Friday, May 9, 2008

Keep America (and everyone else) Fit: Episode 1

In an effort to keep America (and everyone else) fit, I have decided to start reviewing books that cover my super-fave topics (why, nutrition and fitness, of course!). For some reason, it appears that everything I read these days happens to fall into one of the two genres, so I figured I might as well put my obsession to work! First up . . .

Written by the Editor-in Chief of Men's Health magazine (who I'm sure is a busy guy himself), this book is FANTASTIC for people who lead crazy-busy lifestyles, and find themselves eating out of the dreaded paper bag more frequently than they might care to admit. It's also kind of useful for people who have a phobia of fast-food (is there a name for that?). Prior to reading this book, I would automatically fall violently ill at just the thought of stepping into a fast-food joint. Luckily, David Zinczenko's book has made me far less afraid of the formidable golden arches and other American attrocities. Why? Because it shares with its readers the dark, dirty secrets of the food industry--and not in a vomit-inducing Fastfood Nation sort of way--but rather, in a "if you eat this, you will have to run for approximately 5 days straight to burn off its calories" type of way. LOVE IT!

Eat This, Not That consists of eight different sections:

1. Foods you should eat every day; and foods to avoid at all costs

2. The best and worst restaurant meals

3. Strategies for eating right when dining out

4. Advice for holiday eating

5. Strategies for grocery shopping

6. The ultimate guide to healthy beverages

7. What to eat in various situations (stress, tiredness, etc.)

8. Eating guide for children

The layout is very simple, but also very effective. For instance, in the restaurant meals section, each 2-page spread contains a fast food or chain restaurant we all know and love. On the right-hand page, you'll find the "only eat this if you have the time to run for 5 days straight to burn it off" selections, and on the left-hand page, there are smarter, healthier alternatives, as well as special order options that can save you loads of calories and fat. While one of the reviewers on complained that the book " is basicly [sic] all pictures," I am wondering whether anyone (besides me, of course) would actually want to read a nutrition book that didn't have pictures. Can we say BORING?!

One thing that really struck me about this book is that it would be perfect for people who so aren't obsessed with nutrition. For instance, let's say your New Year's Resolution is to "eat healthier," but you really don't want to deal with the inconvenience of having to obsessively analyze each and every specimen you happen to ingest. Simply peruse the pages of Eat This, Not That and memorize what your best food options are at your fave fast-food/chain joints! As the book suggests, you may just save yourself "10, 20 or 30 pounds a year" by following its advice--no calorie counting or food journaling necessary!

Finally, my favorite aspect of this book is its size. I like to think of it as "fun size"--kind of like those little itty-bitty candy bars, but actually "fun" (seriously, is anyone actually satisfied with eating just one of those?). It could easily fit into a purse or briefcase, which makes it perfect for someone who is constantly on-the-go. Are you between business meetings in a part of town you're not so familiar with, and have just ten minutes to squeeze lunch in? Worry not, my friend! There's a Wendy's across the street . . . pull out your copy of this book, turn to page 136 and enjoy your 5 piece nuggets and chili! Granted, if you're as crazy-busy as I am, you probably carry a bag so big most airlines would reject it as a carry-on . . . so the damn thing could probably be encyclopedia-sized and STILL fit into your "purse." But anyway, your back will totally thank this book for being "fun-sized."

In sum, I'm pretty sure you need this book. And considering you can get it for the low-low price of $11.97, why not? If nothing else, you can probably tear out the photos of the quarter pounder (which is a "good" option, believe it or not), and tape them to the display of your treadmill. How's that for motivation?


chris said...

I gotta pick this book up. I eat way more fast food than I care to admit when I am on the road. Whether it is a time issue or there is nothing else around (sometimes in small cities, it seems like that is all you find). It might make me feel like less of a pig.

I agree about the pictures. This type of book is not trying to teach you a new diet method are explain things too you. Just give me the raw data: pictures, calories, fat, etc.

Thanks for the review.

Laura said...

I've been seeing this book in the displays at lots of bookshops lately, but didn't take the time to investigate. Thanks for the info! I'd def like to check it out.

chris said...

Bought the book. Love the book. It will, without a doubt, help when I am traveling.

EmLit said...

Thanks for the great review, Irish! I had been wondering about this book and was concerned that it might be sort of like, "Here are your lesser evil options at fast food places!" Knowing that it isn't like that makes me want to buy a copy for everyone I know who is having a hard time "eating healthier".