Weightwatchers & Unislim: Good For Emotional Eaters Says The Amen Solution

By Beaut.ie | November 14 2011 | 26 Comments

yummy chocolate eclair

Oh diets. They’ve got to be on a lot of our minds at the moment (probably not Adriana Lima’s, hopefully she allowed her poor self a sanger or two after all that hardship) in the run up to Christmas and one interesting thing I’ve been reading about is the Amen Solution.

No, not the, “sure I’ll have another bag of Tayto and a litre of Chardonnay and pray to the Baby Jesus this lot doesn’t go straight to my thighs,” type.

In a very condensed nutshell, Dr Daniel Amen, an American neuroscientist who specialises in customised brain-coaching, has identified that certain brain types respond better to different diets. He’s got a book on the subject available on Amazon.co.uk*, The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, and all.

So to start, you take the brain test on his website and it helps you identify what type you are. As an example, if you’re an emotional type, prone to eating when stressed due to learned behaviour or if something upsetting happens that leads you directly by the nose to the biscuit cupboard, then he reckons controlled plans like Weightwatchers or Unislim are the ones that will be the most successful for you.

Why? Apparently because you can still have healthy carbs on these diets, that helps raise serotonin levels, which it wouldn’t if you were doing a high protein approach like Dukan or particularly Atkins.  I’d imagine the treat aspect is important as well – knowing you can have a little of what you fancy if you keep some points reserved would help to make the sacrifices more bearable.

What do you think? Neuroscience or pseudoscience? Is Dr Amen onto something or not? To the comments!

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26 Replies to "Weightwatchers & Unislim: Good For Emotional Eaters Says The Amen Solution"

  • littlemisswonders says:

    Jaysus – that took forever! But apparently I fall into multiple categories…


    People with this type struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression, poor impulse control, and compulsive tendencies. People with this type have trouble shifting their attention and tend to get stuck on anxious or depressing thoughts, thoughts of food, or compulsive behaviors. They tend to struggle with problems with attention span, forethought, impulse control, organization, motivation, and planning. They may start each day with good intentions, but when feelings of anxiety, depression, boredom, loneliness, low self-esteem, tension, nervousness, fear, panic, self-doubt, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness come up they have trouble controlling their behavior and tend to use food or other substances to medicate their feelings. They may also suffer physical symptoms of anxiety as well, such as muscle tension, nail biting, headaches, abdominal pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and sore muscles. People with this type also tend to hold grudges and have problems with oppositional or argumentative behavior.

    I stopped reading it halfway through – maybe I do have poor attention!

  • Lorrrrrraine says:

    littlemisswonders, I got that too! Also stopped reading it halfway through. Tbh, I think this is a bit…I dunno, I think it’s odd that they can get an idea of what my diet is like from that.

  • LauraLou says:

    I got that too!!

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm?? I didnt think i was any of them, i eat when im hungry or bored, thats it. And even at bored its prob an apple. skeptical here

  • Jenny says:

    Oh Jeebus, I have *multiple* overeater types. There is no hope! But I do find WW to be very effective for me, when I’m in the zone mentally.

  • Jane says:

    I must take that test. I eat loads when I’m stressed or nervous but when I’m sad I can’t eat at all. I’ve thought of starting WW but I was never sure it would work for me. Has anyone had any success with it?

  • littlemisswonders says:

    Jane, I’m now down 45lbs with WW. I reached goal a couple of weeks ago and have another few pounds I want to lose myself, but the new programme is way better to the old one! but everyone has their own way of doing it, what works for one won’t work for another etc

  • Bellasianna says:

    I’ve lost nearly 8 stone on the Slimming World diet – and I think what made it so easy for me was that I could still have lots of carbs! I love my pasta and spuds!
    I’m such an emotional eater, nothing at all like comfort food to make me feel better, but the this is on SW I can still have all that and still lose weight.
    Sorry. I sound like some kind of advert… but I still can’t believe this is the slinky me and not the old roly poly me! Hee!
    Must try that questionnaire… but I think I know the result I’m going to get ;)

  • Shanna says:

    Almost lost the will to live filling that out, only to get “Multiple Types!” Apparently I’m a nervous wreck who worries too much and sees the negative in everything. Not true! Did they ask one food related question?! “Do you feel hopeless?” – eh, yeah, while wondering when this thing was going to end.

    Weightwatchers IS working for me, because it’s disciplined, and I need a swift kick every so often – but I’m not really sure what the point of the Amen thing is to be honest, money racket methinks.

  • Daisydaisy says:

    Bellasianna – that’s fantastic, well done. I started Slimming World two weeks ago. Still trying to get my head around it!!! I was going to go back to Weight Watchers for like the 100th time but a friend of mine suggested SW coz its something new and she was right. I’m liking it so far and amazed that I can still eat all the spuds in the world and not have to count them!!!

  • Jane says:

    @ littlemisswonders – That’s fantastic, go you :) I think I’ll look into it. I don’t know anyone who has had a bad experience with WW.

  • Bunnybun says:

    Lost 2 stone with WW. It really does work if you can just get into the zone where you are following it properly. Weekends wreak havoc on my efforts but if you can get past that you will deffo lose weight on WW. I am back again now (after getting married and blowing the doors off it on funnymoon – 1/2 stone to lose to get back to wedding day weight) but I still have a stone or 2 beyond that that could do with shedding after that…

  • Bunnybun says:

    Lost 2 stone with WW. It really does work if you can just get into the zone where you are following it properly. Weekends wreak havoc on my efforts but if you can get past that you will deffo lose weight on WW. I am back again now (after getting married and blowing the doors off it on funnymoon – 1/2 stone to lose to get back to wedding day weight) but I still have a stone or 2 beyond that that could do with shedding after that…

  • I’m doing Slimming World too and really liked that I could have carbs! And even treats!

    I do think there’s something to the notion that a ‘planned plan’ as such might aid weightloss. Just a bit of a guideline to keep you on the straight and narrow as it were.

    Listen – I’m not stupid. I know roasties done in goosefat and then smothered in butter are fattening. And that boiled new potatoes with a bit of mint would probably be better. I know that. Equally I know a piece of chocolate cake won’t cure all my worries. The old adage of ‘eat less move more’ is true. It always has been true and it always will be. But one size doesn’t fit all, that saying, while true, doesn’t help me. It doesn’t pry the Doritos out of my fat little hand. Slimming World saying ‘Food is nice. We get that. But too much makes you fat. Here, this is how much would be good to eat each day, as a guideline, try it’ is MUCH more helfpful to me.

    On Slimming World I can have Doritos. I can have bread. Potatoes. Chocolate. Pasta. Even a glass of wine. It’s controlled, they make you stop after one, but you can have it.

    So for me, it makes sense and helps. Others differ and don’t like having to always think ‘can I have this piece of cake’ and they prefer to do an hour in the gym. Or stick to a vegetarian diet. Or whatever it is that works for them.

    But yeah, deffo, for emotional overeaters like myself, having a nice simple plan written out that includes a controlled amount of nice things, really helps.

    (Hands up. I lost 19lb and put 7lb back on. A combination of reaching the first minigoal I set for myself and ‘celebrating’ and a few other things. But back on it now!)

  • atkin says:

    Jane I lost two stone with WW two years ago and have kept it off. It teaches you good habits and portion sizes. I loved it, and find it easy to maintain.

  • Sandra says:

    Shanna I done the test and got the same answers. Im quite lucky im not an over eater and a normal weight i do go to the gym but wouldnt eat at night or at access so the result i got is bull!

  • speccy says:

    I don’t need to take the test to find out I’m an emotional eater :) I was very good and lost over 2 stone a few years ago by myself, but then my mum got sick and I started eating everything in sight, and put all the weight back on again! I couldn’t do it by myself again, so joined WW in Sept. I like the structure, motivation and the classes. I’m losing weight. It will take a long time to get to my goal,but I don’t eat rubbish mindlessly right now. Small steps!

    Bellasianna- congratulations! That’s a lot of hard work; well done :)

  • JennyR says:

    God, I’m a total emotional eater, stressed, sad, happy…. disastrous! The only thing that works for me is exercise and low GI foods. Even with that I fall off the wagon fairly easily….mmmm, wagon wheels…..Ahem! I tried weight watchers but counting every bit I ate drove me bananas, and I never lost more than a lb or 2. Low GI/GL stops me overeating most of the time, and I’ve learned to recognise when I’m boredom/emotionally eating so I have a little more will power to stop myself, still don’t really have the hang of it tho, and I’m 30 for feck’s sake, you’d think I’d know what to do by this stage!!!

  • SJP's Missing Mole says:

    God, I’m a fierce emotional eater. So much so that I gained a stone in the run up to my wedding, that’s how stressed I was. Thank God for the almighty corset in that dress!

    But I’m in WW now and I’m finding the new points system great. Cos I can have my wine and a chinese once a week.

    And I fuppin’ NEED that wine and chinese!!!!

    I’ve lost about a stone and a half this year and am rocking the skinny jeans all over the shop. I’m going to look fandabbydozy this Xmas!

  • littlemisswonders says:

    Bellasiana – that is amazing! You must feel so happy with yourself and the reaction from other people must make it all so worthwhile as well!

    Karen – totally, different strokes for different folks. I’ve done the gym lark and HATED it…and now I find WW helps because I can still eat what I want, but I’m not eating anything that doesn’t move past me either, I’ve learned to control the emotional reaching. I would like to be the type of person that would go for a 5k run when they know they’ll be having a chinese later on, but I’d rather skip the chinese and sit on my backside :D

  • Clarissa says:

    @ Karen (beating myself into a dress) you’ve inspired me to join that club. Thank you :-) oh and I just discovered your blog recently, had me in fits of laughter! Brilliant writing girl :-)

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