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Diet books, pound for pound

March 10, 2008|Regina Nuzzo | Special to The Times

Guiding us through the diet-book swamplands are:

Dr. Caroline Apovian, professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center and co-developer of DASH for Health; Dr. David Heber, professor of medicine at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and author of "The L.A. Shape Diet"; Susan Roberts, professor of nutrition and psychiatry at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University; and Dr. Peter Vash, director of medical and scientific affairs for Lindora Medical Clinics.


Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?

An Easy Plan for Losing Weight and Living More

Peter Walsh

Free Press, 2008

The principle: Reduce clutter in your kitchen, on your plates and in your body -- and lose weight.

Excerpt: "Clutter and fat -- they're not so different. . . . Consumption is king. We spend too much, we buy too much, and we eat too much."

Bottom line: Written not by a nutritionist but an organizational guru -- a regular guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and TLC's makeover show “Clean Sweep” -- this isn't a true diet book. It's a get-organized book for messy people who also have messy eating habits. Walsh taps into a well-known behavioral therapy trick: If you start taking care of yourself in one part of your life, you might find the energy to start taking care of yourself in other ways too. The book includes tips for organizing food's physical space as well as mental space, plus instructions for developing weekly plans for cooking and shopping.

"I'm a firm believer in planning. It's one of the things we stress to the volunteers who join our weight control research studies all the time," Roberts says. "And there is lots of good advice here to get you started." But while cleaning out your pantry is a great start for a new diet, it's only a first step, Heber cautions. "Unfortunately, there is a lot more to losing weight than thinking your way thin in a clean kitchen."

You might like this book if you like: "Clean Sweep"; the Container Store.

Worth the price: Tips to organize a kitchen for fun-and-easy cooking. Walsh's secret: a "magic triangle" between refrigerator, stove and sink.

Skinny Bitch


Skinny Bitch in the Kitch

Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!)

Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

2005 and 2008, Running Press

The principle: Eschew simple carbohydrates, dairy and meat. Eat lots of fruit and fiber. Don't trust the government.

Excerpt: "Are you sick and tired of being fat? Good. If you can't stand one more day of self-loathing, you're ready to get skinny."

Bottom line: Written by a former model and a former modeling agent, the original book enjoyed a boost after Victoria Beckham was photographed with it in hand in L.A. last year. The opening page sets the tone: "The first thing you need to do is give up your gross vices," the authors say sweetly. They continue: "Soda is liquid Satan. . . . You need to exercise, you lazy. . . ." Less a diet book and more a raunchy vegan screed, the book devotes entire chapters to the evils of eating meat and dairy, plus why federal governmental agencies "don't give a . . . about your health." The authors' latest offering is a vegan cookbook, complete with faux-chicken noodle soup "just like mom used to make -- minus the pieces of decomposing, rotting chicken carcass." It might indeed be an appetite-killer.

"This one is definitely about the anger and how to fight back, not a how-to guide to healthy eating," Heber says. On the positive side, their eating principles are "nice and simple," Roberts says. "But vegan eating is pretty austere, and I don't think many people have to go to this extreme to lose weight."

You might like this book if you like: PETA; being ordered around by the loud rich girls at your junior high school.

Worth the price: Daily affirmations for the hipster crowd: "Every day in every way my ass is getting smaller."

The Spectrum

A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight and Gain Health

Dr. Dean Ornish

Ballantine Books, 2007

The principle: Follow nutrition, stress management and exercise advice tailored for seven conditions: obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Excerpt: "You have a broad spectrum of choices when it comes to what you eat, how much you exercise, how you manage stress, and how you live."

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