in The New York Times:

Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet

Building Self Control, the American Way

Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril

The Sun is the Best Optometrist

Computers versus Brains

Mugged by Our Genes?

Research for America

Can We Increase Our Intelligence?

Your Brain Lies to You

Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind

Exercise on the Brain



Can Your Biome Make You Fat? – ideas.ted.com

The Truth You Don’t Want to Hear About Going on a Diet – cosmopolitan.com

Doctors Put Overweight Patients on a Path to Failure by Focusing on Shedding Pounds – Quartz

5 Myths About Your Child’s Brain – New York Post

A Vast Left-Handed Conspiracy – The Washington Post

50 Mitos y Verdades Sobre el Cerebro (50 Myths and Truths About the Brain) – El Mundo

Ten Amazing Facts About Your Brain – The Times of London

How Unscrupulous Campaign Strategists are Taking Advantage of a Quirk in Our Brains – and What Reporters Can Do to Stop Helping Them – Nieman Watchdog


10 thoughts on “Writing

  1. Hola soy CIntia Montano de Argentina, una estudiante de nutrición.
    La verdad es que investigando un poco acerca de como les afecta a las personas su imagen corporal y su peso, pude observar muchas cosas que me sorprendieron como el consumo desmedido de medicamentos o la gran cantidad de personas con trastornos alimentarios como con anorexia y bulimia.
    Durante el curso de mi investigacion me encontre con esta informacion birndada por usted y realmente me intereso y me gusto mucho! Lamentablemente no hablamos el mismo idioma pero me gustaria estar en contacto o que me pueda brindar mas informacion. Desde ya muchas gracias y felicitaciones por su trabajo.

  2. I’ve watched your speech on TED Talk just now. After your speech, I feel doubtful about many ways on “losing weight”. I know that “going on the diet” means the control of eating below the restriction, and that dieting have its beginning and end. As long as we recover the quantity of intake that is nearly like before we diet, the calories will easily be transferred into body fat, which generally calls “the return to fatness”.
    I live in Taiwan. In our country, we a lot of people on the run for looking slimming and fit, advocate the health method for slimming— eat adequately to BMR without hunger, eat optionally, do muscle training, and do the aerobic exercise. As actual examples show, some people obeying that one method have lost weight by 50~110 pounds. How they lose weight approximately way truly obey what you have mentioned on the speech—“eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full”. But there is the contradiction I find—our set point range is around 10~15 pounds, but they have did over it. So, is that means their weight will gain back to their past extent on one time in the future?

    • Some people have been maintaining their weight above their set point by eating more than their bodies wanted. In that case, mindful eating can lead to serious weight loss. But for most people, mindful eating will lead them to a weight that’s fairly close to their current weight. There’s only one way to find out where your set point is – eat as your hunger commands for six months or so, and see where your weight settles.

  3. Hi Sandra! I have some specific questions.

    Is there a stablished range of time to consider that someone has lost weight in a maintained way?

    Do you know about studies of people that have lost weight in a maintained way, that investigate how they did it, observing the big picture (changes in habits, thoughts, emotions, mindfulness practice, etc.)?

    Thank you for your help, I love your work!

    • The longer after a diet we look, the more people have gained the weight back. That’s probably because the set point never decreases, so the difficulty of maintaining a weight loss never declines.

      People who have lost at least 30 pounds and maintained that loss for at least a year have been studied extensively. What they do is stay on a diet for the rest of their lives, which includes calorie restriction, exercise, and remaining vigilant about small weight gains. A lot of them become fitness professionals whose full-time job is maintaining their weight loss.

  4. Hi Sandra. First of all, congratulations for your work. I hope it helps many people who suffer from diet. I am a nutritionist in Brazil and I see more and more children and adolescents starting diets at an earlier age and becomes a vicious circle.
    This area of research on eating intuitive and mindful eating is still new in Brazil but I believe that is what I want to study more and more to help my patients. Thank you!

  5. Dear Sandra

    Nice to meet you,
    May i ask you some questions??
    Because of my long term episode of my obsession of dieting and binging, my hungriness and fullness feeling had gone away… so I decided that,
    try to feel my body not to think about what i should eat, but try to think, how much i wanna eat and ask myself am i hungry now??
    but i am wondering that sometimes we wanna eat sugar right??
    but, sugar does not meet our satisfaction, ,
    How should I act when i feel like to eat sugar for mind?? not for body..


    • Hi Yoshiko,

      Sometimes when I want to eat sugar, I just eat it, but that decision depends on the frequency of the urges and the rest of your dietary habits. If you have a craving for sugar that you’ve decided not to indulge, for whatever reason, I recommend the mindfulness technique of urge surfing to deal with it. Here are a guided meditation and written instructions to get you started.

  6. Hi,

    I have a question concerning my own path of (not) losing weight :

    Can an episode of anorexia totally scrap the weight set point, or other mecanisms, a lot more than a dieting episode?

    I lost around 20-30lb when I was 14 years old by almost not eating (as a lot of young girls did do), and I gained 5lb every years since. I often did try to lose weight with «healthy» ways, as dieting was already not that popular when I tried to be more in good shape. I tried to eat healthy but at my own hunger, and doing sport, but I always found that all my datas were not in line with the reality : as my balance between calories in and calories out was all good, I didn’t lose anything. I even started loging everything on an application at the end of the day, and monitoring my activites with a watch tracker… and if I would just look at the numbers, I would be melting. But, no.

    I did read your book and it’s in line with what you said, but I find my example a little bit extreme, as I never dieted after that anorexia episode, and I don’t really over-eat, as in a hyperphagia kind of overeating.

    What do you know about the long-term impacts of an anorexia episode?


    • I’m not an expert on eating disorders, and I don’t know of any solid data about whether people’s weight set point may change after their recovery. But it sounds to me as if you’ve been going on repeated diets while trying to avoid using the word. Deliberately trying to lose weight is dieting, whether you try to do it in a healthy way or not. I would suggest trying a program like The Body Project to reduce the intensity of your need to be thin. In addition to reducing body-related distress, that program also reduces future weight gain.

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