Never Say Diet
By Chantel Hobbs WaterBrook Press (2008) Reviewed by Toby Smithson, RD, LDN
Never Say Diet claims to help readers ditch self-defeating habits and start dreaming big again; develop a driving passion for personal fitness; look at food as fuel and not as a best friend; and learn how God wants to help them win.
Synopsis of the Diet Plan:
This book focuses on the inspirational and motivational aspects of weight loss and physical activity. The diet and exercise principles are reasonable recommendations based on Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics weight-loss guidelines. The author proposes five decisions that need to be made in order to break the fat (obesity) habit for good. A large portion of the book focuses on the need to reprogram your thinking about dieting and describes the author's personal experiences with weight loss.
The book is divided into three sections: Decide, Act and Live. Section 1 includes the author's personal stories about her weight-loss journey. Section 2 is the Action section, which includes the five phases of the weight-loss plan. Section 3 includes questions and answers about diet and exercise, ways to get your family fit and a pitch to live with purpose as you are strong enough to make the change.
The specific diet recommendations is for five small 300-calorie meals containing less than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day through the first 100 pounds of weight loss and then increasing carbohydrates to 150 grams per day. A number of 300-calorie meal suggestions are provided as well. The author advises to keep calories below 1,500 for six days per week, with one "indulgent meal" per week. A sample indulgence is a meal at Outback Steakhouse that includes cheese fries and ranch dip; a steak; baked potato loaded with butter and sour cream, cheese and bacon; and for dessert, a warm brownie with hot fudge, vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped topping.
Nutritional Pros and Cons: There are a lot of positive recommendations about diet and exercise. People working on weight loss do need to change the way they are thinking about food, exercise and weight loss and some readers may find a connection with the author's experiences with motivation and personal "reprogramming." Parts of her diet plan are in line with Academy weight-loss recommendations, including replacing empty-calorie beverages and foods with high-fiber and nutrient-rich foods, eating several small meals and keeping a food diary.
However, I have two major concerns with the author's recommendations: 1) The plan does not include an emphasis on an individualized meal plan and 2) The focus on eating one indulgent meal per week. Additionally, the author recommends avoiding sugar foods because they "increase your craving for sugar" -- which is not supported by scientific evidence. Finally, some of the calculations on energy expenditure are incorrect.
People who struggle with obesity may be able to relate to the author on a personal level. The book offers motivation, but readers may struggle with the diet plan because it isn't individualized. My recommendation would be to see a registered dietitian for an individualized meal plan and use the book for motivation to achieve successful weight loss.