The Thin Commandments
A diet expert offers a 10-point behavioral strategy for losing weight and keeping it off.
Wonder why you lose weight only to regain it and
then some? "You've lost the weight but not the
vulnerability," says Stephen Gullo, PhD, author of The Thin
Commandments: The Ten No-Fail Strategies for Permanent Weight Loss. He
maintains that losing weight and keeping it off is about adopting new
strategies and changing your thinking about food. "If you go back to foods
you have a long history of abusing, it's Psychology 101: Do what you've always
done, and you'll get the result you've always gotten."
Although he disavows "the theology that you can have all foods in
moderation," this book isn't the bible of faith-based weight
loss programs. It preaches strategy, not prayer, as the path to lifelong
weight control. Nor is the book related to The Thin Commandments
written by Carolyn Costin, MA, MEd, MFT, for people with eating disorders. Her
tongue-in-cheek commandments aren't meant to be followed but to illustrate
beliefs that lead people astray -- maxims such as "Thou shalt not eat
without feeling guilty" and "You can never be too thin."
Gullo's book presents 10 commandments or behavioral strategies plus his ABC
Eating Plan and recipes. WebMD talked to him
about why most diets fail and about his approach
to permanent weight loss.
Successful Dieters Know Their Food History
Gullo says "the thin commandments" represent a new paradigm because
they place a person's food history first and calories second. For example,
seven almonds don't have a lot of calories, but someone whose weakness is nuts
may stop at 70, not seven. "I'd rather my patients had a higher-calorie
food at a dinner party than to start with the bread basket they have a long
history of abusing. And I'd rather they'd have a crème brulee than a cookie,
because the crème brulee doesn't translate to their daily lifestyle, but
cookies they see every day."
He says the field of weight control is the only area of health care in which
the importance of the patient's history is ignored. "The same people gain
back the same weight with the same foods again and again. That's a major reason
the field of weight control has produced a 90%-95% failure rate." He says
his program has a success rate 15 times higher than the national average and
has helped thousands of people maintain their weight for more than five
Successful Dieters Have Strategies for Controlling Their Eating
Gullo, former chairman of the National Obesity and Weight Control Education
Program at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, says no diet can change
decades of eating habits. "Changing habits of a lifetime takes
He maintains that once you know your food history, you should banish problem
foods from your home. It almost feels as though he's been peeking into our
kitchens when he says, "Every woman and most men have a counter with food,
that as soon as they walk in their eyes and hands automatically go there. Throw
out the kitchen-counter food."
That doesn't mean you can never eat those foods, but he says to manage them
you must "box them in." "Don't eat them at home; limit them to a
fine restaurant on Friday night. If you buy them for the home, only buy small