Diets don’t work

Wendy Oliver-Pyatt

Native Nevadan Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, M.D., is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in both general and addiction psychiatry. Her struggle with weight and dieting led to bulimia and only ended after she healed her relationship with food. Her new book, Fed Up! The Breakthrough Ten-Step, No-Diet Fitness Plan is her method. There’s more information on her Web site,, to assess your own level of food and body preoccupation. Oliver-Pyatt will conduct a workshop Feb. 8-9 at the Siena Spa Casino. Call 828-4949.

What made you write this book?

I’m to a point where I’m literally sickened when I hear about people going on diets because I know through my own path what kind of pain it creates in a person’s life. I felt very healed through my own experiences and in doing psychotherapy with people and feeling like I was making an impact and a difference. I felt compelled to try to articulate what was going on, so I broke it into the 10 steps. I actually wrote the 10 steps on the back of an envelope in a Raley’s parking lot one day.

What specific problems does your book address?

First, the false idea that dieting and maintaining mental lists of good and bad foods results in long-term weight loss. Second, the really destructive impact of cultural pressures to pursue unrealistic beauty standards. My book provides people with a solution to the problem because it addresses the underlying psychological reasons that people eat to excess.

A cultural pressure to diet?

You see one diet book come out after another. They give these rules about what you should and should not eat. The only problem is that what you’re doing when you go on a diet of any sort is you’re stepping out of internally driven eating and stepping into externally driven eating or eating that’s governed by external rules rather than eating that’s governed by internal processes. And once you do that, you start to disrupt your relationship with food.

What makes Fed Up! revolutionary?

It actually helps a person heal their relationship with food so they’re no longer compulsive with food. The problem is that even though you can follow a diet for two weeks or two months, once you have that compulsivity with food, which is the direct result of dieting in the first place, you can never really keep up with that really powerful underlying compulsivity that you feel.

Is our American culture mentally ready to reject these cultural myths?

They’re terrified. I ask people to think about other cultures and how, for example, the French and the Italian cultures just really appreciate and enjoy the food, but they’re not caught up with it. These other cultures aren’t diet-obsessed and yet they are fit.

Is this a book for women?

When I began writing the book I had women in mind. Since I’ve written the book I’ve had an outpouring of men who are also struggling with the weight issue. They’re finding that diets don’t lead to long-term weight loss for them any better than they do for women. The confounding problem for men is that this is seen as a female disease or problem and they feel apprehensive to talk about it or say it is a problem.