If This Is How I 'Eat To Live,' Then Kill Me Now
Eat To Live is yet another anti-meat propaganda book
Weight loss is such a touchy subject in this country which is why we Americans think we need to try diet after diet thinking somehow we are missing something about health and nutrition. As obesity continues to grow into a bigger and bigger problem (quite literally, in fact!), we are being simultaneously inundated with books featuring diet programs designed to help shed the pounds.
Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman is another one of the thousands of weight loss plans out there on bookshelves today. But will it work for you?
As someone who has lost nearly 200 pounds, I understand the desperate feeling that people have when it comes to the idea of losing weight forever. You feel so hopeless and helpless thinking you will be stuck being fat for the rest of your life. It's a sickening feeling that can haunt you as you cry out for help in every direction to see if anyone will throw you a float to keep you from drowning in the sea of obesity. Is anyone listening?!?!
While I fully support the idea that people find a nutritional approach that works for them, apply it exactly as it is outlined by the author of that program, and then implement it for the rest of their lives, I cannot help but urge people to beware of the Eat To Live diet plan because it certainly doesn't seem to have your health in mind. After reading through this diet book, the only conclusion I can draw is that Dr. Fuhrman is yet another stealth vegetarian who is attempting to spread his anti-meat agenda to the whole world by disguising it as a healthy "nutrient-dense" way of eating. Don't you just wish people would be honest about what they are doing instead of resorting to such pretenses?
Don't get me wrong, you CAN probably lose weight by applying the principles of this book just like you will very likely lose weight on virtually any diet plan out there. But where the Eat To Live diet breaks down is the fact that it is just another one of those low-fat, low-calorie, portion-controlled diet that hasn't worked for so many of us already despite being highly recommended by our government and health officials for the past three decades! Why are they STILL promoting low-fat despite the fact that obesity is getting worse? That sounds like the classic definition of insanity if you ask me!
Dr. Fuhrman describes his Eat To Live principles as "revolutionary" because they will bring about "fast and sustained weight loss" to the tune of "20 lbs or more in 6 weeks." WOW, that's quite a claim. And I have no doubt that the weight loss can and will happen if people follow this low-fat, mostly vegetarian plan. But then what? How do you keep that weight off forever? Do you keep on eating rabbit food for the rest of your life? Is that what you want and expect from a healthy eating plan?
Well, not me! When I weighed over 400 pounds, I never really thought much about food except to stuff it in my mouth as fast as I could so the next bite of high-sugar, carb-loaded food would be able to get in there. It's pathetic to think about how I used to eat, but too many people have chosen to eat to pleasure themselves with food which leads to obesity, disease and even death. Thankfully I have now found a healthy eating approach that helped me lose weight, improve my health and avoid certain death. I most certainly eat to live a long and healthy life because I'm livin' la vida low-carb.
However, I'll give you just one guess to figure out which nutritional approach Dr. Fuhrman chooses to put in his crosshairs in his Eat To Live book.
Portion control? Uh uh.
The one diet plan that he describes as the "dangerous weight loss scheme" is none other than low-carb.
The Atkins diet, Zone diet, and Protein Power diet are all specifically named by Dr. Fuhrman in a chapter called "Are You Dying To Lose Weight?" In that chapter, he criticizes these programs as anti-establishment and giving people false hope about finding a way to lose weight because they include too many delicious foods containing higher amounts of fat than he would recommend. Awww, is somebody jealous that he can't eat this way, too? Poor baby!
Regarding the Atkins diet, Dr. Fuhrman claims it is leading to higher rates of cancer and other diseases despite the weight loss because followers avoid eating fruits and vegetables. Does this man even know what he's talking about? Apparently not since you get to eat LOTS of fruits and vegetables as well as other nutrient-dense foods on Atkins. What a dope!
Next he targets Dr. Barry Sears' The Zone diet calling it "the danger zone" because Dr. Fuhrman thinks Dr. Sears puts too much emphasis on how carbohydrates are leading to obesity rather than fat. In a word, Dr. Fuhrman -- WRONG! Americans ARE eating too many carbs in the form of sugar, white flour, processed foods, and starchy foods. This overconsumption of unhealthy foods is making obesity much worse than it needs to be and I think Dr. Sears has nailed this problem. Anyone who denies this obvious contributor to the obesity problem is apparently too blinded by their own agenda. Is that you, Dr. Fuhrman?
To his credit, Dr. Fuhrman also criticizes Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine, and Jenny Craig for not being low enough in fat to make a real difference in weight loss although they offer smaller portions than what the Standard American Diet (SAD) entails. He said Americans have become way too accustomed to having the foods they want to eat and then still expect to lose weight. He describes this expectation as unreasonable and concluded that people should start eating more vegetables, beans and fresh fruits immediately while eliminating virtually everything else from their diet.
"Any other program is an insult to your intelligence," Dr. Fuhrman boasts.
Oh really! I think it is insulting to MY intelligence to have you lecture me about what is the right diet plan for me to follow, Dr. Fuhrman. I tried eating like you prescribed in Eat To Live and it just about drove me crazy in 1999. Sure, I lost weight and lots of it, too (170 pounds in fact!), but most people can only keep up that way of eating for just so long before they get so incredibly frustrated with it that they finally throw their hands up in the air and give up. I was too hungry, irritable, and experience such wild mood swings to notice I was skinnier. Hmmm, low-fat weight loss or sanity? I'll choose sanity!
That's why the low-carb lifestyle has been so effective for people like me who can't stand being hungry when we are losing weight like we did on those thousands of low-fat diets we have been on. Eating lots of healthy greens, fresh foods, antioxidant-rich berries, protein-packed nuts, and even delicious cuts of meat not only helps us with weight loss, but also keeps the weight off forever (2 years and counting for me!) while experiencing miraculous improvements in our health. Low-carb was a godsend to me and nobody will ever convince me otherwise.
Can Dr. Furhman's diet plan work for you? Perhaps. But if this was the way I would have to Eat To Live for the rest of my life, then I say kill me now to put me out of my misery! The good news is there are better ways than this.
5-1-06 UPDATE: Dr. Joel Fuhrman responded to my review of his book today.
Thanks for reading my book, and I'm glad that you were able to lose so much weight eating similar to the way I recommend in my Eat To Live book.
It seems that we do not disagree about everything. We both agree about the benefits of healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds etc (by the way I have nothing against health fats in avocado and raw nuts and seeds). We both agree that there are health benefits to minimizing processed foods, sugar, and white flour.
We even agree that including some meat isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just a question of how much.
A lot of "experts" have found that there is great profit in advocating a high meat diet-style in recent years, and there has been a lot of pressure to develop research to support the idea that it is safe for your long-term health. But the evidence is overwhelming (and countless respected researchers agree on this point) is clear that getting the vast majority of your calories from meat has lots of negative long-term effects.
Some people may simply want to eat a lot of meat--and that's fine! It's a personal choice, and I hope you will choose to eat in a way that makes you happy. We are all different, and we all make different choices about how we want to live. I think that's a good thing. But as we make those choices--especially important choices that affect our long-term health--we should do so with the best information possible. For example, I know some people choose to smoke. Severe as the health risks of that decision might be, as long as they have good information and know about the risks they're taking; of course that's their personal choice. But to smoke, or to eat lots of meat and cheese, with the idea that it's good for your health? That's just not working with the best available information, and it would be a real shame for a person to lose years of life to decision making based on fraudulent health claims and from people promoting bad information like that.
I have no specific political or social agenda, but I am a physician who wants each person to make responsible decisions based on the best evidence. I do not offer nutritional advice to please the animal rights advocates. In fact, they refuse to mention my work in their publications because I allow the consumption of animal products in my books and at drfuhrman.com and include them in some of my recipes. But, I do have a mission to spread a message that nutritional excellence can defeat heart disease and win the war against cancer. So I object to the false health claims regarding high protein diets, not to your freedom to eat any way you choose. And, for many people (I realize not you) who decide to "heart-attack-proof" their body and want to lose weight in the healthiest way possible and learn how to make a diet low in animal products taste great and eat as much food as they desire, while living into their nineties without the fear of heart disease, stroke or an premature death from cancer, I urge them to come to diseaseproof.com (or read Eat To Live) and read more about the science and logic of this diet-style.
-Joel Fuhrman, MD
Well, at least he was cordial in his reply to me even if I'm not buying his explanation. Thoughts anyone?
6-29-2006 UPDATE: Well, here's at least one other blogger who agrees with my book review.