Four Golden Rules for Eating and Weight Loss

In 2009, I will be reviewing popular diet, weight loss, and fitness books published over the last few years. These reviews will give you a chance to preview books before buying them and allow you to compare different weight loss and fitness approaches to see what fits best with your lifestyle.

A SimpleWeight Review of I Can Make You Thin

Known as the “Dr. Phil of Britain”, Paul McKenna, PhD, has just released the US version of his weight loss/self help book, I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People (Book and CD) (published December 2008). Although it reinforces much of what has already been published about dieting and weight loss, McKenna boils down most of the weight loss principles into Four Golden Rules of eating. By following these rules, McKenna is certain that dieters can change their eating behaviors and lose weight in the process. Below you will find the highlights of McKenna’s book:

McKenna’s Four Golden Rules for Eating
1. Eat when you’re hungry: Sounds simple enough but the trick is to listen to your body and learn your personal levels of hunger. McKenna provides a “hunger scale” with 1 being physically faint from hunger and 10 being nauseous from eating too much. He suggests eating when your hunger level is at 3 or 4 (fairly or slightly hungry) and stopping when you reach a level of 6 or 7 (pleasantly satisfied or full).

Bonus Tip – Thirst is sometimes masked as hunger. In other words, you may think you are hungry when you are actually thirsty. If you think you are hungry, McKenna suggests drinking a glass of water first, then if you are still hungry, eat.

2. Eat what you want and not what you think you should eat: McKenna stresses that there are no forbidden foods using his weight loss method and that you can eat whatever makes you happy. This approach works due to the checks and balances of the other three Golden Rules. By merely following the other rules, you can eat whatever you want as long as you are truly hungry, you enjoy every bite, and you stop when you are full.

Bonus Tip – McKenna encourages you to throw away any foods that do not inspire you to eat, like the low fat, low carb, no taste snacks in the pantry (unless you really like to eat cardboard).

3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful: Point blank, eat SLOWLY and really taste and enjoy your food. When you eat slowly, your stomach has enough time to send a signal to the brain and the rest of your body that you are “full” and to stop eating. People who are overweight tend to eat fast, not allowing their stomachs time to send this “full” signal. As result, they will continue to eat until they are overfull or even stuffed. Slow eating also allows you to appreciate all of the flavors and textures of the food, helping you decide what foods you really enjoy and which you can pass up.

Bonus Tip – Slow your eating down to a quarter of what you are used to and chew each mouthful completely, setting down your utensil between bites.

4. When you think you’re full, stop eating: Knowing when you are truly “full” may be difficult for many people, but McKenna offers an easy way to tell when you are full. As soon as you’ve had your fill of food, every bite thereafter will be less enjoyable then the one before. Continuing to eat after this point will create an uncomfortable feeling in your solar plexus (nerves in the abdomen). At this point, you should stop eating no matter how much food is still left on your plate.

Bonus Tip – For card-carrying members of the clean your plate club, McKenna suggests giving up this mindset and only eating until you are full, leaving behind any food as leftovers or for the trash.

Strengths – McKenna’s Four Golden Rules are extremely simple to understand. He explains them in clear terms and offers sound and, for the most part, jargon-free reasoning behind each of the principles. McKenna also offers a no-nonsense summary of why our dieting patterns have failed and have actually reprogrammed our bodies to not lose weight. This actually becomes the premise for the book, setting the stage for readers to change their habits and adopt better eating behaviors for life.

Limitations – Although the Four Golden Rules are simple in theory, actually following through with them is a different story. For many of us, following these rules will mean overcoming years of poor eating behaviors, many of which are now part of our subconscious. If you can get past this huge obstacle – you’re Golden. McKenna also stresses that no food is off limits, yet pays no mind to the nutritional value of food. Although I don’t believe any food should be forbidden (because it just makes you want it more), nutrition should also be a factor in what you eat.

The Twist – McKenna provides a guided hypnosis CD which aims to reinforce his golden rules and other weight loss techniques mentioned in the book. The idea of using hypnosis to lose weight may scare away dieters from even reading the book. This would be a mistake, because the basic principles are sound and don’t necessarily need hypnosis to follow.

Have you read this book? Tell me your thoughts about I Can Make You Thin. What other health books would you like to see reviewed on

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