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Book reviews: Food Nanny and Eat This Not That

Posted by on Feb 25, 2009 in Blog Posts |

I checked out a couple resources from the library.  I’m looking for resources to help families cook, eat and feed better. Its tough! Lots of resources have good ideas, but then I don’t agree with their approach on nutrition education (for example labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” which sets up all kinds of judgements, guilt and documented problems with how we view food).

Food Nanny Rescues Dinner didn’t seem to offer much new. I liked the idea of having “theme” nights to facilitate meal planning. For example, Monday might be Mexican inspired, Tuesday might be Italian, and weekends are for comfort foods that might require more cooking time. I thought many recipes seemed unrealistic for weeknights if the cook is getting home later from work.
I also didn’t like her emphasis on portions. I know it seems revolutionary, but the idea of trusting/intuitive eating means that externally prescribed portions are not the way to go. If my body and mouth want extra noodles tonight, I should have them. If I trust and listen and provide for my body, I will compensate and maybe eat less the next day or another meal. I’ve watched with awe as this works for my daughter and have allowed myself to eat in a way that is responsive to my hunger and satiety cues. If I want chocolate, I know I can have it when I want, so I seem to be satisfied with less. Its not forbidden. (Again, a teaser of a huge topic…) Also, Food Nanny cooks with shortening and I’m not a big fan of trans fats. I’d rather have real butter and be satisfied with a natural product. Bottom line, didn’t work for me. Check it out from the library for ideas, or get Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals which I like much better.
The Eat This, Not That is interesting and has been all over the media and Oprah. The things I found helpful showed how misleading fast-food menus can be. If you are choosing certain options, like a chicken sandwich because you think its healthier, this book can show you that the “healthy” options are often “worse” than the regular ones. For example, a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese at Dunkin Donuts has more calories and fat than a donut. So, if the major factor in choosing certain fast food is perceived nutritional value, then this book is useful. If, however, it’s a treat to have onion rings because you really like them, go for it. Eat until you are satisfied and include the foods in a general diet that is full of variety, fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains. (If you’ve been avoiding onion rings at BK because you thought they were ‘worse’ than fries, this book says its actually less fat and calories than fries.)
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