The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss

The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss

by Marc David

Paperback(2nd Edition, 10th Anniversary Edition)

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A revolutionary approach to enhancing metabolism that enables lasting weight loss and facilitates spiritual well-being

• Presents an eight-week weight-loss program

• Explains how relaxed eating stimulates metabolic function and how stress hormones encourage weight gain

• Shows how fully enjoying each meal is the optimal way to a healthy body

Our modern culture revolves around fitting as much as possible into the least amount of time. As a result, most people propel themselves through life at a dizzying pace that is contrary to a healthy lifestyle. We eat fast, on the run, and often under stress, not only removing most of the pleasure we might derive from our food and creating digestive upset but also wreaking havoc on our metabolism. Many of us come to the end of a day feeling undernourished, uninspired, and overweight.

In this 10th anniversary edition, Marc David presents a new way to understand our relationship to food, focusing on quality and the pleasure of eating to transform and improve metabolism. Citing cutting-edge research on body biochemistry as well as success stories from his own nutritional counseling practice, he shows that we are creatures of body, mind, and spirit and that when we attend to these levels simultaneously we can shed excess pounds, increase energy, and enhance digestion to feel rejuvenated and inspired. He presents an eight-week program that allows readers to explore their unique connection to food, assisting them in letting go of their fears, guilt, and old habits so they can learn to treat their bodies in a dignified and caring way. He reveals the shortcomings of all quick-fix digestive aids and fad diets and debunks common nutrition myths, such as “the right way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.” He shows instead how to decrease cortisol and other stress hormones and boost metabolic power through proper breathing and nutritional strategies that nourish both the body and soul, proving that fully enjoying each meal is the optimal way to a healthy body.

Drawing on more than 30 years of experience in nutritional medicine, the psychology of eating, and the science of yoga, Marc David offers readers practical tools that will yield life-transforming, sustainable results.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620555088
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 08/14/2015
Edition description: 2nd Edition, 10th Anniversary Edition
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 297,896
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Marc David, M.A., is the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and a leading visionary and teacher in nutrition and personal transformation. He has taught in many settings, including Harvard University, the Institute for Functional Medicine, Canyon Ranch, and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. His work has been featured on CNN and NBC and in publications such as the New York Times, Chicago Times, McCall’s, Glamour, Elle, and Yoga Journal. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Read an Excerpt


Life cannot wait for the sciences to catch up and prove
its existence. . . . Life is fired at us point blank.

—Jose Ortega y Gasset

A Slow Down Success Story

Sandy dieted for six years without lasting results. She’d go from one system to the next and any amount of weight she lost would quickly find its way back on. She complained of ongoing gastric reflux—heartburn— and bouts of overeating. She lived in a relentless battle with food that consumed a significant chunk of her life energy. Despite a clean bill of health from her doctors, she was convinced that her problem was a sluggish metabolism. She was tired of struggling with food and exercise but didn’t know which way to turn.

In less than six weeks’ time working together, Sandy lost fifteen pounds and within four months she was a total of forty-five pounds lighter while eating more fat and exercising less. Her war with food was over, and she finally had what she wanted. Here’s what she did.

First, we focused on quality. When we met, Sandy’s diet consisted of very little fresh or homemade food. She ate lots of artificially sweetened and mass-produced products with poor-quality fat; she ate almost no low-toxic, nutrient-dense foods. Using the guidelines you’ll read about in chapter 2, we improved the quality of Sandy’s diet. In doing so, the quantity of food she ate naturally began to diminish. When the body fails to receive the quality nutrition it desires, it isn’t always smart enough to call for better food—it screams “more food!”

Next, we looked at rhythm. Sandy had been skipping breakfast, eating a small hurried lunch, and having a big dinner after work sometime around eight o’clock. Like Sandy, what most people don’t realize is that the body metabolizes food most effectively at mid-day, specifically at the point when the sun is highest in the sky. Research shows that we burn calories best at lunch. Late evening and early morning hours are the least efficient times for metabolizing food. Sumo wrestlers don’t gain weight by eating tons of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream; they eat the same rice, vegetables, and sushi as their fellow countrymen. The difference is that they eat this food in great quantity and late at night.

Sandy didn’t realize that she was on the “Sumo diet.” I recommended she eat a real breakfast, a good-sized lunch, and a small dinner. She was now eating more calories but concentrating them at the time of peak metabolic efficiency. And by taking more time to eat, she was literally mixing more oxygen with her meal, resulting in greater calorie burning capacity and more robust digestion.

Next, because Sandy described herself as a fast eater, I asked her to relax and breathe. There’s something scientists call the cephalic phase digestive response (CPDR). Cephalic means “of the head.” The cephalic phase digestive response is a fancy term for the body’s experience of the taste, aroma, satisfaction, visuals, and overall pleasure of a meal. Depending upon which research study you consider, anywhere from 20 to 80 percent of our calorie-burning power, digestive power, and assimilation of specific nutrients comes directly from CPDR—the “head phase” of digestion. By rushing through her meals Sandy significantly diminished her metabolism. Her rapid-fire eating was locking her body into a stress response, which dramatically decreases digestion and calorie-burning ability. After incorporating simple deep breathing exercises, the increased oxygenation and blood flow to her digestive system stimulated thermic efficiency—her calorie-burning power. Breathing and relaxation also reversed her stress-induced digestive shutdown, which completely cleared her chronic gastric reflux.

After these successes, I asked Sandy to do something that initially seemed beyond reason. I suggested she enjoy eating and allow herself to feel nourished and let go of any guilt no matter what she ate. This was especially difficult for Sandy because she had spent much of her adult life fighting food. For the first time ever, Sandy was truly considering the possibility of not inflicting pain upon herself but inflicting pleasure instead. Indeed, pleasure is a powerful metabolizer that increases oxygenation and blood flow and decreases the production of cortisol and insulin, which ultimately helps to burn fat and build muscle. It also induces parasympathetic nervous system dominance, which activates full digestive metabolism and calorie burning power.

Finally, we dealt with Sandy’s biggest challenge—overeating. To her surprise, I explained that she had never been able to conquer her overeating problem for one simple reason: the problem didn’t actually exist. In my experience, I’ve learned that about nine out of ten people who claim to be overeaters really have a different issue—they don’t eat when they eat. Because of a deficiency of a key universal metabolizer—awareness—many of us psychically “doze off ” while we eat. Failing to notice our food, we completely bypass the body’s satiation mechanism. The result is that we hunger for more.

As you may recall from junior high school biology class, all organisms on the planet—be they amoeba, lizard, lion, or human being—are programmed for two things in common: to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. When we eat, we are pursuing the pleasure of food and avoiding the pain of hunger. If we fail to pay attention to the food, the brain interprets this missed experience as hunger and signals us to eat more. We mistakenly think our problem is one of willpower when instead we simply need to be more present when we eat.

The net result of Sandy’s work was, for her, astounding. She catalyzed a permanent change in weight and felt energized with food for the first time since her teen years. Slowing down and working with the wisdom of the body enabled her to increase her metabolic speed.

Table of Contents


Preface to the Tenth Anniversary Edition


Week 1:
The Metabolic Power of Relaxation

Week 2: The Metabolic Power of Quality

Week 3: The Metabolic Power of Awareness

Week 4: The Metabolic Power of Rhythm

Week 5: The Metabolic Power of Pleasure

Week 6: The Metabolic Power of Thought

Week 7: The Metabolic Power of Story

Week 8: The Metabolic Power of the Sacred

Postscript: Your Metabolic Journey

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating



What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Marc David is the leading voice establishing the intimate connection between stress, digestion, metabolism, weight, and health. He reminds us that our relationship with food is as important as the food itself. In a world of ‘high fad’ diets he stands alone, guiding us toward nourishment, pleasure, and healing.”

The Slow Down Diet provides us with the missing link about metabolism that sets us free to enjoy food more than ever while also losing weight and getting healthy. Thank you, thank you, Marc David.”

“. . . David shows that we are creatures of body, mind and spirit, and that when we attend to these levels simultaneously, we can shed excess pounds, increase energy and enhance digestion to feel rejuvenated and inspired.”

“The material is sensible, well-organized, and gives you permission to find out what sort of food and eating is best for you and your body rather than counting calories and eating what other people tell you to eat.”

“In short, this book presents a holistic view of reconnecting not only with the pleasures of eating, but with the pleasures of learning and loving more about ourselves.”

". . . blends nutrition and psychology in a discourse on how to understand our relationship to food and how to eat in a different manner. . . . Some eye-opening facts are revealed."

". . . this engaging and accessible text will have you subtly altering your lifestyle, losing weight and enjoying every minute of it."

"Don't expect The Slow Down Diet to match any other diet plan you've tried. It's in a class by itself . . . . If you seek a fresh approach to weight loss and eating, try the techniques in this book."

"After reading and applying the steps in The Slow Down Diet, I lost fourteen pounds and even more importantly, made mealtimes more relaxed and enjoyable. . . . The Slow-Down Diet is a life-changing program that doesn't deprive you of your favorite foods and in fact, offers you a chance to truly enjoy them!

"I consider this book essential reading for women, because of all the baggage that has been heaped upon us by society with regard to eating, weight, self-image, and dieting. This book can help us better and more joyously inhabit our feminine bodies, for it is about eating as one of the higher forms of love—for ourselves and for one another. Indeed, I have put my discovery of sacred eating right up there with my discovery of sacred sex. I also recommend this book to persons of any gender who wish to bring greater balance and harmony into their lives."

Customer Reviews

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Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The concept of eating slowly and enjoying your food and its relationship with metabolism is intriguing. I am on week one. It's challenging for me to just slow down. It grounds me.
bebe75 More than 1 year ago
Marc has given me my life back, this was the true I was looking at for so long, its giving me freedon, peace, and nurture my soul! Everyone is certain point of life should read this book, not only for weight loss also for a better and complete way to find HAPPINES
CynthiaSueLarson More than 1 year ago
Nutritionist and weight loss expert Marc David asserts in THE SLOW DOWN DIET that some of our most dearly held beliefs about weight loss and dieting are woefully misguided. According to David, some of the biggest myths about eating are well-intentioned, yet contribute to ever-increasing girth. Starting with one of the most widely believed myths, 'the best way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more,' David describes how people who attempt to follow that old advice so often end up frustrated. As David points out, 'What you eat is only half the equation of good nutrition. How you eat is the other half.' David describes the eight universal metabolizers that have the biggest effect on whether we gain or lose weight: relaxation, quality, awareness, rhythm, pleasure, thought, story, the sacred. We don't overeat because we lack willpower or put our metabolism into starvation mode, but when meals are deficient in one of the eight universal metabolizers. Food eaten in an anxious rush will trigger physiological stress responses that decrease our calorie burning capacity at the same time as we lose the value of the nutrients. At a time when the benefits of meditation are being formally acknowledged, it's refreshing to see a book that cites scientific sources that describe a metabolic power of relaxation. I love the way Marc David includes scientific research studies alongside case histories and exercises. Did you know that your gut has a brain? The enteric nervous system in your body has more nerve cells than your spinal column, at over one hundred million neurons, and it moves through nightly 90 minute cycles as if it were dreaming. Marc David asserts that the amazing differences between French and American food habits and weights are that while the French eat generally fattier foods, they slow down and savor long lunches as the biggest meals of their days... while Americans eat on the run in a constant state of stress. THE SLOW DOWN DIET proposes something that seems almost too good to be true... a way to savor meals and consistently lose weight doing so. By simply being 'awake at the plate' and not doing something distracting or stressful while eating, but instead enjoying every moment of your meals... David assures us that we can lose weight.
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