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The Eden Diet: You Can Eat Treats, Enjoy Your Food, and Lose Weight

July 27th, 2012

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Book Overview:

According to Rita Hancock, author of The Eden Diet, you can have your cake and eat it too, even on a reducing diet. When you eat your treat in small portions, without guilt, and in response to true, physical (not emotional) hunger, a little cake goes a long way to satisfy you. Attuning to your body’s hunger signals also helps you respond to its instinctive call for healthy food to balance out the occasional treats. Dr. Rita’s approach is based on her Ivy League training in nutrition, physiology, and obesity psychology, but is reframed in her strongly Christian convictions about how to live the way God intended—physically healthy and free of the cultural obsession with food, eating, dieting, and thinness.

Book Review

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Weight Loss Books According to Rita Hancock, author of The Eden Diet, you can have your cake and eat it too, even on a reducing diet. When you eat your treat in small portions, without guilt, and in response to true, physical (not emotional) hunger, a little cake goes a long way to satisfy you. Attuning to your body’s hunger signals also helps you respond to its instinctive call for healthy food to balance out the occasional treats. Dr. Rita’s approach is based on her Ivy League training in nutrition, physiology, and obesity psychology, but is reframed in her strongly Christian convictions about how to live the way God intended—physically healthy and free of the cultural obsession with food, eating, dieting, and thinness.

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  1. Heidi Bylsma
    July 28th, 2012 at 05:50 | #1


    This book has been the best thing to come down the pike in a LONG while. I was the collaborator for the Hallidays on “Thin Within,” so I feel able to speak to this. :-) Additionally, I have released 100 pounds using the same principles that are presented in this book.

    Honestly, I must confess that I do wish the title was different as this isn’t a “diet” in the typical sense of the word. The book does speak of what God originally intended relative to our eating– that we would allow our bodies to physiologically indicate when we are in need of fuel. And since the word “diet” refers to whatever we eat, the title *is* fair. But it won’t prescribe foods you can and can’t eat. Isn’t it just like us humans to want someone to tell us what to do, when and what to eat? The truth is, this book promotes a freedom that many of us find scary! But once we get past this, we can live this way for the rest of our lives!

    Yes, this is a book most suited to Christians or “Christian-friendly” people. The author brings references from the Bible to the topic, but I didn’t feel she mishandled the Word at all. The reference to prayer is to garner support when we feel drawn to food for reasons other than physical need. Truly, if you think this is a no-brainer–to eat only when you are physically hungry and to stop when you are no longer hungry–try it! You will likely see that you are drawn to food much more frequently! Prayer helps to fend off this temptation to eat “just because,” or to handle things that food just can’t satisfy.

    There is no deprivation to eat. No starvation endorsed here. Simply, if you are hungry, EAT! But if you have other things that make you turn to food, food isn’t going to satisfy those anyhow.

    Dr. Hancock reminds us that we need to engage our brains when eating this way–not just our tastebuds. If we have just finished a reasonable amount of food and still think we are hungry, she reminds the reader to consider that the size of the stomach is relatively small. It takes very little food to fill the physical space of the stomach. She challenges us to consider this when we have eaten a reasonable amount and yet want to keep eating.

    Dr. Hancock also points out that it will take less of the foods that are more calorie dense to fill our stomachs. She reminds us to consider this fact when indulging in the chocolate cake featured on the cover. :-)

    To say this book is filled with only common sense is to overlook most of the content. If what was between its covers was so common, our country wouldn’t have the obesity epidemic it currently does!

    Dr. Rita isn’t one of those MD quack-type people. She was an undergraduate at Cornell University and did some intensive studies of “gastric diseases.” She has studied nutrition until the cows come home. You can read more about her at her website. Dr. Hancock consistently demonstrates that she knows her medical “stuff,” and we are reminded of some basic bible truths as well as her take on what really does make good nutrition sense.

    More than just an expert waxing eloquent from a white tower, Dr. Hancock has also struggled deep in the trenches of obesity–she knows what it is like to have a HUGE hurdle ahead of her and to rise to conquer it! She has allowed God to transform her thinking, has lost a boatload of weight, and has kept it off “imperfectly” for 25 years. This lady has a lot to say and she knows of what she speaks.

    Be prepared, though. Dr. Hancock is very NO-nonsense in her approach. She cuts to the chase in a point-blank sort of way. There is no pussy footing around. If you find yourself a bit tender or a sensitive person, she may be a bit “harsh” for you. But what I found was that, for me, she was downright practical. Don’t get me wrong…she blends this with plenty of biblical wisdom and spiritual insight. She just doesn’t mince her words. Although straightforward, I didn’t find one word of condemnation in The Eden Diet.

    Where Thin Within has chapters chock-full of invaluable exercises that have helped many of us get to the root of our overeating and obsessive behaviors, Dr. Rita is more likely to say, “Sure, you can ask why, but the point is, you have to STOP it. To STOP it, you have to retrain your mind to think and believe differently! So HOP to it! Oh…and here is HOW!” The Eden Diet is all about the how.

    This book gets 5 stars from me…HUGE thumbs up! WHOO HOO! Thank you, Dr. Rita Hancock and thank you Jesus for providing someone to say it short, sweet, to the point but purely! Pointing to you!

  2. Michelle Dumler
    July 29th, 2012 at 21:32 | #2


    “The Eden Diet” has some amazingly simple ideas to help you lose weight with the right attitude. Once you put God first in this endeavor, losing weight becomes less of a challenge, and it is nothing like a diet at all. The idea that no food is off limits makes you realize that this is a lifestyle change, and not a lose weight quick scheme. The exercises in the workbook as well as the meditation are both great ways to help you succeed and stick with this plan.

  3. Mary A. Broda
    August 1st, 2012 at 12:20 | #3


    Dr. Hancock presents a paradigm for healthy eating that has changed my life forever! As a nurse educator and advanced nurse clinician my focus has been on health and improving health behaviors, however, in my own life, I have struggled with unhealthy eating and an unhealthy relationship with food. I have read the majority of books on nutrition and weight loss, and at least 90 % of such books written by Christian authors. The Eden Diet is truly in a class by itself. Dr. Hancock presents research-based, but clearly described, easily read, and creatively illustrated way of eating. Following her advice, I have already lost 3 pounds in the first 4 days of “listening for hunger pangs and eating just until full of the foods I feel like eating.” The Eden Diet is a life-changing, freeing experience and I am so thankful to the author for sharing her personal, caring, accurate, God-inspired thoughts about not only eating, but about living a life of freedom to serve and think about all God created me to be. This book is an answer to prayer for me! I would also highly recommend Dr. Hancock’s Eden Diet Workbook (Amazon) and her audiotapes (available on her website). Mary Ann Broda, PhD, RNC, CPNP (Michigan)

  4. Jojoleb
    August 2nd, 2012 at 21:03 | #4


    The Eden Diet, by Rita Hancock, is not your conventional diet book. In actuality, it doesn’t really prescribe a diet at all. Hancock is more concerned about controlling the compulsion to eat, curbing poor eating behaviors, and limiting food quantity. From Dr. Hancock’s view, however, people who look at content and structure of a diet are missing the point. If you can change your attitude towards food and your basic eating behaviors, you can easily lose weight. Although curbing compulsive eating is a part of all successful dieting strategies, the lack of any advice on the actual components of a diet and how to structure one’s diet may make this book unsuitable for some readers. However, the advice in this book could easily be used in conjunction with a more traditional diet book, for readers who need help with cravings but also want a more structured approach.



    It should be noted that I received this book because it was pitched on Amazon Vine as a mainstream diet book. Looking at the cover and the quick description, I was expecting something quite different than what I got. The blurb went as follows:

    “According to Rita Hancock, author of The Eden Diet, you can have your chocolate cake and eat it too and still lose weight and stay healthy without going on a diet. Dr. Rita Hancock has years of professional expertise in the field of nutrition and in guiding women to eat properly, lose weight, and live a healthier, happier lifestyle. Permanently.” and the category was ‘Diets and Dieting.’

    Needless to say, I was quite surprised when the book arrived and I found out that the book was published by Zondervan and that the book was aimed squarely at a Christian audience. This may represent Zondervan’s wish to expand its readership to a more mainstream audience, but it definitely caught me by surprise. I have tried to be as objective as possible in my assessment of the book, but please realize that the views herein are from someone who, though religious, is also Jewish. I tell you this so that you can understand my point of view when reviewing this book. It may well be that the book is more powerful for someone who is a religious Christian.


    The principles in the book are stated early on and are as follows: 1. Read through the book; 2. Wait to eat until you feel actual hunger pangs; 3. Eat small portions of normal food that just barely take away your hunger pangs, and; 4. When you are tempted to eat when you are not hungry, turn to God and pray or otherwise distract yourself. Hancock elaborates on each of these principles throughout the book. She does supply the reader with a limited amount of scientific data, but most of the book is composed of describing her own, personal experience with weight loss and how it was guided by her underlying principles. She spends time giving her reader cogent strategies on how to reach appropriate dieting goals while avoiding the temptations of overeating, backsliding, and guilt regarding food.

    Just as in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were able to partake of what they wanted, a dieter can eat any food that they want. Hancock describes this in religious terms, but to distill the idea to its basic level: there is no such thing as bad food. There are, however, bad eating habits and the way to break free of them is to follow the basic principles and look to God for strength. When you can do this, you will realize that it is God who controls the world and that food itself has no power over you. By praying, you will be able to liberate yourself from Satan’s temptations and lose weight because you reassert your mastery over yourself. Hancock argues that diets that identify ‘forbidden foods’ only increase temptations for the dieter, making it that much harder to lose weight.

    Much of the book focuses on how to realize a true hunger pang from a false one. Her goal is for the reader to learn how to identify real hunger when it exists and give strategies on how to limit one’s caloric intake so that it simply satisfies one’s hunger, but does not go further. She describes how to do this at length in the book and supplies specific prayers and scriptural verses to meditate on to help with the temptation.

    This is all well and good, but for me it only goes so far.


    First, Hancock’s writing often rambles from topic to topic. Her tone can be uneven, varying from supportive to clinical to jokey to devout in the space of one page. She also spends a fair amount of time describing her own experience with weight loss. Though relevant, it would have been better to have incorporated more stories from her patients and other dieters. The focus on her own experience may be motivating to some, but after a while I found it to be cloying. If a dieting solution is to work, it has to be applicable to more than a handful of people.


    From a sociological perspective, I found the references to temptations to be the most interesting. I was truly not aware that Satan and temptation figured into the Christian experience in quite the way they do here. I found it fascinating that temptation is considered to be an external force that one must fight against. When Satan tempts her reader to eat, Hancock must arm the reader with meditations and parts of scripture to fight off this external force.

    Perhaps this works well within a Christian paradigm, but from a Jewish perspective things are quite the opposite. Without the taint of original sin, we believe our souls to be born pure. But the soul has free will and must negotiate a world filled with spirituality and physical needs. Temptation, for Jews, is mostly a struggle between two internal forces: your intrinsic inclination to do good and your intrinsic inclination to do evil. This puts the onus of succumbing to one’s temptation squarely on the individual. From the Jewish perspective, the ‘devil doesn’t make you do it.’ If you do something wrong, the blame is squarely on your shoulders because you succumbed to the wrong internal voice. Hence the world of Jewish guilt that has inspired a great number of Philip Roth novels and many a Woody Allen film.

    It would be much easier for me to take Hancock’s view, but in the end I am stuck with my own religious perspective, ingrained after so many years. The cultural difference in perspective makes the book less accessible and less relevant for the non-Christian. Although the principles that Hancock sets forth can still be applied, the religious rhetoric is not necessarily applicable to all readers. This, of course, is okay but limits the audience for the book.


    Hancock emphasizes the notions that prescriptive diets are only short term solutions that are destined to fail and that restrictive diets don’t work because they simply cause increased temptations. Unfortunately, I believe that these notions are paper tigers. For me, the difference between a ‘fad diet’ and an actual diet is that a true diet is a lifelong change in one’s eating habits. And I do agree with Hancock that for a diet to be effective–this one or any other–you need to truly change your lifestyle.

    All diets good, bad, and ugly will fail if you don’t make adjustments for the long term. Most prescriptive diets have an initial phase for ‘rapid weight loss’ and then have a ‘maintenance phase’ to keep the pounds off. As a society, we seem to want the ‘quick fix.’ But just because we like to ignore the maintenance phase of a diet does not negate the fact that you need to maintain a lifestyle change to keep the pounds off.


    The idea of any prescriptive diet, regardless how it mixes fats, proteins, and carbs is to help you lose pounds by prescribing a diet that tricks your body into feeling more satisfied so it makes it easier not to over eat.

    Hancock has it right that no matter what diet you choose, you have to exert self control. But I am a firm believer that you need to pick and choose foods carefully so that it is easier to exert that self control.

    I don’t believe that there is an ultimate diet that will work for every person. Some people prefer the small portions but high fat and protein of an Atkins or South Beach diet (Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, Revised Edition, The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss). Some would prefer the balance of a Zone (The Zone: A Dietary Road Map to Lose Weight Permanently : Reset Your Genetic Code : Prevent Disease : Achieve Maximum Physical Performance). Some would prefer a Dean Ornish (Eat More, Weigh Less: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Life Choice Program for Losing Weight Safely While Eating Abundantly)approach where you eat low density caloric foods so you can ‘eat more and weigh less.’

    But regardless of the choice, most of us need a framework–a guide as to how to put the food together that makes sense of all the choices out there. This doesn’t mean that there have to be ‘bad foods.’ However, there may be foods that are better bets. In a way, her book is frustrating because it is almost as though Hancock describes a map verbally without showing the actual pictures to her reader.

    Moreover, people don’t necessarily gravitate to healthy choices nor do they intrinsically know what is good or bad to eat. Books like Eat This Not That! 2010: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution aren’t specifically diet manuals. They simply show two choices that look similar. Just looking at the cover, you could buy a Uno Chicago Grill pizza for 2310 calories and 165 grams of fat or a similarly sized Pizza Hut pan pizza for 865 calories and 27g of fat. Even if you didn’t eat a full ‘serving’ of each pie (probably too much food for one sitting anyway), equal serving sizes will yield widely different caloric intake. Neither of these pizzas could be remotely considered health food or even ‘diet’ food. Still, one may be a better bet to curb the pizza craving than the other.

    I am in complete agreement with Hancock that mass consumption of ‘diet’ food is not better than modest consumption of calorie rich food. In that sense the slice of chocolate cake on the cover is no better than eating a green salad. However, ala Ornish, you can eat a whole lot more salad that has the potential to fill you up. A slice of cake may feel good at the time, but is tiny in comparison and may not actually satisfy you. Schemes as proposed in Elizabeth Somer’s excellent Eat Your Way To Happiness, try to maximize ‘whole foods’ because they are more nutritious and have ingredients that tend to satisfy and fill you up. When confronted with the cake, Somer’s advice is to avoid it at best, but if you want to treat yourself restrict yourself to the first one to three bites–get your taste, satisfy the urge, but then move on to better choices.

    In spite of her background in nutrition, Hancock doesn’t give us any idea of how to put foods together to keep our diet balanced. When you are in negative calorie balance, you are likely skimping on basic nutrients as well such as vitamins and minerals. There is no mention of how to bridge this gap or whether supplements to replace basic nutrients are necessary. There is no comment on this subject whatsoever.


    Most plans to diet or truly accomplish anything require goal setting. Setting a goal weight and a plan as to how to get there are usually part of an overall diet scheme. Hancock does provide worksheets for recording feelings and eating triggers, but says little about how to go about setting a goals for yourself. Hancock would probably point out that the goals of this diet are mastery over eating and self control, rather than picking a target weight and trying to reach it. It may well be, however, that mastery alone is not sufficient for most people. Turning down a treat here or there or restricting calories at one out of three meals may seem like mastery to some but may not result in actual weight loss. Hancock has written a companion workbook (The Eden Diet Workbook: You Can Eat Treats, Enjoy Your Food, And Lose Weight) which may cover these areas, but nothing in the Eden Diet book itself is helpful in this regard.


    Traditional diets give us a ballpark number for caloric intake. Hancock wants us to relearn how to read our God-given caloric monitor. However, the notion that there is a divinely endowed set point for hunger that we have to identify, may also be flawed. Yes, part of the problem with obesity and compulsive eating is that we don’t really know when we’ve had enough to eat. Learning a sensitivity for this may help many readers.

    But it may not be true that everyone has a built in calorie monitor that works correctly. At the far end of the spectrum there are eating disorders that are part of genetic syndromes–for example, Prader -Willi Syndrome. Those that suffer from Prader-Willi are thought to have a problem with the satiety center in the hypothalamus. Their God-given satiety monitor is essentially broken. They keep eating but can never be satisfied.

    Now I am not suggesting that most people are NEVER satisfied no matter how much food they eat. However, there may be many people that no matter how they try, their satiety centers that will not kick in naturally. These people may not be able to reach a set point without a prescription for the number of calories in a day. They need to know how much to eat because their bodies are unable to tell them to stop before they eat too much.

    Conjecturing a little more, our bodies are probably more designed for famine rather than feast. If you go back to ancient hunter gatherers, farmers, or even the biblical era, the times of plenty were few and far between. Our bodies are probably hardwired to eat as much as possible in times of plenty and store this away as fat in preparation for times where there is just enough food to get by. The obesity epidemic may have as much to do with massive availability of cheap food, as it does with poor food choices. We may all have somewhat ineffective satiety monitors. Hunger and getting used to a little hunger may have to be the norm if we want to successfully lose weight.

    All this is theoretical of course and will stay that way until Dr. Hancock does some research and actually tests out if her theories of diet control. There is some scientific evidence presented in the book that supports Hancock’s thesis in an inferential or tangential way, but Hancock has never put her ideas to the test. References to patients are helpful, but only in an anecdotal way.


    Hancock does say that exercise is important, but actually spends only about 1 3/4 pages about exercise in the course of a 200+ page book. Ironically, Hancock references studies from the National Weight Control Registry that tell us that the most successful, long term dieters exercised. So where’s the beef? At very least, Hancock could have pointed her reader in the direction of some good, sound exercise programs.


    H.L. Mencken is quoted as saying, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Hancock gives us a simple solution, but I think it is only part of a larger more complex answer. She tells us a small part of the equation for weight loss, but doesn’t flesh out many other details. Moreover, the book is written from such a highly Christian perspective, that it may not be accessible to non-Christian readers.

    Still, when it comes to dealing with food compulsions, Hancock does have strategies that may work. I also applaud Hancock for relating to her readers that for a diet to be effective, you really need a change in lifestyle. A diet is not a once in a while thing. She also gets major points because she never underestimates how difficult this change in lifestyle is. Her personal experience bears this out and her keen understanding of what her readers have to go through to lose weight shoots through. Although it is not my franchise, I also like the idea of using a diet as a way to help the dieter grow spiritually.

    So for the correct audience, this book has definite value. And even this book is not prescriptive enough for some readers, there is no reason why you could not apply Hancock’s suggestions in conjunction with a more conventional diet book.

  5. David Crumm
    August 2nd, 2012 at 22:59 | #5


    If you’re like me, which means perennially overweight, then dieting almost becomes an extra sacrament–a rite in which we often come face to face with God’s grace. It’s obvious from our ReadTheSpirit poll of New Year’s Resolutions that I’m not alone in thinking that we should mingle physical fitness with our faith.

    I’m no MD, but I am a 50-something, veteran dieter–and I have to say: I found fresh inspiration in Hancock’s approach to the spiritual challenge of overeating. Despite the strange title, this is not some zealous collection of biblical recipes. Rather, it’s based on Hancock’s conclusion that Americans are turning eating into more of an obsession than a simple matter of coming to terms with our hunger. One of her exercises involves visualizing an apple, but the Eden reference mainly is to simplifying the way we live with food in general.

    Is this a miraculous cure for overeating? Hardly. But it is an excitingly different take on an age-old challenge.

  6. Erik Nuveen
    August 4th, 2012 at 15:02 | #6


    As a physician and surgeon who cares for patients who struggle with weight in a predominantly Christian region of the United States, this book comes as a beacon of hope for my patients. I personally know and have spent many hours in discussion with Dr. Hancock and her intellectual awareness and sensitive manner are a unique blend in providing care for the obese. This book is not an evangelical but a Christian perspective that may be just the approach necessary to take a patient who knows they need to commit to weight loss, to a patient who actually does it! The association with with dietary recommendations linked to christian motives may be just the spark to begin the battle to healthy weight management. Thank you Dr. Hancock for your latest book and we and our patients thank you for your efforts.

  7. Lacinda T. Decicco
    August 6th, 2012 at 04:29 | #7


    The Eden Diet helps people unlock the many reasons they are unable to lose weight by dieting. As a Christian researcher in metabolism and endocrinology and a juvenile diabetic for 32 years, I know that weight loss involves not only the physiological aspects, but the emotional, spiritual, and physiological side as well. Dr. Hancock’s book is able to address all of these areas and help people to finally be able to successfully lose weight and keep it off.

  8. Judy Smith
    August 6th, 2012 at 22:00 | #8


    The author is a good writer but isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. The key to losing weight is to quit eating so much. (I think we all already know that part.) She says to not eat until you feel hunger pains, that dieting is bad for us and doesn’t work anyway. She’s right about that. How many diets have you had over the last several years. According to her, you are wasting your time and money on diet books, diet foods and diet clinics. She is probably right about that too. It always comes back to changing your life style and exercising in the end.

    She thinks you can eat anything you want and still lose weight as long as you eat in moderation and only eat when you feel actual (not false) hunger pains. I think she is right about this one. You might lose weight slower but it is more likely to stay off if you learn to eat differently. To get started, you might want to starve yourself until you know what a real hunger pain feels like instead of a false hunger pain.

    She also believes that having a diet drink sitting around all day is bad, because the sweetness of it will make you want something even sweeter to eat all the time. She gives an example of the apple test: sit a piece of cake and an apple before you. If you are hungry enough to eat the apple first, then you are probably hungry enough to eat the cake, if not, then you should pass. (Personally I love apples and would eat both!)

    It’s a good book and inspiring because the author was very overweight at 17 years old and so knows what you are going through, and she’s very likeable. The only part I couldn’t figure out was why this is considered a Christian book. She quotes a few scriptures (on being a glutton mostly), but otherwise, what has God got to do with a diet. I really doubt he wants all us overweight women praying to him to help us on our diets. This book would be good for anyone, Christian or not. No recipes, no suggested foods to eat, just good common sense advice.

    Ok, now I am going to have that snickers bar I’ve been craving, but I’m going to walk 5 miles of up and down hill roads to work off at least part of those calories. I know it would be best to do the walk without the candy bar, but…at least I’m exercising too! And I have lost 60 pounds so maybe eating less and exercising more does pay off in the long run.

  9. Jeff Gerke
    August 7th, 2012 at 01:25 | #9


    The Eden Diet’s premise not only makes sense but is easy to do:

    Eat whatever you want, but not too much of it and only when you’re hungry.

    Wow. Revolutionary. Simple but so profound as to have escaped attention.

  10. K. Wiginton
    August 7th, 2012 at 03:31 | #10


    Diet books come and go, but Dr. Hancock’s prescription works because you let God be in control. From the catchy title to the workbook and meditations, this book is very well written and easily understood. To eat only when you’re hungry sounds so simple, yet it takes discipline, and is the beginning of a diet that works as it changes your lifestyle. The best advertisement for the Eden Diet is Dr. Hancock herself, since she wrote this book from her 26 yrs of education, training, and hard-earned personal experience.

  11. Liz A. Bray
    August 7th, 2012 at 03:38 | #11


    I am in my 50s, have studied and done probably every diet and had been praying about what I needed to do about the few pounds that had been creeping up every year and no matter what I did, those pounds just wouldn’t go away. Another Christian friend told me she had ordered The Eden Diet so I did, and it was like it was the answers to my prayers. I got the book, couldn’t put it down, finished it and knew I needed to share it. We started the Eden Diet Bible Study at our church on August 6th, and now six weeks later, I not only have lost 8 lbs., but am just loving my new lifestyle. After the first few weeks of consistently waiting till you’re really hungry before you eat and then, eating less, you start noticing that you are not focusing on food all the time, you are not as hungry as you used to be and for me, I’ve stopped craving sweets and any junk food. I want my calories to count. I’ve completely stopped mindlessly eating. I am getting so much positive feedback from the Bible Study group, and a lot of excitement about how simple and effortless this plan is and how you can’t believe you’re losing when you don’t feel like your dieting!! Other comments have been how freeing it is NOT to diet and NOT to feel guilty when you do have a treat! I feel so great and just have no desire to eat “big” again for several reasons: God did not intend for us to overeat, I hate feeling stuffed, it is so freeing to not diet and not worry about what I am going to eat, I love finally losing these excess lbs. and am only a few lbs. away from my goal, I have knee problems, and I know that every pound I lose takes five lbs. of pressure off my knees. I am so thankful for Dr. Hancock and her program The Eden Diet.

  12. LMS
    August 7th, 2012 at 07:58 | #12


    Ever since I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in April of 2009, I have been searching for a way to lose weight. I’ve read various diet books, but none of them were quite right. They were either too restrictive, meant giving up my favorite foods, too complicated, or too time-consuming. I had pretty much given up hope that I would ever find the right diet for me. I was thinking about just creating my own diet. But then I was at the local Christian bookstore. I always make a habit of looking through the diet section in the Christian bookstore. I’ve even bought several books. But even here, I was disappointed. The diets were Christian-based, but again, I found them too restrictive. I mean, seriously, is it really realistic to think that someone can completely eliminate sugar from their diet? On a short-term basis it’s doable, but for a lifetime? I really don’t think so? My willpower is not that strong.

    The first thing that attracted me to the Eden Diet was the title. I was a little hesitant to even pick it up, because I thought it would be another “Eat only stuff that grows on trees or comes from a plant” type of diet. But it didn’t take me long to realize that the Eden Diet is NOT that type of diet. Far from it. I was also concerned that this might be a faddish, junk-food diet. But I was wrong about that too. Dr. Rita does give you permission to eat sweets or other typically “forbidden” foods. The key is eating them in moderation. This diet does not advocated pigging out or eating only sweets all the time.

    In my opinion, the previous reviewer who said that Dr. Rita expects you to be really hungry before you eat is just plain wrong. Here is a direct quote from the book. It can be found on page 92, towards the middle of the page.

    “Don’t go hungry for too long. Eat when you’re mildly to moderately hungry. If you wait too long, you may become extremely hungry and overeat out of sheer panic.” I don’t know about anyone else, but that doesn’t sound like Dr. Rita is suggesting that you must be really super hungry before you eat. In fact, it sounds like she is recommending the opposite. Mild to Moderately hungry does not mean starving.

    Simply put, the Eden Diet is a sensible, commonsense, Christ-Centered approach to dieting. There are no gimmicks and no fads to be found here. Just a straightforward, easy to implement approach. In the past, I have used the “eat only when you’re hungry” approach to eating, and I know it works. But I also like the idea of eating smaller portions. Unlike other diet plans, there are no forbidden foods here. The fact that Dr. Rita is a medical doctor who has training both in psychology and nutrition training from an Ivy League school, gives me confidence that she knows what she is talking about.

    This book also deals with important topics like emotional eating, overcoming temptation, and binge eating. Dr. Rita is also very forthcoming about her own weight struggles and how she overcame her own poor eating habits. This book has given me hope. Dr. Rita even teaches the reader who to deal with potentially difficult situations such as going to a buffet or a family gathering. This style of eating does not announce to everyone around you that you are on a diet. In fact, I have found that no one will even know or notice that you are eating differently, unless of course, you tell them. This style of eating can fit into even the busiest of lifestyles easily.

    My only regret about this book is not finding it sooner! I wish that I had discovered this book before wasting so much money on other diet books. This is the last diet book I will ever buy.

    If you are looking for a practical, simple, Christ-centered approach to dieting, look no further than this book. I highly recommend this book to others, especially those who struggle with binge eating or emotional eating.

  13. K. Wayne Harris
    August 7th, 2012 at 09:46 | #13


    The Eden Diet should be re-titled the Eden Lifestyle. Dr. Hancock has put to paper a formula so easy, yet profound. As a guy, it is hard to stay with a diet especially eating mostly salads. We tend to not be satisfied with diet food. With the Eden Diet, the whole diet concept is changed to reflect the natural or “God given” way we should treat food. I found this book very easy to read and full of humor as well as valuable information from the author’s extensive education and research in nutrition. This is a diet a man can follow for a lifetime.

  14. Amy Givler
    August 8th, 2012 at 15:18 | #14


    This is like no other diet book. Dr. Rita Hancock has done us all a great service by putting her thoughts on paper. She explains the principles that she has used to keep her weight down, and her mind focused on God.

    Dr. Hancock’s approach is reasonable — allow yourself to get hungry (and learn what hunger really feels like!)and eat small portions until comfortably full. As a family physician myself, I groan when a patient tells me she is on a “fad” diet, because I know she is not learning lifelong techniques on how to live as a thinner person. The Eden Diet is no fad diet! Dr. Hancock’s approach liberates all of us from bondage to food.

    Weaving in her personal story with the stories of many others, Dr. Hancock’s voice is authoritative and merciful at the same time. The subtitle is correct — it is truly a merciful program.

    I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in losing pounds and then staying a healthy weight. I will be recommending it to my patients, and I am personally benefiting from it also.

  15. Diana F. Von Behren
    August 11th, 2012 at 13:36 | #15


    In her book, “The Eden Diet,” medical doctor and author, Rita Hancock, writes a successful guide to helping dieters achieve and maintain their weight loss goals with a quick shift of mental perspective that forces the dieter to explore the emotional and culturally acceptable reasoning behind eating when not actually experiencing hunger. In labeling herself as a Christian doctor and liberally sprinkling her entire text with a legion of scriptural citations that back up her theory, she sadly may limit her audience to those of the evangelical persuasion.

    Don’t make the mistake of assuming that Hancock’s theory has anything to do with the actual food one would associate growing within the paradisal Garden of Eden. Wisely, the Eden diet does not advocate fad eating from only the fruit, nut and vegetable food groups.

    Instead of focusing on the type of food–she does not provide menus, deliberate on food categories or pontificate on the wellness benefits of foods high in anti-oxidants or monounsaturated fats–or concentrating on a recommended quantity, she zeroes in on the heart of the matter by asking the reader a not-so-rhetorical `why eat now?’ In expecting an answer to this mental query, Hancock demands an instantaneous check on one’s eating activity. “Am I really hungry?” No? Then why do I want to eat whatever it is I covet? Because I want it, or because I need it? The mental interrogation alone puts an instant stop on the mindlessness. Whether or not Hancock backs up her thought process with a meaningful scripture or not has little to do with what is actually occurring within the cavern of the mind.

    Yes, as humans, we are designed to eat; we convert the food into energy that allows us to function and get on with our lives. If we eat too much food and do not convert the energy, we store it as fat. However, as she points out, as a culture, we have become fascinated with food–not as fuel but as what? An indicator of advanced knowledge regarding culinary expertise? A status symbol that reports back our ability to afford certain high-ticket foods and elaborate restaurant presentations? Multi-media entertainment buttressed by the myriad of Food Channel shows that either depict men eating strange food items indigenous to the world’s many cultures, or men over-indulging to the backdrop roar of an audience intent on watching someone eat the biggest, greasiest, or most densely-packed collection of needless carbohydrates on the planet? Obviously, we have forgotten the basics and in order to exist in our most comfortable slender forms we must remember why we eat in the first place.

    Slyly, Hancock puts together a simple test that I have dubbed “the Adam and Eve question.” The subtext on the cover of her book teases:” you can enjoy treats, enjoy your food, and lose weight.” However, legerdemain is at play here. On your minds most visually perfect table, Hancock places the item that you are considering eating NOW–perhaps a fabulously tasting large piece of double dark chocolate cake with wonderfully rich ganache filling and frosting (I confess–I do indulge in some vicarious eating on the Food Network)–next to an apple. (I assume she chooses the apple because of its role in the Adam and Eve story as one of the ultimate Biblical temptations. In this example, the apple is less a temptation and more a gauge of true hunger. Perhaps Hancock thinks the apple less appealing than the cake–boring in its crisp native state. I substitute a banana for the apple simply because I do not like bananas–and I would have to be really hungry in order to eat one.) She poses the question: Are you hungry enough to eat the apple/banana pretending that the cupboard is bare and there is nothing else to eat? If you are indeed hungry enough to eat something that does not immediately come to mind when thinking of something sumptuous enough to corrupt your taste buds, then you may eat the cake. If not–you may eat neither.

    Will it work? Certainly. I tried it myself. The result? I felt considerably lighter and eventually that `lighter’ feeling will equate in less weight.

    In addition to the Adam and Eve test, Hancock also advises that we eat as if we were the children of God (toddlers) that Adam and Eve would have been if they hadn’t devoured that bright red (sorry, Granny Smith) apple. The heady cocktail of food consciousness stimulated by the media, as well as the desire for intelligence and status mixed with complicated emotions and other psychological hurdles that inflict us with triggers for obesity has not yet (there are those who are working on this) been imbibed by the typical preschooler. As such, a child does not focus on food; rather they pass by the table when they are hungry, pick up what they need and get back to doing what they really want to do–play! The prescription of less food to immediately eliminate that hunger pain insures an active, normal toddler with no food fixation whatsoever. Whereas sitting at the table or lounging on the couch for considerable lengths of time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and lengthy snacks and spending time thinking, preparing and then measuring those meals results in a food/diet obsessed and usually overweight or borderline eating disordered adult.

    Hancock considers our conditioning to eat three large meals `old’ thinking and advises us to ponder in newer ways that will help us to again recognize the signals that the brain receives from the stomach when it needs food. Society deems it necessary to sit at luncheons and dinners and actually suggests the amount of food we should by what is set before us in the plate. However, as individuals of different sizes and structures, we don’t have to or need to finish the entire dish. Instead, Hancock suggests eating a third or perhaps half and packing the rest away for later. This is not to say that you will eat the same quantity of food over a lengthier period of time–it states that you will eat less as the day progresses and relearn to indulge in only what your body needs rather than what it thinks it wants.

    Despite the outpouring of scriptural backup, Hancock humorously outlines her program and has even published a workbook The Eden Diet Workbook: You Can Eat Treats, Enjoy Your Food, And Lose Weightto help you attain your weight loss and maintenance goals in an orderly but non-obsessive manner. Nonetheless, she is religious and refers to her personal relationship with God and Jesus to further illustrate her program. She blames Satan for temptation and for those interested provides a serious of nine prayers at the end of the book that correspond to the nine chapters and their topic to help the reader focus on each chapter’s goal.

    Bottom line? As we diet book readers and reviewers well know, going back to basics works best to insure a lifetime of slender and healthful living. In “The Eden Diet,” most of Rita Hancock’s ideas have been pointed out before in numerous popular diet-tribes. The collection of Francophile weight loss methods–Guiliano’s “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” Clower’s “The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss,” and Montignac’s “The French Diet: Why French Women Don’t Get Fat”–propound eating good quality food in smaller portions. Rolls’s “The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories” and Guttersen’s “The Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, Better Health in Just 10 Days!” tell us that less dense food yet rich in nutrients in greater quantities helps us to balance our caloric checkbook with greater ease and better results. However, Hancock’s approach along with her pleasant-to-read prose, (respect the Christian sentiments as well-meaning allegories,) seem fresh and will work if implemented as suggested. Hallelujah, I can testify to that–I hit upon this method myself a few years ago–the idea of `less is more’ really works in this case. You can eat what you want but not anytime you want it. Recommended with the caveat that Hancock is a Christian and uses Christian theology to back up her theories.

    Diana Faillace Von Behren


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