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Diet books, part one

February 23, 2012 - Kathie Evanoff
I’ve read a lot of diet books over the years. By a lot, I mean several, probably less than a hundred, but I’d bet more than 30 over a period three decades. It seems to me that all diet books follow the same format. The first few chapters discuss obesity, how and why we gain weight, how much food we really need to be healthy, what happens when our weight gets out of control, while touching on whatever message the book’s author is trying to get across.

The mid-section of the book usually describes the program. I admit that I usually jump to this section, because after all those books over the years, they all pretty much start out the same way. This section may or may not be peppered with success stories and testimonies by once-overweight persons who miraculously lost weight by following this program.

The last part of most diet books is where you’ll find the meal plans and recipes. Once you read the first two sections and get a handle on the diet, the recipe section is where you’ll likely spend the rest of your time.

Recently I received review copies of several new diet books. I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss one of the books, “The Diet Detective’s All-American Diet,’’ by Dr. Charles Platkin.

Platkin, the self-proclaimed diet detective, is described on the book’s cover as one of the country’s leading nutrition and public health advocates. In his book, he has devised an easy diet plan that nearly anyone can follow as long as you don’t care if you ever eat a home cooked meal again; my words, not his. Calling it a “build-a-meal” eating program, Platkin’s program takes cues from Nutri-System, Jenny Craig and all the other diet plans that deliver food to your door so you can eat mindlessly. What is different about Platkin’s program is instead of having food delivered in a big box once a month, you shop for it yourself at the local grocery store.

The meal plan explains how to create menus that include three meals, two snacks and a dessert each day while staying within set calorie limits. The book describes sample meal plans for 1,200 to 2,500 calorie diets, a few tips on exercise and the rest of the book is page after page of photos of processed food items and their calorie counts. The photo pages are divided into sections labeled breakfast entrees, breakfast sides and morning snacks, lunch entrees, lunch sides and afternoon snacks, dinner entrees, dinner sides, fruits and vegetables, desserts, beverages and restaurants.

Except for a few listed fresh fruits and vegetables, the meals are prepared entirely of frozen or canned products available in any grocery store, as well as bagged lettuce and bottled salad dressing.

It couldn’t be easier, as long as you won’t miss fresh food that you prepare yourself. You’ll probably need a microwave oven and plenty of microwave safe bowls and dishes.

While I’m an advocate of fresh, real, food, I can’t dismiss this diet plan. After all, we all know about Jared who lost more than 150 pounds eating Subway sandwiches twice a day. If you are desperate to lose weight and your biggest issue is having the time to prepare healthy meals, you might want to consider taking a look at Dr. Platkin’s All-American Diet. I’ve been on one of the home-delivered food programs, and while the food was barely palatable (I’ve since been told they have improved), I’d still rather have a Lean Cuisine frozen dinner.

My concern over a diet like this is the sodium content of many of these processed foods. My advice for anyone who wishes to try this program is to opt for the fresh food selections whenever possible and try to find lower sodium choices.

I believe weight loss is all about calories-in-calories-out, and as long as you stick to any diet program, you’ll lose the weight. The problem, however, is sticking to the program. If following Platkin’s plan makes it easier, by all means, give it a shot. What have you got to lose?


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