The Reverse Diet
Tricia Cunningham and Heidi Skolnik Reviewed by Susan Moores, MS, RD Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson March, 2007
The Reverse Diet claims it can help you to:
- Eat healthier.
- Lose weight (20, 50 or 100 pounds or more).
- Remove emotional, environmental and motivational obstacles to better eating.
The premise of The Reverse Diet is to switch the typical portions you eat at dinner and breakfast so your larger meal is eaten in the morning and a smaller meal is consumed at night. Beyond this central concept, however, is a significant (and helpful) discussion on the impact of emotions, environment and motivation as they relate to and shape your approach toward weight loss and good health.
There are three phases: Phase 1, the weight loss portion; Phase 2, the "Bridge Phase," where foods are reintroduced into your eating plan and the stage is set for moving into the maintenance portion of the diet; and Phase 3, maintenance. Here, you get ideas on how to stay motivated, set new goals and maintain a healthful lifestyle.
The diet encourages a shift in thinking, asking readers to plan, prepare and put thought toward what, when and how they eat. Keeping a journal, taking pictures of one's progress and even joining the diet's online club are tools suggested for helping improve success. There are many "exercises," probing questions and useful tips to get you thinking and considering how best to create change for lasting weight loss success.
Nutritional Pros and Cons:
Some people are not breakfast eaters, plain and simple. For this group, The Reverse Diet may be difficult to adopt. Those who fall into this category may benefit from a guiding hand as they wade into the hearty breakfast concept. Mornings are also notoriously time-crunched. For people already stressed in the morning, The Reverse Diet may be a tougher sell, particularly if you have kids to get out the door. But, change is good and The Reverse Diet offers ideas for trying to make such changes last. The book includes several breakfast recipes to support the plan.
The only recommendation in the diet that may raise a brow is its signature beverage, "Sunshine Tea" (two to four tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to one cup of hot water). The drink is recommended in lieu of coffee and tea and claims several benefits including intestinal health, skin beauty and an appetite suppressing effect of sorts.
The Reverse Diet has many smart and useful recommendations for weight loss and maintenance. Certainly the meal switch concept has merit, but it's the diet's emphasis on the psychological aspects surrounding weight loss and healthy living that make this book worth checking out.
The Reverse Diet
Tricia Cunningham and Heidi Skolnik Reviewed by Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, CD Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson March 2007
The book is not just about losing weight, but about reframing the approach to eating. There are three phases: weight-loss, bridge and maintenance.
The weight loss phase is centered strategies to build a healthy life:
- Eat healthfully with a big breakfast and a smaller lunch and dinner.
- Choose whole, nutritious foods from a list (whole foods that cut down on sugar, fat, salt and processed foods). In general, the diet avoids processed foods such as lunch meats, artificially sweetened juices and beverages, fatty meats, canned foods (unless they are low-sodium) and any empty-calorie food that can cause overeating.
- Re-adjust the thought process about how a person eats and remove emotional, environmental and motivational obstacles.
The bridge phase reintroduces higher-calorie foods in small portions and gives tips on learning eating habits to keep a balanced, healthy weight and to reframe negative thoughts.
In the maintenance phase, the reader is given information to maintain motivation, set new goals and keep the healthful lifestyle.
The Reverse Diet approach uses realistic goal setting and tools such as a diet journal, working through emotional eating, the hunger scale, exercise and to learning to follow better lifestyle habits. The diet itself is a simple concept: Eat your dinner for breakfast and your breakfast for dinner. Although food consumption is encouraged earlier in the day, the program does not allow for unlimited food consumption. In addition, the diet focuses on unrefined foods and encourages the consumption of whole foods that are minimally processed.
One section discusses strategies for how to determine and deal with trigger foods and food cravings. This diet does not encourage any strange combinations of foods nor does it exclude any specific food groups. The authors ask readers to use common sense and to plan food intake in advance. Recipes use low-fat or fat-free products; however, the nutrient analysis of recipes is not listed.
Nutritional Pros and Cons:
For the weight-loss phase, a restrictive list of foods is given which avoids foods with added salt, sugar, fat and processed foods. There is no science listed to support the author's recommendations. In general, most of the information regarding lifestyle strategies is well-known. The book does list the calorie levels between 1,200 and 2,200 calories from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' 2005 Lists for Weight Management. However, the diet does not necessarily promote following a calorie diet and lists the calories for people to use as a guide.
The concept of eating a larger meal at breakfast is new to the diet world; however, the strategies listed in the book for following a healthy lifestyle are not. The challenge for the average person would be to implement the strategies and to follow them. For the most part, the diet is not restrictive except in the weight-loss phase.