Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eat This, Not That, 2010 Edition by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding

It never fails, you go on a diet to lose weight, and despite eating what seems to be healthy foods, you either don't lose anything at all, or you even end up gaining weight. You try sticking to foods that tout themselves as low-fat or trans-fat free, and still nothing helps. Why?

Due to America's love of convenience foods and nutritional additives that are anything but nutritious, most Americans are overweight. But even when you try to search for healthy and low-calorie alternatives, too many foods are seriously deceptive when it comes to what you are really getting, both in the supermarket and in the restaurants. Some restaurants have clearly labeled calorie counts and lists of health information, like sodium, fats, and so on, while some (unless you are lucky and happen to live in New York, where restaurants *must* list their calorie counts, you are just SOL when it comes to knowing exactly what you are eating.

But Eat This, Not That has analyzed Restaurant Menus from some of the largest chains, showing what is safe to eat (sometimes only relatively), and what you should stay away from eating. They also give tips on what restaurants to avoid. For example Uno Chicago Grill lists calorie counts per serving on their website- but what they make unclear is that one plate in the restaurant may have up to five full servings on your plate! And that's even for something like a single burger or a plate of Macaroni and Cheese, which most people don't share.

The Book is broken down into several sections, from General tips then moving on to the foods from Restaurants, then Grocery store items. The restaurant section compares different meals from the Restaurants and gives each one a rating based on how generally healthy and light each restaurants menu is. Additional information on each restaurant is given on the page margins, including, for some of the worst-ranking Restaurants, "Weapons of Mass Destruction"- items on the menu that are literally the worst according to fat, sodium or calorie count (sometimes all three!). Other items include "Condiment Catastrophe", "Guilty Pleasures" and "Bad Breeds"- when there is more than one "Weapon of Mass Destruction" on the menu/

I found this a fascinating book, and I probably would have found it of more use, even in a 2010 edition, if they had other Fast Food/Restaurant Chains that are in my area. I'd also like to see some information on types of Food like Gyros and Chinese food. Also, Sonic and Checkers, some of the more prevalent chains around here, were missing from the book.

As you can probably guess, any meal with cream sauces or crammed with cheese and bacon are probably some of the worst things to order on any menu- they can even drag down relatively healthy pasta. But in a contest between bacon and sausage, bacon wins as being healthier.

Not always useful, unless you can find the items and restaurants listed in the book. Yes, there will be plenty you have heard of, but some, like the Uno Chicago Grill and In and Out Burger, seem to be a more local than a national phenomenon. For someone who lives in California or Chicago, this book may be of more use than in the Northeast, where I live. Recommended, but not highly. Book may only be of limited use depending on where you live.

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