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Real People, Real Cases: Coach Abel (or, how food restriction leads to binge eating)


Judge Judy is the longest running television show of all time, even longer than Oprah.

I can see why: she’s a no-nonsense, get-to-the-point kind of person and her authenticity in her role as judge comes through loud and clear. That obviously resonates with viewers which is why her show has enjoyed so much success. (Coaching lesson: Authenticity is something people relate to.)

There are lots of “Court TV shows” on television, yet none have matched her ratings or her longevity.

I am now in my fourth decade as a Coach in the fitness industry, and the physique transformation and nutritionist game. (That’s actually a long time to earn good money in this industry: most never do, and never last.)

What I really like about the “Judge Judy” show is the way it begins: “Real people, real cases… Judge Judy.” Sometimes it's needed because, once you see the show, you can't believe these people are “real,” but nonethless, that is the promise of the tagline.

Today, I want to offer the same thing: Real People, Real Cases… Coach Abel.

As I sit at my desk each day and monitor my email inbox I get to take the pulse on what is passing for knowledge in the fitness, diet, and nutrition industry. Not only is it disappointing, sometimes it’s outright scary. As wannabes constantly jockey for Facebook likes and Twitter followers they misrepresent fitness and diet knowledge, or just flat out get it wrong.

Often it’s you the consumer who suffers for it. Yes, if people could sit behind my desk for a week and witness the real people and “cases” I do, I think it would be a valuable lesson regarding the damage this industry is doing by selling “speculative information” as knowledge.

Here is one of these “real cases, real people… Coach Abel” scenarios – although, I have thousands that would make any sane person shake their head in bewilderment.

The One-Time Custom Diet Order


As most of you know, besides one on one Coaching I also offer one-time Custom Diets and one-time Custom Workout programs as part of my available services. A while back I had a lady order a one-time custom diet from me.

She was adamant and needed to make it very clear that the diet had to have the following:

no oil, no nuts, no dairy, no gluten, no grains, and that she is “carb-resistant.”

(Remember, real cases, real people!)

Now immediately this sends up red flags to a nutrition and diet-strategy expert. The odds of anyone having a biochemical aversion to all these foods are literally about a million to one.

Moreover, terms like “carb resistant” are just industry made-up words. They’re not legitimate. (Unlike, for example, “lactose intolerant,” which is a real term.) The use of such words send up warning signs.

Clearly what I had here was someone so invested in online industry misinformation that she had convinced herself she had an aversion to all these foods. Well, what foods does this leave for her then?

And here’s the thing you all need to know about this (“real cases, real people”) this lady is very overweight!

Look at the list of her reported diet-restrictions and surmise for yourself how someone with this many food limitations can be overweight.

I’ll tell you how. She is so convinced that these foods are “not good for her” that she tells herself to stay away from them all. She denies herself all of them, forever, no matter what.

The result is that she is a heavy and frequent binge eater.

And she can’t stop herself. Now, most of the time the roots of binge eating are unresolved emotional issues, often triggered by diets and food restrictions. But here the reason she can’t stop is BECAUSE OF the way she is trying to eat and her so-called “adamant restrictions” of foods she just can’t have, no matter what.



You see, what I know, and what she just can’t get through her head, is that not only is she lying to herself (and to me) that she can’t “stomach” these foods, but trying to limit these foods is what is setting her binge eating in motion and why she can’t stop.

Look at her list of foods she supposedly “can’t eat.” Most of these foods are the exact foods that relay a message from the stomach to the brain that you are “satisfied” – not “full” necessarily, but “satisfied.” This is a hormonal feedback loop from the brain to the stomach and back again. What this means is that you can lie to yourself – but not to your own biochemistry and your brain function.

You can tell yourself that’s its great and wonderful that you can eat some lean proteins and then all the “fibrous veggies you want,” but the only problem here is that your stomach and brain doesn’t want all fibrous veggies!

Your brain is never going to receive the message that it is “satiated” (satisfied) from a diet that restricts all the foods that lead to that biochemical signal. This is why the old saying about Chinese food was so true: “It’s great… but then you’re hungry again in two hours

By buying into industry hogwash of “eat this not that” she has become her own worst enemy. She binges on candy and chocolate, and low fat this, and low carbs that, junk foods. Then she reports that she can never “get full.” But instead of learning a lesson from all this, she thinks the solution is buying a diet from me with all the very same food restrictions as above. That's the problem, not the solution!

You might think well, as an expert, I should be able to put together a diet that has all those restrictions. That's missing the point. Those restrictions are the problem. They're not something you “work with.” They are the root of this woman's binge-eating and weight issues.

She has bought-in to the propaganda: hook, line, and sinker. Now she is suffering for it!

As I always say, “You don’t diet your way out of an issue that you dieted your way into!” (See my book, The Anti-Diet Approach.)

But she is so afraid of these healthy whole foods she doesn’t see the irony of it as she binges on candy and sweets and processed foods and continues to gain weight.

Let me put this in plainer terms:

She doesn’t have a “nutrition issue.” She has a “bullshit issue.”

Moreover, after all the books I’ve written about eating disorders in the fitness industry, it is obvious that this lady has serious psychological food and eating issues–issues that a diet will never solve. Most eating disorders or severe cases of disordered eating are predicated on seeing how intensely a person defines their eating regimens by thinking about what they can’t eat; not what they can eat. People with food issues ALWAYS think in terms of restrictions and limitations. So it’s a red flag whenever I see someone who writes me with this many supposed “food restrictions.”

What people like this need to understand – and what you all need to understand – is that while you may think of food in terms of restrictions and limitations, your brain and its huger/satiety feedback loop will never “think” that way!

Your brain constantly seeks the message of “being satisfied by food” – and it receives that message through your stomach, not your conscious mind.

Regardless of a one-time diet from me or not, this lady is likely to continue to gain weight, and think of herself as “a victim” in it all. Yet all she has to do is surrender the nonsense this industry has taught her that she “shouldn’t eat all these things.”

Real people, real cases… Coach Abel

Some of you will get it

Some of you won’t want to!