Book review: ‘Eat This, Not That’ |

Book review: ‘Eat This, Not That’

Stephen Bedford
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

The process of dieting is inherently simple: diligently track what you consume in order to improve your health and figure. So why has the billion-dollar diet book industry made it so darn complex?

In the past few years alone we’ve seen countless high-brow, buzz worthy diet crazes enter the collective conscience mandating people to drastically, and unrealistically, alter their lifestyles in pursuit of perfect health and form.

Well, calorie counters of the world rejoice as a new day is dawning courtesy of health and diet guru David Zinczenko’s “Eat This, Not That,” which offers diet alternatives instead of wholesale changes in an informative, easy-to-follow format.

Zinczenko makes dieting and nutrition what it should be: simple.

He analyzes restaurants, grocery aisles, holidays, and special occasions; and then tells you what to eat and what to avoid. What a novel concept. For good measure, he also offers tips for channeling nutrition into everyday moods such as post-workout foods, hangover cures, aphrodisiacs, restless evenings, or memory improvement.

There’s none of this new-age detox, carb counting, South Beach, speculative blood type data, deal-a-meal cards, and, alas, no Richard Simmons. Just simple facts encouraging hungry folks to wisely navigate a menu or supermarket.

Zinczenko doesn’t intend to change your routine, but just shape it up a bit. Where one restaurant offers a burger loaded with calories, fat, and other garbage while a rival chain offers relatively the same meal at the same price but with significantly less junk

The layout for “Eat This, Not That” is, you guessed it, simple. The left page is the “Eat This” page, offering a marquee dish and two or three tips and/or facts regarding the food and the restaurant its found in. The right page is the “Not That” page, expounding the antithesis of the opposite page.

Cleverly, Zinczenko designed the book to fit in oversized pockets, most purses, and glove boxes, making it ideal to keep on or near you all the time.

For example, at Taco Bell, Zinczenko suggests eating two grilled steak soft tacos fresco style. This dish has a modest 320 calories and 9 grams of fat. You’ll also learn that fresco style at Taco Bell replaces cheese and sauces with extra vegetables and that the fast-food chain recently switched to trans-fat free fry oil, however, the nachos and taco salads still contain an unhealthy amount of trans fats.

Conversely, those indulging in a Baja beef Chalupa can expect to consume 27 grams of fat and nearly 800 milligrams of sodium. The Chalupa shell alone comes with 13 grams of fat. Zinczenko also notes that 370 calories and 20 grams of fat can be saved by ditching the shell on a taco salad.

The restaurant portion of the book unfolds like this throughout, chock full of “menu decoders,” “little tricks,” and the startling “weapons of mass destructions.” Zinczenko’s point in this user-friendly format isn’t to sway you one way or another, but just make everyone aware of the options and jargon lurking in restaurants.

Zinczenko also deems his “20 Worst Foods in America,” a section that makes you feel bloated and nauseated just by reading it. Sure, those fruity Starbucks shakes look pretty, taste sweet, and have cutesy names, but can sometimes have triple the sugar of a soft drink. And the Outback Aussie cheese fries, well, you have to see the gut-swelling content to believe it.

“Eat This, Not That” also cruises the supermarket, prepares you for the holidays, examines fluids, and features a special section for growing children (beware of juice!) all in the same accessible format.

Whether your metabolism is like a Holstein or a hare (reader’s note: writer is not a zoologist), there’s much to gain from “Eat This, Not That,” in that its intelligible, manageable steps are applicable to everyone, regardless of the health goals (if any) you have.

A few different decisions can deliver the same taste while significantly eliminating the wastes, allowing gluttons to indulge in meals similar to their favorites sans the excess sodium and saturated fats.

For those subsisting on rice and cranberry juice, or just the juice for one of those ludicrous detox plans, breath a sigh of relief. You can still frequent your favorite eateries, and now you’re prepared, after all, knowledge is power even in the ordering line.

Stephen Bedford is the general manager at The Bookworm in Edwards.

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