Healthy Holidays: Diet & Fitness Short Takes, December 2011

by Susan Hagloch

This year’s crop of diet books has something for everyone, from the most straight forward manuals to weight-loss approaches via introspection and spirituality. Overall, modern diet books tend to eschew the gimmicks of past eras. No one today recommends eating only grapefruit or eliminating all of any particular type of food, and all are vehement about the need to eat a lot of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is well established that fast food serves up too much fat and sugar, but healthy food choices are available at the supermarket and in restaurants. These days, the gold standard for diet books is minimally processed foods and regular exercise, and all of the following titles apply that ethos. Only the approach varies.

Agatston, Arthur, M.D. The South Beach Wake-Up Call: Why America is Still Getting Fatter and Sicker, Plus 7 Simple Strategies for Reversing Our Toxic Lifestyle. Rodale. 2011. c.327p. bibliog. ISBN 9781605293325. $27.99. HEALTH
Agatston, author of The South Beach Diet and its sequels, here discusses the severe health problems that American eating habits are creating in both adults and children. To prevent or resolve these problems, he suggests ways of making the South Beach plan part of a whole family lifestyle. He recommends homemade meals eaten together around a table and consisting of lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in addition to lean protein. He also strongly advises the purchase of organic foods whenever possible. A good, solid approach to health management for the whole family.

Ashton, Jennifer, M.D., with Christine Rojo. Your Body Beautiful: Clockstopping Secrets to Staying Healthy, Strong, and Sexy in Your 30s, 40s, and Beyond. Avery: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. c.304p. index. ISBN 9781583334584. $26. HEALTH
OB-GYN Ashton’s (The Body Scoop for Girls ) premise is that the good health habits women develop during their thirties and forties will keep them strong and vibrant in later life. It is also easier for people to change their habits, she notes, while they are still relatively young. Regular exercise and a healthy diet, as well as eliminating overly processed foods from their diets, will enable women’s bodies to age more gracefully. Ashton’s workout focuses on high-intensity interval training and owes a lot to Ayurveda practices. No gimmicks here, just good advice.

Baroni, Bill with Damon DiMarco. Fat Kid Got Fit: And So Can You! Lyons: Globe Pequot. Jan. 2012. c.256p. illus. ISBN 9780762770472. $24.95. HEALTH
Baroni is neither a trainer, nor a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor a salesman. He’s an ordinary civil servant who lost 120 pounds by following the Duke University Diet & Fitness Center plan. Ten weeks there gave him the knowledge he needed to recognize what the fast-food lifestyle was doing to him. He traces his own path and, with humor and style, passes the information he learned along to readers. This can work for anyone.

Heller, Marla. The DASH Diet Action Plan: Proven to Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Without Medication. Grand Central Life & Style. 2011. c.220p. index. ISBN 9781455512805. $22.99. HEALTH
Originally self-published in 2002, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is based on studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Dietician Heller here presents a diet plan that will help readers who suffer from hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Her plan supports the now-standard precept that eating a variety of good food‚ especially fruits, vegetables, and whole grains‚ plus adhering to a regular exercise program will result in weight loss, which, in turn, will benefit one’s arteries and improve one’s metabolism.

Kennedy, Nancy B. How We Did It: Weight Loss Choices That Will Work for You! Leafwood. Dec. 2011. c.224p. illus. index. ISBN 9780891122937. pap. $14.99. HEALTH
We all know how to lose weight: eat less and exercise more. However, there are different paths to this goal. Journalist Kennedy (Miracles and Moments of Grace ) profiles 26 people who succeeded in losing weight using 26 distinct methodologies, from Jenny Craig to gastric bypass to Weight Watchers to Curves. Each system worked for someone, and this book pulls all of them together so readers can compare them and select the approach that fits them the best.

Platkin, Charles. The Diet Detective’s All-American Diet: Lose Weight with the Foods You Already Love To Eat from Your Favorite Supermarket and Restaurant Choices. Rodale. Jan. 2012. c.288p. illus. ISBN 9781609611569. pap. $19.99. HEALTH
Perhaps this volume could be subtitled Food for Dummies: Platkin has gone to the chain restaurants and bought the precooked supermarket food we can’t seem to do without. He lists the exact calorie counts for foods commonly found in these places. He examines 22 popular restaurants and a wide variety of frozen meals and analyzes individual servings for calorie count, sodium content, and vegetarian-friendliness. These foods are then subdivided so that the reader can choose a 300-calorie breakfast entrée, a 400-calorie lunch entrée, or a 500-calorie dinner entrée, along with snacks and sides. This will be handy for citizens of the fast-food nation, but the information provided here is limited, and the fact remains that there are better ways to eat.

Powell, Chris. Choose To Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution. Hyperion. Dec. 2011. c.240p. illus. ISBN 9781401324452. $24.99. HEALTH
Claiming that most Americans eat like Sumo wrestlers (little at breakfast but gut-busting portions for lunch and dinner), this book by Powell (known as the fitness trainer on the TV show Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition ) is aimed primarily at the already morbidly obese. His upbeat message is that yes, you can lose weight; in fact, this group of dieters tends to find the early days easier than others do. Powell’s carb cycling plan loads carbs (good ones, not bad ones) on alternate days, purportedly fooling the body so it won’t go into the starvation mode that keeps the pounds on. But all dieters must make a commitment, and that is what Powell aims for, inspiring readers to change their lives for the better.

Somer, Elizabeth. Eat Your Way to Sexy: Start Losing Weight in Just 7 Days. Harlequin. Jan. 2012. c.256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780373892532. pap. $16.95. HEALTH
A frequent guest on the Today show, Somer ( 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet ) uses the ever-popular hook that people who are healthy and in shape are naturally sexier. She gives good advice on eating and exercise, rife with coy double entendres and an implicit promise that good health equals good sex. Harlequin knows its audience and plays to it perfectly.

Stephens, Renée & Samantha Rose. Full-Filled: The 6-Week Weight-Loss Plan for Changing Your Relationship with Food‚ and Your Life‚ from the Inside Out. Free Pr: S. & S. Dec. 2011. c.320p. index. ISBN 9781451641219. $26.99. HEALTH
Hypnotherapist and life coach Stephens (who appeared on Wife Swap in 2009) shifts the focus from the stomach to the brain. She urges readers to explore their motivations for overeating and to dig into their psyches to root out thoughts and fears as a way of getting their minds off food and into positive, productive channels. Her Christian faith plays a big part in this process. This faith-based plan does not include much on specific food choices or exercise, although a few recipes are appended.

Willis, Kimberly. The Little Book of Diet Help: Lose Weight‚ Without Losing Your Mind. Atria: S. & S. Dec. 2011. c.192p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781451660685. $15. HEALTH
Like Ren é e Stephens’s Full-Filled (reviewed above), this book also appeals to the mental side of the diet equation, but, in addition, it utilizes acupressure points. Weight-loss specialist, life coach, and hypnotherapist Willis’s theory is that tapping on a particular point on the body will aid the brain in clearing away a negative impulse. It can’t hurt, but there’s little here in the way of specific information about foods or exercise.‚ Susan B. Hagloch, formerly with Tuscarawas Cty. P.L., New Philadelphia, OH