By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director
First there was Thanksgiving with its turkey and pumpkin pie (and everything else), and a few short weeks later, here’s Christmas. And the feasting hasn’t let up for a moment between the two. But now it’s over. It is time to get back to reality. It’s time to start eating right again.
But what’s right? The dizzying array of healthy eating and weight loss options is confusing, to say the least. What’s best, Atkins, or Weight Watchers? Paleo or Glycemic Index? Macrobiotic, Mediterranean, Nutrisystem, South Beach, Volumetics, Blood Type, 3 Hour, how do we make sense of all the choices?
Start at the Manhattan Public Library. The library has an extensive collection of diet books in traditional paper format, and also available for free download through the Sunflower eLibrary and Hoopla.
Some diets preach a no or low carbohydrate lifestyle. In “The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You were Designed to Eat,” Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo movement, demonstrates how to prevent and treat heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and other illnesses. The key is a diet rich in lean meats and fish, fruit and non-starchy vegetables. No rice, potatoes, bread, or pasta on this diet.
Cardiologist Robert Atkins developed a high protein, low carbohydrate diet that is still popular. In his “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution,” Atkins returns 20 years after the original publication of his diet to insist that sugar, refined white flour, and carbohydrate-based junk food are far more harmful to our health than meat and fish, eggs and butter. Bacon for breakfast every day is OK with Atkins.
Sugar is the villain in many diets. In “The New Sugar Busters,” H. Leighton Stewart and co-authors, argue that cutting sugar from your diet, will also trim fat. They favor a diet of unrefined foods high in fiber and low on sugar. White foods, including potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta, and refined sugar are out. Keeping them out, the authors maintain, will result in weight loss and improved overall health.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the protein rich diets is “The 80/10/10 Diet: Balancing Your Health, Your Weight, and Your Life One Luscious Bite at a Time,” by Douglas N. Graham. Graham, an adviser to world-class athletes and an adherent of raw foods, espouses a diet of 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, and 10% fat. This diet of whole, fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables, he claims, will result in easy weight management, disease reversal, and optimum health.
Eating habits that work for one person may not be effective for someone else. According to weight loss specialist Dr. Scott Rigden, there is no miracle diet that works for everyone. In “The Ultimate Metabolism Diet: Eat Right for Your Metabolic Type,” Rigden explains that everyone has a unique body type with a corresponding metabolism. He identifies five metabolic types, provides questionnaires to assist people in identifying their own type, and offers specific dietary and lifestyle habits to ease the pain of weight loss.
America ranks number 12 among the most obese countries in the world (http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/29-most-obese-countries-in-the-world.html). It’s no secret, we aren’t eating right. But are there places in the world where people are eating right, that we can learn from? In “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People,” Dan Buettner writes about the places in the world where people eat and live right. Included in the blue zones are Okinawa, Sardinia, the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece, and Loma Linda, California. In addition to diet, Buettner stresses the importance of social networks, daily rituals, physical environment, and the sense of purpose enjoyed by these populations.
The Mediterranean diet is another popular way of eating. In titles including “The Mediterranean Diet for Beginners,” and “The Mediterranean Diet for Everyday,” this heart-healthy eating lifestyle features fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, lean meats and fish, and good fats like avocado and olive oil.
If you want to ring in the New Year by starting to eat right, or by losing a few of those holiday pounds, there’s no shortage of books claiming to have the answers. Whether you want to try “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” or “The Shangri-la Diet: the No Hunger, Eat Anything Weight Loss Plan,” or even “The Fat Flush Plan,” you’ll find them all at the library.