Overhearing food-focused, diet-obsessed conversations and observing strange, often excessive eating behaviors at a wedding party, Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen reflected, “I should write a book.” The result: a humorous but sensible look at why we don’t eat, with guidelines for how and what we should eat.
The first half of STOP THE DIET, I WANT TO GET OFF focuses on the very latest trends in our national weight loss craze, pointing out that some fad diets are actually pretty old (the Atkins, or high protein, diet was actually first introduced in 1876), some are harmful, and some are simply absurd. Though the currently popular gluten free regimen will doubtless help those suffering with ailments like celiac disease, it’s unnecessarily restrictive for people who don’t have those problems. Johansen’s take: why bother with avoiding gluten if you don’t need to? She looks at the perils of too much protein, the scary side effects of OTC diet pills, the dangers and questionable benefits of “miracle fruits” like acai berries and garcinia cambogia, and the unrealistic promises of fasting, detox and other extremes. She gives the statistics: 60% of all Americans always want to lose 20 pounds, but studies reveal that only 27% of us stick with a weight loss routine for more than a year, with most dropping the diet in less than a month. And yet, the dangers of over-eating are real: diabetes is on the increase, along with heart disease, sleep apnea, and more. As the author says, “Who wants that?”
Though preaching moderation is not a new approach, Johansen maintains a light-hearted style that helps steer the reader toward sensible eating without making it seem too difficult, limited or boring. There’s a talent involved in taking didactic material and making it feel like fun, and Johansen has found that sweet spot. For instance, we all know that hydration is very important to safe dieting, but the author assures us that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with plain water: carbonated beverages and herb tea are just as wet as water and a lot more palatable. She offers simple pictures for measuring food quantities (“a computer mouse is approximately the size of a medium potato”), and easy-to-follow tips to make the “chore” of dieting seems like a game, like dividing your “plate” into four parts: veggies, fruits, grains and proteins. In addition to her chatty but always informed commentary, she has included charts, pictures, and positive recommendations that never sacrifice the science.
STOP THE DIET, I WANT TO GET OFF is an easy-to-follow manual for people who want to quit diet-hopping for good and pursue a healthy, sustainable “lite-style.”