever someone tries to lose weight they will look to start a new diet or regime within their lifestyle. These diets may include calorie counting, cutting out certain food groups or eating within specified times of the day.
The issue with diets though is that they focus on what you put in your mouth and when rather than trying to change the way you think about food and yourself. So, invariably people slip up and then eventually give up on the diet altogether.
CBT and Sylvie’s book aim to support whichever diet someone choses by helping them to overcome negative though processes and habits that may go on to trip them up further down the line. Therefore helping them to stick to their diet plan and reach their ultimate goal of losing weight and changing their way of life.
What’s inside the book?
I must stress that this book is not a diet book, it does not tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat or when. It is simply a tool to assist you, whether you use it alongside a diet plan or not.
The book starts off asking whether it is the right approach for you. I like this as it clearly speaks to those that would benefit from reading it.
- Do you worry about your weight and your eating?
- Do you regularly feel out of control around food?
- Do you sometimes eat very quickly before you realise what you are doing?
- Have you tried every new diet, lost weight and then put it all back on?
- Do certain foods ‘call to you’ irresistibly even when you are not hungry?
- Do you crave sugary or fatty foods when you are upset, sad, angry, tired or bored?
- Do you lack confidence that you can lose weight and keep it off?
I have to say that I said yes to each and every one of those statements.
The book is broken down into chapters and has 10 main sections for various CBT techniques. The idea being that you work through each step until you have completed all 10 stages. Once completed you will be in a stronger position to control your impulses around food and thought patterns that usually cause you to break good habits.
“The aim is to retrain ourselves to slow down, think about what we actually need and only eat when we have made a conscious decision to feed our bodies. The ten stages are tools to help us do just that.”
As someone who has always struggled with food and balance, I found it very interesting indeed. I am also someone who is not easily swayed in terms of believing that a simple exercise can change my behaviour. However, as I worked through the various activities I could see that my behaviours were indeed being influenced by new though patterns.
There are many stages that I was already familiar with such as keeping a food diary and working out my ‘why’ for wanting to lose weight. The stage that I feel really helped me though was Stage Seven: Manage Your Cravings.
I am definitely someone who fixates on a food and then ‘needs’ to eat it. I may remember that there is a leftover donut in the kitchen and will not be able to resist going to get it. I may not be hungry but it will be ‘calling me’.
Through working through the stage and trying out the different techniques I am now able to distract myself for long enough that my craving passes. I also refer back to Stage 1 a lot which is to remember why I am wanting to lose weight.
Although I am not on a diet, I definitely try to limit calorie dense foods such as crisps and donuts. My willpower has always been poor though and I have always used food as a crutch to get me through stressful situations. Working through the book has shown me the power of my own mind and that I can take charge of the destructive thoughts and negative habits to regain control of my eating.
If you struggle with binge-eating or overeating then I would definitely recommend reading the book. It is short and concise – perfect to read in small bursts as you work through the exercises.
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