Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again by Traci Mann

Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again

A provocative expose of the dieting industry from one of the nation’s leading researchers in self-control and the psychology of weight loss that offers proven strategies for sustainable weight loss.From her office in the University of Minnesota’s Health and Eating Lab, professor Traci Mann researches self-control and dieting. And what she has discovered is groundbreaking....

Title:Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0062329235
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:272 pages

Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again Reviews

  • Kelly
    Jan 29, 2015

    Chatty and conversational, informative and accessible. Traci Mann's approach is completely relate-able, like having a chat with your super smart and funny friend.

    Finally, someone has gathered all the dieting and obesity studies together. Some will take issue with her claims that diets don't work and obesity won't kill you, but, she has the science on her side. And she's taken the time to come up with 12 strategies that can help us focus on being healthy rather than obsessed with weight and size

    Chatty and conversational, informative and accessible. Traci Mann's approach is completely relate-able, like having a chat with your super smart and funny friend.

    Finally, someone has gathered all the dieting and obesity studies together. Some will take issue with her claims that diets don't work and obesity won't kill you, but, she has the science on her side. And she's taken the time to come up with 12 strategies that can help us focus on being healthy rather than obsessed with weight and size. Get alone with a vegetable. Rethink comfort foods. Stop blaming yourself.

  • Christopher Lawson
    Feb 24, 2015

    SECRETS FROM THE EATING LAB is a very unique book. I don't believe I've ever read a book on eating that is based upon research from an eating lab. The author conducted her experiments on eating in a pretty sneaky way: “I tell our research participants that we are studying other things entirely, such as their memory or their moods or how they communicate with their friends. But being the hospitable people we are, we just happen to offer them snacks while we study them. They have no idea that it's

    SECRETS FROM THE EATING LAB is a very unique book. I don't believe I've ever read a book on eating that is based upon research from an eating lab. The author conducted her experiments on eating in a pretty sneaky way: “I tell our research participants that we are studying other things entirely, such as their memory or their moods or how they communicate with their friends. But being the hospitable people we are, we just happen to offer them snacks while we study them. They have no idea that it's what they do with these snacks that were really studying. “Sneaky, sneaky!

    The author admits she was very surprised by her findings: “Much to my surprise, I've learned that nearly everything I thought was true about eating was false. “Perhaps one of the most important conclusions of this book regards the failures of diets: “The most rigorous diet studies find that about half of dieters will weigh more for 25 years after the diet ends than they did before the diet began.“

    One of the big problems with diets is that diets cause stress. But a stress response itself is something that leads to weight gain! “Stress cannot be avoided when you are dieting because dieting itself causes stress. Dieting causes the stress response that has already been showed to lead to weight gain.”

    One of the recurring themes of SECRETS FROM THE EATING LAB is how realistic your weight goal is. Your realistic weight is highly correlated to the weight of your biological parents. She cites studies with twins who are living in separate homes. They discovered that the the weight of the twins was very similar to each other, even though they had been raised in separate households.

    The author estimates that your genes account for 70 percent of the variation in your weight. It's not that you can't affect your weight at all but that what you can change is probably a lot more limited than you think: “Your body is trying to keep you within that genetically determined set weight range. “

    The most controversial part of this book will certainly be Dr. Mann’s assertions about obesity. She points out that the scientific evidence does not really support the idea that all obesity is unhealthy. The author cites a study which found that overweight people actually had a slightly lower risk of death the normal weight people. In fact, “being overweight appears to be even a bit healthier than being the recommended weight.“ The doctor clarifies that it's not slightly obese people that have the health risks—it’s what are called “Class 3 Obesity.” And only 6 percent of the US population is in that category.

    A surprising finding from the author’s research is what is called the “obesity paradox.” This section of the book was a real eye opener for me. Here’s the paradox: Obesity in America has greatly increased over the past few decades. One would think, therefore, that the rate of diabetes would have skyrocketed, but it has not. Dr. Mann points out that the prevalence of diabetes went from 9% to 11%, and that the rate of cardiovascular disease actually decreased.

    Dr. Mann recommends that you aim for your lowest realistic weight--not some idealistic weight that is not actually attainable. Rather than going on and off diets, you exercise, eat nutritiously, avoid weight cycling, and get proper medical care. She gives lots of practical suggestions on how to do this. For example, remember that the actions of people around you do has a great impact on how you eat.

    The author is a big proponent of regular exercise, even though it doesn't usually lead to big weight loss. The benefits of exercise are numerous, the author points out. Simply put, “Exercise prevents death," and exercise “works as well as drugs in preventing death among people with heart disease, stroke, or pre-diabetes.“ In addition, “Exercise helps even if you don't lose weight.” Exercise also helps reduce stress. You really do feel better on a regimen of exercise.

    The author has some final words for the reader in the section called “Final Words: Diet Schmiet." She really discourages the reader from trying to go on diets: “Diets don't work. Big deal. You don't need them to work. You need to not go on them.“ Instead, she suggests, “reach your leanest livable weight, that comfortable weight at the lower end of your set range. You'll have no trouble reaching it if you exercise regularly and use some of the smart regulation strategies in this book to create reasonable eating habits.“

    All in all, I found SECRETS FROM THE EATING LAB to be a surprising book, with some very unusual conclusions. The author’s experience and qualifications are solid, but this book is bound to be controversial, because it takes aim at some of the core assumptions in the health/diet world.

  • Michelle Burton
    Apr 11, 2015

    I will never diet again after reading this book. No Weight Watchers, no Metabolic Reasearch Center, no nothing. No Dr. Fuhrman, no Dr. Atkins or Dr. T.Colin Campbell. Vegan or Paleo. It does not matter. Diets do not work. Period.

    What I learned from this book is that all diets are only designed to last for about 6 months. That is it. You read it SIX MONTHS! Oh and get this, a diet is considered successful if you lose between 5-10% of your weight. So if you weigh 300 pounds and lose 30 pounds you

    I will never diet again after reading this book. No Weight Watchers, no Metabolic Reasearch Center, no nothing. No Dr. Fuhrman, no Dr. Atkins or Dr. T.Colin Campbell. Vegan or Paleo. It does not matter. Diets do not work. Period.

    What I learned from this book is that all diets are only designed to last for about 6 months. That is it. You read it SIX MONTHS! Oh and get this, a diet is considered successful if you lose between 5-10% of your weight. So if you weigh 300 pounds and lose 30 pounds you are considered a success. But after 2 years, the 30 pounds returns and some.That is how Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and Medifast make their money-revolving customers. These companies know their programs only work for the short term.

    I lost 50 pounds and kept it off now for 8 years and am in the 5% club. What is the 5% club? People who kept off 30 pounds for over a year. 95 to 97% of dieters regain their weight back. Keeping this weight off requires constant dillligence and effort. I have been working with a nutritionist at Duke University and I now understand why she told be to eat 2,000 calories a day and let the weight come off slowly. She knew and understood the research.

    Dr. Mann is not a diet doctor, she is a food psychologist. From her food lab at Minnesota she has researched techniques that will help people lose weight, however, it will be a slow weight loss. Another good book to read that was published about 8 years ago is Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. He basically says some of the same things.

    All my diet books will be donated to the public library for the library sale.

  • Karlyn
    May 02, 2015

    I bought this book after reading an interesting excerpt posted on Salon.com. While the article seemed to rely on an actual review of research, this book seemed to instead just heavily reference the author's own findings without offering any explanation of whether the findings were being debated in any way. I had expected the book to really be just an informative piece on the science of how people eat and why diets don't work, but about 2/3 of the book was a bunch of "not dieting" diet type tips.

    I bought this book after reading an interesting excerpt posted on Salon.com. While the article seemed to rely on an actual review of research, this book seemed to instead just heavily reference the author's own findings without offering any explanation of whether the findings were being debated in any way. I had expected the book to really be just an informative piece on the science of how people eat and why diets don't work, but about 2/3 of the book was a bunch of "not dieting" diet type tips. Some of the examples were useful, but this really what I had expected to get from the book. Because of this, I was a bit disappointed in the book. To some degree, I think the author was just trying to appeal to a non academic audience, but the book is full of conjectures that weren't even supported by her own data. For someone who is critiquing the diet and fitness industry at various points, it seems a bit odd and irresponsible to be giving what feel like diet tips paired with lots of unscientific commentary in a book where the author's name is conspicuously followed by her degrees. Overall, the book wasn't terrible, though. There were some highly applicable ideas rooted in psychology in this book that justify reading it if you're not an academic with expertise in psychology. Also, the first 1/3 of the book was informational and very interesting. I don't really recommend this book if you're trying to understand the science behind eating habits, though, because the book is mostly Tracy Mann's commentary and then advice that presumes her view is correct and hasn't been challenged in any valid way. Further, she doesn't nuance her discussion to account for people with conditions that affect people's eating habits, like diabetes, insulin resistance, or polycystic ovarian syndrome; it would've been nice to have at least an overview or a brief statement about biological factors affecting appetite and what psychology has to offer in that area.

  • Jana
    May 28, 2015

    Easy and accessible, yet very informative. She cites her sources and makes the science easy to read without dumbing anything down. And now I can feel a little bit of justifiable smugness whenever someone traps me and describes their crazy diet. (I never want to talk about anyone's crazy diet.)

  • Book Riot Community
    Jun 25, 2015

    I am a total sucker for nonfiction books about both food and science, so the combination of the two makes me ecstatic. Even if you’re not prone to dieting, Secrets From the Eating Lab has a lot of fascinating information about what drives our dietary habits. I loved reading about the eating studies and how certain cues affect everyone who eats food (which is pretty much everyone, right?). Very informative, very even-handed, and steeped in actual science instead of opinion. — Susie Rodarme

    from Th

    I am a total sucker for nonfiction books about both food and science, so the combination of the two makes me ecstatic. Even if you’re not prone to dieting, Secrets From the Eating Lab has a lot of fascinating information about what drives our dietary habits. I loved reading about the eating studies and how certain cues affect everyone who eats food (which is pretty much everyone, right?). Very informative, very even-handed, and steeped in actual science instead of opinion. — Susie Rodarme

    from The Best Books We Read In May:

  • Lauriann
    Dec 31, 2015

    This lifted a weight off my shoulders (pun intended).

    "Your body is not your masterpiece--your life is." Glennon Melton

  • Donna
    Sep 12, 2016

    First, I'll say that the author comes across like she is your long lost friend. She isn't banging the table to make her point but using humor and familiarity with the reader. Sometimes that makes me feel manipulated, but I didn't get that feel here at all. It could be true, but I didn't feel it. I think I liked her informal approach.

    This isn’t a diet book. It doesn’t tell you what to do other than ‘don’t diet’. This is a scientific look at the psychology of eating. It is the “why” of what people

    First, I'll say that the author comes across like she is your long lost friend. She isn't banging the table to make her point but using humor and familiarity with the reader. Sometimes that makes me feel manipulated, but I didn't get that feel here at all. It could be true, but I didn't feel it. I think I liked her informal approach.

    This isn’t a diet book. It doesn’t tell you what to do other than ‘don’t diet’. This is a scientific look at the psychology of eating. It is the “why” of what people choose what they do when it comes to eating. This contains many different studies that determine how much people eat, which foods are chosen when you are with friends, which foods are chosen when certain adjectives are attached, the effects certain foods have on us when given certain messages first, etc. Really....this had so much research in it, I thought I was in heaven. That part was fascinating.

    In the subtitle, it says, "the science of weight loss." I'm not sure that is entirely truthful, because weight loss was not what this was about. It covered the desire to lose weight and how obese people are treated differently anywhere from in the court room to job interviews. It also stated that weight loss programs are huge money makers for diet companies because the majority of all weight lost is gained right back. Overall, I found this interesting because I love research and how it is all interpreted. So 4 stars.


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