Summary: The Eating Well Diet by Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino with Joyce Hendley and the editors of Eating Well is the kind of handsome book that you expect from a magazine publisher with a large format and beautifully laid out pages. The first part of the book, nearly half, describes a seven step program for weight loss that has been successfully used by subjects at the University of Vermont. As the author says in the Introduction on page 8:
In 15 years of weight-loss research and working with thousands of people trying to get trimmer and healthier, I have come to find that almost everyone knows the truth: to lose the weight, we need to eat less and move more. This book is about the missing link: how to do it.
The Eating Well website provides a quick run-down of the seven steps: 7 Steps to Permanent Weight Loss, but the book provides much more explanation, encouragement, and detail.
The second part of the book contains the recipes. There are, perhaps, fewer photos than one would expect from a magazine-produced book, but more would have made the book too thick for easily reading the text in the first part of the book. Some of the recipes are short and easy and printed several to a page. Others are more elaborate and have a page (two, if there’s a photo) devoted to them. The recipes have nutritional information and logos that represent things like “Lower Carbs” or “High Fiber.” Active Time and Total Time for completing the recipes are indicated and, as needed, there are tips and notes about ingredients.
Thoughts: The Eating Well Diet comes very close to representing what I did to lose, now, 65 pounds since August of 2009. The biggest difference is that I’ve used exchange plans rather than the calorie-counting this book advocates. It seems most diet books that are backed by research are presenting calorie-counting these days. Since Weight Watchers also made the switch from exchanges to “points,” I’m guessing that calorie-counting works well for most people. I happen to find exchanges a little easier to track and less likely to awaken my perfectionism.
The tone of the book is very encouraging and hopeful. I learned most of these techniques from The Complete Beck Diet for Life, which has a more serious, sometimes even bossy tone. The “just do it” attitude can be helpful in weak moments, of course, but I had been looking for a book I can recommend that is more convivial. I’m glad to have found it in The Eating Well Diet.
One of my objections to The Way to Eat (Book Review: The Way to Eat by David Katz and Maura Gonzalez) was a lack of structure. The Eating Well Diet has a great structure, complete with steps and forms. Some of the forms can printed at the Eating Well website. I love Creating a Weight-Loss Game Plan, a form that helps you identify strategies for meeting goals like eating out less often.
The recipes are terrific, too. My favorites were the short, easy ones like Brown Rice & Greens in Easy Side Dishes and Chocolate Malted Ricotta in Easy Desserts. Many of the longer format recipes look delicious, too. The recipe for Chili-Rubbed Tilapia with Asparagus & Lemon is accompanied by a stunning photo that makes my mouth water just looking at it.
Appeal: This is a great book for anyone wanting to lose weight, and maintain the loss, in a healthy way. It doesn’t promise it will be easy. As pointed out on page 10:
These days, if you want to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle, you wind up being part of the counterculture, opting out of the All-American ways of doing things.
These techniques are what worked for me after nearly twenty years of trial and error (mostly error). It takes time, reflection, and strategy to lose weight in our environment, but the tasks are mostly pleasant, after the scary leap into the counterculture, and the results are worth the effort. As more of us make changes, like cooking nearly all of our food from scratch and paying attention to serving sizes, it will get easier for others to do the same. The more we talk about these changes the less contrary to the prevailing norms they will seem for all of us.
Challenges: I’m putting this book on the Nonfiction page of the Foodie’s Reading Challenge.
This is also my Weekend Cooking post. Check the links at Beth Fish Reads for what other bloggers are cooking up this weekend.