I have just had the somewhat dubious privilege of reading yet another diet book — this one called “Eat to Live” by Joel Fuhrman, MD. The reviews on Amazon are glowing. Most of them say it is a life-changing book.
They’re right. This book will change your life — for the worse. It is absolutely impossible to follow Fuhrman’s edicts for a lifetime. Six weeks after you start, you will be thinner (bound to happen), and then, as you go back to a normal lifestyle, you’ll balloon again. Welcome back, yo-yo ma. There is just no way you can follow this forever — and this is the same criticism the good doctor levels against Barry Sears of “The Zone” fame
For anyone passionate about food and cooking, this book is pure poison. Following it will make you feel wretched, and will turn you into a thoroughly unpleasant human being — depressed, angry, distressed, stressed, curmudgeonly, cranky, irritable and a complete social retard. Imagine living like this: no wine, no drink, no soda, no chocolate, no dessert, no ice-cream, no cheese, no meat, no butter, no dried fruits, no bread, no pasta, no pizza, no popcorn, no rice, no wheat. Why live at all if you have to live like this?
Fuhrman is obsessed by aging and death but I really don’t see the point of living to be 200 if every day of those two centuries is to be spent in such misery. Better to live fully and die happy and contented than to force such deprivation on yourself. The book makes no allowance for human frailities, needs, wants, desires or the simple fact that it is now impossible to undo (let alone in six weeks) over fifty years of “bad” eating habits.
Also, I’ve learned never to trust an author who propounds his cause principally by attacking his rival theorists. Fuhrman goes for the jugular when it comes to Atkins, Sears et al. He debunks them all and, in exchange, offers his own theories, one of them being that olive oil is bad for you and raises your bad cholesterol because it is, after all, oil. To support this argument he cites an example of Crete saying that the people there are now fatter than before because they’re eating more meat, etc etc and less vegetables and fruits. There’s nothing to support this. Not a study cited to show any change in the dietary habits of the hapless denizens of Crete, nothing to show that what he says is even generally true. We’re just to take Fuhrman’s word for it. Thank you, no. You only have to look around at Italy, France, Germany and other European countries to understand why. It’s not the olive oil, stupid; it’s the refined food and the lack of exercise.
Much of what he says is blindingly obvious but is presented in pseudo-scientific fashion — that fibre is good for you (who says no?), for example. But that can’t be at the cost of protein or anything else. The rest of his argument is pure pap — imagine a life of eating salad, vegetables, restricted nuts and fruit day in and day out. What would you do? Stay at home? Get a divorce? Lose your friends?
Fuhrman misses two vital points. No amount of dieting is going to result in permanent weight loss. That can only come from regular exercise combined with a sensible diet. And a sensible diet is one you can live with, not one that forces you to live without. Avoid this book like the plague. If you do start the program, allow me to flash forward about eight weeks and say, “Sorry, but I told you so.”
And incidentally, who are these nonentities who crank out these books? Just having an MD surely doesn’t qualify you to unleash your pet theories on an unsuspecting public. These books are actually dangerous and should carry a warning by the Surgeon-General. If the books were official documents by some trusted, public agency, backed by studies and data, yes, well, we might accept that. But what is the average Joe supposed to make of this mess: Atkins says eat meat and fat, cut back on the carbs. Ditto Sears. Agatston says much the same, but eat the right carbs and don’t eat just any kind of fat, watch the glycemic index (sounds at least arguable). Along comes Fuhrman and he says no meat, no fat, just fibre. I think these guys are specially appointed to drive ordinary people mad and I wonder why; is there a glut of vacancies in lunatic asylums around the world? There's a plug in the foreword by one Mehmet Oz (who dat?) and this guy says “If you give this diet your complete commitment, there is no question in my mind that it will work for you.”. Well, golly, gee whiz, whaddya know and who could’ve guessed. But isn’t that true of any diet? The point, of course, is missed again, or probably deliberately skipped — this just is not a diet to which you could ever give your complete commitment in the first place.