A Scientific Approach to Eating for Life
by Charlotte N. Markey, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology, Rutgers University
My book about Weight-Management
When I tell people that I am a health psychologist who studies eating behaviors and body image, they often have a lot of questions for me. Surprisingly often (at least I’m always surprised), they start to tell me about a new diet they are trying. Popular favorites among people I’ve encountered lately seem to be the Paleo diets, Mediterranean diets, and low-carb approaches (that trend just doesn’t want to die, apparently!). I’m always a bit stumped as to what to say to people when they want to talk about these diets. There are thousands of diet books and diet plans available at any given time and many of these plans offer some reasonable advice about weight loss. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them also offer some really terrible advice about how to lose weight.
Saying that other diet plans offer terrible advice is not a subjective statement. Other diet plans often offer advice that is not supported by science. In fact, their advice often contradicts scientific evidence. For example, recently “fasting diets” have received considerable attention as an effective means of weight loss. However, science clearly shows that fasting slows down metabolic processes ultimately making long-term weight loss difficult if not impossible. Sometimes, other diet plans’ claims are so egregious, I wonder how they are even legal. As it turns out, there isn’t a “book police” or a “diet plan investigative team” out there somewhere in the world evaluating the claims made by other folks who offer advice about weight loss.
Given the popular misconceptions about dieting and weight loss, my experience doing research on eating, dieting, and body image for 15 years, and my many years of teaching an entire class focused on the Psychology of Eating at Rutgers University, I finally decided to write my own book. In the process of working on this book, some people have warned me that no one really cares about what I do (science); people just want to lose weight fast. However, I remain undeterred (or, just extremely idealistic!). My aim is to explain why diets don’t work, why it is often difficult to lose weight, and what you can do that will work. My book discusses the scientific research about eating and weight loss conducted by psychologists and scholars in related fields such as nutrition, medicine, and community health in an accessible and easy-to-read format. You may be cognizant of your eating habits, but like most people living in modern, industrialized societies, you are apt to struggle to eat well and maintain a weight you are happy with. My goal is to offer advice that will help you to make choices that will allow you to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life.
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