Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Health Book Review: Just 10 Lbs by Brad Lamm

I know I said I wouldn't review the book until I'd gone through the diet, but I'm quickly realizing that sticking to a set plan doesn't work well for me. So I figure I'll review the book without my failure/success weighing in on my impressions of the book/plan itself. I do intend to try the diet and see how things work out.

Pros: the diet focuses as much on changing your attitude - towards yourself as well as to food - as it does on correcting eating habits and encouraging more exercise. The book encourages you to consider things you do well, on increasing your self-esteem and improving your body image - through a body map and other techniques. One of the first things you have to do is discover what kind of eater you are (do you eat because of an emotional imbalance? because you love the tastes and textures of food?, etc.).

I think there's an advantage to doing the diet for a month, including the 'mindful meditation' (prayer, yoga, some kind of exercise that focuses on your body-mind connection) and other practices. Once you're in the habit of doing the exercises, you're likely to continue them after the diet is over. You're also supposed to learn and be satisfied by proper portion sizes - rather than the significantly increased North American portions we generally have.

The book includes a sample meal plan, recipes and daily challenges/affirmations to keep you focused.

Cons: he suggests that farmers markets are cheaper to shop at than grocery stores and going to them is a way of ensuring more fruits/vegetables in your diet for less. This simply hasn't been my experience with farmer's markets, which are (in my area at least) significantly more expensive than shopping at grocery stores. But that's a minor point.

Another minor point is the idea that following healthy guidelines will prevent diseases. I don't like this because it implies that if you're sick you had an unhealthy lifestyle. Some diseases are preventable through healthy eating, exercise, etc. Others are not.

A more important point is that I don't like the idea of cutting an entire food group from my diet. I'm a firm believer that everything in moderation is good for you. Or at least, not harmful. I find it strange that with all the care he's taken on designing the diet he has no chapter on reintroducing grains/legumes (beans, lentils, rice, pasta, bread) back into your eating plan once you've lost the weight. There's no guideline of 'replace 1/2 the protein with 1 cup pasta/rice if using' to show what a portion size of those would be or what you should take out in order to fit it into a healthy plan. Are you simply meant to cut them out forever? I wonder how long it would take to gain back the weight you lost if you're not employing smart choices when bringing back otherwise axed foods.

And when he lists the approved foods it's hard to tell if you can add in other vegetables not on the list or if you should stick to what examples he's given (for example my favourite vegetable, corn, isn't on the list).

Ultimately, it seems like a healthier diet than many on the market, in that it focuses on the entire body and mind as a unit, rather than simply focusing on 'bad foods' or 'good foods'. And while it's not perfect, I'll still be trying to follow as much of the diet as I can.

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