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Maggie Goes on a Diet inspires Michelle Goes on a Diet…that Lasted 20 Years

By Michelle May, M.D.

Michelle Goes on a Diet… That lasted 20 years by Michelle May, M.D.

My poem and the video, Michelle Goes On a Diet… That Lasted 20 Years, was inspired by a very controversial children’s book (for ages 6 and up) that was slated for publication in October 2011: Maggie Goes on a Diet. My poem was originally published on the Health at Every Size Blog.

The description of Maggie Goes on a Diet on the author Paul Kramer’s website reads:

“Maggie has so much potential that has been hiding under her extra weight. This inspiring story about a 14 year old who goes on a diet and is transformed from being overweight and insecure to a normal sized teen who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.”

If you can judge a book by its cover (and the clips of the poetry and pictures inside shown on Good Morning America), there are many problems with this book. It is typical of the reactive, misguided, and potentially dangerous responses to all the talk about childhood obesity. While I completely agree with promoting balanced eating and enjoyable activity through effective approaches, this book sends the wrong messages to kids and parents:

  • Being overweight gives other kids the right to tease you (ironically this author also has a book on bullying!)
  • You have to lose weight to be “normal”, successful, and acceptable
  • Diets work for long term weight loss (they don’t)

Michelle Goes on a Diet The REAL story is that millions of us started dieting at Maggie’s age or earlier and spent the rest of our lives dealing with the consequences: yo-yo dieting, weight cycling, poor self-esteem, disordered eating, and eating disorders. Dieting hasn’t worked for adults and it won’t work for kids!

I co-authored four books for children for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Americans in Motion (AIM): F is for Fitness, A is for Active, F is for Feelings, and E is for Eating – that encourage healthy attitudes and behaviors in young children toward eating, physical activity, and emotional well-being. None were about dieting and all promote the concept of health at every size. (Over 325,000 copies of those books were requested for physicians’ waiting rooms!)


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

One Comment

  1. I received an email from a colleague asking me to publish Michelle Goes on a Diet to help get the message out. At first I said no, then decided to go ahead and publish it and donate any of the profits to non-profit organizations that promote Health at Every Size and the prevention of disordered eating.
    Coming soon…

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