Gillian Riley's "Eating Less"(20 Posts)
Hi everyone, I am a recent member of Mumsnet and have been looking around the site, it is pretty big and covers every subject!
I don't know how I heard about the Eating Less book, but I read an excerpt from the book online and knew that she (Gillian) had the ultimate answer to why I was a chronically failed dieter, who has lost and regained hundreds of pounds over the years, with thirty seven years of failed dieting behind me.
I bought the book and read it from cover to cover. Her research about how our brain behaves when we eat/want to eat was pivotal in helping me to understand why I had continually failed when dieting.
In a nutshell I have to learn to feel the addictive desire to eat something (for example standing in front of the Haagen Daaz Praline & Cream icecream freezer at Tesco with a desperate urge to put some tubs in the trolley and eat when I get home), but then walk away.
This begins a change in the prefrontal cortex and I will begin to forge new (and more healthy) neural pathways. My old neural pathways (the ones which expect me to pick up the icecream fix, take it home and eat it) will slowly become redundant.
Gillian says that when you face your desire and don't try to fill the time in any other way (for example avoiding it), you work through it by making choices to change your priorities.
Crucially, however you can only do this when you are experiencing the urge to overeat.
Let me tell you, it is a real challenge to feel the urge to overeat and not act upon it, but it HAS to be my free choice to choose. I can choose to overeat and pay the consequences (sore joints, back pain, breathlessness, sleep apnea to name a few). My choice.
I have been following this 'programme' for want of a better word, and already feel a difference in my health. I don't know what I weigh, or what I am losing or what my final weight might be. It is irrelevant. It is also very difficult to come to terms with not knowing, but I also know that knowing my weight or any losses will make me take my focus off the 'eating less' and back on to 'dieting'.
I would love to hear from any other members who know this book or follow its advice.
Are you sure you have nothing to do with this book? Seems like a good promo for it that you've written up there...
Yeah, sorry about that, but no. I just want to be able to chat with others who know about it or have been using it. I don't discuss what I am doing with anyone I know, ie. family, colleagues, friends, I just do it.
I've read it at least twice. The first time was probably 10 years ago.
It is very helpful, but for me it wasn't the magic solution to 30 years of binge eating. There again I've tried everything else out there and nothing else has worked either.
Another good book to read alongside it is Brain Over Binge.
Although the premise behind Eating Less is a simple one, I actually found it hard work to stick to it. Same with Brain Over Binge.
I also found it hard to shift the emphasis from wanting to lose weight. I'm 5st overweight and I need to lose weight for health reasons, it's not like I'm just 5lbs overweight and want to lose it to get into a pair of skinny jeans. So the book telling me I had to not think so much about weight loss jarred with me.
I believe these two books can both be very helpful to some people who have issues with overeating/binge eating, although as I said neither has helped me to be cured completely.
By the way OP if you do a board search for it, you'll find a thread from around 2 years ago about the book. IIRC all the MN'ers who were participating in the thread eventually stopped following it.
Hi CVS, it is definitely not a quick fix and I don't think that there is a magic solution unless getting a bypass or band which forces you to eat less.
"I also found it hard to shift the emphasis from wanting to lose weight."
I totally agree with your comment too. After 37 years of overeating and dieting I find it difficult not to want to weigh myself and record losses. However, this method has not worked for me, so I am determined to give this a go.
It is strange not knowing what I weigh and not using scales to keep a records of any losses. However, it is also takes the torture out of going to weekly weigh-ins and being afraid of not losing. I'm not going down that path again...
"Another good book to read alongside it is Brain Over Binge"
I don't know that one, but if it deals with how our brains work when we are eating or bingeing, then it sounds helpful. I have realised through reading Gillian's book that it all starts and ends in our brains. This is where we have to start if we want to make the lasting change to our eating habits.
Ultimately, it is about feeling the desire to overeat or binge (and that for me is like an overwhelming itch that has to be scratched), but not acting on it. It has the effect of starting to create new neural pathways in our prefrontal cortex which, as we continue to make a free choice not to binge or overeat, get stronger. The more we can achieve this, the easier over time it becomes.
But it is not easy to make that free choice to say no when you feel that overwhelming desire, and leave it unsatisfied. Particularly since you have not said no to it for a long period of time.
This way I am just working with me and I am not accountable to anyone else. I can fail if I want, it is my choice, and I have to live with the consequences.
I hope I can be strong when the going gets tough, as it surely will.
"Ultimately, it is about feeling the desire to overeat or binge (and that for me is like an overwhelming itch that has to be scratched), but not acting on it. It has the effect of starting to create new neural pathways in our prefrontal cortex which, as we continue to make a free choice not to binge or overeat, get stronger. The more we can achieve this, the easier over time it becomes."
This is very much the basis of the Brain Over Binge book which you may enjoy reading too. BOB also got me to realise how dangerous the OA 12 step programme had been for me, being based on the theory that I'm 'powerless over food'.
I've marked the thread, so do update from time to time, I'll be interested to follow your progress. Good luck!
"BOB also got me to realise how dangerous the OA 12 step programme had been for me, being based on the theory that I'm 'powerless over food'"
Oh yes, OA, I dabbled with that too, many years ago...
Thanks for your posts CVS, and I will update soon.
Hi tabby, I have recently read and liked this book, also ordered the CD which covers the same stuff in short sections, good for the train. Haven't yet changed my eating though! Going to try again soon.
Good luck, Dozer. Keep me posted on how you're getting on.
Hi Tabby, I am also trying to follow Eating Less and am halfway through BOB after seeing a recommendation on here. To me this approach makes perfect sense. I am an ex-anorexic who developed a bingeing problem much like the author of BOB.
I am around 3.5st overweight and gradually coming down, after starting to try a bit of calorie reduction again. I find 5:2 brilliant when I can stick to it. But more often than not I find fast days to be a huge trigger and end up - not bingeing exactly, but eating rubbish.
I haven't had a binge in months now, but I do still eat too much and particularly too much sugar. I'm working on that and would love to discuss with someone else following it - as the book says not to mention it to friends and family of course!
One interesting thing is that I know Eating Less works. But I'm finding myself reluctant to open the book because part of me doesn't want to stop! What typical addict behaviour, no?
"One interesting thing is that I know Eating Less works. But I'm finding myself reluctant to open the book because part of me doesn't want to stop! What typical addict behaviour, no? grin"
I love this comment, Buzzy, because when I bought my Kindle this year for a cruise, Eating Less was one of the books I put on it when we went. I intended to read it every day to "keep me on track". Did I start reading it? Er no ;) because I didn't want it to stop me from eating all that lovely food on the ship lol. You got to laugh really. I started reading when we returned, I was so uncomfortable that I realised I had to get a grip.
Anyway, take a deep breath and open the book, Buzzy, you know it makes sense ;)
So true tabby and buzzy! And thanks for the good luck message.
Part of the problem is that there is really fatty, sugary food everywhere, every day, and when tired / unprepared it's hard to make good choices.
another similar book is called beyond temptation, have that one at home (not yet read for similar reasons).
Earlier this year I did better with eating (and exercise) and felt much better generally, hoping to get back to that.
Expect a cruise is one of the most challenging places possible to eat less!
"Part of the problem is that there is really fatty, sugary food everywhere, every day, and when tired / unprepared it's hard to make good choices"
That's a crucial point you raise, Dozer. Tiredness has been the downfall of many who are trying to eat well. Preparation is the key.
This means having some sort of protein, carb and veg readily available in the fridge/larder. If there is one thing sure to throw me when needing to cook tea after a busy day at work it is looking in the fridge and it's just got weird bits and pieces in it because I forgot to go to the supermarket I am more likely to say "sod it lets get a chippy" at these times more than any other. The fact that the chippy sells the most delish icecream does not help either.
I spent a bit of time yesterday going through my freezer (four drawers) and writing down what was in each drawers. I'd forgotten a lot of it, and realised that I could make a number of meals with various combinations plus fresh veg (I always keep frozen for emergencies though).
Planning meals for the week ahead (very roughly) and writing down brief details of what stuff you need from supermarket would help too. It is just that sometimes life gets in the way of organisation!
To go slightly off topic here, Dozer...
One of the things that Gillian talks about is self-esteem. She equates this with happiness, and says that people with self-esteem do not look outside themselves for validation (i.e. dieting to become an 'acceptable' size). She says that self-esteem is found from within.
For her method to succeed we need to get a grip of our self-esteem issues, looking inside ourselves to make those changes necessary to improve our eating behaviour and health. NOT to diet to a 'size 12' or whatever external pressures want from us.
This does tie in with my 'planning meals' paragraph though, because having a higher self-esteem means that we will give prominence to planning and shopping for good food to nourish us. We won't 'forget' and go to the chippy because it is easier.
I've read and keep re-reading this book too. The aspect that chimes most with me is the list if excuses. All my life I have had what I now realise to be ridiculous thought patterns around food (eg ordering the most calorific pudding when we eat out because it may be my last). Remembering to challenge these thought patterns is the hard bit. I've had some success but keep falling off the wagon. I'm a firm believer in the idea that it takes 30 days to form a habit do have set myself the challenge if maintaining my focus fir the whole if August. It kind if means I'm having to think about food and eating all the time but I figure I was doing that anyway but in a destructive rather than constructive way.
It's so good to have somewhere to chat about it as have avoided talking about it in rl.
" I'm a firm believer in the idea that it takes 30 days to form a habit"
That would make some sense, northernlassthree, because you would be forming new neural pathways in the prefrontal cortex, and leaving the old ones to fade.
Gillian talks about the Pavlov dog experiment in the book, where the dogs were trained to associate the ringing of a bell with being given food. Very quickly the dogs just needed to hear the bell to salivate in anticipation of food coming. However, after a while, when the bell rang and food did not appear, the dogs eventually stopped salivating in anticipation. The effect wore off.
The is great news for us because it shows us that if we can create better behaviours, the old behaviours will eventually fade away if not used.
This will take time though and serial dieters like myself are more used to getting quick results that can be measured (like recording weight losses). It takes time to understand that Gillian's method is more subtle.
Something else that I like about the book is that you have the choice. You can choose to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. The book gives you that freedom. But then you go on to think about whether you really want to scoff a packet of Hob Nobs, along with the consequences, or if you'd rather eat something healthier.
I find the Times and Plans very helpful.
I wonder how anyone does their food planning? I tend to try to plan the next days Times, at least, in an evening.
Dozer, I'm interested that you think the book is similar to Beyond Temptation. That's written by the Beyond Chocolate team isn't it? I really struggled with BC, although I wanted it to work so much. I did the ecourse and was an active member of the forum for years, but all that happened was I just gained weight and binged more. It seems like the BC method is more like Intuitive Eating to me - it works so well for many people, but not for me.
I cannot get along with Beyond Chocolate! I also really wanted it to work, but found I gained weight too. Lots of what Gillian says seems to contradict aspects of the BC approach, such as the BC team's suggestion that you go out and buy loads of choc to get over the temptation of having it around. Gillian suggests that this may mean you just eat more, which was certainly my experience. But I know there are some people who swear by it.
Times and Plans are brilliant for me (when I do them, natch) I'm a terrible one for extending a meal or picking away at tiny things like a cracker, a cube of cheese, three raisins, a spoon of Nutella, a coffee - and before I know it I've scoffed shed loads. I just finished my MFP diary and I've eaten about 1000 cals of real food and 827 cals of snacks.
Buzzy, you comment about chocolate "BC team's suggestion that you go out and buy loads of choc to get over the temptation of having it around. Gillian suggests that this may mean you just eat more".
It reminds me of the nub of Gillian's method when encountering temptation. That being that instead of avoiding it (keeping busy or whatever), we face it, embrace it, and take away the fear factor that has always surrounded that awful addictive feeling.
You know, the one where your heartbeat quickens at the anticipation of eating in an addictive way soon. I would be in the supermarket and mindlessly putting the stuff in the basket knowing that in half an hour or so it would be inside me, and I would surely feel 'better'. I NEVER feel better, just sick, bloated, disgusted with a vow never to do it again...
This is where the 'brain stuff' that Gillian talks about really makes sense, and helped me to realise that I can 'change my mind' so to speak, and so change my eating choices.
I haven't read BC, but realistically we are always surrounded by temptation in our daily lives, whether it be chocolate or any other addictive food. Gillian says if we can learn to face our addiction moments and allow that awful feeling of desperate need to come and go (because it does go after a while "this too shall pass") then in time we diminish its power over us and it becomes weaker (this is when our prefrontal cortex is forging new neural pathways).
Taking the first step and saying "NO" is challenging because I tend to blank out when in a major 'addictive desire binge phase' is on the way. I haven't had one of those since following this method, just minor urges which have been relatively easy to face and banish.
CVS I liked your comment "Something else that I like about the book is that you have the choice. You can choose to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. The book gives you that freedom. But then you go on to think about whether you really want to scoff a packet of Hob Nobs, along with the consequences, or if you'd rather eat something healthier."
It seems to contradict every diet I have ever done, but the crucial difference is that Gillian hands the responsibility for what you choose to eat, right into your hands. With diets, we follow instructions "do this, that and the other and you will lose 2lb per week to reach goal weight". It doesn't work when we mindlessly follow instructions given to us.
What will work is actually making the decision entirely for ourselves, independent of any outside agencies instructions. Then, we will live with the consequences i.e. improved health, or worsening health depending what we freely choose.
Additionally, Gillian says that if you choose to overeat on occasion, it does not matter because you can learn from the experience. There are no weigh-ins to agonise about attending because you 'ate too much'. You are responsible to just yourself for your health and wellbeing.
This post has gone on a bit, so I will stop now!
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