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The Jerusalem Diet. Guided Imagery and the…

The Jerusalem Diet. Guided Imagery and the Personal Path to Weight Control

by Judith Besserman

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Diet books tend to fall into two major categories: those truly designed to help people, and those shamelessly designed to exploit a readership desperately searching for help. The Jerusalem Diet, sad to say, seems to fall firmly into the latter category.

The book starts to fall apart before you even open the cover. The Jerusalem Diet is not (as the authors repeatedly admit) a diet book. This is easy enough to believe, considering the book contains no specific nutritional information, but rather vague hints and suggestions, like eat healthier foods, and don’t eat cake. Cake is actually one of the few foods mentioned specifically, and it is brought up repeatedly throughout the first third of the book. Apparently, the authors believe that the overwhelming cause of obesity is an overabundance of cake eating.

It also has nothing to do with Jerusalem, other than that the principles of the book are loosely founded on the teachings of a deceased spiritual guru based in Jerusalem. The introduction claims that the book is dedicated to her memory, although the actual dedication singles out the daughters of the authors instead. The picture of a nondescript wall on the cover (behind a silhouette of a thin woman wearing a tape measure like a belt, of course), while made out of Jerusalem Stone, has nothing to do with anything, to say the least.

Two misrepresentations and a contradiction, and we aren’t even into the diet part of the book yet.

Not that there’s anything resembling a diet in there. Barely any nutritional information is mentioned, and what little that does appear is frustratingly vague. Oh, there is mention of calories, carbs, and deciding between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, but the reader is pretty much left to decipher the meanings behind these for themselves.

Instead, the JD spends most of its time proposing thinking exercises reminiscent of The Secret. Why offer a structured diet plan with menu suggestions when you can tell your reader to ask themselves “Am I eating this to make myself thin” before each meal? Where most diet books would offer recipes and healthy snack alternatives, roughly two-thirds of the JD consists of imaging exercises designed to help you think yourself thin, like fixing a clock or trying to get your fist out of a jar. My personal favorite: visualize yourself unzipping a fat suit and stepping out of it. Yes sir, I can feel the pounds melting away with that one.

The implication behind most of these thought exercises is that overweight people are that way due solely to impulsive and emotional eating habits (like eating too much cake, as the author repeatedly admonishes). This attitude doesn’t take into account weight problems brought on by undiagnosed medical problems, varying metabolic rates, and poor nutritional education. Such an approach also gives the authors any easy out; if the diet doesn’t work for you, than you obviously don’t want to be thin, or are subconsciously sabotaging yourself. What’s worse, this kind of diet approach turns the dieter against themselves, making it a battle against some phantom enemy within rather than the fight to control the body’s consumption of calories for energy.

Of course, I might feel this way about the JD because I’m a man. The authors state in the beginning of the book that, while men might read the JD, it is really meant for women. (Why not mention this somewhere on the cover?). The reason, according to the author, is that men and women eat for different reasons. This is news to me. Men may be from Mars and women may be from Venus, but both are motivated to eat by hunger, comfort, and habit. And both are capable of losing weight.

Then again, maybe I’m biased because I don’t trust a diet book written by a Psychologist and an Editor, neither with a nutritional background. Or maybe I just can't any diet book seriously that suggests the reader purchase a journal and plenty of crayons. A scale and a pedometer, maybe. A coloring book, no can do.

If you are the kind of person who believes that simply thinking about good things actually makes them happen, by all means, enjoy The Jerusalem Diet. If you a rational human being in serious need of weight loss guidance, then your money will be better spent on a visit with a nutritionist and healthy cookbook. ( )
  smichaelwilson | Feb 9, 2017 |
Some people write to make money I guess. What a waste of paper in this one... ( )
1 vote labelleaurore | Sep 11, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Note: This review is of a pre-publication version in the Early Reviewer program.

I had expected that The Jerusalem diet book would change my life. Excess pounds would disappear and I would be svelte, lovely and totally happy. Wrong!

The Jerusalem Diet, despite its title, has nothing to do with Jerusalem. One of the authors teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The preface states that the book “applies the wisdom and practice of Jerusalem psychotherapist and spiritual guide Colette Aboulker-Muscat. This therapist taught her students to use guided imagery, and The Jerusalem Diet is based on imaging or guided visualization. “Guided imaging is the heart and soul of the process whereby the new, slimmer self is eased into being.”

For a long time I hesitated to continue reading this book, because you are supposed to perform each visual imagery exercise as you read, and there are 43 of them. These exercises sound like self-hypnosis, but, at least without the assistance of an actual therapist, my experience is that they don’t work.

For example, in exercise #4 you imagine that your hand is in a jar, holding tightly on to something that will not allow you to lose weight. You are supposed to open your hand and see what it is that prevents you from losing weight. Apparently, one woman was holding ancient coins. This meant that her excess weight was precious to her, in a very old, secret way. This translated to her concept of herself as a chubby baby based on an old photograph. Me? I was probably holding a pint of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough!

I did, however, gain one very important concept from The Jerusalem Diet. In Chapter 2, you are supposed to ask yourself before you eat:

1. Am I eating to gain weight?
2. Am I eating to maintain my present weight?
3. Am I eating to lose weight?

These are 3 very rational, practical, fundamental questions which, if answered honestly, could make a big difference in your eating habits. I commend the authors on this wisdom and thank them for this simple advice. Now, the goal is to use it to succeed in losing that excess weight. ( )
4 vote brendajanefrank | Jun 1, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book talks a lot about the emotional component to overeating and weight gain, and reminds readers of practical ways to remain mindful about what, why and how much they eat. It's a diet book in the sense that it can help people see more clearly their relationship to food and eating, and make changes. If you are looking for a list of "good foods" and "bad foods" telling you which to eat and which to avoid, or a list of meal plans, then this is not the book for you. ( )
1 vote saltypepper | Feb 25, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As a young 24 year old guy this bok was not what I expected. I was hoping that with two PhD's as authors that they would touch more on the psychology of dieting and other empirical studies/data. Instead I found a book that looks at what diets mean to most of the people in today's world. This book tries to teach people how to overcome their own psychology to try and reach for what will make them happy. It goes into trying to change your habits and desires so that you no longer need to satisfy your "desires" for food and dieting and instead what you crave in daily life meets the requirements of your "diet."

While it might just mean you trade one bad habit in for another one I think the techniques in this book are helpful for those looking for something to help make their diets go that extra step and work for them. ( )
  gallandro_83 | Feb 11, 2008 |
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