Fact: American culture encourages people to
obsess about their weight and how much they are eating. According to Dr.
Linda Craighead, "Obesity, binge eating and excessive preoccupation with
food are literal epidemics." In "The Appetite Awareness Workbook," Dr.
Craighead explains her new approach to controlling your appetite and
correcting poor nutritional habits.
Through her years of training and observation, the author came to the
conclusion, "The fundamental basis for the way I learned to treat disordered
eating left much to be desired. … I came to believe that recording what one
ate put way too much emphasis on the kind of food eaten and not enough
emphasis on a person's eating decisions."
The result is the development of her eating program known as appetite
awareness training, or AAT. In the AAT program, participants are able to
recognize the signals that influence appetite, prevent binge eating,
practice emotional eating and become aware of what they eat and how eating
makes them feel.
"Today's Food and Weight Dilemma"
The goal of AAT is to introduce you to a plan that helps you regulate
your eating. The focus is based on several factors that help shape your
goals: our cultural basis for an "ideal" weight; determining your proper
weight and body mass; your healthiest weight range; and the problems
associated with cultural and thin-fit models.
It is important in the AAT concept to accept your individual weight and
shape. Accepting means that your weight "does not make you so unhappy that
your quality of life is diminished."
"The AAT Solution"
How does the AAT program work? There are three important steps to
Step 1. Let your stomach be the guide. Learn how to recognize the two
critical stomach signals: moderate hunger and moderate fullness. For
example, if you wait as long as possible before eating your next meal, you
are ignoring the moderate hunger signals. Ignoring these signals prevents
you from making wise decisions on when and how much to eat.
Step 2: The four eating paths. An integral part of AAT is to
establish a normal eating path -- normal in the sense that it's the right
way for you to eat, based on your stomach signals. Eating paths to avoid
include the normalized overeating, in which you ignore your moderate
fullness signal; restricted eating, by deliberating not eating when you have
a moderate hunger signal; and binge eating or getting stuffed, which is
completely misreading or ignoring the stomach signals.
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Step 3: The seven points of intervention. According to the
author, decisions on seven points will help you develop a normal
eating path. They are as follows: getting too hungry; breaking food
rules; ignoring fullness; eating when food is available; emotional
eating; a "what the heck" response to eating; and a plan to binge or
"Effective Emotional Eating"
One of the most important chapters involves the concept of
emotional eating. The author defines emotional eating as "eating to
fill psychological needs." This type of desire comes from many
sources of stimuli. You may have an urge to eat even though you
don't feel hungry. You may eat as part of an expression of love or
approval, to show hospitality, or to help you cope with negative
It is possible through AAT to manage these emotional eating
The next time you have an urge to eat, ask yourself the
following: Can I rule out my usual biological hunger? Is it close to
my regular time to eat? Am I physically hungry? If the answer to any
of these questions is yes, you can generally eat to achieve your
moderate fullness signal.
If the answer is no, consider whether you are experiencing a
carving for certain foods, eating simply to satisfy an urge or
eating to change your emotional state. There are also different
activities that can alter or distract your emotional eating urge.
The author recommends engaging in activities such as light physical
activity or exercise, taking a hot bath, watching a movie, visiting
someone, or reading for pleasure.
The important thing is to understand that when you "know how to
do effective emotional eating and how to use anti-deprivation
eating, you are better prepared to cope with the challenges of
eating in today's environment."
"The Appetite Awareness Workbook" is an important new approach to
learning proper nutrition and healthy eating habits. The
effectiveness of this program lies in the fact that you "learn to
recognize and work with your body's natural hunger cues." Also, "You
start making decisions about eating that feel better and work better
for you." The result is a "natural, healthful and pleasurable
relationship with food." This book is recommended to anyone seeking
information on nutrition, weight loss programs, or improving his or
her personal health.