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.

3 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?