I finished what became one of my all-time favorite books yesterday.

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, David A. Kessler, MD

This book is fantastic. I loved it.

Dr. Kessler is the former FDA commissioner, “who reinvented the food label and tackled the tobacco industry,” during the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Being a formerly obese overeater, Dr. Kessler meets with scientists, food industry gurus, and physicians from all over the world uncovering the reasons Americans have seemingly lost control of their food habits. He ties in information about the effects of fat, sugar and salt on the brain and the intense reactions we can have to these ingredients, so expertly combined by the food industry.

Being one who began a struggle with overeating about a year ago, I was completely intrigued by what Dr. Kessler uncovers and found myself often saying, “Yes! I get that! That is me!!!” When you look at me, you’d never guess I struggle with overeating. Luckily, I have a healthy metabolism and a love for running. I do LOVE healthy foods, but I am currently on the journey to figuring out what a healthy balance looks like. I love sweets. Love love love ’em. I will never be one to deprive myself of sweets completely, but I do need to learn that one cookie is enough. It is a process.

I have seen a counselor and asked for the support of numerous family and friends. My eating styles may seem normal but the thoughts that surround food are all but normal. I have found, aside from prayer and giving this battle to God (each and every morning, I might add. Sometimes each hour…), Dr. Kessler’s advice in this book extremely beneficial. It is a must read.

Some advice for those skinny girls who find themselves constantly thinking about food. How much they’ll need to work out later to justify that cookie. Advice for those that are overweight and need some control about the amount of calories consumed daily. Finally, I offer these words of wisdom from Dr. Kessler for those who find themselves bingeing beyond control to the point of sickness:

Read the book.

No, no. Just kidding. Here are some gems I found in the book:

A few essential principles lie at thefoundation of Food Rehab:

  • Conditioned hypereating is a biological challenge, not a character flaw. Recovery is impossible until we stop viewing overating as an absence of willpower.
  • Conditioned overeating is a problem that needs to be managed, not one that can be completely cured.
  • Every time you give in and “reward” yourself you are making it hard to resist.
  • Loss of control, which defines conditioned hypereating, is increased when you go on a diet that leaves you feeling deprived.
  • New learning sticks only when it generates feelings of satisfaction.
  • This is a process. You need strategies that are behavioral, cognitive and nutritious.
  • Lapses will happen.
  • You have to start making a cognitive effort – there has to be that more satisfying result of saying no, losing weight, being healthy – to replace old thoughts of food as rewarding, and only satisfied until you get it.
  • Have a plan. If it is a food you shouldn’t eat, say no. Not maybe, not later, YES or NO.
  • “Eventually, we begin to think differently about food, recognizing its value to sustain us and protect us from hunger, and denying it the authority to govern our lives.”

Dr. Kessler gives possible responses to thoughts of food (when you are battling those nagging, constant thoughts):

  • Eating that food will satisfy me only temporarily.
  • Eating this is going to keep me stuck in the cue-urge-reward habit cycle.
  • Eating this will keep me trapped. The next time I’m cued, I’m going to want this again.
  • Eating this will make me feel bad.
  • If I eat this, I’m demonstrating that I can’t break free.
  • I’ll be happier if I don’t eat this.
  • I’ll weigh less tomorrow if I don’t eat this.
Give the book a read. It’s fantastic. Really, truly fantastic.



Information and quotes are all taken from:

Kessler, D.A., MD. 2009. The end of overeating: Taking control of the insatiable American appetite. New York, New York: Rodale Inc.