The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life by Joel Fuhrman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Joel Fuhrman is a physician who is perhaps best know for his book "Eat to Live." I have not read that book, but imagine that this book is an extension of his original book.
There were many things I liked about this book such as Fuhrman's emphasis on eating more nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, legumes etc. I also like that even though he promises weight loss if you are able to follow his "nutrarian" lifestyle, his emphasis is on eating for health. And he's right. Good nutrition is likely the best defense we have against chronic disease.
That said, I'm not sure how successful the average person would be with implementing his advice. He repeatedly reminds the reader that he isn't advocating a diet, but rather a way of eating...only his "way of eating" will feel like a diet to a lot of people.
When working with clients, I help them rate their diet as a whole on a scale from 0-10, 0 being the worst and 10 being the best. The majority of clients fall in the 2-4 range. The emphasis is on getting them to improve that score to a 6 or 7. For most people this means making healthier choices like eating a variety a fruits and veggies, quality meats and carbs, and by limiting processed/nutrient-void foods. Fuhrman's diet is more like a 9 or 10, something to aspire to but probably unrealistic for the average person...and maybe even unnecessary. For example, we know that for a sedentary individual, adding just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week is a enough to provide significant health benefits. 60 minutes 5 times per week offers even more benefits but at a decreasing rate of return. And at some point, increasing exercise time and intensity beyond a certain point either offers very little additional benefits or may even be associated with poorer health.
I'm not sure we've established the same sort of relationship for diet, yet based on my years in the field, it seems that the difference between eating a 7 and 9 is relatively minimal with respect to health outcomes. But the difference between adhering to a 7 and 9 may be huge from a practicality standpoint. Furthermore, Fuhrman admits that people who follow his advice may need to supplement to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. This is in part because he recommends significantly limiting animal products. And while he doesn't go to the extreme of veganism, it does seem strange that "the healthiest diet" in the world requires supplementation.
At times, Fuhrman uses words like detox and toxic and his tone is somewhat alarmist. I also think his promises of "quick" weight-loss are a little over the top, though I suppose that's what readers really care about.
Finally, a good chunk of the book is recipes.
All in all, I think that Fuhrman offers some good advice, namely focus on eating the most nutrient-dense foods you can. I think he's right. The food we eat can either help prevent disease or contribute to it. Furthermore, a healthy diet will result in a healthy body. And while his suggested way of eating may be unrealistic for everyone, it can certainly serve as a goal or something to aspire to even if it is never achieved.