Book Review: "Body Clutter"

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - 9:09am

By Donna Feldman, MS, RD

If you feel the need to add another fad diet book to your collection, don't buy this book. Body Clutter, by Marla Cilley and Leanne Ely, is not another fad diet. In fact, it's not exactly a "diet" book at all. Compared to typical diet books, this book is notable for what you won't find: recipes, menus, calorie lists, fat gram counters, or rigid plans that trash entire food groups. What you will find is a motivational pep talk, delivered in a gentle manner, that's intended to help you recognize and change the unhealthy habits that caused your "body clutter" in the first place.

The Motivation behind Body Clutter

The authors use the term "body clutter" as excess weight. FlyLady (Cilley) and Dinner Diva (Ely), as they call themselves, gained fame, respectively, by helping people de-clutter their homes and organizing dinner options. Both women were coping with their own weight and health issues, and recognized the similarities between the clutter-inducing mentality and the lifestyle that leads to being overweight and having poor health. Body Clutter is chock-full of their insights and strategies for dealing with emotional and behavioral issues.

The Body Clutter Game Plan

  1. Baby Steps: Make healthful changes slowly and in small increments so you can adjust and adopt them successfully. The enemy of "baby steps" is the all-or-nothing perfectionist approach to dieting that dooms most weight control efforts. The authors are adamantly opposed to that kind of thinking.
  2. Routines: Stay on track by eating small, frequent meals and snacks, drinking plenty of water and moving. If a routine is interrupted, don't give up. Just get back on track.
  3. Journaling: Readers are encouraged to keep a journal of thoughts on weight, health, and emotions. Documenting food intake is also advised. In fact, research shows that people who write down everything they eat are able to gain better control of poor food habits.

While this is not a traditional dieting book, Cilley and Ely do have a definite opinion about healthy food, and are happy to make recommendations. Mostly these are widely supported by well-known health organizations (and common sense):

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat lots of high fiber foods
  • Eat small frequent meals
  • Limit fat
  • Practice portion control.

Combating "All-or-Nothing" Perfectionism

Overeating and bingeing are discussed in relation to all-or-nothing perfectionism. Both authors discuss their own issues with these problems. They advocate occasionally enjoying small portions (or tiny bites) of delicious, but less-healthy treats like cake or cookies. For many readers, limiting oneself to just one delicious bite is difficult. Self-restraint and practiced self-control are essential. Cilley and Ely seem to have achieved this themselves, but self-control is not something you get by reading a book. The most the book can provide is encouragement and examples of lessons learned from the authors' real-life experiences.

Inspiration and Empathy

Many weight-conscious readers will have heard much of the common sense advice in this book before, but not quite in the tone used in Body Clutter. The behavioral concepts are presented in a more personal, down-to-earth manner, and repeatedly reinforced throughout the book. If you want another formulaic diet and menu plan, you won't find this book useful. However, if you're looking for weight-control inspiration presented in a supportive, empathetic manner, Body Clutter makes for a wonderful addition to your personal library.