A debut guide strives to help women break out of the dieting trap.
How many women have only been on one diet? This is the question with which Clegg, an eating-disorder therapist, opens her fast-paced look at the short- and long-term damage the dieting mentality can inflict on women, whether they’re looking to revitalize their lives or simply lose a few pounds. “Are you ready to go out, change your mind, and change your life?” the author asks. To facilitate this, she identifies 10 “mindsets” that can make dieting a deeply personal pitfall rather than the healthy course of action most women intend it to be. These include “The Deprivation Mindset,” “The Mean Girl Mindset,” and “The Shame-Based Mindset,” all of which tap into potentially unhealthy personal traits as part of their base line motivations. Clegg deftly lays out descriptions of each of these mindsets and the thinking they typify. For instance, “The Bureaucrat Mindset,” which can appeal to rule followers, the author characterizes as “Even though I want to eat this, and it makes sense to eat this, I can’t—because it is not on my diet.” And then there’s the extremely common “ABC Mindset,” which thinks: “If I diet, I can lose weight, and then my life will be perfect.” The author trusts the instincts of her readers to tell them if they’re in the grip of one of these toxic mindsets (“If you have an unhealthy pattern,” she writes with affecting simplicity, “you will recognize it because it makes you feel bad”). As she’s clarifying the difficulties, she’s also offering useful, multifaceted solutions to help her readers “reclaim a peaceful, balanced relationship with food.” At the root of the problem, she writes, is society’s set of body image standards that are patriarchal, unrealistic, and ultimately harmful to women’s physiques, minds, and souls. Clegg’s valuable, lucid book is a call to dig beneath these manipulations, to understand the why of dieting before looking at the how. Every reader who’s ever struggled with dieting or weight issues should find the author’s outlook captivating.
A densely packed and richly empathetic revamping of the dieting world.