What Dieters need to LEARN

What do more dieters need to learn?

First, “diets” and restrictive eating fail to produce long-term weight loss 95 percent of the time . One study found that merely planning to go on a diet can trigger overeating in restrained eaters, suggesting that dieting and overeating go together.

The second thing dieters need to learn is they do not have 100 percent complete control over their body shape. People who believe they can achieve any desired weight if they stop being lazy and eat less are in for a rude awakening when they do start a diet program and their hard work doesn’t translate into their idealizations. There are many biological, genetic, and environmental factors working against dieter’s weight loss behaviors that determine body shape and risk for obesity, and holding strong feelings of personal responsibility increases dieters’ likelihood of relapse, self-blame for failures, and decreased feelings of self-efficacy to get back on track.

Lastly, dieters need to learn that healthy weight management cannot be achieved by a short-term gimmicky diet that promises instant results. Weight management results from the ongoing time and effort dedicated over a lifetime. So, what dieters ultimately need to learn is a new pattern to fabricate a healthy lifestyle, which is the lesson LEARN exclusively promotes.

Clinical psychologist and renowned researcher Kelly Brownell developed the LEARN program as a protocol to treat obesity for the scientific community. He knew dieters wouldn’t favor his manual because the program slow, you may never achieve your goal weight, and relapse is inevitable in today’s society (Kolata, 2007). As a result, this scientifically sound, realistic, “gold standard” medical program never reached the masses of dieters and remains unknown to those who need to hear the message most. People need to face the punishing reality that they will always be on the edge hunger and tempted by food, but they also need to learn how to manage to live up to their life’s healthiest potential.

LEARN stands for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, and Nutrition and it teaches people to become students of their own daily habits so they can learn when, why, how, and why their habits occur and apply the skills to live and maintain a healthy body in today’s toxic environment (Diets in Review, 2011). The program comprises 16 weekly lessons covering its five main topics, an 8 month program, and a commencement lesson that can be implemented through self-help or by meeting with a LEARN certified counselor or clinical program. LEARN takes a cognitive behavioral approach through self-monitoring, reinforcement, and restructuring negative thinking based on the rationale that weight loss will occur when the body is in a state of negative energy balance through calorie reduction and increased physical activity (Clum, 2008). This promotes a slow, steady rate of weight loss when properly followed and doesn’t falsely guarantee immediate results.

LEARN begins by identifying health risks, calculating BMI and determining readiness and willingness to loose weight, and gives an in-dept lesson on current health status and food issues. The 2004 manual costs about $22.95 and provides self-assessment tools, worksheets, monitoring forms, charts, tables, pictures and cartoons in a format that resembles a classroom textbook (Best Diet For Me, 2010). The manual covers key topics listed in Table 1. The LEARN program emphasizes counting calories and weighing or measuring foods everyday, but doesn’t forbid or restrict any particular food items (Kolata, 2007). The goal is to eat healthfully with low-fat foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and cereals. It is the basic message that has been promoted for years, but it is one that people rarely follow and feel reluctant to hear.


–       Coping with lapse and preventing relapse

–       Creative ways to stay motivated

–       Dealing with pressures to eat

–       Family and relationships

–       Guidelines for setting reasonable weight loss goals

–       Helpful tips for eating away from home

–       How attitude can affect weight loss

–       How to use the Food Guide Pyramid

–       Information about body image and weight maintenance

–       Multiple weight change records to track progress

–       New information on exercise and physical activity

–       Quality of Life Self- Assessment


Best Diet for Me. (2010). The LEARN program for weight control . Retrieved February 13, 2011, from Marketdata Enterprises, Inc.  website: http://www.bestdietforme.com/‌Top60DietReviews/‌LEARN.htm

Centra. (2011). LEARN program for weight management . Retrieved February 11, 2011, from Centra  website: http://www.centrahealth.com/‌learn-program

Clum, W. (2008 ). Handbook of Self-Help Therapies . New York, NY : Taylor & Francis Group .

Conner, M., & Armitage, C. J. (2010 ). The Social Psychology of Food . Berkshire, England : Open University Press .

Diets in Review. (2011, January 27). LEARN A lifestyle approach for controlling weightloss in 16 lessons . Retrieved February 9, 2011, from Diets in Review  website: http://www.dietsinreview.com/‌diets/‌learn/

Hathaway, W. (2007, September 17). Obesity expert: Blame policies  [Newsgroup message]. Retrieved from Courant.com : http://courant.com/‌news/‌health/‌hc-fatfighter0917.artsep17,0,1475380.story

Kolata, G. (2007). Rethinking thin: The new science of weight loss- and the myths and realities of ideting . New York : Picador .

Urbszat, D., Hreman, P., & Polivy, J. (2002). Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we diet: Effects of anticipated deprivation on food intake in restrained and unrestrained eaters . Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 111(2), 396-401.


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