Probably no New Year's resolution is made more often than the one to lose weight - and probably none sooner given up.
The main reason? Dieters get hungry. And hunger pangs often spark binges of overeating that are weight control's worst enemy. Yet dealing with hunger and the temptation to binge gets less attention from diet advisers than do the subjects of good nutrition and exercise.Dietitians and therapists at the Willough, a state-licensed psychiatric hospital in Naples, Fla., that specializes in treating eating disorders, have developed a program for dealing with the urge to binge they believe may be useful to anyone prone to overeating.
One top admonition: Use no diet pills, laxatives, diuretics or any other chemical means to lose weight. All are often abused and can be worse for health than the extra weight they're designed to take off.
The Willough aims at weight loss through changed eating habits. Its meal plan requires that all food be consumed at three daily meals, except for a small snack of milk and cereal designed to stave off morning hunger pangs. And no dessert at any meal.
A major principle is that a compulsive food eater must completely abstain from foods containing sugar, caffeine, alcohol, flour and wheat.
Flour and wheat?
"In our experience, those are foods that food addicts can't eat just a little bit of," said Mary Pat Bowers, registered dietitian at the Willough. "They cause cravings. Some people will try to have a slice of bread and end up eating half a loaf."
By contrast, whole oats, rice and corn are fine.
- For those who think they may have a serious eating disorder, the Willough distributes a free "mini-guide to food addiction." It's available by calling the hospital at 1-800-722-0100.