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The Diet Selector

Book Review

The Diet Selector
By Judith C. Rodriguez, PhD, RD, FADA
Running Press (2007)
Reviewed by Kerry Neville, MS, RD


The Diet Selector explains the merits and drawbacks of 75 of the most popular and time-tested weight-loss and health plans to help you choose a diet perfectly tailored to your needs. The book presents evidence-based facts and debunks myths.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

The Diet Selector is not your typical diet book. Instead, it's a handy resource that reviews 50 popular weight-loss and 25 health-promoting and disease-management plans. For each diet, the book includes:

  • An at-a-glance ratings system that evaluates the diet based on its long-term plan or applicability, effort required and flexibility, how family friendly the diet is, the cost involved and how strongly its claims are backed up by scientific evidence
  • An outline of claims and mechanisms
  • An overview of how each diet works
  • Pros and cons involved and the diet's relative merits
  • Resources for further information on the diet and references to similar diets
  • A sample weekly menu plan to provide an idea of what following the diet means in terms of everyday eating
  • Healthy tips related to the diet, information that debunks diet related myths and a summary chart that indicates which foods are allowed and which are forbidden
  • The type of lifestyle and attitude of the dieter that each diet plan may best complement.

Within the weight-loss plans category, diets are grouped by type based on common principles: behavioral; food-focused; low-carbohydrates, low-protein or low-fat; food groups, guides or exchange systems; timing or combination; commercial meal or snack replacements; and other.

The book also provides several useful chapters on diet trends, how to make the most of a diet plan, the basics of weight loss that encourage taking a life-long approach and increasing activity level to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The organization of the book is well-thought out. The weight-loss section handily divides the diets by type, although it would be helpful if this designation were more prominent on the page. The book includes an alphabetical index at front of book, which makes it easy to locate a particular diet and the summary chart on how each diet rates based on five usage points (cost, flexibility for food choices, applicability, effort required, family friendliness and scientific evidence for claims) provides a quick at-a-glance evaluation of the diet. Readers will also find the health promotion/disease management diets section useful with its summaries on diets ranging from DASH to Weight Watchers to cleansing.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

This book is a great resource, providing an overview of many popular diets that both dietetics professionals and consumers will find useful. However, given how many new diet books come out each year,The Diet Selector has its limitations in that it was published in 2007 and does not include newly released books. Still, it includes many weight-loss plans and health-focused diets that remain popular among consumers.

The overviews of the diets are well-researched and provide an easy-to-read review of what to expect on each diet, its pros and cons and which foods are included and not included in the plan.The Diet Selector helps consumers take the guesswork out of deciding which diet may work best for them, saving time, money and frustration. For dietetics professionals, the book is a great resource as an overview on many different diets.

Bottom Line

I would recommend this book as a useful addition to a dietetic professional's bookshelf. Consumers will find this book a helpful tool to determine which type of diet - and then a particular diet plan - is likely to work best for them.