Category Archives: Book Reviews

James Hirsch Reviews Sonia Sotomayor’s New Book

You may know that she has type 1 diabetes.  Mr. Hirsch writes:

Sonia Sotomayor dove beneath a parked car and scrunched up like a turtle. A hospital employee finally caught her by the foot and dragged her back into the building, with Sonia fighting him every step of the way. Sonia’s diabetes was diagnosed that day. It was the first time she had ever seen her mother cry.

The year was 1962, and the vignette opens Sotomayor’s memoir, My Beloved World, the surprise blockbuster nonfiction book of the year. Named to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009, Sotomayor has been rightfully praised as a pioneer: the High Court’s first Hispanic justice, its third female justice – and its first justice with type 1 diabetes. Though her medical condition is not always front and center in the book, it is a powerful narrative thread to her life story, a cause of anguish but also a source of motivation and ultimately triumph.

Read the rest.

Mr. Hirsch wrote a book on diabetes, Cheating Destiny, that would be of interest to anyone with diabetes.  I reviewed it a few years ago.

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Dukan Diet Founder Loses Libel Lawsuit Against Dr. Cohen

Dr. Pierre Dukan sued another diet doctor, Jean-Michel Cohen, for claiming that the Dukan diet could harm dieters.  A French court ruled in Dr. Cohen’s favor last year.  U.K.’s The Telegraph has a few of the details. Claire Al-Aufi has more at Hive Health Media.

I reviewed the Dukan diet last April.  Gee, I hope I’m not Dr. Dukan’s next target!

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Weight Loss

Six Weeks to OMG: A Book Review

I heard about this book before it was available in the U.S. and I thought it had the potential to be huge here.  So I read Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends by Venice Fulton, published in 2012.  Per’s rating system, I give it two stars (“I don’t like it”).

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Judging from the wording and writing style, this book was written for not-too-bright girls and women from 12 to 22 years old.  Others need not bother with it.

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Will it work for weight loss?  Yes, even without the author’s three cornerstone gimmicks: 1) Skip breakfast, but eat three meals daily, 2) Black coffee one or two cups every morning, and 3) Cold-water baths at 59 to 68°F for up to 15 minutes.  There’s no good scientific data to support those prescriptions.

The diet will work because it restricts your consumption of items that make us fat: concentrated sugars and refined starches.  It’s a low-carbohydrate diet—up to 60, 90, or 120 grams a day, depending on how fast you want to lose.

The diet consists mostly of high-protein animal-derived foods, low-carb vegetables, and up to three pieces of fruit daily.  Do not exceed 40 grams of carbohydrate per meal, even less is better, the author says.  Grains and dairy products aren’t mentioned much; it’s easy to blow your carb limit with them.  High-carb vegetables are listed, so you can avoid them.

Mr. Fulton emphasizes some important, valid points.  High protein consumption helps control appetite.  Trans fats are bad.  Eat cold-water fatty fish twice weekly.  Eat off a small plate (maximum of 9-inch diameter).  No snacking.  He says good things about weight training, while failing to mention it’s more much important long-term maintenance than for active weight loss.

He says some things that are just plain wrong, such as 1) everyone can be skinny, 2) there are only eight essential amino acids, 3) exercise is fairly helpful with weight loss, and 4) weight training just once every 10 days is adequate.

I’ll confess I didn’t read every word of the book.  The writing style is just too irritating unless you’re a not-too-bright 12 to 22-year-old.  For instance, every page had at least four exclamation marks!

Here are some of the dumbed-down sentences that unintentionally made me laugh out loud:

  • “The key to success is understanding stuff.”
  • “If you have problems controlling your appetite, the main reason is that you eat too often.”
  • “The person in the mirror, that’s you.”
  • “Human beings are part of the universe.  And that’s full of laws.  The laws of physics, chemistry and biology are three well-known laws.”

If you want a low-carb weight loss diet, you’re better off with Protein PowerThe New Atkins For a New You, or the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.  A low-carb diet specifically for diabetics is my Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under Book Reviews, Weight Loss

Book Review: Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution

I saw the author of Choose to Lose on a rerun of Dr. Oz in early January.  Then I checked the book’s sales rank at (22nd overall—a blockbuster in my view).  (Don’t get me wrong; I’m not in the habit of watching Dr. Oz.)  Here’s my review of 2012’s Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution, by Chris Powell.  The book is for the general public, not people with diabetes.  I give it three stars per’s five-star system.

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Will it work?  Certainly for some, quite possibly a majority.  Like most published programs, it’ll work for for you if you work the program.  Question is, can you do it?

The underlying idea is to alternate high-carb and low-carb eating days, which supposedly revs up your metabolism and tricks your body into thinking it’s not on a diet so it won’t go into self-preservation starvation mode.  Mr. Powell calls this carb cycling.

The high-carb days are also low-fat, and the low-carb days are low-calorie.  Actually, both days are reduced-calorie if your goal is the most dramatic results.  A moderate calorie deficit is built into the program.  Women get about 1350 calories; men around 1700.  Those levels are lower than necessary. Other than that, it appears you’ll get all the other nutrients you need, which is good.

I can see how the diet would work for some because it drastically reduces consumption of our most fattening carboydrates.  Loser Choosers aren’t supposed to eat baked goods, white flour, refined sugar, beer, candy, chips (crisps, for those in the UK), conventional breads, cookies, crackers, ice cream, sugar-sweetened beverages, corn syrup, and milk.  I suspect if we all stopped eating those right now, the overweight rate in the U.S. would drop by at least 10% in the next 12 months.

The author allows no wheat or white rice except for whole wheat bread and pasta.  Potatoes, peas, and corn made it to the “approved” list.  You eat mostly natural, minimally processed foods (yay!).

I don’t know Mr. Powell, but he comes off as earnest, honest, compassionate, experienced, and intelligent.  He’s not a scammer.  Mr. Powell has more faith than I do in the benefits of exercise for weight loss.  He notes that nutrition is more important.  We agree that exercise is often critical for prevention of weight regain.  He barely, if at all, mentions the benefits of exercise in prevention of disease and prolongation of longevity.  His well-illustrated exercise recommendations are  a good start for fitness beginners.  He wants you to exercise for 10-30 minutes on six days a week, doing a combo of cardio intervals and body weight resistance training.  No expensive equipment to buy.

Carb cycling like this is supposed to “boost your metabolism to burn fat quickly.”  It does not, to any clinically meaningful extent.  Nor is carb cycling mentioned in this year’s massively referenced The Smart Science of Slim.  Contrary to the author’s opinion, neither eating five meals a day nor eating carboydrates revs up your metabolism.

Mr. Powell provides some helpful mind tricks to prepare you for a lifestyle change.

My favorite sentence: “Success doesn’t just happen.  It’s a result of the 4 Ps of action: Planning, Preparation, Performance, Persevance.”

My least favorite sentence: “Water is imperative for loosing [sic] weight.”  A close second was: “Alcohol is a powerful diuretic (it flushes water out of your system), so it dehydrates you, causing water retention and bloating for one to three days after you drink.”  Huh?

I like his incorporation of cheat meals, although he allows more than I would.  To his credit, the all-important maintenance phase is covered well.

Mr. Powell recommends supplementing with probiotics and digestive enzymes, being unaware of their uselessness for most dieters.

I note that Amazon sells Choose to Lose by Dr. Ron and Nancy Goor, and The Carb Cycling Diet by Dr. Roman Malkov.  Coincidence ? 

In terms of complexity, the program is about average. 

I wonder if you’d do just as well by swearing off the fattening carbohydrates I listed above.  If you’re looking to lose weight, you could do a lot worse than Choose to Lose.  And you could do better.

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under Book Reviews, Exercise, Weight Loss

Book Review: Low-Carbing Among Friends, Volume 1

I just read “Low-Carbing Among Friends, Volume 1” by Jennifer Eloff, Maria Emmerich, Carolyn Ketchum, Lisa Marshall, and Kent Altena.  Per’s rating system, I give it five stars (“I love it”).

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If you’re serious about low-carb eating, you’ll want this book.  Five well-known low-carb cooks and chefs present many of their best recipes in a straightforward format.  All recipes are gluten-free, wheat-free, and sugar-free.  I read through over half of the recipes and understood all the instructions; I’m confident I could make anything in this book.

Some of of the recipe ingredients will be a little hard to find. You may have to order a few of them online, and the authors tell you where to order. Unless you’re just dabbling in low-carb eating, you’ll want to stock up on some of these anyway. 

I have an incurable sweet tooth.  I like to share my cooking with my wife, but she has, um, (ahem)… “gastrointestinal problems” with my usual non-caloric sweetener, Splenda.  That’s not very common, but is a well-known phenomenon.  I was glad to learn herein that erythritol is a trouble-free alternative, GI-wise.

One thing I miss about standard high-carb eating is baked sugary items like cakes and muffins.  Sure, I’ve read that if you stay away from those for four to six months, you’ll lose your desire.  Not me.  And I tried.  In my next stretch of days off, I’m making a batch of Jennifer Eloff’s Splendid Gluten-Free Bake Mix and spending some time in the kitchen!

Not being previously familiar with him, I was particularly impressed with Kent Altena’s background.  Starting at over 400 pounds (182+ kg), he lost over 200 pounds (91+ kg) and reenlisted in the U.S. National Guard and started running marathons (26.2 miles)!  Thank you for your service to our country, Mr. Altena.

The book is laced with commentary from low-carb proponents, including Dana Carpender, Jimmy Moore, Dr. John Briffa, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, Dr. Robert Su, and me.  I am honored to have been invited.

By the way, recipe measurements are given in both U.S. customary and metric units, which non-U.S. residents will appreciate.  Serving size nutrient analysis includes digestible carb grams (aka net carbs).  All recipe carb counts are under 10 g; most are under 5 g.   

If you’re tired of eating the same old things, I’m sure you’ll find many new dishes here that will become time-honored classics in your household.

Steve Parker, M.D.

 Disclosure: As a supporter of low-carb eating, I contributed two pages to the book.  I did not and will not recieve any remuneration, and I purchased my own copy of the book.

PS: Recipes I want to try: Cinnamon Swirl Cookies, Green Bean and Bacon Salasd, Gingerbread Biscotti, Tuan Burgers, Blueberry Muffins, Pecan Sun-Dried Tomato and Bacon Cauli-Rice, Spicy Shrimp with Avocado Dressing, 24-Hour Chili, Harvest Pancakes, Breakfast Casserole, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers, Stuffed Mushrooms, Broccoli Bacon Salad, Seven Layer Salad, Sausage Quiche, Low-Carb Pancakes, Stuffed Hamburgers, Eggplant Parmeson, Flax Bread, Splendid Gluten-Free Bake Mix, and Mock Danish.


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Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Sugar-Free: “Low-Carbing Among Friends”

Low Carbing Among Friends: Low-carb and Gluten-free V1 (Low Carbing Among Friends, Volume-1)I’m very excited about a brand new cookbook for folks limiting their consumption of carbohydrates, wheat, and gluten.  It’s a unique collaboration among five chefs (Jennifer Eloff, Maria Emmerrich, Carolyn Ketchum, Lisa Marshall, and Kent Altena) and other low-carb luminaries like Jimmy Moore and Dana Carpender.  I was honored to contribute a couple pages myself.  The book is Low-Carbing Among Friends, volume 1.

All 325 recipes limit digestible carbohydrates to a maximum of 10 grams; many have five or fewer grams.  This should be great for people with diabetes and anyone trying to manage excess weight with low-carb eating.  All recipes are gluten-free, wheat-free, and sugar-free.

I can’t wait for my copy.  I’m “online friends” with several of the contributors, so I’m familiar with the great quality of their work.  You can get the book at, but I ordered mine from the book’s website, figuring the authors make more profit there.  (If we want good books, we have to support authors.)  It’s not too late to order this as a Christmas present.  Don’t you know someone who could use it?  

Steve Parker, M.D.




Filed under Book Reviews, Carbohydrate

Book Review: The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living

I just finished reading The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable, by Stephen Phinney, M.D., Ph.D., and Jeff Volek, Ph.D. published this year.  I give it four stars per’s rating system ( I like it).

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The authors medicalize overweight and obesity by naming the cause of most cases to be “carbohydrate intolerance,” along the lines of lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance.  Given the myriad illnesses and shortened lifespan associated with obesity, medicalizing it isreasonable.  Ask Gary Taubes why we get fat, and he’ll say it’s excessive consumption of carbohydrates, especially sugars and refined flours.  Ask Phinney and Volek, and they’ll say “carbohdyrate intolerance.”  For them, the “treatment” is avoidance of carbs.

If a patient asks me why he’s fat, I guess I’d prefer to say “you have carbohydrate intolerance,” rather than “you eat too many carbs.”  It’s less confrontational and doesn’t blame the patient.

So how many of us in the U.S. have carbohydrate intolerance?  The authors estimate a hundred million or more – about a third of the total poplulation, or more, who could directly benefit from carbohydrate restriction.  I agree.

Before reading this book, I was convinced that carbohydrates are indeed major contributors to overweight and obesity, especially concentrated sugars and refined grains.  The authors cite much of the pertinent scientific/medical literature. 

Gary Taubes made the same case in his brilliant book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.  Dr. Robert Atkins argued the same in Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution.  The problem is that many healthcare providers such as physicians and dietitians are biased against those sources.  Physicians resist a non-physician such as Taubes giving them advice about the practice of medicine.  And most physicians over 45 still labor under the misconception that dietary cholesterol and total and saturated fat are major-league killers, so they’ve already dismissed Dr. Atkins and don’t have time to get caught up to date on the recent research.

Phinney and Volek have wisely targeted this work towards healthcare providers such as physicians, so it’s somewhat technical and clinical.  Both have Ph.D.s and Phinney is also an M.D.  The authors are respected researchers who thoroughly review the science behind low-carb eating.  They explain how high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions are related to carb consumption.

I rate the book four stars instead of five only because it’s a little pricey at $29 (US).

Smart nutrition- and fitness-minded folks will also benefit from a reading.  For a more consumer-oriented book, I recommend the authors’ The New Atkins for a New You or Taubes’ Why We Get Fat.

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under Book Reviews, Carbohydrate

Book Review: Zest For Life – The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet

I recently read Zest For Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet, by Conner Middelmann-Whitney.  I give it five stars per’s rating system.

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The lifetime risk of developing invasive cancer in the U.S. is four in ten: a little higher for men, a little lower for women.  Those are scary odds.  Cancer is second only to heart disease as a cause of death in western societies.  The Mediterranean diet has a well established track record of protecting against cancers of the prostate, colon/rectum, uterus, and prostate.  Preliminary data suggest protection against melanoma and stomach cancer, too.  I’m not aware of any other way of eating that can make similar claims. 

So it makes great sense to spread the word on how to eat Mediterranean-style, to lower your risk of developing cancer.  Such is the goal of Ms. Conner Middelmann-Whitney.  The Mediterranean diet is mostly, although by no means excusively, plant-based.  It encourages consumption of natural, minimally processed, locally grown foods.  Generally, it’s rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, oive oil, whole grains, red wine, and nuts.  It’s low to moderate in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt).

Note that one of the four longevity hot spots featured in Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones was Mediterranean: Sardinia.  All four Blue Zones were characterized by plant-based diets of minimally processed, locally grown foods.  (I argue that Okinawa and the Nicoya Peninsula dwellers ate little meat simply due to economic factors.)

Proper diet won’t prevent all cancer, but perhaps 10-20% of common cancer cases, such as prostate, breast, colorectal, and uterine cancer.  A natural, nutrient-rich, mostly plant-based diet seems to bolster our defense against cancer.

Ms. Middelmann-Whitney is no wacko claiming you can cure your cancer with the right diet modifications.  She writes, “…I do not advocate food as a cancer treatment once the disease has declared itself….” 

She never brings it up herself, but I detect a streak of paleo diet advocacy in her.  Several of her references are from Loren Cordain, one of the gurus of the modern paleo diet movement.  She also mentions the ideas of Michael Pollan very favorably.

She’s not as high on whole grains as most of the other current nutrition writers.  She points out that, calorie for calorie, whole grains are not as nutrient-rich as vegetables and fruits.  Speaking of which, she notes that veggies generally have more nutrients than fruits.  Furthermore, she says, grain-based flours probably contribute to overweight and obesity.  She suggests that many people eat too many grains and would benefit by substituting more nutrient-rich foods, such as veggies and fruits.

Some interesting things I learned were 1) the 10 most dangerous foods to eat while driving, 2) the significance of organized religion in limiting meat consumption in some Mediterranean regions, 3) we probably eat too many omega-6 fatty acids, moving the omega-6/omega-3 ratio away from the ideal of 2:1 or 3:1, 4) one reason nitrites are added to processed meats is to create an pleasing red color (they impair bacterial growth, too), 5) fresh herbs are better added towards the end of cooking, whereas dried herbs can be added earlier, 6) 57% of calories in western societies are largely “empty calories:” refined sugar, flour, and industrially processed vegetable oils,  and 7) refined sugar consumption in the U.S. was 11 lb (5 kg) per person in the 1830s, rising to 155 lb (70 kg) by 2000.

Any problems with the book?  The font size is a bit small for me; if that worries you, get the Kindle edition and choose your size.  She mentions that omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids as “essential” fats. I bet she meant to say that linolenic and linoleic fatty acids are essential (our bodies can’t make them); linolenic happens to be an omega-3, linoleic is an omega-6.  Reference #8 in chapter three is missing.  She states that red and processed meats cause cancer, or at least are strongly linked; in my view, the studies are inconclusive.  I’m not sure that cooking in or with polyunsaturated plant oils causes formation of free radicals that we need to worry about.

As would be expected, the author and I don’t see eye to eye on everything.  For example, she worries about bisphenol-A, pesticide residue, saturated fat, excessive red meat consumption, and strongly prefers pastured beef and free-range chickens and eggs.  I don’t worry.  She also subscribes to the “precautionary principle.”

The author shares over 150 recipes to get you started on your road to cancer prevention.  I easily found 15 I want to try.  She covers all the bases on shopping for food, cooking, outfitting a basic kitchen, dining out, shopping on a strict budget, etc.  Highly practical for beginning cooks.  Numerous scientific references are listed for you skeptics.

I recommend this book to all adults with normal carbohydrate metabolism, particularly for those with a strong family history of cancer.  But following the author’s recommendations would do more than lower your risk of cancer.  You’d likely have a longer lifespan, lose some excess fat weight,  and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease, stroke, vision loss from macular degeneration, and obesity.  Particularly compared to the standard American diet. 

Steve Parker, M.D.

Disclosure: The author arranged a free copy of the book for me, otherwise I recieved nothing of value for writing this review.


Filed under Book Reviews, cancer, Health Benefits, Mediterranean Diet

Book Review: Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?

I just read Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise by Alex Hutchinson, published in 2011.  Per’s rating system, I give it five stars (I love it).

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Since starting Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance workout program four months ago, I’ve developed a serious interest in exercise.  I stumbled across one of Alex Hutchinson’s helpful (and recommended) blogs: Sweat Science.  That’s where I heard about this book.

Mr. Hutchinson uses a Q & A format to address 113 debatable issues facing people who exercise regularly.   The questions are independent although grouped according to subject matter, such as “Nutrition and Hydration.”  This is great for those who have time only for snippets of reading (bathroom reading, for example).

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a particular interest of mine lately.  I see it as way to replace five hours a week of traditional cardio (aerobic) training with just one hour.  The author gives a nice description of HIIT and succinctly and accurately summarizes the science in support of it, along with the risks.

Mr. Hutchinson typically answers controversial questions with the best available evidence from current scientific research.  Rarely, he has to depend simply on expert concensus, which is less reliable.  I envision a new edition every five years or so.

The book is easy to read.  The style is congenial and witty.  Contrary to a recent publishing trend, the font size is reasonably large. 

The audience for this is folks who have made a commitment to make regular physical activity part of their lifestyle.    Trust me, I’m a doctor: the guys at the gym and Internet sources are quite often wrong on these issues. 

If you refuse to do more than just stroll in the neighborhood for 30 minutes a day, you don’t need the book.  But I urge you to consider challenging yourself to do more.   

Steve Parker, M.D.


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Book Review: The NEW Sonoma Diet

I recently read The New Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, More Energy in Just 10 Days, by Dr. Connie Guttersen RD, PhD, published in 2010.  It’s not designed specifically for people with diabetes or prediabetes.  Per’s rating system, I give it four stars (I like it). 

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The New Sonoma weight-loss method works because it counteracts the major cause of overweight—excessive consumption of sugars and refined starches—through portion control. This Mediterranean-style program is likely to reap the major health benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet: longer life and less chronic disease (heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, and cancer).

The New Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, More Energy in Just 10 DaysMost of the food recommendations herein are consistent with Monica Reinagel’s wonderful new book, Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About. On Sonoma, you’ll eat natural, minimally processed, whole foods.

The primary improvements over the 2005 version of Sonoma are the time-saving and budget-saving strategies. The recipes are easier and quicker. I didn’t try any, but they sound yummy. Dr. Guttersen also exands the “Power Foods” from 10 to 12, adding beans and citrus fruit. I’m glad to see the author addressed many of my criticisms of her great 2005 book. I do miss the old refrigerator-ready pull-out depicting the subdivided plates.

Here’s a brief summary for those unfamiliar with Sonoma. There are three Waves. Wave 1 lasts 10 days and is supposed to break your addiction to sugar and refined flour. Wave 2 lasts until your weight-loss goal is reached, and provides more calories, wine if desired, and more variety. Wave 3 is the lifelong maintenance phase: more fruit and veggies, plus occasional sugary desserts, potatoes, and refined flour. Portion size is controlled either by following her exact recipes or through her plate method. Breakfast fits on a 7″ plate (or 2-cup bowl), while lunch and dinner are on 9″ plates, subdivided into various food groups such as proteins, grains, or veggies. Optional recipes are provided for Wave 1 and the first two weeks of Wave 2.

As in 2005, Dr. Guttersen doesn’t reveal how many calories you’ll be eating. My estimate for Wave 3 is 2000 a day. Less for the earlier Waves.

You’ll find indispensible information on shopping and food preparation. Keeping a food journal is rightfully promoted in certain circumstances. I like the discussion of psychological issues, mindful eating, dining out tips, and weight-loss stalls. The mindful eating portion reminded me of Evelyn Tribole’s Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works and Intuitive Eating: A Practical Guide to Make Peace with Food, Free Yourself from Chronic Dieting, Reach Your Natural Weight.

The author makes a few claims that are either wrong or poorly supported by the scientific literature. Examples include: 1) beans are linked to longer life and reduced heart disease risk, 2) grapes are almost as good as wine for heart protection, 3) the health benefits of spinach “border on the miraculous,” and spinach helps prevent inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma, 4) whole grains prevent stroke, gastrointestinal cancer, and diabetes, 5) adding salt and butter for flavor is unhealthy, 6) medicinal qualities of herbs and spices are well documented, 7) saturated fats “are found exclusively in highly processed food products,” 8) you’ll break a lifetime craving for sugary sweets in Wave 1, 9) 64 ounces of water a day is ideal, 10) exercise significanlty helps most people with weight loss, 11) low-carb eating cannot be maintained because it’s unhealthy and unsatisfying, and 11) saturated fats raise the risk of heart disease.

Much of the book reads like an infomercial; at times I even wondered if it was ghost-written by a marketing professional. The author is unflaggingly optimistic. The testimonials would have more credibility if attributed to full names, not just “Betty” or “Bill.” She overstates the health benefits of the individual Power Foods, which are all plant-derived. I’d like to see cold-water fatty fish on the list.

Dr. Guttersen has great faith in observational studies linking specific foods to health outcomes; I have much less faith. Such studies are far from proof that specific foods CAUSE the outcome. They’re just associations, such as swimsuit sales being linked to warm weather. Warm weather doesn’t cause folks to buy swimsuits; the desire to swim does.

Speaking of associations, a multitude of observational studies link whole grain consumption with 20-25% lower risk of heart disease. We may never have proof of cause and effect because the appropriate study is so difficult. Sonoma recommends two whole grain servings a day, which is the heart-healthy “dose” supported by science.

The author’s discussion of exercise is improved over 2005’s, but is still minimal. Why not refer readers to respected Internet resources? We agree that exercise can help with weight-loss stalls and long-term maintenance of weight loss.

Overall, this is one of the healthiest weight-loss programs available. The average non-diabetic person won’t go wrong with Sonoma. In fact, Sonoma-style eating may be the healthiest of all for the normal-weight general public, with the exception of its avoiding saturated and total fat.

For folks with diabetes or prediabetes, I prefer Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution or, of course, Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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