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You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life

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An intelligent, timely, and prescriptive book that shows how your attitude towards food often reflects your attitude towards other areas in your life--jobs, relationships, money--and how you can let go of trying to please others all the time and instead satisfy your own true appetites and live a more authentic and healthier life.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Ramani Durvasula

7 books433 followers
Dr. Ramani Durvasula is on a mission to demystify and dismantle the toxic influence of narcissism on all of our lives. Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Monica and Sherman Oaks, CA and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, where she was named Outstanding Professor in 2012. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

She is the author of the modern relationship survival manual Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist (Post Hill Press) She is also the author of You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life, as well as the author of numerous peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters and conference papers. In September 2019, her overview book on narcissism in our world, our hearts, homes, and workplaces entitled DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility will be released.
Dr. Ramani received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut, and her MA and Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology from UCLA.

She brings a wealth of expertise in relationships, sexuality, health and wellness. Dr. Ramani was the co-host of Oxygen’s series My Shopping Addiction, and has also been featured on series on Bravo, the Lifetime Movie Network, National Geographic, the History Channel, Discovery Science, and Investigation Discovery as well as in documentary films on health and narcissism. She has been a featured commentator on nearly every major television network, as well as radio, print, and internet media.

Dr. Ramani is also involved in national governance in the field of psychology and has served as the chair of the Committee on Socioeconomic Status at the American Psychological Association and is presently chair of the Advisory Board of the Minority Fellowship Program of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Ramani recognizes that narcissism and technology have changed the landscape of love and relationships and provides keen insights on how to survive in the new territory of love and commitment.

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5 stars
45 (22%)
4 stars
56 (28%)
3 stars
59 (29%)
2 stars
28 (14%)
1 star
9 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Joanne.
104 reviews1 follower
December 3, 2012
I received "You Are WHY You Eat...." written by Dr. Ramani Durvasula as a Goodreads First Reader giveaway winner. I thought if I read the book I could discover why I love food and give me ideas to maintain a healthy weight, but what I didn't expect was how the author was able to apply the same principles that affect our emotions and attitudes surrounding food, to our emotions & attitudes about relationships, careers, dreams and many other areas of life. The book made me think differently about my past decision making skills, or perhaps lack of skills. "You Are WHY You Eat..." is based on research and includes experiences of Dr. Durvasula's patients, as well as her personal experience. I enjoyed this book more than I expected, and plan to read it again, as well as use as a workbook in the future. This is not a diet book, but it can help you make wiser food and lifestyle decisions to have a healthier, happier life. I highly recommend the book.
Profile Image for Elena (bookinistka) .
159 reviews4 followers
October 1, 2021
It has some good ideas and I guess they are achievable for some people with strong "spider senses" but the ones I found useful were not about diet but about relationships and their role in your eating habits. Family models, romantic partners and how they drive you to food as an escape and coping mechanism. It's well written and comprehensive overall so 3,5 stars.
2 reviews2 followers
November 10, 2012
I was so excited to get the book and there were things I really liked about the book, and things I took away from it. It was very hard to relate to the term spider sense, and it being repeated over and over on every page I found annoying, but that's just me. I did feel like it was more of the same advice all diet books give. I did find the stories enjoyable.
Profile Image for Malia.
227 reviews7 followers
June 15, 2022
I have great respect for Dr. Ramani, particularly because of her more recent research and expertise on NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), so I picked up this earlier book by her on food choice psychology. She approaches weight loss and health on this premise: food is a metaphor.

To illustrate this, I'll quote some from chapter 12 "Food as Metaphor":

"We are told to blindly follow rules when it comes to food, such as:
-Eat what's on your plate.
-Eat to please.
-Even if other people give you what you don't want, finish it up.
-Even if you initially choose badly or put too much on your plate, tough luck--finish up.

Now what if we substituted eat with love, money, and work. What if we said:
-Love the way others want you to love.
-Spend to please others.
-Stick it out even if it's not working, even if you initially didn't choose well."

These are powerful connections! She unpacks such underlying attitudes in other chapters and shows that how we eat is directly linked to how much we value ourselves (and how much we let others dictate our choices). I was most impacted by her linking "stop eating when you're full" to unhealthy work habits of taking on too many tasks in order to please others.

For this eye-opening thesis, I would rate the book 4 stars. However, I'm left with an unsettling sense of self-centeredness. Repeatedly, she refers to her own divorce (to pursue her own dreams) as evidence of a good choice she made for herself despite others' criticism and advice. The book hinges on a similar "gut feeling" guiding a person's choices. Therefore, there isn't a moral center, no absolutes outside of one's own feelings. These are the reasons I struggled to resonate with her views as I believe we can only navigate by fixed points (namely, Biblical truth) and not by our own definition of north.

So while I appreciate the link I now recognize between food choices and other habits (relationships, money, work, etc.), I still believe decisions should be anchored in righteousness, not senses.
Profile Image for Remah Jane.
42 reviews1 follower
March 27, 2019
This is not just a book, it is also a guide. Too often we set our intuition aside and make decisions based on the interests or input of others. Dr. Durvasula openly shares her process and journey to personal fulfillment through respecting and honoring oneself. This book inspired me to move away from stagnant unpleasantness in my own life and embrace myself with greater compassion and understanding. Weight management is merely a byproduct of practiced mindfulness
Profile Image for Robin.
2,093 reviews23 followers
February 23, 2013
This book took me a while to get through because there are exercises throughout the book. Sometimes I wish I had read this as a book instead of an ebook but I did get some good information from it, not just about how to control overeating but how to think before doing things. Like a lot of these books, it does get repetitive. Maybe I need to hear the same thing a few times.
Profile Image for Ann.
51 reviews
January 19, 2023
There is some really great information/advice in this book as it relates to eating/weightloss:
1) The promise of one - do one thing each day that gets you closer to your goals/dreams.
2) Journaling the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your eating.
3) Mindfulness - make eating about eating - don't multitask and really think about what you're doing. Instead of deprivation and despair, try the magic of mindfulness and monitoring. Eat slower, use smaller plates. Dish up then put the food away.
4) Make a list of other things that are rewarding besides eating.

There are some things that I just really didn't agree with though and several chapters that I skipped. It seemed like she was preaching self-centeredness, was down on divorce and stay at home moms etc. The one part that really got me was that she suggested masturbating to avoid eating. No thanks.
4 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2020
I really wanted to like this book. It took me 3 months to read. I read a few pages every few weeks or so. It was quite boring and therefore difficult to get through but for some reason I finished it. I guess I felt obligated since I started. I just couldn’t identify with anything she said. At all. Maybe I’m not the right demographic. But the book moved much faster towards the end as she shifted the focus away from food and more towards life. At one point I thought that something may have clicked but it’s too soon to know. Maybe I just need some time to let things sink in.
Profile Image for Laurelle.
28 reviews1 follower
March 26, 2020
A journey of self discovery not only through your relationship with food but also the reflections of this same relationship echoing in personal relationships, what we subject ourself to and the expectations we live by imposed on us by others.
Great exercises that helps to dig deep, reflect and find ways to move forward.
Profile Image for Angelic.
127 reviews1 follower
May 3, 2018
With the exception of discs 4 and 5 being practically identical, I think the author offers sound advice for finding yourself and eventually overcoming the things that plague, like hurts, people pleasing, and finding comfort in food. Worth the read.
Profile Image for Yomara Moreno.
9 reviews
November 23, 2019
Excelente libro, lo recomiendo ampliamente

Este es un libro muy completo sobre conocimiento de uno mismo. Realmente es una herramienta efectiva para un cambio de vida duradero. Me encanta la autora. Creo que es tan efectiva porque habla de lo que vive y le ha funcionado.
Profile Image for Lady Brainsample.
513 reviews54 followers
August 28, 2019
3.5 stars rounded down
This book was a little bit repetitive but did have some really good takeaways that I will be implementing/continuing to implement (since some of them were things I'm already doing).

The tl;dr version of this book is that in order to have a healthy relationship with food, you need to honor your intuition about feeling full. Period. No guilt about not clearing your plate, which is a really hard attitude to break. In that vein, also be wary and mindful about when other people ask "Are you sure?" since that sentence makes you question your own intuition. I didn't do them, but the author also had some exercises for identifying people/situations/times that affect how you eat in either good or bad ways and strategies for coping.

Another section of the book I found particularly helpful was on willpower. Willpower depletes the more you use it, so in most situations it's not helpful to just ban certain things you love from your diet because then you'll obsess over it, eventually fail, and then rationalize going nuts on the item since you've failed already. It's better to (again) honor your intuitions about being full and enjoy that particular food than give the food more power over you.

Other good smaller takeaways:
1. Be mindful of whether you want to eat out of FLAB (frustration, loneliness, anxiety, boredom) and turn to some other pleasurable activity instead (take a bath, read a book, watch a good tv show, etc.).
2. Use smaller plates
3. Put your own food on your own plate (this has been particularly useful for me since my husband naturally eats more than I do so if I don't serve my own dinner, I'll end up with too much).

Overall, I really appreciated that she's realistic about weight loss. This isn't a goal that you can achieve fast, and her method is really about making changes to your mindset (rather than dieting and then relapsing and gaining back everything you lost). I also really appreciate that she focuses on the idea that you can use "the power of one" to make small changes over time.

Like my husband says, it's better to do a small amount of exercise than no exercise. It seems obvious, but I often feel like I'd rather do nothing than not do it perfectly and all out. In that same vein, it's ok if the only change you made today was to drink more water. Good habits take time and feast or famine dulls your intuitions.
Profile Image for Adrienna.
Author 17 books230 followers
October 7, 2015
You are WHY you eat, reminds me of "you are what you eat" motto. There are many things she recommends that I am quite aware of already especially after reading tons of diet-like-lose-weight-type-of-reads like eating unlimited fruits and vegetables. TO be secure within, find peace in the chaos, and follow your instincts. A majority of the writing is helpful but also regurgitated.

Some helpful tips (that you may already heard before):
* Knowing is only half the battle but change is the payoff!
*people celebrate your successes and console you when you fail (where are these people????)
*illusions: financial comfort, stability, etc. are guarantees of security and safety
*listen to your inner voice

Dr. Durvasula clearly states "cheap food is unhealthy and frequently comes in oversized portions." She also quotes a chapter on "fear" and how this can relate to weight gain. Some things she recommended like ask the waiter for half of the portion, or to throw away leftovers after eating at restaurant...come on, you can also take it home and eat it for later like tomorrow's lunch. Who has money to waste these days? She did speak on the clean the plate, which many of us heard that someone else is starving elsewhere so eat everything on your plate. I have learned to not only look at portions but when full, put it away so that out of sight is out of mind!!!

"treat your body how it deserves to be treated"

Moreover, she suggests don't forgive blindly--use the information to move forward into newly strengthened relationships. IN other words, forgiving has nothing to do with forgetting.

"ENtrust your dreams/aspirations to the wrong person could be a critical mistake--not nearly as careful as we should be with our dreams." As a dream 4 more type of person, I couldn't agree more with this line.

Most importantly, be responsible for your life!!!! Overall it was just an okay, easy read.
Profile Image for Joanne.
52 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2013
I found this book to be good,The author brings you into all areas of your life, your diet, home life, career and future life. Some psychological terms such as "gatekeeping" and "spider senses" are explained and referred to a lot, so you have to fully grasp these to apply them to situations. It is encouraged to keep a journal, which I did not, but I did make photocopies of the questions to answer at a later date in a journal when I am ready to do so.
I looked for her app which is advertised in the back of the book, but could not find it in itunes, maybe its not out yet, this book is a new publication of 2013. I am also going to check out her tv show about shopping addiction on cable, I think its on oxygen.
If you are struggling with bad eating habits this book is a good one to read to help you identify the triggers and you may find yourself learning about other areas of your life and how to change them for the better.
Profile Image for Amy.
162 reviews10 followers
May 16, 2014
This is an intellectual, thought-provoking, holistic take on diet and life. I appreciated Durvasula's holistic approach in identifying all of the areas of life that could be contributing to weight issues: relationships, stress, job dissatisfaction; instead of just listing these, she devotes whole chapters to addressing life factors.

She uses the term "spider sense" to mean common sense or intuition. I think this comes from the Spiderman comic, but not having read it or seen the movies, I could not relate to it very well-- and it's on nearly every page at least once. If she had stayed away from this colloquialism and used "intuition" or "discernment," maybe this concept would have made more sense.

Still, it's an interesting whole-life approach. This would be a useful read for someone who is struggling with body issues in the context of larger life challenges.
6 reviews
January 4, 2014
It took me almost a year to read this book, but it was entirely worth it. The content of Dr. Ramani's text may not be new, but it was written in a manner that I could relate to and that I could learn from. Her writing exercises were a great way to see on paper what I had been holding onto inside of my head and heart. As she says in her epilogue, this isn't just a book to read once, but it's a workbook to use constantly or to keep going back to. I firmly believe in her advice to be authentic and to honor our true selves, it's not an easy thing to do, but as I have learned from the past year, it is the best thing to do. When we are true to ourselves we can't regret our actions because we know they were the right ones to make at the time - this is true in life, as it is in eating.
Profile Image for Angelita.
89 reviews
July 11, 2013
This book can be the typical self help book, but it works. It has you thinking about what you really want from life, food, and love. I never really would've thought any of those would be connected. I don't know if I mastered her ideas or ways of thinking, but in the very least it changed my way of thinking and my habits so that's a good start.
5 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2013
What an excellent book! Instead of setting a menu, lists of foods, etc., Dr. Durvasula hits the problem right where it is: our attitude towards food which originated most likely in our childhood. She doesn't make it easy but what she details about attacking the overeating and how to overcome it is truly what it is all about. Great book!
Profile Image for C.
1,199 reviews29 followers
April 29, 2013
Well, not so much read as "mostly skimmed" but she had some wonderful philosophy in here on life in general, much less eating. I liked it, but I know I won't read it as thoroughly as I should. I'll return it so others can get a chance to read through it.

123 reviews
March 20, 2014
This book got better as it went along. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about mindfulness and slowing down. The spider sense aspect I'm already taking with me and applying to different parts of my life. Overall I'd recommend it.
Profile Image for Jeffery.
14 reviews1 follower
May 26, 2013
Read this book if you want to really find out why you eat the way you do. It goes a lot deeper than just food. I can see myself rereading this as I progress in my health journey.
Profile Image for Kristin R.
940 reviews1 follower
December 19, 2015
This book looks at delving into your life and happiness and making changes to change your eating habits, to be healthier as a whole person.
Profile Image for Jenny Gary.
7 reviews
April 24, 2013
This book is giving me strategies to help with my bad habit of emotional eating. It has given me a tool to use when I grab food to eat in a hurry, even when I'm not hungry.
Profile Image for Maureen.
116 reviews
June 11, 2015
Practical perspective teaches you more than just about your attitude toward food.
Profile Image for Teri  Schams.
33 reviews
June 7, 2016
Excellent book. Touches on much more than food and eating. It is about living mindfully.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews

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