Friday, September 2, 2011

Healthy Eating: Eat Drink and Be Healthy - Book Review

I have a special relationship with food as, unfortunately, many women do... For many years I have been dieting. So at some point of my life I ended up having an eating disorder. Then I more or less got it under controll, but I still would do yo-yo dieting. The only time I ate without giving too much thought to every piece I swallow was during my pregnancy. I was hoping I could retain normal eating habits after delivering the baby but desire to loose baby weight and fit into my normal pre-pregnancy clothes was too strong. Hence the dieting marathons started even though I felt I needed to focus on healthy eating and not on weight issues. I also felt responsibility of giving a good example of healthy eating to my son. In addition being a Mom of a toddler, so i don't have many opportunities for rest or relaxation which is a big challenge. I started to experience constant lack of energy and tiredness, moodiness and lack of concentration. I decided it was time I started doing something about it. I needed to fill my head with healthy eating ideas and concepts. I wanted to read a good book that will inspire me and help me to make a change. A relative mailed me a book called Eat, Drink and Be Healthy by Walter C. Willet and Patrick J. Skerrett. I am finishing it now and because I liked it very much I wanted to share with you my impressions.

What I liked about the book is that it is based on research data and doesn’t contain any diet speculations. The authors analyzed a huge volume of research data on nutrition and diet and quote only facts in their book. For example, if outcome of research on a certain subject is conflicting or insufficient, they clearly state so and make no assumptions. The book focuses a lot on the USDA healthy eating pyramid and offers its own slightly adjusted variant. A big focus of the book is diet’s role in preventing heart disease as well as cancer. I liked that the authors provide the basic ideas for nutrients our bodies need for healthy functions, they offer guidelines for choice of sources for these nutrients based on their nutritional value and benefits for the health. They also compare these sources. For example which is the best source for protein: meat, fish, legumes or dairy? No easy answer! You have to weigh all pros and cons of each food and the authors help you make informed decisions! The book is really a good guide to healthy nutrition choices!

I have some critical comments as well. I feel that the book lacks summaries, tables and lists of facts, foods etc. Those are really useful for organizing information or when you want to see information at a glance or for a quick reference. Half of the book offers recipes with summaries of nutritional value. I find those helpful but less useful than for example tables with nutritional information about various foods such as calories, protein/carbs/ fat content , glycemic index, vitamins/minerals. Recommendations on the best way to cook various foods to preserve their nutritional value would also be welcome. Also the book is not international reader friendly because it gives a lot of information about nutritional value of particular USA brands or fast-food dishes which I have not heard of and which have no informational value for me. Oh… and some illustrations look like a joke. It doesn’t bring down the value of information but doesn’t look serious.

I would recommend this book for those who want to get basic guidelines for healthy diet that would help thm prevent heart disease and cancers. The factual part of the book (excluding recipes) is 217 pages so you don’t have to invest much time and you will get clear facts without any creative writing from the authors.

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