‘Tis the season…for diets, that is. With summer fast approaching, I can almost hear the collective worries of American (and other countries) women who begin fretting anew over what they look like in shorts and bathing suits. Body image issues ignored, the collective answer generally runs towards starting another weight loss diet.
With that in mind, I thought I’d pass on a few diet book reviews, books that are competing for the attention of weight-worried women this summer. The reviews are direct from The ADA Times, a publication of The American Dietetic Association.
21 Pounds in 21 Days — The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox —
The claim: Detox allows the body to release toxins and excess weight. The method: Liquids only, including 64 ounces of distilled water daily, plus supplements. The facts: Some of the book’s recommendations, such as food combining and colonic therapy, have no scientific merit for weight loss according to the ADA. Our take: Weight lost quickly — and it will probably be lost quickly when just drinking liquids for three weeks — returns even more quickly. The health effects of such yo-yo dieting are nothing to toy with.
The Serotonin Power Diet: Use Your Brain’s Natural Chemistry to Cut Cravings, Curb Emotional Overeating, and Lose Weight — The claim: Raising serotonin levels will cause you to lose weight. The method: Eat high-carb, low-protein, low-fat meals/snacks the first two weeks. Subsequent weeks vary the protein content and number of snacks. The facts: Whether this plan actually boosts serotonin levels has not been evaluated. The ADA also notes that most readers will probably lose weight as they would with any calorie-restricted, low-fat diet that encourages regular physical activity. Our take: The extra-ordinary attention needed to eat like this stands in the way of doing it long-term, and that makes it another wasted effort for most people. Not sure whether raising serotonin levels is the real problem for most folks, either.
The Snack Factor Diet: The Secret to Losing Weight by Eating More — The claim: Monitoring portions, proportions and levels of hunger and choosing nutrient dense foods will help you lose weight. The method: Monitoring portions, proportions and levels of hunger and choosing nutrient dense foods. The meal plan excludes fruit entirely and allows only two starch servings a day. The facts: The method sounds good until you get to the carbohydrate limits. Our take: Ditto. Much too restrictive, and hence
Joy Bauer’s Food Cures: Easy 4-Step Nutrition Programs for Improving Your Body — The claim: Proper nutrition fuels your body; balanced meals with the ‘right’ calories for you helps you maintain a healthy weight. The method: Readers are taught to estimate their energy needs and choose among balanced meal plans of different calorie levels. The facts: The ADA likes it. Our take: We certainly agree with the premise of proper nutrition, but disagree with the focus on calorie counting. Too many women have come to Green Mountain after years of failing at calorie counting. It just doesn’t work for the vast majority of people.
Of course, these few books are probably only a drop in the ocean that are flooding bookstores right now. Our take on all of them: If they’ve got you doing anything other than normal eating, they’re probably just going to exacerbate struggles over the long term.
Have a happy, healthy summer that’s diet-free!