Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I was asked if I would like to read and review Foodist (using real food and real science to lose weight without dieting), by Darya Pino Rose, PhD - the author of the blog "Summer Tomato" - which I have never read. I was given one copy of the book for this review and I marked it up quite a bit taking notes for this post so I am not offering a giveaway. I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for this review. I am offering my opinion based on my own experience with food, weight loss, maintenance and my own body.

I am not going to lie. When I read a book that suggests ideas that I feel are dangerous (for me), I read it skeptically. When I learn that the author of such a book has never been obese and has not done extensive studies with obese people to back up the theories and opinions, I start to read with a cynical eye. When that author does not accept the realities of food addiction as I know them, I start to get downright cranky.

That is how I felt after reading the first part of the book. I had to put it down and do some work on me and my attitudes before going back to it a week later. After dropping my negative, closed mindset, I read the rest of the book with a more balanced eye. In doing so, I found value and good things to share with you.

Although some of what Darya Pino Rose writes is just regurgitating what was already written in (among others) several of Michael Pollan’s books and in Charles Duhigg's excellent book The Power of Habit, I found her writing style to be amenable for easy digestion of the information presented in Foodist.

To begin: What is a Foodist? Darya Pino Rose writes:
Foodists do not diet. Modern weight-loss diets are temporary eating plans that emphasize single nutrients and restriction over real food and lifelong habits. Foodists, in contrast, focus on real, high-quality foods in order to optimize our quality of life.
I can buy that. By this definition, I would want to be a foodist . In fact, I am a foodist with one exception, which I will write more about later.

The book is written in three parts. In part one Darya Pino Rose presents her case and tries to convince the reader for once and for all (her words), that dieting is bad, harmful and the sane and healthy alternative is rewarding habits. By practicing those habits we get healthy, happy and live in harmony with our bodies . The second part is all about developing a better set of skills for shopping, cooking, eating and moving. It lists all the pans, boards, knives and utensils she suggests for a foodist kitchen. I had them already). This section also includes a ‘troubleshooting section’ to help the reader adjust away from chronic dieting to foodist living. The third section is devoted to putting the second section into action and explanation of tricks many of us have already adapted in our existing lives: smaller plates, dimmer lights, eating slowly, mindfully.

If you are new to the weight loss world and have a less than a basic idea of what to do in the supermarket, kitchen and dining out, this book can be a food source for you. If you are a wiz in the kitchen, shop the food market like a commando and already know how to navigate menu-landmines without exploding; you may still find this book useful. Here is why I think so:

It reaffirms some of the tenets by which many of us are maintaining our weight lost. Reaffirmation of the things I do today very useful to me. It is not easy to maintain any weight loss, much less a significant one of 50, 100, 200+ pounds. Reaffirmation by reasonable and knowledgeable people outside of the squirrels that live in my head is one of the keys to maintenance I cherish. I did not lose my weight in a vacuum and I do not maintain my weight loss sanely and joyfully without help. There are many quips and quotes in Foodist that I find to be reaffirming to my recovery today.

There are also parts that I find I am past needing. I know how to shop, chop and cook. I know how to expand my palate of acceptable foods, how to read a menu, how to choose a plate, how to ask for food off the menu and how to question a server with diligence but also with respect.

She writes on page 31 
“Instead of diet, I use the word healthstyle to refer to the actions, dietary or otherwise, that impact your health and body weight. Your healthstyle is a reflection of your cumulative habits, from the food you eat, to how often you exercise, to where you live and the company you keep. . . .it is not temporary."
Then later, in chapter thirteen, she gets into the importance of words in marketing (let’s remember that marketing is not just for corporations anymore: we successfully change our behaviors for better or for worse depending on how we market the replacements to ourselves) and she gives examples from other writer’s studies about how ‘healthy’ can be seen as judgemental or scolding of others choices – a big turnoff.  Therefore, I am taking Healthstyle and for myself changing it into Livingstyle. I like it. It works for me. I certainly have my own Livingstyle: healthy without implying that it is devoid of fun.

I thought the section on restaurants and how to hide that you are limiting your alcohol from others was a bit co-dependent. If someone ever tries to push a drink on me I have no problem pushing it back. I do not understand having to pretend to drink alcohol to be ‘one of the chosen’ in a group or club or job or simply with friends. On the other hand, I have hidden my food choices from others who I know would frown on my food so really, who am I to judge? It is the same behavior whether it is food or alcohol.

Then there is the one exception I mentioned early. The one area that spun my head like Regan in The Exorcist and caused me to put the book down for a week while I searched my heart and soul for a calm, sane approach so I could continue. It is the subject of food addiction and the action of refraining from foods that trigger me to overeat. I am not perfect at it but I have yet to experience a better way to be relieved of the addiction than to let go of the foods that bring me back for more.

At first I devalued what was written in Foodist as not applicable to me – no way, no how can I be someone who reasonably eats whatever I want because I always want more. Then I went back to reading with the attitude of ‘take what you like and leave the rest.’ Finally I came to appreciate there can be many ways to find a foodist’s balance in my life and while not all the ways may appeal to me or work for me today, it does not mean they will not be of value to me in the future. After all, the author is not suggesting eating junk food or bingeing are acceptable choices or things we should ever want to do. She is merely offering another view on the subject. If I do not give myself the benefit of the experience of others I will remain ignorant to possibilities that may be viable for me. Time will tell. Over the past 6 ½ years in recovery I have tried different food plans. They all have value as long as I remember the lesson they each taught me. 

I will be writing more about Foodist in the coming weeks. There were several other ideas worth sharing with you including 
  • beating food aversions
  • 10 reasons to never eat free food and 
  • 5 things to consider before eating something naughty 
I have been hard at work on my living style for a long time. I can appreciate the science and rationale of forming pleasurable habits to replace unhealthy behaviors. This does not suggest that every extreme and questionable methods are all worth my time. No one is suggesting anyone try  the eat all the ice cream you want diet, the eat only sandwiches diet or the vegetable juice with an apple only diet.

Balance. This book is all about balance. It is not about balancing the best food food with junk food or scant food with overindulgence. This book is all about balancing healthy and happy and doing it well. You gotta like that. I cannot think of anything better than healthy, happy and being good at it. 

I have to go over to Summer Tomato blog and see if I want to click the 'follow' button. 

Are you a foodist? 



Norma said...

I'm interested in why the author feels we need to "hide" the fact that we are limiting (or eliminating) our consumption of alcohol or ANY non-nutritive substance. Are we to be ashamed of it? Is it to spare others from projecting that we who avoid something are judging them for partaking in it? I make no apologies for not eating LOTS of typical foods nor do I apologize for abstaining completely from alcohol. Neither action has anything to do with anyone but myself, and I am perplexed as to why she thinks we should make it look like we're going along with the crowd when we have decided to swim against the tide and make choices to benefit our health and change our old habits.

That said, anyone who promotes a consistent diet of clean, whole foods and gets people to listen can't be all bad.

Jane Cartelli said...

My thoughts exactly, Norma. Not only is she getting people to listen, she may be getting them to ACT on what they hear/read. I think she has the best intentions. I have my theory on why she feels anyone needs to camouflage their healthier behaviors. I think she understands they feel that need to bow to peer pressure and do not have the life skills to cope. I think she is trying to help people who are stymied by the dominant pressure from others to conform. Where you obviously were not brought up to be that way, many people are. Myself, I was raised by one conformist and a fledgling individualist. I am a mixed bag of neurosis but I never hid a healthy behavior. I only hide the ones that make me feel shame. I did that with overeating - I do not do it with clean eating. I have never abused alcohol and I grew up with 2 parents who didn't drink - and never hung out with people who live to be hung over - so I have never experienced that push to drink from anyone.

Norma said...

Well, yeah; that's another point there, too: I know that I and a LOT of binge/emotional/compulsive eaters eat IN SECRET. I have known 350 lb women who make a big show of ordering a dry green salad and spring water in front of people only to stop at a bakery on the way home, clean out hte display case, and eat it on the car. I find it very counterproductive if the author is in fact encouraging "secret eating" behaviors and reinforcing people's insecurities that making better choices somehow makes them "weird" or not part of regular life. I'd be very interested in her rationale...isn't it like pretending to take a hit off a joint at a party where everyone is smoking pot? Telling people to hide their positive changes for whatever reason (to make others feel okay about their choices? To still feel like part of the group, even if the group is doing things you want no part of?) does not sound like a step toward responsibility or mindfulness. I'm only extrapolating this from what you describe of the book, but I feel she owes a very good explanation for encouraging people to lie by omission for the sake of not rocking the boat. Making lifestyle changes always involves rocking the boat.

Jane Cartelli said...

When we are rocking our own boat we need small rocks before working up to the big one that overturns the boat. :-)

I think it is worth reading the chapter on eating/drinking out again to see what I can find.

Anonymous said...

I think that drinking is a way of life where Darya and I live, and if you DON'T do it, you will be constantly playing 40 questions, which is tiring and annoying, at least for me. Or maybe you like a little, just not a lot, so maybe you have one drink, then one or two water, than one drink. Maybe some people like to constantly have to justify what they do/don't eat or drink, but I'd rather not.

Similar to pushing some food around on your plate so it looks like you've eaten it when you just don't want it, but don't want to cause a scene.

Unknown said...

I agree with everything you both said, Jane and Norma. I think a huge part of making a 180 for food is to be openly assertive and own your actions in a deep way that you don't care what anyone else thinks.

:-) Marion

Jane Cartelli said...

In the book between pages 82-85, she makes the case for camouflaging drinking less and eating differently. Darya Pino Rose encourages changing the way we say things such as saying "I am not eating that right now to see if I feel better without it." rather than saying "I am not eating that crap. It makes me fat."

It is about both the pressure to be one of the many and the very real dilemma of not having the social mindset to suggest that people keep their eyes on their own plate and leave me the hell alone. Everyone's family and social dynamics are different.

If you are not immune to pressure and if other people's comments do not roll off you like teflon than it is good to have a litany of things you can say in such settings.

People who are never shy about exerting their opinions and control don't have any use for this tactic but that does not make people who do use/need it wrong, weak or silly. We are all different. I, for one, would find it easy to say no to stick it to anyone pushing a drink on me at any time but push ice cream at me and I am in need of the litany (mentally and vocally).

Norma said...

I just feel like even that having to give an explanation puts the person in a weird spot. A person who has decided for any reason not to partake in any recreational substance -- and that includes food they know isn't contributing to their presumable goal of weight loss/health improvement -- should not be obligated to justify her decision to anyone. The food pushers who pry and cajole and mock someone whom they notice isn't drinking/eating all the offerings is IN THE WRONG. No different than people who pester a childless person about why they don't have kids. Would it be okay for me to approach someone who's filling her plate for third time and ask her why she eats so much and expect her to justify what exactly is so appealing about the Miracle Whip macaroni salad that she's eaten four cups' worth of it? NO. Do I approach my tipsy tablemates as the night goes on and ask them why they drink to the point of intoxication? No. Learning to OWN my decisions and understanding that my food affects only my body and is therefore no one else's business has been key. Lying to others about what you're eating/drinking (or not having) is better than lying to yourself, how? The book sounds like a good overall premise. But that one detail kind of spoils that premise for me. To thine own self be true.

Jane Cartelli said...

I am sorry to Anonymous (but real) who commented "I guess some of us are just more combative than others". I accidentally deleted your comment.

Vickie said...

You were a good sport to do this very kind favor for someone you don't even know, in an all ready very full schedule. Would you do it again for her or anyone else with a "diet" book? Find diet books interesting?

Jane Cartelli said...

Norma: and that is why I mentioned it in the review. While I understand the motivation, it troubled me because I have to fight hard against the urge to hide my food - a guide on how to do it is about as useful to me as a guide to how to make myself vomit faster is to a bulimic - it is a dangerous union.

Vickie: I like books that have something of value to them. I do not consider this a diet book. I have reviewed two diet books for publishers in the past but after the last one I said I did not want to read anything more that was diet - related - as in 'eat this today in the morning and this in the afternoon and this when you feel like you need something sweet. . . ."
This book is about healthy and balance and why things work the way they do but there is no daily meal plan, no order or when you should eat what, etc.

Books that contain diets and how to loose weight above all else - no.

Jane Cartelli said...

Vickie: and I do not think it makes me 'nice.' It feeds my character defect of wanting to feel my opinion is worthy enough that someone would volunteer to allow me to critique their life's work.

It ego feeds me - which is not always a good thing.

I hope I was balanced and as humble as possible in my review.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

It is so hard to come to a book without preconceived notions so I'm very impressed that you were able to stop reading and come back with a more open mind than when you started. I'm glad you found value in some of the suggestions offered by the author.

Congratulations on your amazing weight loss. I wish you continued success on your journey to maintain your livingstyle!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.