HILLS NEWSPAPERS: April 1, 2011
Ed Abramson isn’t your everyday diet guru.
Yes, he writes books and gives lectures, talks and advice. But this Montclair psychologist is a regular guy — part couch potato, part gym rat. In fact, sometimes he even has a doughnut after Sunday morning walks with the guys.
What’s his secret to staying healthy? First of all, dump the diet.
“To absolutely forbid a food just increases its value,” he says, adding that when you deny yourself something, you eventually relent and then binge. Abramson speaks from experience, having once been a chubby child.
“I wasn’t hugely overweight, but I was not terribly athletic and I was kind of a shy kid.” He remembers being teased and having to wear husky-sized clothes and says it’s even worse for overweight kids today.
“My mom and dad would make occasional comments about being chubby, but weight was not as much an issue in the overall culture back then in the ’50s.” Today, with childhood obesity a national problem, Abramson says society needs to take a new approach. Putting children on a diet is not the answer. It often leads to weight gain and can actually trigger an eating disorder. In his new book. “It’s NOT Just Baby Fat! 10 Steps to Help Your Child to a Healthy Weight,” Abramson offers some simple things parents can do to help their children lose weight, including promoting sports at a young age. They don’t have to be athletic or good at team sports — you can get them interested in some kind of noncompetitive physical activity.
“It’s NOT Just Baby Fat!” is Abramson’s fifth book since 1979, when, quite literally, fate brought him into this area of interest.
“I was in grad school,” he says, “and looking for a dissertation topic. My professor said he had an obesity research grant. So it wasn’t a deliberate choice, but I had a personal interest.” At the time, Abramson remembers being somewhat overweight, and his brother and mother were struggling with weight-related health issues. Sadly, his mother lost her struggle with diabetes and his brother died of a heart attack at the age of 48.
It was a life lesson and turning point for Abramson. He improved his diet, joined a gym and made fitness his mantra as he wrote his second book on the topic — then a third, fourth and now a fifth publication.
As an expert on obesity, dieting and eating disorders who has appeared on TV’s “20/20” and “Hard Copy” and in Reader’s Digest, the New York Times, and Men’s Health, his books go beyond simple fitness tips and get to the root of why you are overeating. Are you hungry or just bored? Are you angry or stressed or eating because you see someone else eating? And how do you feel about your body — really?
“Hating the way you look is not a useful strategy for weight loss,” he says. “It’s demoralizing and causes people to give up any attempt to control weight.” The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Abramson eats what he wants and finds balance between physical activity and the more sedentary life of an author and researcher. The Sunday morning doughnut is a metaphor for living a rich and well-rounded life.
Abramson will read from his new book at A Great Good Place for Books at 6120 LaSalle in Montclair at 7 p.m. April 27.