For the last several weeks, I’ve been reviewing books that promote heart health because February is American Heart Month. New month, new theme. March is National Nutrition Month as declared by the American Dietetic Association. Not to be confused with the American Diabetes Association(does anyone besides me do that?). The American Dietetic Association is the professional organization for registered dieticians and March is the month that they reach out to all of us with a message of eating right. This year they have invited bloggers to join in and created the nice little graphic for us and will be featuring us in a blogroll.
I love this year’s theme, Eat Right With Color. I have lots to say about that, but I’m going to save that for later in the month. For my first post, I’m reviewing a book that was published in cooperation with the American Dietetic Association, The Way to Eat.
I want to thank my friend Pat Robinson who introduced me to National Nutrition Month when she saw that I was blogging about heart health in February. Friends from grade school, we reconnected recently on Facebook after thirty years. I’m thrilled that she gave me this terrific idea for my blog.
Book: The Way to Eat by David L. Katz and Maura Harrigan Gonzalez
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Publication date: 2002
Summary: The Way to Eat is a comprehensive look at our modern nutritional environment and the struggles we have to make healthy choices in eating and exercise. Although it has an exchange food plan in it, that’s a very small part of the book. Most of it is devoted to the societal barriers that make eating right hard and to resources that make it easier.
Thoughts: The subtitle of The Way to Eat is “A Six-Step Path to Lifelong Weight Control” but it isn’t really six steps. This from page 46, at the end of Step 2, gives a better picture of the process:
Included in these four Steps are fifty-four potential obstacles to healthful eating and the strategies for dealing with each.
After those last four steps, with fifty-four substeps, there are another hundred pages or so of Resources. I found this book overwhelming, and I’m doing ninety percent of what they suggest. I’m not sure if it would have been helpful or discouraging a couple of years ago when I was only doing twenty percent. They do point out several times that there is a lot of overlap, making improvements in one area of eating will improve others. I can vouch for the veracity of that statement. Actually doing what is suggested in this book is easier than it feels when you’re reading it in one big chunk.
This book is crying out for an accompanying workbook. Maybe they are working on one. In the meantime, I suggest pairing this comprehensive look at the way to eat with a book that provides more of a structure. My favorites are the two books by Judith Beck (The Beck Diet Solution and The Complete Beck Diet for Life), The Step Diet by James O. Hill, and Never Say Dietby Chantel Hobbs (see my review).
I can argue with some particulars in the book but I eventually came to the conclusion that this book isn’t really targeted at me. The second week that I was reading it, I complained in my Monday post that they were saying a little too often to give into cravings and in the third week’s Monday post, I confessed that the cravings suggestion, and other things, triggered some unusually messy eating on my part. I was also surprised at how many processed foods they mention, especially baked potato chips. For me, potato chips, baked or not, are very much in the category of “one is too many, a thousand not enough.” That realization helped me understand that my problem with this book is that it’s written by non-addicts for non-addicts. Just because I have to work strategically around cravings and abstain from potato chips doesn’t mean that everyone does.
The strongest parts of this book, including many of those fifty-four obstacles, are about how we humans are designed for an environment of scarce food that requires a lot of movement to procure. Unfortunately, we find ourselves living in an environment of abundant food that we can get without even getting out of the car. I love the first two sentences:
Polar bears in the Sahara Desert are apt to find themselves in serious trouble. Not because of anything wrong with the bears.
The Way to Eat points out that we are “smarter than the average bear” and provides the knowledge and power to make changes to our diet and movement that compensate for our hostile environment.
To make this post a bit about cooking, not just food, here’s a bit of encouragement, from page 191:
Nutritious cooking is only inconvenient if you don’t know how to do it! Once you learn what ingredients, techniques, and recipes to use, healthful food preparation is no longer inconvenient–it simply becomes the way you cook.
Appeal: This is a great overall book about nutrition. When it seems like there are too many conflicting messages about food out there, this book will bring you back to sanity. There’s a lot out there, but that doesn’t mean that a healthy diet is a mystery to science. This might not be the book for you if you’re convinced that low-carb is the only way that works for you, although the many tips for handling all the situations when it’s difficult to eat the way that works best for you would still apply.
Challenges: This book works for my Foodie’s Reading Challenge and will be my first entry in the Nonfiction category, as opposed to cookbooks and memoirs. This is also my Weekend Cooking post at Beth Fish Reads, where there are links to other bloggers writing about food this weekend. The Book Girl at For the Love of Books reviewed a diet book this week, one that advocates a vegan diet but has great tips for everyone and terrific recipes. Heather at Books and Quilts bought books about cupcakes and a great calorie counter at the same time! Somewhere in there is a metaphor for moderation, I suspect, one that would be supported by the American Dietetic Association.