—By Deborah Kesten, VIP Contributor at Thrive Global

I was recently asked to write an article about how not to overeat and gain weight during the holidays. I turned down the opportunity, because I believe that the holidays may be the perfect time to overeat. Friends. Family. Coworkers. Delicious, tasty food. Homemade meals. A celebratory atmosphere. What better time to perhaps overeat and to perhaps gain some weight? My opinion: It’s what, how, why, where, when, and how much you generally, usually, sorta eat the rest of the year that matters to your weight and well-being.

What if you never again need to make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or “go on a diet,” because your most-of-the-time way of eating throughout the rest of the year empowers you to eat and weigh less? We have discovered that replacing the complex reasons you overeat—we call them overeating styles—with our scientifically sound Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE)TM dietary lifestyle (meaning, WPIE is a way of life; it’s not a traditional diet) may make weight-loss resolutions obsolete.

The Dietary Lifestyles:
Overeating vs. Whole Person Integrative Eating

The 25 years of research on my Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE)TM dietary lifestyle1,2 has revealed this: Overeating, overweight, and obesity may be halted, even reversed, by replacing our newly identified, statistically significant, new-normal overeating styles with the antidote—the ancient/new elements of our scientifically sound Whole Person Integrative Eating model and program.1-3 

Here are the overeating styles—Do you see yourself in any of them?—and the Rx for each: the elements of the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle.3

#1. Emotional Eating. If you turn to sugary, high-carb “comfort foods” to manage negative feelings such as anxiety or anger—it’s likely the Emotional Eating overeating style is a key contributor of your overeating and weight gain.

Whole Person Integrative Eating Rx:
Be aware of feelings and thoughts before, during, and after eating.

#2. Food Fretting. If you are often filled with thoughts about what you or others should or shouldn’t eat, traditional dieting, the “right” way to eat, or how much is eaten, the Food Fretting overeating style may be a key contributor to your overeating.

Whole Person Integrative Eating Rx:
Be grateful for food and its origins—from the heart.

#3. Fast Foodism. A donut for breakfast; a McDonald’s double burger with fries for lunch; and a pepperoni pizza for dinner with several soft drinks throughout the day. Not surprisingly, the Fast Foodism overeating style is strongly linked with overeating, overweight, and obesity.

Whole Person Integrative Eating Rx:
Eat fresh, whole food in its natural state as often as possible.

#4. Sensory Disregard. Do you focus on the aromas, colors, or flavors of food? Do you appreciate the presentation? The life-giving gift inherent in food? Eating “with your senses” may lead to less overeating, overweight, and obesity, and enjoying food more.

Whole Person Integrative Eating Rx:
Savor and “flavor” food with loving regard.

#5. Task Snacking. If you often eat while working, driving, or watching TV—in other words, while doing other things—it’s likely that the Task Snacking overeating style is increasing your likelihood of becoming overweight.

Whole Person Integrative Eating Rx:
Bring moment-to-moment nonjudgmental awarenessto every aspect of the meal.

#6. Unappetizing Atmosphere. Both the psychological and aesthetic atmosphere when you eat can contribute to overeating…or not. The psychological element refers to emotions when you eat; the physical atmosphere includes your dining environs.

Whole Person Integrative Eating Rx:
Eat in a positive psychological atmosphere and in pleasant aesthetic surroundings.

#7. Solo Dining. If you eat alone more often than not, the Solo Dining overeating style is part of your dietary lifestyle. Our Whole Person Integrative Eating research revealed that typically eating by yourself can contribute to overeating and ensuing weight gain.

Whole Person Integrative Eating Rx:
Enjoy food-related experiences with others.

The Takeaway

The weight-loss power of Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE) was what research scientist and naturopathic physician Erica Oberg, N.D., M.P.H., experienced in her medical practice when she conducted published research on WPIE with her diabetic patients, many of whom were overweight. “Overeating and obesity simply resolved as ‘side effects’ of practicing Whole Person Integrative Eating…,” says Dr. Oberg.3

Indeed, that is the key takeaway of the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle: weight loss occurs as a “side effect” based on what and how you eat, not because you’re “on a diet.” In other words, if your most-of-the-time way of eating includes some or all of the overeating styles, you are following a dietary lifestyle that increases odds of overeating and weight gain. Conversely, turning the elements of Whole Person Integrative Eating into your most-of-the-time way of eating means overeating lessens and odds of weight loss increase…as side effects. In this way, the WPIE dietary lifestyle may make “going-on-a-diet” New Year’s resolutions obsolete.


  1. Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz, “Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Program for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 14, no. 5 (October/November 2015): 42–50
  2. Larry Scherwitz and Deborah Kesten, “Seven Eating Styles Linked to Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity,” Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing 1, no. 5 (2005): 342–59.
  3. Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz, Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat the Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity (Amherst, MA: White River Press, 2020).


  • Deborah Kesten


    Whole Person Integrative Eating

    Deborah Kesten is an international nutrition researcher and award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her research career began as Nutritionist on Dean Ornish, M.D.’s first clinical trial for reversing heart disease, and as Director of Nutrition on similar "reversal" research at cardiovascular clinics in Europe. Deborah is Founder of Whole Person Integrative Eating (WPIE), her evidence-based model and program for treating the root causes of overeating, overweight, and obesity. Her research on WPIE has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals, and her WPIE training-and-certification course for certified health professionals may be accessed at  www.IntegrativeEating.com/training/ and at www.WPIE.org. Deborah's latest award-winning book is Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle for Treating Overeating, Overweight, and ObesityTo learn more, please visit https://integrativeeating.com/iesection/