Tacoma author Deborah Kesten has seven cures for our fat-prone society. They're in the form of behaviorial antidotes to seven obesity-generating ways we eat.
Kesten, a nutrition researcher and educator, and her husband, Larry Scherwitz, a natural products scientist in Puyallup, identified the obesity-bearing behaviors in a methodical fashion. During a six-week online eating program that they designed, administered and recorded, Kesten and Scherwitz analyzed the eating patterns of more than 5,200 people.
The surprisingly consistent and significant results are the basis of their book, "The Enlightened Diet: 7 Weight-Loss Solutions that Nourish Body, Mind and Soul," published last month. It is a hit - but not for the reasons most diet books are a hit.
"The Enlightened Diet is a profound relief," writes Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of "The Wisdom of Menopause," on the book jacket. "It's not just about calories or exercise, and our bodies know this."
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Even though it been out only a few weeks, the book has had an impact. Bastyr University near Seattle, a college for naturopathic physicians, is adding it to the reference materials for the school's planned new wellness center, where Kesten and Scherwitz also will be on faculty.
"Our core message is that there is a way of life and eating that can lead you naturally to weight loss and wellness," said Kesten, author of two previous books on the connections between food, culture and healing. "We call it whole-person nutrition."
A person's eating style can't be separated from the rest of life, said David Riley, medical editor of "Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing."
"Overeating is not merely an isolated behavior," he says. "Rather, it is part of a web of related food choices, feelings, sensory experience and social behaviors."
According to Kesten and Scherwitz, here are the seven fat-generating behaviors:
n Food fretting: Worrying about getting fat, counting calories, fat grams or carbs.
n T ask snacking: Doing other thin gs while eating, such as driving, standing or working at a computer.
n Emotional eating: Eating to manage or self-soothe negativ e feelings such as anger or sadness.
n Fast foodism: Eating predominantly processed foods instead of fresh, plant-based food.
n Solo dining: Eating alone and isolated from your social circle.
n Unappetizing atmosphere: Eating around noise, clutter, un pleasant surroundings or negativity.
n Sensory disregard: Failing to savor the taste and flavors of food and not being grateful for it.
This list is basically the opposite of what Kesten and Scherwitz mean by "The Enlightened Diet." If you reverse all of these behaviors, an enlightened diet is like an enlightened life - it's all about awareness and being present in the moment.
If you've read Eckhart Tolle's latest book, "The New Earth," you already are familiar with the ideas. "The New Earth" is a continuation of Tolle's prior book, "The Power of Now," an international best-seller. The books explain a concept quite familiar to long-time students of meditation and mindfulness: the concept of accepting and embracing the present moment.
In relation to eating, "The Enlightened Diet" is about being aware of how, what and where you eat and with whom, and whether you eat consciously or just stuff food in mindlessly while surfing the Internet, paying bills or watching "Law & Order."
(By the way, "The New Earth" was picked up by Oprah Winfrey for her book club and is the subject of Oprah's first online seminar series starting March 3.)
According to Kesten and Scherwitz, when it comes to food, being in the moment means we're tasting it, enjoying it and appreciating it, sharing it with loved ones, eating in pleasing surroundings. We're eating fresh, unprocessed, deliciously prepared food, relishing every bite and are not distracted by other activities.
Next month, I will review their suggestions for moving in that direction. Meanwhile, if - like me - you're caught in task-snacking or one or more of the other six unenlightened ways to eat, perhaps we can just observe ourselves doing it.
Being an observer, Tolle says, adds a little space where enlightenment can come in. Maybe an "Enlightened Diet" will sneak in, too.
Keri Brenner writes for The Olympian. She is a licensed acupuncturist in Oregon and holds a master's degree in Oriental medicine and acupuncture from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland. Brenner is the author of "Sleep Disorders: An Alternative Guide" and a contributing editor to "Alternative Guide to Women's H ealth, Vols. I and II." She can be reached at 360-754-5435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
n e_SDLq The Enlightened Diet: 7 Weight- Loss Solutions That Nourish Body, Mind, and Soul" by Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz (Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press, 2007, paperback, $15.95)
n "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle, ( Plume/Penguin, 2006, paperback, $14)
n To register for two online optimal-eating programs or to get information on enlightened diet coaching, go to www.enlighteneddiet.com.
n For information on Oprah's online seminar on "A New Earth," go to www. oprah.com.