Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The End of Dieting, My Ass: A Review of The End of Dieting by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Want these? Well, unless they contain black beans and chia seeds, you're not getting them!
Even though The Toad tries to be a savvy exerciser and informed healthy citizen, she occasionally indulges in a little self help. Seeing the title The End of Dieting, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and feeling a bit bloated, she thought it might be worth a read. Perhaps it would have new information, some helpful, reasonable eating tips, or a consumption philosophy that would allow for copious amounts of healthy chocolate on a regular basis. An amphibian can dream.

Well, a fool is soon parted with her $12.99. I discovered that The End of Dieting is not, in fact, the end of dieting, it's simply the beginning of an insanely restrictive diet that's supposed to last the rest of your miserable life.

Dr. Fuhrman's diet plan isn't just an actual diet, it's an actual diet based on some fairly extreme vegan concepts. Fuhrman is against dairy, meat, almost all fats and oils of any kind, sugar, wheat, most grains, and anything else you might be tempted to stick in your hungry, gaping maw. What does that leave you with? Well, a whole bunch of salads and some cooked veggies, some tofu, some tempeh, and a stockpot full of tears. I've rarely seen a diet as restrictive as Fuhrman's, and I'm just guessing that it's designed for people who are at death's door in terms of their nutritive health; who need someone as sure and bossy as Fuhrman to tell them just what they can eat so they won't drop dead.

Fuhrman has lots of science to back him up regarding the traditional food pyramid and American diet. There's no question that American diets are less than ideal, and lead to a host of avoidable health problems. But I do wonder: is it necessary to move so far in the opposite direction?

Fuhrman has virtually nothing good to say about any other culture's diet, either. Take the Mediterranean diet, for example. He spends time criticizing it because the current state of Mediterranean people's health isn't all that good, because they've americanized their diets. So, fine, I guess Italians have been hitting the Big Macs recently. But that has no bearing on the actual elements of the Mediterranean diet, which has, when followed, led to legions of healthy old Greeks and Italians (all that beautiful smooth taut skin involves a bunch of healthy fat in the diet). Fuhrman side steps this, and simply throws all that good olive oil out the window like the contents of an old chamberpot.

The most puzzling thing of all about The End of Dieting isn't just that it's super restrictive; that's been going on for forever. It's that Dr. Fuhrman, when it comes to cuisine, appears to be stuck in the '70s. You remember "health food" in the '70s, don't you (although I'm probably dating myself here as an old dinosaur). Healthy food had to be bland food, often in unappetizing forms, such as bean loaves and carob, nuts masquerading as meat (other cultures do this alchemy far better than ours) and tofu as a substitute for everything (soy, as it turns out, isn't necessarily very good for a body, but I guess Dr. Fuhrman never got that memo about that science. There's some scientific cherry picking going on here).

The real standout of The End of Dieting is the Recipes section, which seems like an odd thing to include in an anti-diet book (then again, the tome includes sample meal plans, which seems awfully diet like to me). The recipes mostly amount to a buttload of beans; perhaps the book's alternate title could be The End of Socializing. Beans even make an appearance in the dessert section: Fudgey Black Bean Brownies (with an avocado topping, no less. It contains no chocolate whatsoever). My husband Mr. Crab calls this recipe "the culinary equivalent of a suicide note," explaining that, "all you need to do is make a batch, set them on the counter, and do the deed. Your friends and family will understand."

Dr. Fuhrman's final point comes in his patronizing Epilogue, in which he states that "... The nay-sayers are typically food addicts fighting to maintain their addictions with the "myth of moderation." Really? While I do not deny that there are many people out there who could benefit, health wise, from less meat, less fast food, less fat, and less sugar, I hardly think that anyone who nay-says Fuhrman's book is a food addict. Perhaps they just, you know,
like food beyond beans, kale, and chia seeds. That could be it. Then again, I read this book right after a trip to In-N-Out Burger, so what do I know?

It was delicious.

19 comments:

Jennifer Brown said...

Beautiful! This review helped my mom. Thank you!! I am proud to say, we do not own a useless copy of his so called diet.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, witty skewering of this gaunt quack! His personal history is one of flitting from one extreme to another. Fuhrman is a past-president of P.E.T.A.
Shame on PBS for giving Fuhrman's radical vegetarianism the stamp of approval by providing a platform for his unhealthy "nutritarian diet."

Anonymous said...

I'll bet Amoy and Jen are overweight?

Anonymous said...

The vegan diet is not extreme if you are concerned about your health and the environment. Many forms of cancer and the leading causes of death, such as heart disease, can be prevented through avoidance of animal products. I disagree that this diet is restrictive, you can consume an abundance of veg, fruits, greens and beans and easily lose weight. To get the same result on a diet with meat and dairy you have to restrict and monitor calories. Also the benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet have been shown to be a result of the large quantities of vegetables and fruits consumed, not a result of fat intake.

Anonymous said...

diagnosed 1991 with an autoimmune disease/years later I saw Furman on a talk show/, purchased the book and 6mo.later I was in remission, healthy lean and happy. I remember reading that everything that you need to survive & be healthy was on the planet long before you arrived. You don't have to butcher an animal to survive and you won't starve to death if you don't eat garbage-another good read/flick I recommend is Food Inc. Eat to live. Living to eat will Make you die much faster. If you want to die Much faster seek mental health support or a 12 step program they can be very successful as well :-)

Anonymous said...

Loved your review. Hilarious!

He's on my PBS station now. As I watch, I realize I'm starting to sound like a duck...."quack, quack, quack"



Anonymous said...

we americans don't want to believe what he says, but the truth is, he's right, we need more nutrient foods and less junk masquerading as food. USA has a high cancer rate and obesity rate for a reason and it will never change due to "I'm going dig my heels in the ground and thumb my nose at anyone who points out my diet is lousy" attitude. If you followed Dr. Furhman's advice for a year and criticized the diet, then your review might mean something but as is, it's simply a review by someone who doesn't want to be told not to eat fastfood burgers.

Dory said...

Dr. Fuhrman's lifestyle food plan really helps people lose weight (I lost 60 pounds on this plan), eliminate diabetes II in some people, help people with cardiac disease and immune diseases and the science is behind him. He is a medical doctor from University of Pennsylvania, an Olympic pair skater, and a published author-what are you? He allows people to eat meat on this plan if they want to allow prefers they don't. We would all benefit from eating more greens, salads, beans, mushrooms and onions and staying away from sugar, processed food, white flour, white rice and oil. We have an epidemic of obesity and lifestyle related diseases. Maybe we need something extreme : ).

Anonymous said...

Am on this eating plan now with some small amounts of boneless skinless chicken and salmon included. Have brought down my B/P and blood sugar. Hope to be off med by June 2015. This works. This is not a diet, it is an eating plan for life.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading this book and following it's counsel. I've lost weight, haven't starved, enjoyed the food I've eaten, and most importantly, felt in control of myself for the first time in a very long time. You can knock it all you want, but Dr. Fuhrman's claims are backed by scientific studies, not just snarky remarks. Ignore it if you will, but knocking it for other people who are struggling to find an answer to serious issues isn't just denying yourself a better life, but encouraging them to disregard it as well. His book doesn't promote a diet, it promotes a lifestyle. One that helps people live the healthiest life they can. And this coming from a professional baker.

Violet said...

'So what do you know?" Hmm, by readying your review, its my perception that you don't want to know.
Your wit suggests to me that you have the intelligence to know you put an inaccurate spin on this review. Perhaps its like a Rush Limbaugh thing; you're outrageous because it makes you more popular. You're successfully doing your blog thing and that's cool, although I feel bad that you glorify unhealthy eating and have support in doing so.

Tracey Tolson said...

Just keep eating at In-N -out burger and the like....we'll be rid of you soon enough! That $12.99 could save your life...instead you'll let a cheap ass burger take it.. aren't you the brilliant one!

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Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Furhman's The End Of Dieting. Reading the book had me reflecting back to my childhood diet which in the 70's was full of whole foods, fruits and tons of vegetables. No Ho-Ho's, ding dongs, no Starbucks, Jamba Juices or fatburgers. Meat was in moderation, portions reasonable and exercise plentiful. I now look at my own justifications of my current eating style and realize that as each year passed there was a new decadent treat added to the long list of fat and calorie laden treats I enjoyed in my adult years resulting in a shameful BMI and a daily pill to control my blood pressure.Hats off to those in the food industry who have had the moment of reckoning themselves and are seeking to provide healthy fulfilling alternatives to the masses of killer bites out there. I'm ready to make the shift and reclaim my health. Thanks to Dr. Furhman.

Anonymous said...

Have followed Dr Fuhrman's program, which does allow for reasonable amounts of unhealthy food (with the exception of white flour products), for years and the result has been good - no more lethargy after meals, no more yo yo weight and lots of energy. Yes, we do indeed underestimate how much we are addicted to unhealthy tastes acquired since uninformed childhood, no surprise there. If you really want vibrant health just chuck the processed food, extracted oils, and the corpses and secretions of animals. Also stop all stimulants. For that apparent "sacrifice" your tastes buds soon become much more sensitive to natural flavours and the sense of sacrifice totally disappears. I wake up early full of energy now. I am 69 and race marathons smiling.

Anonymous said...

Best diet I have ever been on! I chose to go fish and occasional chicken route. Never felt deprived as I have with every other diet I have been on. No point counting!!!! Thank God! If you want to feel better than you ever have in your life follow his plan. If not enjoy your fat, sick a lot, sub par life! I choose energy for living.

Anonymous said...

I love Dr. Fuhrman I think that he saved my life. Have you ever seen a 60 year old man that can hop up onto his desk hands free? I have and it was him. I think he is awesome, if you try his lifestyle for a month and still don't feel great then I think it's fine to run him into the dirt, otherwise please don't slander him. I think it all depends on how bad you want something, you can do it, the food is delicious and it will take time to change the way you think about food. You can stay the way you are if you want, it's your choice.

Anonymous said...

Just finishing this book. I will not be following his eating plan exactly, but I will definitely eat more vegetables and less meat. My biggest complaint about this book is that Dr. Fuhrman spent 5 chapters telling me how following his eating plan will eliminate my risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. FINALLY in chapter 6 I got some eating guidelines. Way too repetitive!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Fuhrman changed my life. I never needed to lose a drastic amount of weight, but I always carried a few extra pounds. After reading several of his books and applying the principles of his nutritarian diet to my own life, I've never felt healthier. He truly makes you look at food in a whole new light. I now stay away from processed foods, and eat mostly plant-based nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, nuts and beans. Your meals are only as boring as you make them... Take a little time and get creative and you can prepare some pretty amazing dishes. Oh, and those black bean brownies you mentioned from his book? Well, they're seriously delicious and satisfy my sweet tooth. I encourage everyone to read Dr. Fuhrman's flagship book "Eat to Live" ... It is eye opening ... You'll never look at food in the same way.