Monday, July 7, 2008

Just what we need--another new diet book

A new book is out called The Pen and Paper Diet The website touts that this diet plan will allow adults to maintain their desired weight for the rest of their life, using scientific principles and common sense. Apparently, this diet plan accounts for height, age, weight, activity level, and gender and can be applied to ages 19-84 years old. The catch is that you have to continuously count calories throughout the day. Hmmm, is that really healthy?

The line that really sticks out for me the most seen in this press release is:

"This diet will be ideal for those that struggle with anorexia and bulimia because it can enable these individuals to maintain their weight at the low end of BMI like they would prefer while digesting their food," Dow says.

I should note that Dow and his wife are not medical experts but two people who wanted to lose weight. I think I'm astonished that someone would even say this. Sure, many with anorexia and bulimia don't want to gain weight. Even when weight is gained, many want to hover at the minimal range of ideal which just puts that person at risk to fall back into old patterns. This can also lead to living like a "functional" eating disorder individual, making that seem okay. But really, it is not okay. It's not okay to be married to your calorie counter or your scale. :sigh:


Besides this new book coming out, I've also been seeing the trend in weight loss by a few of my clients. One is a woman who recently got back from Hawaii. She and her husband have a condo there and go every year for several weeks. I knew she had been on Weight Watchers and was attending meetings and such, but I was surprised at her weight loss. She said she thinks that most people had only seen her when she had gained weight and not the weight she was most of her adult life. I don't know whether things could get out of control or not, but it is a little worrisome.

Then I saw my good friend last week out of the blue. I had left a number of messages for her but didn't hear back. When I saw her, I could tell she had lost weight. She said she was on the "CNS diet, ie "caffeine, nicotine, and stress" diet. Most of her life, she has been big and losing weight was always a tough battle for her. However, I do not think this is the way to go. She said it's mostly stemming from personal problems. I do worry since she is a good friend.

The last client is a married couple. When I last saw them, it was noticeable that they too had lost weight. Neither were what I'd call overweight, just more on the average. They talked about their weight loss saying it was mostly due to drinking more water, some exercising, and eating healthier. I do know the woman has been doing more exercise since her job position changed. I guess I hope that it was a healthy approach for them.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm more sensitive to people losing weight. I can understand losing some weight for health, but I always have this fear it will go overboard for them. Maybe I'm just too clouded by my own experiences. I keep wondering if these people are married to their calorie counting books or their points systems or whether they have just embraced healthy living. The latter is my hope.


Rachel said...

I still can't understand how complicated diets like this appeal to people more so than the relatively simple Health at Every Size approach. I don't have to perform complicated math equations every time I put something in my mouth; I listen to my body and it tells me when I'm hungry, when I'm full and what it wants to eat.

And their comments about the low end of the weight spectrum for people with an eating disorder? Completely disgusting and medically unsound.

A. said...

"This diet will be ideal for those that struggle with anorexia and bulimia because it can enable these individuals to maintain their weight at the low end of BMI like they would prefer while digesting their food," Dow says.


*deep breath*

*continues screaming*

OK, done now... Yeah. These people have no idea what it's like to be bulimic or anorexic - though clearly they have some sort of disorder!

This quote, among all the others, just drives me up the wall because it's not a preference - it's an obsession with and an addiction to starvation and losing weight. I know as someone with ED-NOS that one of the most harmful things you can do is to brush off an eating disorder as something that's not serious; a phase or, worse, a 'preference'.

Also, apparently he doesn't get that to be diagnosed as anorexic you need to be underweight. Sheesh. I just want to give this guy a few holes he doesn't need for even daring to recommend a diet to someone with an eating disorder! I think he needs to have his pants sued off him for that!

And a random thought I've been carrying around in my head lately... is that there is no way to diet and still get all the nutrients you need. Because, duh, calories are nutrients. Oy.

Tiptoe said...

Rachel, yes, I agree. People don't need to be carrying around even more numbers in their heads to figure out what to eat.

A, thanks for your comments. Yeah, I want to scream too at how idiotic these people's thinking are in relation to eating disorders. They have no freaking clue. Hopefully, more people will see the lunacy of this and not buy the book at all.

Anonymous said...

I just wrote a rant about the Pen and Paper Diet for Disordered Times, and I am so disgusted by their comments on how this diet will "help" anoretics and bulimics. I agree that for someone with an eating disorder, maintaining a low weight - regardless of nutritional intake - is akin to being a "functioning anoretic/bulimic." It's dangerous ground and it most definitely doesn't "help" anyone in this situation. The authors of this book clearly don't know what an eating disorder is really about.

michael d said...

This is Michael, author of the Pen and Paper Diet.

I understand that some people are genetically predisposed for anorexia nervosa. I also understand that most things in life are a combination of nature and nuture (not either or). I believe there are people predisposed to anorexia in the country of Tonga where over 90% of the population is overweight. I do think that if you placed a newborn Tongan in our country (especially a female due to societal expectations that some have created) there's a chance she could become anorexic. Conversely, once we find the genetic marker for anorexia and we could determine if a newborn in the US had it, we could place the child in Tonga and the chances of her actually becoming overweight are greater than developing anorexia due to the culture. I had a friend in high school that was anorexic. Myself and all of her friends couldn't understand why she starved herself only to lose a couple of more pounds. She said she didn't feel pretty and thought she would if she only lost a couple of more. I've had other friends that were bulimic (which I believe is greatly underreported). They exercised all the time to keep their weight down and couldn't resist certain sweets so they binged and then purged. Certain people and organizations in our society have placed expectations on females in general to be thin. The expectation is simply...Be Thin. No training is provided though with the expectation and you have girls accepting the challenge and doing what they can to meet it....exercising all the time to increase calorie usage, taking diet pills, starvation, and purging. As mentioned before, a percentage of females are predisposed to anorexia and our culture has created an environment in which the disorder can manifest. They instinctively know that if they control what they consume then they can help control their weight. I've simply discovered a simple way to put weight management skills into the hands of the People. Right now, there's a lot of guessing and blind attempts at weight control. Eat more vegetables (which is on the right track since the metric edition of my book shows vegetables have the least amount of calories per gram than other foods), exercise more (to increase calorie usage), dieting (avoid certain types of foods especially those with high calorie content), starvation, purging (a form of starvation), and diet pills (change your body chemistry to change your metabolism while not finding out real side effects until decades later). While my wife and I were discovering the Pen and Paper Diet ideas, we found research from the National Academy of Sciences in which they determined estimated calorie requirements to an exact number that is dependent on a person's height, age, sex, weight and activity level. They show that a person requires xxxx amount of calories to maintain a specified weight. I have found it to be true for myself and can understand those desiring to purge, etc to maintain a certain weight. I have to say that it's kind of a cool feeling to know that I can control my weight. With the ideas of the Pen and Paper Diet, I've found that I need 2100 calories to maintain 150 lbs and have done so for a while. I get to do this while eating a cookie every day if I choose, I might eat some fried chicken once a month or have some sweet tea every now and then. It's great that I can consume the types of food and drinks I like and not have to guess at how much extra exercise I need to do. Instead the diet helps you find out how many calories you require for your normal 24 hour period. Then when you do extra activity, you add that amount of calories to that day's consumption. The diet is basically a calorie budget. Why I beleive this diet will be able to help some struggling with anorexia and bulimia is that some do not have true anorexia or bulimia, but only have symptoms of it because they are determined to control their weight. This book provides the ideas our society needs to control their weight. People don't have to depend on a company to provide them the correctly sized meals or pills to control their metabolism. This book let's people control their weight as safe and as cheap as possible (no starvation, no purging, no diet pills). It is strictly a weight management book that some have called fundamental, "something everyone should know." Once people learn to control their weight no matter what they eat and how much they exercise, we can build upon that skill and help people eat more healthy and exercise daily.

I believe that People in general have common sense and can make the right choices when provided the proper training. The ideas in the book will help some people let go of their eating disorder (both ends of the spectrum...bulimia to obesity) when they realize they can eat the types of food they like and still maintain their ideal weight.

If anorexia and bulimia were truly only genetic and a person's environment had nothing to do with it then those that are concerned about the disorders should donate a large percentage of their disposable income to research for biological cures.

I believe that eating disorders are nurtured by our environment and that the ideas in the book will remove some of the traction that can initiate some people's predisposition of the disorders (i.e. "I don't have to purge to control my weight....I just have to track my calorie consumption.").

Do we not teach people to drive cars because they could wreck and kill someone?

Do we not teach someone how to write because they could offend someone?

Do we not teach people how to manage their weight because they could abuse it?

We should inform people how to manage their weight safely since this will help relieve stress from our healthcare system that is in crisis (nursing shortage of over 800,000 in the US expected in 2020 - also when the baby boomers will be peaking for healthcare problems). Weight management is a simple solution to some of our society's ills and I am very confident that the ideas in my book provide the easiest, cheapest, and safest solution.

Michael Dow

zandria said...

Yeah, telling people they should follow your diet because they can "maintain their weight at the low end of BMI like they would prefer" doesn't sit right with me. For that book, I think I shall PASS...

Tiptoe said...

Charlynn and Zandria, thanks for responding. There's just a lot of problems with this book in general.

Tiptoe said...

Mr. Dow,

I appreciate your comments on my blog, however, I, like Carrie over at Ed Bites also disagree with you.

While I can see some of your points (eg. nature and nurture), I think you're missing the larger picture. Eating disorders are much more than about any kind of weight. If it was so easy as to simply just control your weight, there would be a lot less eating disorders in general. The simple fact is that besides looking at the biological basis for eating disorders, there are many emotional components involved. That's why it is called a mental illness.

I think the biggest problem I have is that you are making a blanket statement about how your book will help those with eating disorders when you have absolutely no medical training or expertise to be making such a proclamation. It's not a one, two, three fix.

And as far as common sense is concerned, no, I don't think the general public has it when it comes to food honestly. It's one reason why, we as a society in general are obsessive calorie counters. I know, I for one, don't want to be married to a calorie counting book. If the idea is to empower someone, I don't think having people follow a calorie guidebook for the rest of their lives is the solution and certainly not an eating disorder sufferer.

Lastly, as far as funding is concerned, it would be incredibly nice if eating disorders received the same type of research grants and monies that other disorders do, but it doesn't whatsoever despite the fact that it has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. Those of us recovering don't have the disposable income you mention. It's all going towards treatment which can cost an arm and leg!

I hope that by reading some of the comments other bloggers have said about your statements, you will see where we are coming from. These types of statements do a disservice to those with eating disorders in only perpetuating myths that it's all about vanity and weight. Please wake up and become educated.