03/31/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Don't Let Anyone Tell You What to Eat

Aren't you sick of people telling you what to eat? What is OK and not OK to put in your mouth? How you should eat, when, how much, how often, what size plates, etc...? I am. It is a little bit out of control in my opinion.

A recent study has confirmed what I have been teaching for a long time. A calorie is a calorie and the only way to lose weight is to take in less calories then you burn. The end. That is it. The big secret to weight loss that has given birth to a $32 billion dollar a year industry. That's right, Americans alone spend 32 billion dollars a year on diet programs, diet books and diet related products. It is kind of crazy.

I am a psychotherapist who works with people suffering with eating disorders and disordered eating. I think much of our country's problem, when it comes to obesity and eating disorders, stems from dieting and listening to others tell us what our bodies want and need. No one else on the planet knows what your body wants and needs. No one else is in there but you. If you tune out your own desires, needs and cravings long enough, you no longer know what is intuitively right for you. That is sad in my opinion.

For example, you might be craving spinach because there are some nutrients in spinach that your body needs. However, you are on the no spinach diet and so you cannot eat spinach today as your diet prevents it. That is insanity.

What I teach people to do is to keep food records. Write down what you eat, how much and learn the calories in the foods you love. Figure out how many calories you need to be the weight you want to be by taking your ideal weight times 10, for women, and times 12 for men. This will give you the approximate number of calories you need, per day without exercise, to be that weight.

For example, if I want to weigh l30 lbs. I need approximately 1,300 calories a day. If I exercise, I can take in a bit more and still weigh 130 lbs. It is simple. The psychology behind eating, eating disorders and disordered eating is extremely complex. But I'll save that for another blog.

That's if for now. Good luck and let me know how you're doing.

If you'd like to participate in the research for Irene's new book about the process of weight loss, please visit and take the survey.