Why are diets always going to fail? What does the diet cycle look like? How can you identify emotional eating?  In this podcast episode, Dr Cristina Castagnini interviews expert Judith Matz about making peace with food.


Judith Matz, LCSW, ACSW, is a therapist, nationally recognized speaker, and consultant on the topics of diet culture, binge eating, emotional eating, body image, and weight stigma. She is co-author of the new Emotional Eating, Chronic Dieting, Binge Eating & Body Image Workbook, as well as The Diet Survivor's Handbook, Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, The Making Peace with Food Card Deck, The Body Positivity Card Deck, and author of Amanda's Big Dream. Judith offers continuing education and training for professionals through PESI as well as customized presentations for a variety of companies and organizations. hER has been featured in the media including NPR, The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and Psychotherapy Networker. She has a private practice via telehealth in Illinois where she meets with clients seeking to heal their relationship with food and their bodies.

Visit Judith's website and connect on Facebook and Instagram.


  • Why Diets Don’t Work
  • The diet cycle
  • How therapists can promote self-care
  • Emotional Eating

Why Diets Don’t Work

Judith has worked with many clients who would mistakenly believe that diets work because of the initial weight loss they experienced when they started dieting. 
In diet culture, [it’s] working means ‘I am losing weight.’ I think then the confusion is that people assume ‘well this is what’s supposed to be happening.’ - Judith Matz
From a diet-culture perspective, undereating is seen as ‘normal’, whilst binge eating is viewed as a failure to control oneself.  In actuality, though, they are two sides of the same coin. Both under-eating and eating to the point of discomfort are disordered eating behaviours.  Unfortunately, because of the initial short-term weight loss caused by the diet, people mistakenly believe that it’s their fault when the weight returns. However, it’s just the body recovering and compensating for the abnormal stress of the diet. 

The diet cycle

Dieting (or any form of restrictive eating behaviour) works cyclically. It begins with the idea that there is something physically abnormal with a person. 
The cycle is, 'there is something wrong with me, whether I'm not healthy enough or my stomach sticks out, or my thighs rub together'. So people go on the diet. - Judith Matz
After they begin the diet, they experience deprivation, because their bodies are physically deprived of nutrients. The deprivation causes the body to crave certain foods, which in turn causes a person to binge.  However, what underpins the whole cycle is a sense of shame. Societal messaging will cause a person to feel shame over their body, or for failing to continue to diet, and so the dieting will begin anew. 
I’m told that I don’t have the right kind of body. So I do what society tells me, I go on diet, and then I fail at that. Then, that shame leads to the next round of dieting, and often this can go on for years.  - Judith Matz

How therapists can promote self-care

I think it’s really important for, first of all, therapists to unpack their own weight bias, the idea that everybody needs to lose weight. - Judith Matz
What therapists need to do with their clients is promote true self-care. Therapists can help clients by identifying avenues for true self-care such as getting better sleep, being physically active, and managing their stress.  However, it’s important that these goals are promoted in so far as they encourage physical and emotional wellbeing, and not merely as weight loss strategies. 

Emotional Eating

Therapists can better support disordered eating patients if they develop an understanding of ‘emotional eating’. 
When I think about emotional eating, I’m talking about people who rely on food as a primary way to manage stress. - Judith Matz
Often, clients don’t know that they’re engaging in restrictive behavior, because food has become interdependent with emotional regulation. Therapists can support patients by helping them learn to distinguish between their body's hunger signals, and when they’re using food or restrictive behavior to manage an external emotional trigger.


BOOK | Judith Matz - The Emotional Eating, Chronic Dieting, Binge Eating & Body Image Workbook BOOK | Judith Matz - The Diet Survivors Handbook BOOK | Judith Matz - Beyond a Shadow of a Diet BOOK | Carol Munter & Jane Hirschmann - Overcoming Overeating: How to Break the Diet/Binge Cycle and Live a Healthier, More Satisfying Life Visit Judith's website and connect on Facebook and Instagram. RETHINKING DIETS, WEIGHT, HEALTH, AND "THE WELLNESS TRAP" WITH EXPERT CHRISTY HARRISON | EP 186 Visit speakpipe.com/behindthebite and submit your comment via voice message! Sign up for the free Behind The Bite Course Practice of the Practice Network Email Dr. Cristina Castagnini: info@behindthebitepodcast.com


I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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