Monday, November 19, 2007

Book Review: Ending The Food Fight

Warning: This is not just another diet book!
Dr. Ludwig pioneered the use of a low-glycemic diet to combat obesity 10 years ago, when he founded the Optimal Weight For Life Program at Children's Hospital Boston. His approach integrates biology (weight control systems), behavior (willpower, parenting skills) and environment to benefit both the overweight child and his family.
Dr. Ludwig begins his book by describing how our environment has become more and more toxic over the past decades: Distorted portions, increased proportion of highly processed foods and beverages in our everyday diet, junk food and beverages sold in schools, reduced PE programs, omnipresence of food commercials, etc. He coins the phrase "fake food" to describe factory food, nutrient-poor processed food. Fake food creates addiction and promotes overeating -the cause for the obesity epidemic. In our toxic environment, kids are fed a steady diet of fake food that has become the norm. We have stopped cooking and have delegated this responsibility to food processors -whose main goal is profit.
In order to reverse the damage, Dr. Ludwig offers 2 key strategies:

1- Developing eating and activity habits:
Eating to feel full is a family affair: Get rid of all fake foods in the pantry; stock up on whole foods: vegetables, beans, fruits, unprocessed grains. Eliminate all sweetened beverages and reduce fruit juice to maximum 1 cup a day. Eat slowly.
Getting physical means play, walk rather than drive, take the stairs instead of the escalator, participate in the household chores, etc.

2- Strenghening the family environment:
Parents must model healthy habits by eliminating junk food from home, limiting TV and internet surfing/chatting, and increasing play, walk, exercise.
Parents and children are taught to be mindful to respond intelligently to the environment: e.g. eating mindfully is about how you eat: Think about what you put in your mouth, its taste while you're eating the food, and where the food comes from.
Parents have to teach children to resist instant gratification to achieve a long-term goal, which leads to empowerment.

Dr. Ludwig develops thoroughly these points into a detailed, practical 9-week program. He includes numerous easy recipes with simple nutrition facts, along with shopping lists for breakfast, lunchboxes and dinner with dessert included, all based on real foods.
This book encompasses sheer health advice: Dr. Ludwig gives a bigger picture of how families can fight the commercial, toxic environment and strenghen their health, and their ties.

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