Non-fiction: YOU: On a Diet

Book: YOU: On a Diet
Authors: Dr. Mike Roisen and Dr. Mehmet Oz
Publisher: Free Press
Pages: 384
Version: Hardcover
Release: October, 2006

I was familiar with the other You titles (YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: The Smart Patient) because I had checked them out of the library. They immediately became books I wanted to own (and write in).

The series is written by doctors who believe that if we know about our biology, we can retrain ourselves to avoid some of the largest health problems in our society: heart disease/attacks, diabetes, obesity, etc. So, they go to great lengths to make the content easy to digest (bad pun intended) and fun to read.

I think they go a little overboard in this respect. There are all of these "Youreka" tips that let you know when they've hit upon the gold nugget idea. While the tips are helpful, the shout-out is annoying. The drawings are clear, but cutesy in a charming way. For example, it's kind of fun to imagine little elves with spackle running around in your arteries trying to deal with the bad kind of cholesterol.

The authors also do a good job painting word pictures. According to them, the omentum, which is your body's parking lot for fat, looks like a pair of stockings hanging off of the stomach. As you gain more fat, the omentum continues to grow, pushing aside your other organs (and your waist line) while grabbing up all of the glucose, which your brain and other parts need to function. This is why the beer belly is especially unhealthy.

The book is just comprehensive enough to allow me to explain what the omentum is and does without being so comprehensive that I felt overwhelmed. It is logically laid out, leading you through the biology of food vs. your body to the emotional aspects behind why we eat (and why diets fail). Then, it explains what you can do to change your eating and exercise habits.

The exercise is a good addition. The premise is that, no excuses, you walk for thirty minutes a day, every day. You can break it up into three ten-minute segments, but you must do it. Once you conquer that, you can go on to additional strength and cardiovascular exercise that is supposed to help work and tone your muscles.

Part of the program is that you dump your cabinets of everything bad for you. We did this. I was surprised to see how many foods have high fructose corn syrup (a big no-no because your body uses it quickly and then sends messages to the brain that you need to eat again, even if you're not hungry).

The book also includes information on how to eat, instructions for the first two weeks, and a shopping list and menu with recipes. The shopping list is a bit difficult. What grocery store carries 100% whole wheat pizza dough? Also, there are some items that weren't listed (ground turkey is needed for one of the recipes, but you're never told to buy it).

The promise is that once you learn how to eat, you will retrain your body to want exercise and good foods and leave cravings behind you like yesterday's socks. I'm not sure if this is true or not, but the book was well-written, the doctors were likable, and the plan felt so doable and authoritative, that I'm willing to give it a try.

If it does work, I'll buy this book for everyone I know. If it doesn't, it was a good read anyway.