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Canadian Obesity Network Welcomes Craving Change

This week, the Canadian Obesity Network welcomed a new parter – Craving Change, a small Canadian ‘start up’ that has become an almost overnight success with providers and patients.

The founders describe it on their website as follows:

Created by dietitian Wendy Shah and clinical psychologist Dr. Colleen Cannon, Craving Change™ provides a missing piece to the puzzle of helping people change their eating habits. Craving Change™ translates behaviour modification and cognitive-behavioural theory into appealing and practical strategies that a variety of professionals can use with groups or individuals.

What the program really does, is break down the cognitive-behavioural-theory (CBT) approach to dealing with emotional ‘overeating’ into a stepped-program that can be administered by health professionals (e.g. dieticians, nurses, etc.) with minimal prior expertise or training in psychology.

Craving Change does not provide dietary advice, nor is it psychotherapy – rather, Craving Change focuses on the “why” of eating – it is designed to help patients who struggle with what they eat, when they eat, and how much they eat.”

As Colleen, herself a clinical psychologist is quick to point out, Craving Change does not attempt to replace psychologists or diminish their importance in an obesity program. However, it does address the reality that many health professionals called upon to manage obesity, do not have ready access to psychologists that will see their patients (indeed there are simply not enough psychologists around to help everyone who would require their help).

If you have limited access to psychosocial resources, the stepped care approach of the Craving Change™ workshop can be invaluable for reaching more clients. Self-awareness of eating triggers can be achieved in a group setting using Craving Change™ workshop activities. Clients can then be encouraged to try a variety of strategies, based on behaviour modification and cognitive-behavioural theory, to improve their eating behaviours. Craving Change™ also helps clients learn skills that promote long-term adherence to new behaviours.

So, far Wendy and Colleen have trained over a 1000 health professionals to administer their program – their ‘clients’ include Alberta Health Services and a growing number of providers across Canada.

Wendy and Colleen are also long-time members and enthusiastic supporters of the Canadian Obesity Network and have generously agreed to donate a proportion of their ongoing proceeds to sustain the Network.

I am sure several of my readers will either have delivered or attended Craving Change sessions, here in Alberta or elsewhere – I certainly look forward to hearing from you.

Edmonton, Alberta


  1. They had a stand at the 2nd Canadian Obesity Meeting in Montreal in May 2011. I had the chance to look at the books and discussed with them. It is a great tool for professionnals who deal with behaviour modification. I recommend you to buy both books (client and counselor).

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  2. I attended one of their training sessions, it’s a brilliant program. Primary barrier to use in practice in my opinion is that several sessions are required for full benefit (although sections can be used by themselves in one on one or a single group session).

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  3. I haven’t looked too deeply into their web site, but on the workbook cover you posted and on their front page, there’s no mention of weight loss. They focus on behaviour only; on helping people to change habits that they feel are out of control. I think that’s a very good thing. It’s great that something like this is available for people who are interested in it.

    One question though. If someone who’s not considered overweight or obese is interested in this, will they be able to access it?

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  4. @DeeLeigh: Yes, they are very clear that this is NOT a weight loss program – it is to help people deal with eating issues in general. They actually discourage focus on weight.

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  5. I’ve actually taken the entire “Craving Change” program (three parts) as one of my “education” modules on my weight management journey. While it focuses on helping people deal with eating issues in general and the internal and external “drivers” in our society today, I found it absolutely excellent.

    It’s another very important piece of an extremely complex puzzle – this thing called obesity management.

    One thing that “Craving Change” really drives home is how our external environment today – the society in which we find ourselves – mass media advertising – the wonderful I’m too busy to cook and eat properly, fast food-age in which we currently find ourselves – is really driving a lot of the choices and decisions we make. And, not necessarily healthy or good choices, either. It definitely heightens awareness of one’s surroundings and the influence those surroundings and other external drivers have on the decisions we make in living our everyday lives.

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  6. What I would like would be a “self help” version of this. A workbook I could do on my own without a professional.

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  7. @Rhodia
    While a self help book would remove a number of barriers to attending the program, I can tell you that a small group setting is absolutely ideal for participants learning. I am a Craving Change facilitator in Regina, SK and my clients tell me that they learn a lot from sharing within the program and find it important to know that they ‘are not alone’ in their thoughts and feelings around food. I even tell my clients that it’s my therapy session as well because I am reminded of the complex factors influencing us to eat (dietitians are influenced too!) each time I lead the group.

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  8. As I saw the picture and read the post I noticed that this sounded very much like the client workbook used in module #8. The last module of the 9 modules that are in the weight wise education modules. Groups are very benefial for the work book because there are group exersizes–the “M” that creats the barrier for me is the cost of transportation. Further, mindless eating while waiting for the Gray hound bus is a very big problem for me. It is nice to see that different professionals are joining the Canadian Obesity Network. Obesity is a serious problem relying on many different professionals to change the eating behaviors that created the issue. The diet industry only wants to sell stuff some benefitial some dangerousbut only sell. The other eating issues are non existant. Thanks for the post Doc

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  9. On peut prévenir l’obésité et la réduire avec un peu de volonté ,il s’agit de de laisser le 1/4 de l’estomac vide à chaque repas, bannir ou réduire au maximum la quantité de pain spécialement le pain blanc et autres produits à base de pain blanc ,manger de tout sans restriction ,il s’agit de réduire la quantité en poids chaque jour de 100gr ou plus, ce qui finira par réduire le volume de l’estomac qui ne réclamera plus que la dernière quantité avalée , les enfants de ne doivent pas s’attabler avec les obèses mais à part ,ne pas les inciter à manger d’avantage .

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