The Secret Life of Fat - Book Review
- POSTED ON: Oct 05, 2017

The Secret Life of Fat, the Science Behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What it Means for Youby Sylvia Tara, PhD (2017)

This book brings cutting-edge research together with historical perspectives to reveal fat's true identity: an endocrine organ that is critical to our health.

The Secret Life of Fat is not a diet book.  It’s a book about how fat works, about understanding body fat - specifically, its role, why it is so difficult to fight, and how it works differently for different people.

Beginning with the question “Why is it easier for some people to stay thin than others?”  Biochemist, Sylvia Tara, investigates the biology of fat and its vital purposes in the body, from reproduction to immunity. Then she examines the genetic, dietary, and other types of influences on body fat. 

She states:

“Fat enhances our brain size, strengthens our bones and immune system, helps wound healing, and can even prolong our lives.”

“Through its most powerful messenger, leptin, fat can influence our appetites. 

It can cause our muscles to reduce their energy usage. 

It can alter our sympathetic nervous system, and control the flow of hormones such as thyroid, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. 

Most profoundly, it can influence our thoughts and elicit stronger responses to food, lower our inhibition to eating, and cause us to misjudge how much we’ve eaten. 

Fat, it turns out, is capable of mind control !”

Once we swallow food we each process it differently.  Science has shown us that food affects our hormones, and hormones affect our fat.  Insulin, leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, estrogen, testosterone, thyroid, and other hormones influence our weight.”

Biology explains why it’s so hard to keep off the weight once you’ve lost it: People who are at a particular weight because of dieting, metabolize food differently than people who are at that same weight naturally. “Somehow, the remaining body fat of the reduced-obese,” Tara writes, manages “to survive on fewer calories than before, as though it had found another means to thrive.”

After discussing the scientific nature of fat, Tara describes her own weight struggles, and recommends persistence as the main tool for dieters, combined with any diet that is “customized for you biologically, psychologically, and socially”.

The Angry Chef - Book Review
- POSTED ON: Jul 03, 2017

The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth About Healthy Eating by Anthony Warner (2017)

This brilliant book is an investigation of bad science in the food world.  It is full of forceful, amusing, and convincing information which explodes the “theories” of health and wellness bloggers by the application of rock solid science. Warner shows the falsehoods which pervade the healthy eating industry.  He uses evidence to attack the myths, quackery, and nonsense claimed for coconut oil, paleo, sugar, detox diets, eating disorders, cancer, and convenience foods.

The author has spent 25 years working first as a chef and then in food development in the UK, after obtaining a University Degree in Biochemistry.  He is outspoken and well-informed, and his goal is to get people to see beyond the  “clean eating” and “superfoods” craze to a place where eating is actually a joy.

He challenges our culture’s current value judgments on “processed food”; along with the perception that sugar is our most dangerous foodstuff; and provides cutting criticisms of health and wellness gurus, including unqualified bloggers, who spout nutritional nonsense. 

In the book Warner explains the difference between causation and correlation. He  says: “paleo is about as realistic as The Flintstones.”; and “The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is a commonly held wisdom within the bullshit-nutrition community. Of course we are not what we eat.  Vegans are quite clearly made of meat.”

Warner explains why people choose pseudoscience over science.   He argues that the problem lies in the nature of science and its inability to give definitive answers. Our brains prefer things to be simple, and in patterns, even if they aren’t backed up by proof. It is human nature to search for answers, and we tend to take answers where we can find them, even when they lack proof.

This is a thoughtful, scientifically researched and referenced work on healthy eating, which is also an entertaining read.  It makes us think carefully about why we are really looking for quick and easy fixes for something complex and long-term.  It questions why so many of us are slaves to programs that blame us for our illnesses, humiliate overweight people, and expect us to swallow the logic that if something “works for me” it equals a solution for all.

Conflicting Views: Reviews of Diets and Books
- POSTED ON: May 13, 2016

I am not, nor do I wish to be, a nutritional expert. My writings here at DietHobby are a result of my choice to manage my own personal problem with weight-loss and weight-maintenance by treating the many aspects of dieting as an enjoyable hobby.

I enjoy looking at many different viewpoints on the issues of food, nutrition, and obesity, and remain open to the possibility of new ideas. I have opinions about what behaviors are effective for me, and sometimes even opinions about which behaviors appear to be effective for others. My opinions are based on my own experiences; on what I have personally witnessed; and on information that I’ve gathered in my own pursuit of knowledge about those issues. Sometimes my opinions change.

For Dieting Perspective, see my past article located in the DietHobby ARCHIVES, What is the Best Way to Diet?

Life is filled with conflicting views, and just because two different “experts” hold differing opinions doesn’t really mean that either one is wrong.

“Experts” can be correct in some areas, and incorrect in other areas.

I have no personal need to decide who is “right” and who is “wrong”, and although an “expert” with a convincing argument can cause me to lean toward a specific belief, another “expert” can make a counter-argument which results in me changing my mind.

DietHobby is a combination of thoughts and ideas that interest me. Often, when I share the ideas and thoughts of others, I include my own. Sometimes I haven’t yet formed an opinion on an idea that I share here at DietHobby, except for the fact that I find it worth thinking about.

I read many, many books, articles, and comments involving issues relevant to my Dieting Hobby, but usually, I only write about the concepts that I find the most valuable to me, OR the most interesting to me.

I was recently intrigued by the statement: “Obesity is seen as a simple problem: people get overweight because they eat more calories than they expand. That’s a bit like saying “cancer is simply a cell gone wrong”.

After reading a few articles by the author of the statement, I ordered a book that he published about a week ago, November 2, 2012, entitled: “Something to Chew On: Challenging Controversies in Food and Health” by Mike Gibney, who is a professor at University College Dublin, with a global reputation for research on food and nutrition.

Allegedly, the book covers … from a scientific point of view… all of the worldwide controversies dominating the popular press in relation to the modern food chain. He says he wrote the book to help the average person to gain some understanding of the mainstream science of food & health and in so doing to de-bunk many common myths and misperceptions.

The book appears to have a chapter that challenges the claims of environmental groups that genetically modified foods are a danger to health and the environment. Another chapter looks at data about the rise in obesity pointing out that obesity has been rising in the US in waves dating back to the early 20th century, and challenges the conventional wisdom that it is simply due to junk food.

One chapter challenges the myth that organic food is more nutritious, more tasty, more flavoursome and more environmentally friendly than conventionally grown crops. Another chapter explores “the roles of the players in the drama of food politics”, and includes the issue of starvation existing now for some populations. A chapter apparently explains how society assesses risks in our food supply and the testing processes. Evidentially the final chapter has a focus “
on the two great food tragedies of modern times: obesity and malnutrition”. 

I love exploring ideas from different perspectives, and am looking forward to learning specifically what the author has to say. Will I be writing about it in the future?  Maybe… it all depends on what I see when I read the book.


NOTE:  Originally posted on November 6, 2012.  Reposted for New Viewers.

The No S Diet - Diet & Book Review
- POSTED ON: May 08, 2016

 One should read the book “The No S Diet” by Reinhard Engels  even if only to access his wisdom, common sense, and Habit concepts. 

Reinhard Engels is a software engineer who created the diet for himself and lost 40 pounds.

His diet has just three rules and one exception: No Snacks, No Sweets, No Seconds, Except (sometimes) on days that start with "S" (Saturday, Sunday and Special Days).

The No S Diet is incredibly simple. It has just three rules.
These three rules
  focus attention on the three primary areas that affect a person’s diet.

No Seconds…means you have to use portion control. 
                All of the food in your meal must fit on one normal sized plate (the one-plate rule).
No Snacks..…means you have to eat at mealtimes food in-between meals.
No Sweets......means you have to avoid foods that have sugar as the principal ingredient.

All of these rules apply on all normal (N) days.

 None of these rules apply on (S) days, i.e. weekends, holidays, and special occasions..
However, you are advised to normally stay with your normal-N day- habit and only SOMETIMES use your allowable exceptions. Just because it is an "S" day, doesn't mean sweets or snacks or seconds are REQUIRED. It just means there's no RULE against them. It isn't permission to binge. Following N day principles on S days is appropriate behavior.

Reinhard's No S is: ..."except SOMETIMES on S days".
Reinhard’s basic warning is: "Don't be an IDIOT".
Putting all of your food on one plate in front of you at the same time is meant to help you see how much you are actually eating, and keep you from deceiving yourself about that issue. Both the "No Snacks" rule and the "One Plate" rule are meant to keep one from DECEIVING oneself about how much one is actually eating. Reinhard hopes that the REALITY of seeing the food all together will jolt one into choosing to eat less. However, this depends on one's subjective beliefs about the size of "normal" food portions. 

The one-plate rule (no seconds) can be helpful information for a "normal" person, who is struggling in the "overweight" category if they understand how little food-intake they actually need, and have simply allowed their weight sneak up on them.
But it isn't very helpful for a person well into obesity, who thinks of large portions of high-calorie food as a normal amount.

No S is a simple, straightforward diet that is non-restrictive in nature. There are very few rules that must be followed. It allows people to occasionally eat foods that are normally restricted. It will fit into any lifestyle, and can be used together with other diet plans. It also is very affordable.

The No S diet relies strongly upon the concept of Habit, and the plan is based on getting people to cultivate habits that are sustainable for life…Habits which are intended to result in weight loss, or at least, result in the maintenance of one’s current weight.

There isn’t any fixed step-by-step plan, which could be an advantage to some, and a disadvantage to others. No S diet does initially demand huge amounts of self-control when it is used by people who have lifestyle habits that normally involve large amounts of between-meal eating, or large amounts of food at meals. You might suffer from hunger pains until your body adjusts to the No S way of eating.
You are the one who decides whether to make healthy food choices while eating within those rules. The No ‘S’ diet plan asks people to stick to a healthy diet plan. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less! The only food problem one needs to address, is the snacking, portions, and sweets part of their diet.

Initially, these rules tend to commonly result in weekend binge eating. This binge eating lessens over time for some people, but for other people weekend binge eating becomes habitual.

The primary problem with the basic No S Plan (known as “vanilla” No S) is that it won’t necessarily result in weight-loss. As Reinhard says,

"The No S Diet is not designed to get you "trim trim;"
it's designed to help you eat moderately (and see what happens

People differ in their energy requirements. The energy requirements for large, active males are far different than for small, sedentary females. This distinction is not addressed in the No S diet, and under the basic No S rules, it is easy for small, sedentary females to eat more than their body requires which, over time, can actually result in weight-gain.

The No S diet is based on the principle of Moderation. For people who don’t want to count calories, carbs, or keep track of points or food-exchanges and want something simple, then the No ‘S’ diet can be a good plan. It is simple, but not necessarily easy. The primary problem is whether you can actually follow the restrictions underlined in the diet.

I am very interested in the No S diet’s Habit concepts, and have watched many others on the No S diet for several years. My personal observation is that "vanilla" No S tends to activate the "binge/fast" cycle for many people, and my observation over the past couple of years, has been that, time alone,does not seem to stop "IDIOT" behavior for obese people who tend to binge. It seems clear to me that these people need additional eating restrictions on "S" day eating.

Reinhard makes some good suggestions on some additions and modifications that might help resolve this problem for some people.My personal version of No S greatly differs from Reinhard's basic plan.
My opinion is that the brilliance of The No S Diet is not in the specific rules of the diet,
but instead in the philosophy of cultivating eating habits that are sustainable for life. 


NOTE:  Originally posted on 3/30/11, Reposted for New Viewers

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2000+ Blogs and 500+ Videos in DietHobby reflect my personal experience in weight-loss and maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all, and I address many ways-of-eating whenever they become interesting or applicable to me.

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