A Journalist's Archive

You On a Diet
Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz
Reviewed by Kathy Hare

          I hate diet books!

          The books are usually stuffed with inspirational messages meant to keep the reader motivated.  For a person used to getting their inspiration from a carton of Breyers Ice Cream, reading most diet books is a waste of time and money.

          That's why I was glad to see that "You on a Diet," by doctors Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, takes a different approach.  The scientific information in this book makes the reader think, providing inspiration based on facts instead of empty platitudes.

          Armed with the knowledge in this book, you will learn how to choose the right foods, and understand the importance of exercising.

          Roizen and Oz begin by telling readers they no longer need to step on a scale to measure their fitness level.   The scale is an object that can set dieters up for failure because every upward fluctuation of the needle is viewed as a defeat, evidence of a lack of will-power, no matter whether the weight gain is from water retention, building muscle, or increased body fat.

          Instead, they insist the correct way to judge how healthy you are is with a tape measure.  An optimum waist size for women is below 32 1/2 inches and 35 inches for men.  By the time a woman's waist size hits 37 inches, or a man's stretches to 40 inches, they have set themselves up for major health problems including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, while also cutting years off their lifespan.

          Readers are taught the biology of fat, and the book is filled with diagrams that show exactly what happens to the food we eat.   

          I never knew what the omentum was before reading this book, but now I think about it every time I eat.  It's not the fat that jiggles on the outside of your body, but the fat layer deep inside your belly meant to store fat the body can burn during times of famine.

           Fortunately, or unfortunately for some of us, famine is not something we have experienced in this culture for quite some time.  But the omentum is unaware of that fact, so in many Americans the omentum keeps adding to our girth, just waiting to be called upon in a famine, or when someone decides to run a marathon.  In the meantime, it grows bigger and bigger, pressing on the liver, stomach, and other organs as we keep piling in the calories without exercising.

          Roizen and Oz also explain how brain hormones and emotions can drive a person to overeat.  Ghrelin is a chemical that sends an "eat more" message to the brain.  Leptin tells the brain "I'm full."  But knowing these things will not help dieters unless they learn the tricks for turning off ghrelin and increasing leptin.  That is what this book provides, a blueprint for making the right food choices. 

          One of the secrets is to eat 10 walnuts (not the honey-roasted kind) about 20 minutes before a large meal.  The walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and initiate the "full" signal in the brain so you will eat less during the meal.  It works!

          The authors also suggest selecting healthy foods our ancestors ate before the advent of agriculture.  The only form of sugar available was from fruit, or the occasional honey comb.  There was no refined grain so cupcakes and hamburger buns never added any empty calories to their diets.

          However, Roizen and Oz acknowledge we live in a fast food culture, and the intent of their book is not to "deny" people certain foods but to teach readers healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.

          Myth busters are listed throughout the book, laying waste to a lot of misinformation the public has received about dieting.  You will discover why filling a shopping cart with low-fat foods rarely results in a smaller waist size.

          Of course, the authors point out the importance of exercise.  But their message comes though a lot louder than in most other diet books because they describe what happens to muscles, especially the heart, after years of sitting on the couch.  They offer a series of exercises designed to burn fat, reduce stress, and decrease your waist size.

          Roizen and Oz use elf figure cartoons to demonstrate "You-reka!" moments - facts about food and exercising.  I didn't care for the elf graphics.  Starting out with a fat woman who becomes thinner as she gains more knowledge would have been more appropriate.  But I got over my elf prejudice because the facts in this book are so important to creating a healthy lifestyle.

          "Knowledge is power," isn't an empty saying.  I recommend keeping this book on the dining room table and referring to it often before consuming a meal.

           Read "You on a Diet," and you will be more apt to think about the dangers of overloading your body with excess calories before emptying that carton of ice cream. 

First published in The New Falcon Herald
Article Copyright © 2007 Bluestack Consulting, Inc.
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