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Hot Off the Press: Sane Eating News

Not all media flurries help us much....but this one may.

Reading like an industry whistle-blower, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, takes author Michael Moss to the labs and boardrooms of America’s food manufacturers. The people involved don’t necessarily come off as villians. However, they do come off as purely profit-motivated, despite evidence of their products’ real health and obesity risks. Perhaps one former exec says it best: “I feel so sorry for the public.” While it’s fascinating to read of the history and development of foods like, say, Cheetos, this book also explains and confirms why “junk” foods lead to binging and addiction. (One hint: industry research aims to find “bliss points” as they create new foods…..) The best place to end up after reading this book may in fact be where many end up with cigarettes: knowing they’ve gotten hooked, and knowing they need help now to quit.

And what kind of diet should you aspire to instead? There’s no end to the hype about whichever’s most popular in any given month. However, studies endorsing the Mediterranean diet (legumes, whole grains, nuts, fish, olive oil, vegetables) raged throughout the news in recent weeks. This diet certain adheres to sound nutritional principles. And the studies did suggest important cardiac benefits. As with any “here’s the solution for everyone” claim, though, things aren’t quite so simple. The Center for Science in the Public Interest turned to Lawrence Appel of Johns Hopkins University to help parse the results. They highlight the main facts, and also compare the exact diet studied to a similar, well-tested one (OmniHeart) in the May 2013 Nutrition Action. What we can feel good about, in the end, is the re-confirming that straightforward foods--real foods and not ones like those in Salt Sugar Fat--win out.

So if one diet really doesn’t fit all, what kinds of foods and regimes make sense? Studies like those on the Mediterranean diet give us some guidelines. A new monthly column by New York Times writer Mark Bittman, though, can help us in our thinking, planning, and cooking of food that feels good and is good for us. “The Flexitarian” column recently launched with “Healthy, Meet Delicious”. This is good timing, as dropping all those addictive foods, and expanding appreciation for good ones, equals sane eating. Bittman’s new book, VB6, pushes the idea of veganism throughout the day, with more flexible eating later. While this isn’t a solution for everyone either, the book offers sound ideas and uses the “flexitarian” concepts of the new column.

Flexitarianism rests solidly on cooking, another cornerstone of sane eating and good weight management. Food writer Michael Pollan’s new book tackles this subject. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation considers cooking from all sorts of angles, not for weight management alone. While Pollan encourages a return to much slower cooking, the importance of any home cooking, slow or not, comes through. Increasing home cooked meals—dinner, lunches taken to work, etc.—correlates strongly with better weight, as well as a host of other satisfaction factors. As our lifestyles probably won’t change so radically that we do all our cooking at home, I think we can return to Mark Bittman again here: his article “Yes, Healthful Fast Food Is Possible. But Edible?” outlines the growing new movement toward healthful take-out.

Beyond these, yet more research confirmed exercise benefits in recently published studies. Articles also explored increased awareness of binge eating disorder as a widespread national problem. Thin From Within will examine these subjects in separate blogs soon.

Dr. Katz' self-help workbook Eat Sanely: Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster For Good is available in paperback and as an ebook. Her blot at covers Thin From Within topics and more.