cover image The Joy of Half a Cookie: Using Mindfulness to Lose Weight and End the Struggle with Food

The Joy of Half a Cookie: Using Mindfulness to Lose Weight and End the Struggle with Food

Jean Kristeller, with Alisa Bowman. Perigee, $24.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-17215-1

Kristeller, a psychology professor at Indiana State University, serves up a winningly low-key primer to using mindfulness and meditation to lose weight and cultivate a healthier relationship with eating. Replacing yo-yo dieting and endless negation with “self-care, self-nourishment, [and] self-acceptance,” Kristeller teaches regulation techniques that heighten awareness of taste satisfaction, stomach fullness, and overall satiety. These involve using hyper-focus to truly experience and enjoy eating while keeping tabs on when hunger is subsiding, as in exercises such as “Mindfully Eating Four Raisins.” The Keep It Off Checklist gives readers a space to set goals and evaluate progress, while the 500-Calorie Challenge provides an empowering approach to dieting. Kristeller also gives instruction on the most effective nutritional choices and lists best practices for choosing food at the supermarket and avoiding problematic restaurants and buffets. Despite some New Age terminology, Kristeller’s system is grounded in established principles such as calorie awareness. She discourages rigidity, noting that an “all-or-nothing mind-set” can result in unhealthy cravings. Her thoughts on emotional eating are particularly sensitive and wise, encouraging readers to tune in to their feelings and develop more appropriate coping mechanisms for stress. While the title may produce some initial scoffs, this is a smart system offering plenty of flexibility. Agent: Michael Harriot, Folio Literary Management. (Jan.)