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Book Reviews

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The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet

Book Review

A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet
By Alicia Silverstone
Rodale (2009)
Reviewed by Marisa Moore, MBA, RD, LD

Claims

Following The Kind Diet allows you to take concrete steps to reduce your impact on the planet and preserve our precious natural resources. By following The Kind Diet, you will lose weight easily, your skin will glow, you will have tons of energy and you will become more sensitive to all the important things in life like love, nature and your deepest truest self. Your immune system will work more efficiently as your body releases excess fats and toxins.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

Part I: Kind versus Nasty

Unlike most diet books which dive right into weight loss tactics, The Kind Diet offers several chapters of information on the potential benefits of a vegan diet and includes glossaries and frequently asked questions. The overarching theme is to choose kind over "nasty foods," which are defined as meat, dairy, white sugar and processed foods. The "Nutritional FAQs" chapter addresses such concerns as getting omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, vitamin B-12 and whether or not supplements are needed.

Part II: Living the Kind Life

This part outlines the three paths to becoming vegan from Flirting to Becoming a Superhero.

  • Flirts: Silverstone playfully introduces the flirting plan as a way to begin exploring a plant-based diet. She offers five steps to implement over a few weeks, which include dating local vegetarian restaurants, saying hello to the nearest health food store, buying organic brown rice and unrefined sea salt, taking a yoga class and finally going four weeks without beef, chicken or pork. To help guide shoppers, the author provides a transition checklist and branded food list.
  • Vegans: To begin this plan, Silverstone suggests cleansing the home of animal products by giving away any meat or dairy products. She suggests building lunch and dinner using one quarter grains, one quarter protein and one half vegetables but insists that having a bean or protein food once a day is enough. Breakfast is primarily grains unless you feel like adding protein or steamed greens. To help new vegans get started, this chapter provides a week's worth of menus with accompanying recipes.
  • Superheroes: Admittedly more restrictive than even the author can follow daily, the superhero plan builds on the vegan one. It emphasizes whole grains but goes many steps further to remove all processed food, phase out soy milk and limit fruit, nightshade family vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, "strong" sweeteners like maple syrup and salt. This plan encourages what Silverstone calls "magic foods," which include unpasteurized miso, umeboshi plums and a number of sea vegetables like kombu, arame, nori and agar agar.

Part III: The Recipes

This part provides an abundance of vegan and superhero recipes to help the reader adopt The Kind Diet plan.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

Research supports that a plant-based diet can be safe and may effectively lower rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Following a plant-based diet may also decrease demand for certain natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint. The book includes almost 150 pages of recipes, which is great. Unfortunately, the recipes don't include nutrient analyses and many use ingredients that may be difficult to find like hemp milk, kuzu, mochi, burdock, hijiki and umeboshi vinegar.

Silverstone makes some suggestions that are not supported by sound science, such as her recommendation to limit fruit and nightshade vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. She also states that white sugar is associated with cancer and leaches vitamins and minerals from your blood and bones, but does not provide a reference to support this. In addition, claims that following The Kind Diet can help clear up acne may be purely anecdotal. Also, as this is touted as a plan for weight loss, more attention should be given to encourage adequate physical activity for overall health.

Bottom Line

The Kind Diet won't work for everyone. The flirting plan is a great way to begin exploring a plant-based diet and would work for someone considering a vegetarian lifestyle. At the other end of the spectrum, the superhero stage is quite restrictive and would be difficult for the average person to adopt successfully.