Combined book review #2: Food books

Time for another book review. Over summer I placed a ‘food book’ order on Amazon, containing books solely on diet and nutrition. Now, since these type of books are always hit or miss, I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts on 4 of them. Plus it’s a way for you to stay informed on how and why I make certain food choices at the same time.

The four books under review are:

  1. The complete book of food combining by Kathryn Marsden
  2. Clean & Lean Diet by James Duigan
  3. Living Low Carb by Jonny Bowden
  4. De Voedselzandloper by Kris Verburgh

First I’ll explain my rationale for buying these types of book and after that I’ll go into each book individually. My main reason for buying a stack of books from Amazon (I have 5 more to be read) is to be more or better informed about the foods I eat, so I’m able to make better choices. Now I don’t believe in diets, but I do believe that knowing about them can give you the insight needed to make choices regarding the food you eat on a day to day basis. Hence there are a few diet books in the stack as well. Now on to the books!

1.) Kathryn Marsden – The Complete Book of Food Combining

I’m hitting you straight with the most interesting read in the bunch. What this book is about are the basic principles to food combining. Food combining is an old Ayurvedic principle of not eating certain foods together. The idea is that certain foods (proteins and starches predominantly) simply don’t go together and there is a neutral food group. My interest for this book was raised when I found out it gives tips to aid digestion. I wouldn’t call this a diet at all, but simply a guideline for what to eat when. Plus the author is not so condescending telling you what to do. The philosophy here is: do what you can, every little bit counts. I’ve been trying it out for breakfast (first just some fruit and then a heftier breakfast within an hour after that) and it works: I feel full for longer and my digestive problems seem to have lessened as well.

2.) James Duigan – Clean & Lean Diet

Your bog standard diet book, with tons of anecdotes of how many famous people the author has helped maintain or obtain their fabulous bodies. Whatever: that’s not why I got it. The idea here is simple: you eat as clean and lean as you can. This means you forego anything processed, try to go organic where you can and don’t eat too much fat. Once a week you get to pig out for one meal. This book was my least favorite in the bunch, mainly because it would never work for me. Many of the clean & lean eats suggested contain wheat or other grains (lots of rice!). I still like the idea of the non-processed foods though. I’m trying to stay away from additives and any product with an ingredient list longer than 5 – 6 ingredients and if I can’t pronounce them or they end in -ose, I’m not buying it.

3.) Jonny Bowden – Living Low Carb

Now this book is an interesting read if you want to try low carb, but don’t know how to do it. It offers you a look into 23 different low carb diets with recommendations of the author, who very shamelessly promotes his own diet by favoring it over anything else. Surprise, surprise. Still it’s a good read if you a) want to know what low carb even is b) which diets are based on low carb principles and c) how they compare and thus which elements might be useful for you. A completely low carb diet excludes fruits and any carbs. Since I need some carbs when working out, I just can’t do it that strictly, but especially my lunch and dinner are carb free and I try to do a bit of many of the diets described in this book. One plus about this book is that it entails anecdotal information on people who did great on low carb diets but didn’t on regular diets and that it also provides information on why low carb diets are frowned upon by most regular doctors.

4.) Kris Verburgh – De Voedselzandloper

A Dutch book, which I bought from my local bookstore over spring. I read it front to back and liked the nutritional information it provides. What it tries to do is first debunk the traditional food pyramid or Schijf van Vijf: the pillars of food education and information in the Western world and suggests a new system that should prevents aging and has the helpful addition that you lose weight. It first provides background and then goes into the chemistry of carbs, protein and fats. It’s a bit hefty at times if you are a chemistry noob like me, but the first couple of chapters really hit home. However when the author introduces his new system I got kind of turned off. He adamantly states his proposal is NOT a diet and by the end of the book describes just that! There are recipes in the back and just recently a cookbook was published. And that, to me, is just a bit hypocritical. Also the book proposes the intake of an array of food supplements which I’m not a fan of either.

The round up:

No 1 is my favorite as it proposes to simply eat things in a different way, without being pushy and stating it is the only way. No 2 is my least favorite as it is not as informative as the others (yet looks the flashiest, go figure). No 3. I liked as it allows you to see for yourself what you like and gives back ground information. No 4 is great if you like knowing more about the science of food and the effect of it on your body.

***Fun fact***

Did you know that store bought gluten free bread contains 4 different types of sweetener, including high fructose corn syrup, glucose and regular refined white sugar?


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