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Pros and Cons on Dr. Phil's Weight Solution

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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DR. Phil - talk-show host and Oprah's counselor-in-chief - has built a career around his tough-love approach to relationships.

And with his new book, "The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom" (Free Press), he focuses on our most dysfunctional relationship of all - with food.

Lisa Dorfman, a nutritionist and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, as well as a licensed psychologist, gives the skinny on one of the hottest diet books of the season - and whether it's worth the weight.


Unlike the cabbage soup diet, this is not a get-thin-quick scheme that promises to melt off pounds with minimal effort.

Dr. Phil urges readers to "get real" - he says you are as successful and capable of sticking with a healthy meal plan as you think you are.

"Changing behavior and paying attention to portion sizes is a valid and beneficial component of dieting," says Dorfman. "So is changing your way of thinking about your challenges with food, which he encourages."

If you say to yourself, "I always fail when I try to slim down" or "I'll never lose weight" - you're right. Instead of creating a negative self-fulfilling prophecy, tell yourself, "I have the strength to do this."

To prevent slip-ups, Dr. Phil suggests creating what's called a no-fail environment: You'll be less likely to chow down on a bag of chips and pint of ice cream if you don't have it in your house to begin with.

The plan also recommends identifying your "impulse points" - the moments when you're most likely to binge, such as that post-lunch slump at 3 p.m. or late at night before you hit the sack.

Pinpoint when these cravings strike and substitute them with another activity, such as taking a walk, calling a friend or listening to music until the impulse passes.

Also, choose time-consuming foods to control overeating. So instead of grabbing fast food, go for meals that require preparation and cooking - and eat them on a plate instead of mindlessly noshing at the kitchen counter.

Foods that force you to slow down prevent you from overdoing it and give your stomach time to tell your brain you're full.


Although it's good that Dr. Phil encourages you to examine why you turn to food - is it because you're actually hungry or because you're feeling stressed or depressed?-"What happens when you do figure it out?" asks Dorfman.

"If you're overweight, alone and have just figured out that you're overeating because you have a deep-rooted emotional problem, what are you going to do next? These doors need to be opened, but in the right, therapeutic setting."

The plan focuses too much on avoiding "bad" foods instead of providing practical advice on how to cope with them.

"In New York, you can walk into any delicatessen and get any food you could ever want," she says. "People need realistic solutions to handle this - as well as how to deal with the rest of the day if they do give into that slice of chocolate cake."

Steering clear of comfort foods at all costs is not only unnecessary, she says, but can also backfire. "Trying to avoid these foods completely can make your cravings even stronger," she says. "If you're never allowed to eat something again, that's all you want."

Dorfman also disagrees with Dr. Phil's suggestion that you throw away your "fat clothes" - the ones you keep in your closet case you get bigger. Though he argues that if you don't have anything to wear if you pack on the pounds, you'll be less likely to go off the wagon, it's just not realistic for most people.

What's more, although he emphasizes the importance of having a solid support group, he also suggests (at least temporarily) staying away from friends and family who may sabotage your efforts to slim down.

Finally, Dr. Phil doesn't spend enough time on a crucial component of weight loss: exercise. A more detailed workout regimen and specific tips on how to get - and stay - motivated would be helpful.

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