Yet another self-help book on how to get off the diet roundabout.
As a woman of a certain age who has had issues with her weight for most of her life, I didn’t really expect too much from Joyful Eating. And sadly my expectations were realised. Although the author claims her philosophy of joyful eating allows one to break the dieting habit and ‘Make Peace with Your Body’, the book recycles many of the attitudes of earlier ‘non-diet’ movements such as conscious eating, loving oneself, and mindfulness, to name just a few.
Tansy Boggon is a qualified nutritionist who offers nutrition counselling and workshops built around her philosophy of joyful eating. She has an engaging writing style which makes for easy reading and supports her ideas with an extensive bibliography which includes studies published in peer reviewed publications such as The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine.
However, citing prestigious medical journals does not necessarily lead to a convincing argument being made for joyful eating. I agree with Boggon when she says years and years of fad diets have let down all of those who struggle to maintain a healthy weight. She is correct when she says that yo-yo dieting only makes the situation worse and is likely to lead to long term weight gain not loss. But I have problems with her division between mind and body.
This is most evident in the chapter on accepting yourself as you are right now. The author argues thoughts and feelings arise outside of our control and so we are but witness to them. Similarly she asserts that our physical body – whatever its shape or size – does not represent who we are as a person. But this binary division of mind and body is never as clear as Boggan indicates. Our physical body, which has gone through a vast range of experiences to reach this moment, surely has an impact on our thoughts and vice versa.
It also seems somewhat counter to her philosophy that thoughts arise outside of our control to then encourage readers to download the free workbook, a personal journal of self-reflective activities – in other words, your thoughts. Activities include listing one’s food and eating rules and interrogating their origins; relaxation exercises; discovering one’s ‘real’ hunger cues as opposed to eating because we are bored or sad. All these activities encourage readers to generate thoughts through which Boggan asserts we can modify our behaviour and find joy in eating, while at the same time being unable to control our thoughts and being happy with the way we are at present.
While the book is well laid out in a physical sense, it is far less straight forward in successfully promoting its philosophy which seems to be contradictory. While I admire the author for her bold decision to self-publish the book to promote a philosophy she clearly believes in, the text would have benefited from editorial input, just as the cover would have benefited from a better design that could have been far more eye catching.
Reviewed by: Jan Kershaw
Distributed by: Self-published
Released: May 2019