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Routley looks at the discomfort caused by comfort food

Psychologist's book teaches people how to ditch the diet


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Whistler hosts the 2014 Readers and Writers Festival from Oct. 17 to 19. Pique is running reviews of books by attending authors to celebrate. For information and tickets www.whistlerwritersfestival.com.

"There are few discussions regarding the emotional and spiritual aspects of our weight struggles. There is still little dialogue about our fears and how we manage them. Too often, our sorrows, worries and pain lie hidden. Yet the weight-loss industry focuses almost solely on diet and exercise as the solution to weight management...

"The heart of the matter, the truth of why so many of us carry extra weight is that food has become a way to cope with life's stresses, a way to manage emotions. Because of the sheer abundance and availability of food in our society, we now have a simple way to shove down our anxieties and manage any negative feelings that threaten to come up."

- Nancy Routley, Ditch the Diet

Nancy Routley's non-fiction book Ditch The Diet isn't about dieting; it's about changing. As a clinical psychologist, Routley has seen her share of clients with addictions. She's counselled those suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as eating disorders.

She knows her stuff, and she has a theory – it's not about the food, and dieting isn't the answer. It goes much deeper.

She asks the reader to look further than merely examining the types and frequencies of his or her eating habits. She asks us to investigate why we eat the way we do, and she gives us the tools required to make the changes.

When I was asked to read this book I cringed at the thought, as the chocolate bars lay hidden in my desk drawer and I looked guiltily down at my waistline. I've gone through the yo-yo lifestyle that Routley describes, and I agree with her conclusions. It's actually fairly easy to lose weight; we all have the willpower somewhere within us. But, like the real-life examples she writes about, I've always gained the weight back after running the marathon.

When she writes about her anonymous client who claims she thinks about her weight 80 per cent of the time, I wondered how many readers suddenly felt as though they weren't alone. When she suggests writing a Dear John type break-up letter to our food, how many readers (like me), thought what a brilliant idea that was. And, when she analyzes that one of the benefits of exercise isn't necessarily weight-loss, how many reluctant gym-members breathed a sigh of relief?

Too many times books of this type dwell on the problem and then preach catchphrases or some other simplistic solution. I was relieved to discover that Ditch The Diet is different. Routley leads us into the tunnel, makes us feel OK about where we're at, shows us what's really happening and guides us out the other end.

The writing is crisp, readable, and most of all — sensible. There's a saying that's sometimes heard amongst people suffering from addictions: A sponsor will say to their charge, "You do the digging, and I'll hold your jacket".

In her debut book, which I hesitate to call self-help, Nancy Routley holds the reader's jacket and allows him or her to do the digging.

This is a book that will hopefully find a larger audience — it deserves it. Routley is part of a non-fiction workshop at the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival on Saturday, Oct. 18.

Crosbie's debut novel, My Temporary Life, has been downloaded over 150,000 times and became an Amazon top-10 overall bestseller. Martin will be teaching an all-day session, the A to Z of Self-Publishing, at the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival 2014.