Stuff & Nonsense: health


Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

24 April 2011

Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss -- and the Myths and Realities of Dieting by Gina Kolata


In this fascinating and (dare I say unputdownable?) book, Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss, New York Times science writer Gina Kolata analyzes the history of popular diets and body-image standards in the United States. She concludes that, while the medical and diet industries are unlikely to cure The Death Fatz, a better understanding of why we're fat can teach us how to find and maintain our natural (versus a socially constructed unlikely “ideal”) weight.

Kolata frames the story of weight-loss in America with a two-year clinical weight-loss study she sat in on at the University of Pennsylvania comparing the low-fat, low-calorie LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, Nutrition) diet with the low-carb Atkins diet. At the study's end in 2006, Kolata reports, the participants demonstrated a standard pattern of weight-loss -- initial success, followed by setbacks, with most participants ending up about as fat as when the program began.

And that is a point that is made over and over again in Rethinking Thin -- despite what the medical and diet industries may claim, most dieters will not lose a significant of weight and/or keep it off for a long time. While diet and exercise are frequently cited as the solution to The Death Fatz, studies discussed in Rethinking Thin show they aren't always effective and that fat people who attain their "ideal" weight frequently can’t maintain it. Not won’t, but can’t.

Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss -- and the Myths and Realities of Dieting written by Gina Kolata & read by Ellen Archer (Tantor Audio, 2007)

14 July 2010

Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon


Despite its subtitle (which screamed "fad diet book" at me, but I may just be paranoid), Health at Every Size is not a diet or weight loss book. Instead, it is a commonsensical guidebook for living healthily in the bodies we have. Bacon proposes that anyone, at any size, can be healthy. Rather than focusing on what we think a scale or mirror is telling us, we should instead focus on eating well and living an active life. As long as our health is good (low cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose readings, etc) why should size matter?
Accepting yourself as you are today doesn't mean giving up. It means learning to live in the present with the body you have. It means facing and acknowledging reality. (169)

You know best how to take care of yourself. Trust that. Let go of the rules, the judgements, the "expert" advice. Respect your hunger and appetite, and let them guide you to better health and fulfillment. (263)
Exhausted and infuriated as I am by society's constant, casual assumption that thin = healthy, I found Health at Every Size quite refreshing.


Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon (BenBella Books, 2008)

04 May 2010

Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating by Jane Goodall et al


It has become increasingly clear that growing, harvesting, selling, buying, preparing, and eating food plays a central role in the world. And it is equally clear that some things are going wrong. Much of our food is unhealthy. Many people are no longer aware of where their food comes from. Some have no idea what they are eating. In fact, over the past hundred years -- especially during the half century since the end of World War II -- the industrial, technological world has increasingly destroyed our understanding of the food we eat: where it comes from and how it reaches our tables.

Not preachy or holier-than-thou, Harvest for Hope is very factual and to-the-point and I would say that, overall,  this book serves as  good introduction to making environmentally healthy food choices. While Goodall addresses the moral choices we face in food selection, she does not expect people to become vegans. Rather, she suggests we make the best choices we can by selecting locally grown seasonal organic foods. Goodall definitely sees consumer choice as a means for initiating change in the food industry.

Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating by Jane Goodall with Gary McAvoy & Gail Hudson (Warner Books, 2005)