NYT Best Selling Books I Won’t Be Reading…

And you shouldn’t either!


That is a link to this week’s top 10 New York Times Best Sellers list for Hardcover Advice and Misc. books. Three of the top five books are DIET books. Two of which promote “diet” or “body” results that can appear in less than a month’s time (Mike Moreno’s The 17 Day Diet and Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body). Which is not only impossible for the “average” dieter, but it is also really stupid to partake in such extreme disordered (i.e. restrictive) eating.

Ferris, after ten years of research consulting “hundreds of elite athletes, dozens of MDs, and thousands of hours of jaw-dropping personal experimentation,”  finally writes The 4-Hour Body book; and the list of things he says “you will learn in less than 30 minutes each” are so ridiculous: Lose 20 pounds in 30 days, How to prevent weight gain while bingeing during holidays and at parties, and How to produce the 15-minute female orgasm. I don’t know how anyone can read this, nod to themselves, and say “Self, you are picking this book up because Timothy Ferriss insists his is ‘not just another diet and fitness book’.” But what about those dozens of MDs he talked to?  Which athletes told this guy that the act of creating the perfect body can be learned (and “learned” may or may not include some severe behavior modification) so quickly and easily? Not to mention that some of the things on his list actually take longer than 4 hours. Does he mean to give these lessons 4 hours time per week–like his previous NYT Best Seller (which also shows up on this list): The 4-Hour Work Week? If the process of weight loss actually only took 4 hours per week (including emotional strain, meal planning, exercising, calorie counting/food journaling, weighing in, shopping, et cetera) it truly would not be “just another diet.”

Moreno’s 17 Day Diet, also is not “just another diet,” because he can eliminate “plateau and boredom” from the heinous struggle against belly fat and visceral fat. Although, I can’t find out exactly what his 17-day plan is from the site, with a handy-dandy Google search (because I’ve honestly never heard the phrase “visceral fat” before), I’ve discovered that visceral fat is the subcutaneous fat that surrounds your inner organs. Apparently, it’s very, very difficult to lose–but Mike Moreno is on the case and making sure a silly plateau and mere boredom won’t get in your way! In the dedication, (which can be read at the web site linked above) Moreno thanks his patients for providing him “with the motivation to think outside the box in hopes of making this world a healthier happier place.” His idea of “thinking outside the box”? Limit what you eat, use his 17 minute workout, and take longer than 17 days to get results. Most of the pictures from his testimonials are taken between 17 and 43 days after beginning the program, and only one set of before/after pictures were taken after 17 days. But I can’t say he hasn’t thought of everything. Moreno has chapters discussing dining out, family challenges, and the “PMS Exception Diet.” I’m kind of afraid that women are actually reading this thinking, “Yep, it’s PMS that’s keeping these darn thighs so big!”

On that note, let’s see if the third Diet Author actually says anything other than “FAT is BAD, and because it’s bad you want to spend your hard earned money on my shitty diet to lose weight fast, with little change to what you’re already doing except you have to stop eating entirely and only sleep two hours a night!” (That’s one of the flashy things you’ll learn how to do in 30 minutes or less in Ferriss’s book! Whoo!)

The third book comes in 4th on the NYT list, after Ferriss’s ranking at 3rd and Moreno’s at 2nd, and is called The Dukan Diet. When I began reading its one-line blurb, I was excited. “A program that rejects calorie counting”–YAY! Right? But then I finished rest of the phrase–“and assigns protein a major role.” Which sounds like major restrictive eating is coming around the bend. Let’s see… Based out of the UK, The Dukan Diet web copy proclaims “5 million French people can’t be wrong.”

Now the French are dieting?! I always thought these would be the last people on the planet (besides Italians) to ever diet. And it’s not a self-indulgence thing or a gluttony thing, but an appreciation for intuitive eating. Eating what you have a craving for and not substituting with rice cakes covered in fake, drizzled chocolate… But I digress…

The Dukan Diet named after its nutritionist creator, Pierre Dukan, boasts a 4-step program with two steps for “quick weight loss and two steps for keeping it off permanently.” Part of the 4-steps is a menu including 100 foods, of which you can eat as much as you want without counting calories.  His plan is to return to the foods “eaten by primitive man, the hunter-gatherers, proteins and vegetables, 100 foods including 72 from the animal world and 28 from the plant world. This offer also features the magic words: “AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE”.”

Great Mr. Dukan, but as a NUTRITIONIST, wouldn’t you have to consider such eating patterns (or “food behavior” as you call it) restrictive? After 30 years in the food behavior business, wouldn’t you have noticed that the restricting eater is the dysfunctional eater? That weight lost on a diet always comes back–always, even if it isn’t all that the dieter has lost, but usually it’s the weight lost AND THEN SOME that gets put back on.

But, wait, actually, that does sound great. I mean, cavemen and women were super slim, right? Flashing the latest in sabertooth fur on the catwalks of Milan, right? No, more than likely not. And we all love those words “as much as you like,” don’t we? That’s the whole problem here–we associate FAT with the nastiest of nasty human behaviors: gluttony. Self-indulgence. Selfishness. Greed. And even since the time of Jesus, we all have been taught that self-limitation means you’re a “good person.” So, if you’re fat, you must be taking more than your fair share, right?

No, no I just couldn’t eat a second slice of pizza.

Out to eat? Oh. * Perusing the menu* Well, I guess I’ll just have a salad. 

I’m hungry and on the road. I forgot to pack a lunch. If I eat a burger and fries now, I can walk an extra mile after work and not have gravy on my mashed potatoes at dinner.

If I eat a celery stick or 10 (instead of the one chocolate chip cookie I’m craving), I could fit into those sexy jeans I used to wear in high school!

Now, I can’t be too silly. Who ever stops at just one cookie? But the question we never ask is, who beats themselves up for that one cookie (or those two, three, four) for weeks afterward? Every time we think about “bikini season” (formerly known as summer) or a sleeveless top or shorts or tube tops or mini skirts, we will think about those cookies and how they “should have been” celery sticks. Because fat people shouldn’t wear shorts or mini skirts or tube tops, right?

Wrong. Fat needs a makeover, and we are all about those these days, aren’t we? Fat does not mean lazy, stupid, gluttonous, or even disgusting. Fat is fat–extra flesh that we may or may not have control over considering things like genetics, basic biology, access to healthier foods (why do vegetables and organic foods cost more than processed foods? That’s the question we should be asking!), and simply a desire to be thinner. Some of us are (trying to be) happy in our bodies as they are, and it’s the blatant promotion (and almost worship of) these nutritionists and their “diet plans” that keep us from liking ourselves for more than what we’re seeing in the mirror. Fat isn’t good or bad, but it’s our reaction to those who carry it (or don’t) that is one or the other.

*I realize this kind of breaks the “No Diet Talk” rule. I shouldn’t even give them the spotlight enough to hate on them, but I came across this in my Google Reader (as I follow the NYT Best Seller lists there) and I had to spit these seeds. I promise, there will be very few of these in the future.*



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