Posts Tagged ‘diets’

Book Review: “God’s Diet” by Dorothy Gault

August 18th, 2011

Dorothy Gault has a plan to take the complexity out of diet planning. Her diet includes no counting, no nutrition panel reading, no exchanges, no dozens of rules to remember.

In fact, there’s only one rule: “If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it.”

On the surface, God’s Diet is simple, straightforward, easy. Until you start asking the big question: What hasn’t God made?

Theologically speaking, it’s hard to come up with something God hasn’t made. I can only think of one: evil. And the idea of eating evil is pretty ridiculous, if you ask me.

So what does Gault mean when she talks about what God did or didn’t make?

Turns out, what God didn’t make is flour and sugar. (Who’d have thought?) So what’s off limits is anything with flour and sugar in it. Anything else, you can eat whole hog.

At least, that’s how Gault makes it sound, though she later backtracks to say that high-fat, high-sodium, high “legal”-sugar foods should be eaten in moderation.

This diet rubbed me wrong in several ways.

The first thing I didn’t like about it was that it violated one of my most sacred food rules: Food is not a moral issue.

There’s no such thing as a “good food” and a “bad food”. Food is morally neutral (sort of like money–you know the verse about the love of money being the root of all kinds of evils?) Turning food into a moral issue binds one to a law we have been set free from in Christ. It creates condemnation where no condemnation need be and false self-righteousness where righteousness is not.

Gault speaks in direct opposition to this “food rule” of mine.

“When we eat something sinful, we need to know that it is sinful. Once again, if God didn’t make it, it must be sinful.”

Errnt. Strike one.

Secondly, the theology in this book is terrible. Gault can’t decide whether she’s a creationist or an evolutionist, constantly switching between the two depending on which provides better “support” for her diet.

She really makes no case for why God didn’t make flour and sugar-and completely ignores the many instances in which bread is made by or commanded by God.

God commanded the eating of unleavened bread, manna was used to prepare bread (with no indication of it being wrong). Jesus multiplied loaves and taught His disciples to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” What’s more, Jesus said that He Himself was bread from heaven, and commanded His disciples to take and eat the bread that symbolized His body. If flour is indeed sinful, would Jesus have done this? Would He have told His disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily sinfulness…and lead us not into temptation”? Would Jesus have said “I am the sinfulness from heaven”? Would Jesus have commanded His disciples “Take and sin…do this in remembrance of Me?”

Clearly this diet has everything to do with ideology and nothing at all to do with Christianity, despite the author’s references to God and the garden of Eden.

Errnt. Strike two.

Finally, Gault’s vilification of flour, specifically, has little if any scientific support.

Gault claims that flour is bad for us because it has been processed; while unprocessed grain is good for us because it is in the form in which God made it. She uses a child eating corn and ending up with drawers full of corn as an example of how corn in it’s natural state is fundamentally different from corn flour (also known as cornmeal).

In its natural state, Gault tells us, grain is indigestible. In its processed state (when ground as flour), it is digestible and therefore bad.

Come again?

Since when is something being digestible a bad thing? And even if it is, Gault mistakes visibility with reality.

The truth is that just because Gault cannot see the corn kernels in the poop after eating cornmeal does not mean that the cornmeal was fully digested.

The same fiber that is indigestible in corn is still indigestible in cornmeal. It’s just ground so you can’t see it when it comes out in the feces.

Now it’s true that some forms of processing do make chemical changes to food products–but the making of flour is not one of them. The only difference between whole grain flour and the grain itself is the size of the particles. The only difference between how the two are digested is time We don’t have to chew the flour as long, don’t have to mechanically churn it in our stomachs as long–but the starch is the same starch and the fiber the same fiber.

There is no evidence that whole grain flour and unprocessed whole grains are fundamentally different.

Errnt. Strike three.

She’s out, and so is this diet.

Rating: 0 stars
Category: Diet
Synopsis:Gault proposes a “simple” but nutritionally and theologically unsound diet based on one rule: “If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it.”
Recommendation: Don’t read it. Don’t believe it. Don’t promote this sort of thinking. It’s wrong.

Book Review: “The Biggest Loser” by The Biggest Losers with Maggie Greenwood-Robinson

April 28th, 2011

Did I ever tell you about the week I went on a diet?

No, of course I didn’t.

I had to quit because I lost weight.

Yes, that’s right. I’m sorry. I wanted to see how the rest of the world, the diet-following world, lives–but I had to cut the experiment short because I managed to achieve what many of them only dream of: weight loss.

Which, for me, is not really a good thing. I’m about as low as I’m comfortable going.

But I did want to review The Biggest Loser, the book written after the first two seasons of the successful TV reality show by the same name. And I wanted to do more than just give comments on the theory. I wanted to have some useful comments on the practice.

So here you go…

The Diet:

The Biggest Loser weight loss plan as propounded within this book isn’t bad. The nutrition component proposes an alternate pyramid–4 (or more) servings of fruits and vegetables, 3 (only 3) servings of low-fat protein foods, 2 (only 2) servings whole grains, and 1 (200 Calorie) serving of “Extra”. This would be significantly less than ideal from a nutrition standpoint if the servings were standard servings such as are found on myPyramid or even in diabetic exchanges. There’d be far too little grain. But it just so happens that The Biggest Loser considers 1 serving of grain to be 1 cup of cooked grain or two slices of bread (twice the size of a standard myPyramid ounce.) As a result, the diet isn’t too off balance.

It’s relatively simple and it’s low calorie without being too low calorie.

The problem? It’s really hard to cook like this. There are recipes in the back of the book–and a few of them look good–but you’d have to be pretty creative to keep this diet from getting dreary. For my part, since I work all day and often have extra activities at night, I don’t have time to be in the kitchen all day–and the “grab and go” or “quick prep” options get old quickly. I can only eat so many smoothies or cottage cheese with vegetables or baked/grilled chicken breasts. I need me some OIL, some real FAT.

I was hungry all the time. It stunk.

But I did lose weight. So it does work.

Other than the 4-3-2-1 plan, the chapter on nutrition had plenty of information, about half of which was correct. It gave tips on label reading (generally a good idea), suggestions for including more fruits and vegetables (some decent advice, some ridiculous like “potatoes make you hungry”), what to drink (suggested that you can burn extra calories by drinking your water cold–sorry folks, but ice cold water does not a diet make.) While following the recommendations found within the chapter on nutrition won’t hurt you, quite a bit of it is unnecessary or based on tenuous (at best) science.

The Exercise:

The exercise component of The Biggest Loser varies depending on an individual’s starting fitness level, but includes cardio workouts and circuit training (cardiac speed resistance/stretching).

I’m not a fitness expert, but the recommendations for exercise seem fairly consistent with the recommendations of organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (as well as MyPyramid)–increasing activity to 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week.

The Rest:

While the diet and the exercise sections of this book weren’t awful, they weren’t anything extraordinary (or anything extraordinarily accurate) either. What might really make this book useful is the collection of strategies found in chapters two and five.

Chapter 2 helps the reader explore his motivations for weight loss and gives some tips for getting organized for weight loss. Two of the organizational tips are very useful: Buy a food scale or use measuring cups and spoons to measure out your food and keep a food journal. The ideas for motivation are also useful. However, the chapter could easily encourage people to think that weight loss is somehow a panacea that will make their life all better. It’s not. And sometimes, one needs to make some basic quality of life/self respect changes in order to make weight loss happen (as opposed to the other way around).

Chapter 5 has participants from the first two seasons of the television show sharing some of their own strategies for weight loss. This, I think, is probably the best part of the book. A lot of weight loss (or healthy eating in general) is about finding what works for you, with your lifestyle. The more ideas you hear, the more likely you are to find something that will work for you.

The final chapter gives instructions for starting a Biggest Loser challenge of your own with friends or in your workplace.

Eh, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

For my part, I prefer to look at better indicators of overall health rather than simply at numbers on a scale.

But if you’re interested in weight loss or interested in the Biggest Loser show, you could do worse than following the recommendations found in this book.

Rating: 2.5 stars
Category:Weight Loss
Synopsis:The Biggest Loser coaches and participants from seasons 1 and 2 of the show give a basic diet and exercise program as well as tips for weight loss.
Recommendation: This plan won’t kill you. It’ll probably help you lose weight (if you can manage to stick to it). But it’s not for everyone–and likely very difficult to fit within a “normal” (that is, ridiculously busy) life.

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