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Book Review

today's dietitian Mar2008you on a diet

Read my review, published in Today’s Dietitian Magazine. March 2008. Volume 10, Number 3.

You: On a Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management
Michael Roizen, MD and Mehmet Oz, MD
2006. Free Press, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Yet, another diet book has claimed its spot on bookshelves. Targeted for an adult lay audience, You On a Diet brings more awareness to the physiology involved with eating, how our bodies respond, and visceral fat as a key player in conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammation, and high blood pressure.

Roizen and Oz dedicate a significant part of the book to the manner in which hormones, chemicals, and neurotransmitters affect hunger and satiety and direct people to stop or continue eating. They make an interesting claim that our bodies are designed to help us maintain an “ideal” weight, and our environment, food availability, lack of exercise, and mentally and emotionally stressful lifestyle push our bodies in the wrong direction. Only when we have knowledge of what happens inside ourselves can we better manage the outside cues and achieve an ideal weight and waist size.

You On a Diet also hits some psychological buttons related to dieting—how our emotions and “feel-good” hormones get involved and how feelings of guilt and shame during a “slip” can be destructive. Roizen and Oz assure the reader that it is OK to make mistakes, but to win the ultimate battle, quick “You-Turns” to get back on track are necessary.

You On a Diet concludes with “The You Activity Plan” and “The You Diet.” The activity plan consists of a daily 30-minute walk, detailed strength training exercises, and high intensity cardiovascular training. Of note, the strength training, which targets mainly large muscle groups and using the body solely for resistance, is promoted as the gold medal winner because more muscle means higher metabolism and more energy burnt in the long run. The diet plan is similar to most recommendations: Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat meat and dairy, fish, and healthy oils; avoid refined sugar, processed carbohydrates, and trans and saturated fats; read labels; keep a diet journal; and have an emergency list for stress eating. The authors suggest less variety in the diet, claiming that it leads to less overeating. The plan does not provide specific recommendations for caloric levels or discuss portion sizes. Instead, it gives the reader the responsibility to listen to internal signals to stop eating when satisfied.

As common in many lay-audience diet books, the only references provided are the credentials behind the authors’ names. Experimenting with the 20-minute strength training plan, I found it took longer than 20 minutes, was more difficult than the pictures illustrated, and may pose a risk for injury for the inexperienced or obese reader. The authors encourage the reader to work with a personal trainer, recommending certifications from well-known associations. However, they do not mention working with a dietitian, and the term nutritionist appeared only twice throughout the entire 345-page book. The lack of variety in the diet plan may bore some readers.  Another possible problem lies in the assumption that the reader will be able to listen to internal signals to stop eating, which contradicts the idea that the same signals—or lack of signals—lead to insensible eating and weight gain.

However, the authors make a clear, vivid picture of chemicals and hormones interacting in our bodies. The language is simple, clear, and humorous. The additional tools they detail, such as the kick-off plan, a to-do list, a grocery list, and menus, are of good use. I admit that after reading the book, I plan to add a few tips to my own quest for better health and nutrition.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • zeina shennak September 9, 2009, 9:59 am

    i would like to thank you for the highly beneficial article about ramadan and healthy eating habbits, the tips are so helful and sounds quite interesting, never though protein is that important at iftar, nevertheless, i m going to take your tips into consideration, ramadan has 2 weeks more, hurry up if any of you didnt read the article yet 🙂

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