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Overcoming Overeating Newsletter

Volume 1 * Number 1 * February 1994

A Greeting from Carol H. Munter and Jane R. Hirschmann

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the first issue of the Overcoming Overeating Newsletter. We are delighted to have a forum in which we can all talk to one another. It has been clear to us for several years now that demand feeders need each other's support and knowledge. After all, you are pioneers carving out new territory in a basically hostile environment. As we meet more and more of you at workshops around the country, we are inspired by your courage and impressed by your thoughtfulness and inventiveness. We love meeting you; we enjoy feeling inspired and impressed. Your thoughts and innovations, however, deserve a wider audience. Here's your opportunity.

Although we have often considered starting a newsletter, it took the interest and know-how of Jill Donovan and Jill Hronek of Jade Publishing, combined with the enthusiasm and energy of Carol coven grannick and Judith Matz of our Chicago affiliate, to get us off the dime. Our heartfelt thanks. We would like to take this opportunity, our first column, to tell you a little about what's been happening with us and how we see the current anti-dieting scene.

Since the publication of Overcoming Overeating in 1988, we have been doing workshops across the country and weekly workshops here in New York. As non-dieters, and specifically, demand-feeders, grow in number, an increasing number of our workshops are designed for more advanced participants. As you become more sophisticated users of the Overcoming Overeating approach, you push us to keep developing our ideas. "Why," you ask, "when I was enjoying feeding myself on demand, do I now resent having to replenish my supplies of food?" "How come as soon as I start losing weight, I have an upsurge in mouth hunger?" "My demand feeding is going well," you say, "but, much as I try to like my body, I'm still saying awful things to myself about it."

As a result of your questions and our observations about what gets in the way of stopping dieting and ending body hatred, we decided to write another book. We have just finished the manuscript; the book, as yet untitled (any ideas?), will be published by Ballantine next year. It is a detailed handbook for non-dieters which we hope will help put the diet industry out of business.

In the meantime, this newsletter gives us the opportunity to introduce you to some of our new thinking and, most important to us at this particular moment, insures that we will not have to write another book! Each week in our New York workshop, the lively discussion invariably produces some valuable insight that we want to pass along. Now we have a way of doing that. By the way, if you're visiting New York, be sure to call ahead (212-582-0383) for a workshop schedule. We'd love to see you.

You will notice that the newsletter includes a regular column called, "Notes from Chicago." One of the most exciting events for us in the last few years has been the opening of the Chicago Center for Overcoming Overeating. Carol coven grannick and Judith Matz, the directors, are experienced psychotherapists who have been helping people cure compulsive eating for many years. We are greatly enriched by their presence; we are delighted to welcome them to our network and to the editorial board of this newsletter.

Another focus of our attention during these years has been those questionnaires you may remember filling out when you first read Overcoming Overeating. With Dr. Mary Steinhardt of the University of Texas at Austin, we completed our study in 1992 and, as we go to press, it is out for review. We'll let you know when the study is published, and we'll preview the results in one of the upcoming newsletters. We're quite excited—although not surprised—by the results. As you know, demand feeding does indeed cure compulsive eating.

And of course, there's the spa. In June of 1992, we did our first week-long workshop at Lake Austin Resort in Austin, Texas. Imagine being able to eat exactly what your body craves whenever it craves it without having to do any of the food purchasing or preparation. Imagine being able to meet with other demand-feeders three times each day to talk about the issues that most concern you. Imagine being able to wear whatever you want and know that your whatever size body is accepted by everyone around you. Not to mention the walking and dancing and swimming and massages and facials and… Too good to be true? We love doing it. It's become an annual event. This year it's February 27th–March 5th. Start saving for the next one.

Now, news from the anti-dieting front. As you probably know, your struggle against dieting was big news for a while. In April of 1992, NIH held investigatory hearings and declared that diets do not work. The "anti-dieting movement" was born on the front page of The New York Times. (We were, of course, more than 20 years old, but what's a fact here or there?) Birth announcements appeared in many other publications as well. In fact, our movement was so inspiring that, before you could say "diet," the word disappeared from the diet industry's literature and a new language sprang into being. "Lifestyle change." "A way of life." "A health-care plan." Diets were nowhere to be found.

In June of 1993, a Consumer Reports study dealt what one might have thought would be the final death blow to the diet industry. The results were unequivocal—commercial weight loss programs are dismal failures. But, no, lo and behold, there's still life in the beast. On "Sonya Live," a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers informed us that statistics aren't everything. After all, her logic went, if some people manage to keep the weight off (2%?), it must be a matter of "personal responsibility." Now, are we confused, or didn't the study put that old saw to rest? We thought it demonstrated that diets—not us—are the problem.

The backlash is upon us in a big way. Turn on the TV, and it might as well be 1965. Million dollar ad campaigns touting the same old 5 pounds in the first week. Of course, there's also news about not dieting but it is not about any of us. We're sure you agree that we should "stop the insanity," but we're for stopping it, not exchanging it for the madness of no fat/high exercise. She may talk the talk, but she certainly has a dieter's walk!

It's tough to go the distance. A 37 billion dollar industry depends on our continuing discontent with our bodies. Years of conditioning have left us vulnerable to the siren song, "Change Your Shape, Change Your Life." YOU, however, are on your way. You may not know it, but not only are you in the vanguard of the anti-dieting movement, you are a part of the growing size-acceptance movement as well. A woman came to our New York weekly workshop one evening having just seen the Botero sculptures which were displayed on Park Avenue this Fall. "I couldn't believe it," she said. "There I was in the all together in the middle of Park Avenue. And everyone was looking! Me? Admired? I was a little embarrassed at first, but it didn't take long for me to get into it. Who says that thin is more beautiful than fat? Just who came up with that silly idea?"

Write to us. Tell us how demand-feeding is going for you. What are your problems? What are your successes? Lots and lots of people have read Overcoming Overeating, but we only have the names of people who returned their questionnaires or attended a workshop. Help us spread the word about the newsletter.

As always, hearty appetites!


Carol and Jane

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