"No caffeine, no protein, no booze or nicotine…"

by Katie Pizzuto on September 18, 2009

in book review

eat_this_not_thatYou’ve gotta hand it to a book that claims it’s the “No-Diet Weight Loss Solution” and puts both a Big Mac and a Whopper on its front cover. It’s ridiculous, of course, and I grabbed it for no other reason than to make fun of it, but just like the car wreck by the side of the road, I berate those who stop, look, and slow things up and then wind up gawking myself. Guilty as charged—slam the gavel, grab the cuffs.

Eat This, Not That! is a series of books I had been wanting to make fun of for a long time. The basic premise is that they pin 2 foods against each other and tell you which is the “healthier choice”—in Katiespeak it’s simply the lesser of two evils. That way, you save calories, fat, sodium, sugar, etc. and lose weight. The Big Mac, for example, is the better choice of the two sandwiches I mentioned on the cover. Why?

Big Mac = 540 calories and 29g of fat

Whopper w/Cheese = 760 Calories and 47g of fat

Eat the Big Mac and you’ve just saved yourself over 200 calories and nearly 20g of fat, which is great if you don’t consider that you’ve just swallowed almost half your daily fat intake if you’re a healthy man, and that’s before the fries. People who think like this are the same ones who will later congratulate themselves on their wise choice by not bothering to hit the treadmill that night because they saved themselves some calories. Here are some things that the book promises:

  1. It’s crafted to specifically target belly fat by filling you with smart, healthy choices. (a Big Mac is a healthy choice for who?)
  2. You’ll reshape your body by eating in the same places but eating smarter. (lest we try NOT eating in the same places)
  3. Gain greater health by cutting empty calories (great, that’s like whittling the Ark down to the Titanic)
  4. Gain people’s respect by staying lean (not even touching this one)

After I was escorted out of the bookstore for laughing so loud that I disturbed the latte drinkers, I grabbed a seat outside so I could continue the entertainment. I realize that Americans are in a perpetual state of looking for the easy way out, but it seemed laughable that people would actually buy these books with the intention of using them as a weight loss tool! “If you go to Pizza Hut, eat this pizza, not that one.” How about skipping Pizza Hut, bub? But it was only a matter of moments before I found the voice in my head change from, “you’ve got to be kidding me” to “really? It’s got that many calories?” Who would’ve thought, for instance, that you’re better off eating a Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheddar breakfast sandwich at Starbucks than eating a Bran Muffin with Nuts there? I pounded at the window, yelling toward the latte drinkers inside, trying to warn them, but I could scarcely be heard over the whoosh of the Vivanno blender.

They’ve also got a “Supermarket Survival Guide” version to tell you which of the crappy processed foods you buy are better/worse than the others. They’ll tell you which boxed rice side dish is less blubber building, and which mac and cheese brand is less artery clogging, and they’ll do it with a straight face. But all this is not to say that I didn’t learn anything from these self-helpless books. Did you know, for instance, that 1 package of Twix has the saturated fat equivalent of 11 strips of bacon?! Or that a serving of Bertolli Grilled Chicken Alfredo & Fettuccine Skillet Meal has the saturated fat equivalent of 22 strips of bacon?! Then there’s Drake’s Cherry Fruit Pie, voted “Trans-Fattiest Food in the Supermarket.” One package (2 small pies) contains more than 4 days’ worth of trans fat. But what amazed me most to learn was that apparently Australian researchers have found that mixing liquor (like rum) with diet drinks (like Coke) can intensify the alcoholic effect by 50%! Bet you guys are taking notes now, ain’tcha?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 castello September 18, 2009

Jim Beam and diet soda for dinner tonight.

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2 The Wine Commonsewer September 18, 2009

Saw that book and, like you, immediately made fun of it. And, like you, came to realize that there is a lot of interesting and valuable info inside.

It’s like the Subway guy who lost hundreds of pounds eating those ghastly Subway sandwiches. It does make a difference what you eat, even if it is a choice between crappy food and crappier food.

There are dozens of documented cases where people have lost weight eating at Mickie Dees (unlike Spurlock, who stuffed himself at every meal so he could make the documentary Super Size Me–hate to break the news to him, but if he ate as much food from Whole Foods meals as he did from McDonalds he’da gained a ton of weight as well).

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3 Linsey September 20, 2009

I can honestly say I have never once in my life had a Big Mac or a Whopper, and I agree on the ‘ghastly’ Subways … tried it once – yuck.

On Subs – the meatball one was found to have more salt than about 8 packets of potato chips/crisps.

The ‘secret’ evils in fastfood hits the news here in the UK too not least when a certain burger company when introducing salad created a dressing that had more calories and ‘evils’ in it than having one of the burgers.

Think items in this book turn up on the front page of Yahoo! sometimes – I have read the change for something better before.

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4 RJ Flamingo September 21, 2009

I’d still rather have the Twix. I really hope people aren’t using these books as diet guides, but rather as a source of odd trivia & the occasional OMG!

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5 Linsey September 21, 2009

wonders if twix is the same in usa as it is in the uk – two sticks of biscuit with caramel on top and coated in chocolate

its actually one of the few chocolates i dont like – far too sweet and i like cadburys creme eggs

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6 Katie Pizzuto September 21, 2009

I guess what scares me most is that, yeah, I guess if you follow the guidelines you could lose some weight, but being thinner sure as hell doesn’t make you healthier! If you used to eat a Whopper each day for lunch and now eat a Big Mac each day, I guess you’d lose a few pounds after a while, but a Big Mac each day isn’t a “healthy choice” as they imply.

@Linsey…yes, that’s what a Twix is here…surprised you find it too sweet if you like the Cadbury eggs! Geez, I can’t even finish one of those, LOL!

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7 Vicequeenmaria September 21, 2009

Am I wrong in thinking there is a great defense case for bacon here? LOL 🙂

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8 Katie Pizzuto September 21, 2009

I seriously doubt anyone who reads this blog would contest that 😉

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9 Linsey September 21, 2009

my dinner – homemade tuna fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce – give me that over a bigmac/whopper any day

btw Katie – did you get my photo email?

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10 Katie Pizzuto September 22, 2009

I absolutely did and they look great, Lin. Will include one in my “angels and demons of food/wine photography” soon, like I did not long ago! Thanks!!!

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11 Linsey September 22, 2009

ooooh im chuffed – puffs chest out hehehe ty

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