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Old 01-05-2009, 09:57 AM   #1
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Default The Complete Beck Diet for Life

The Complete Beck Diet for Life (hereafter CBDL) is a follow-on to Judith Beck's The Beck Diet Solution, which I reviewed here a couple months ago. I like BDS a lot, which basically contains a course of Cognitive Therapy to help you change your thinking to stick to your diet, and doesn't prescribe any given food plan. I also really liked CBDL for a lot of the same reasons. CBDL covers a lot of the same territory as BDS, like making Response Cards to challenge diet sabotaging thoughts, but also includes a structured diet. The mental exercises do take some time to work through at first, until they just become habits.

CBDL is a five stage plan. Stage 1 introduces the mental habits that you need to be successful with weight management and exercises and tools like checklists to help you master them. Stage 2 introduces the "Think Thin Eating Plan," that I'll talk more about later. Stage 3 contains strategies for special circumstances like eating out, holidays, family visits, and vacation. Stage 4 modifies the Think Thin Eating Plan to make it more flexible for day to day life, and begins the discussion of the transition to maintenance. Stage 5 is the Motivation for Life section, which talks about maintenance, how to stay motivated, and what to do with lapses and relapses. While the distinction between the stages is somewhat artificial in real life, I like this structure more than the one-exercise-per-day structure of BDS. I also like the maintenance strategies very much.

The CBDL diet begins in Stage 2 after you have mastered successful thinking habits and behavioral skills. Stage 2 is a more structured version of the plan. You are assigned a calorie level of 1600 to 2400 calories, in steps of 200 calories based on your age and weight. The daily plan is structured into three meals and three snacks. The calorie levels and food selections for each meal and snack are spelled out, and are a pretty basic lean protein, whole foodish selection, with options for recipes given in the book. You can pick your protein (veggie options included), dairy, fruit, vegetable, soup/salad, individually in your favorite combination to make up the meal. You also get either 150 or 200 free calories that can be used on absolutely anything you want, as long as you plan it in advance--no spontaneous eating. The bibliography for this section references the likes of Barbara Rolls (of Volumetrics renown) and Brian Wansink (Mindless Eating), so the principles are based on what research is telling us about satiety. I find the diet a little protein heavy for my tastes, but it is probably a pretty balanced, middle of the diet road plan.

Stage 4 takes this basic structure and adds flexibility. You can combine snacks. Switch out the basic options and recipes for your own calorie controlled ones. You can transition to a lower calorie level if lose weight and want to, or remain at the original one and begin maintenance, and the pros and cons of the choices are discussed in detail. You can also start to experiment with removing some of the written planning and monitoring and move to a mental preparation if you want. Stage 4 really transitions the basic food plan to a lifestyle choice and I think it does a really nice job of this.

The last section of Stage 4 and Stage 5 are all about maintenance, and I really think it covers them well. Beck acknowledges that some days things are easier and harder, and gives exercises for motivation for each of them. She also talks about what to do when you start struggling, and what to do when you have gained some weight back.

I think BDS does the CT aspect a little more strongly than CBDL, and CBDL has less space devoted to problem solving, identifying and challenging sabotaging thoughts, so if you want to learn more about that BDS is probably the way to go. I do like the structure of CBDL though, and am glad I have both books, even if a lot of the same ground is covered.


Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
-from Song of Myself, Walt Whitman
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