Science is beginning to understand that our thinking has a deep and complicated relationship with our eating. Our thoughts before, during, and after eating profoundly impact our food choices, our digestive health, our brain health, and more. Yet most of us give very little thought to our food beyond taste and basic nutritional content.
In this revolutionary book, Dr. Caroline Leaf packs an incredible amount of information that will change readers' eating and thinking habits for the better. Rather than getting caught up in whether we should go raw or vegan, gluten-free or paleo, Leaf shows readers that every individual is unique, has unique nutritional needs, and has the power to impact their own health through the right thinking. There's no one perfect solution. Rather, she shows us how to change the way we think about food and put ourselves on the path towards health.
Anyone who is tired of traditional diet plans that don't work, who struggles with emotional eating, or who simply isn't satisfied with their level of health will find in this book the key to discovering how they can begin developing a healthier body, brain, and spirit.
Stale opinion mixed with dubious science
Dr Leaf has unfortunately gone a step too far with this book. It’s clear that she’s neither a nutritionist nor a real cognitive neuroscientist, and this book suffers as a result.
It’s not that there isn’t any good advice in it, but it’s the sort of advice that doctors and dieticians have been trying to reinforce for decades. But for every needle of reasonable advice, there’s a haystack of dubious science and her own personal opinion.
For example, Dr Leaf claims that “Real food is food grown the way God intended: fresh and nutritious, predominantly local, seasonal, grass-fed, as wild as possible, free of synthetic chemicals, whole or minimally processed, and ecologically diverse.”
Dr Leaf’s definition of "real food" is nothing more than a romanticised post-modern social construct, and claiming it’s God’s idea doesn’t make it any less misleading. Of course we want our food to be fresh, and we also want it to be nutritious. But fresh and nutritious are not dependent on being local, seasonal, ecologically diverse (whatever that means), grass-fed and wild. In fact, how something can be grass-fed and wild seems contradictory. Also, processing food makes it safer, and in most cases, more nutritious that the unprocessed farm gate versions. There’s virtually no pesticide residues left on conventional produce either, so that’s a moot point.
She also claims that how you think changes how you eat, and how you eat changes how you think. Except the last part of that statement is mutually exclusive to her premise that the mind is separate to the brain and controls the brain. What you put in your mouth might change the function of your brain, but how can that change the way you think if the mind is separate to the brain?
This paradox is the death-knell to her books credibility and usefulness. Not that it makes any difference to Dr Leaf, who conveniently forgets this central tenet of her teaching whenever it suits her.
The advice she provides is also off-track. The answer to processed food isn’t to plant your own garden, or raise your own chickens, or join a local agro-economic food co-op. That sort of advice is impractical for the vast majority of her audience, and in practice, if most people tried to grow their own food, it would undoubtedly be of worse quality and nutritional value than the professionally grown stuff. It's a bit like telling people to avoid the dangers of hospitals by joining a local medical co-op and doing your own surgery.
Dr Leaf’s book “Think and Eat Yourself Smart” is a repackaging of stale opinion and dubious science by an author who isn’t a nutritionist, or even a cognitive neuroscientist for that matter. There might be some helpful advice in there, but it would be difficult for an average reader to pick out what’s beneficial and what’s bogus.
If you want simple and sound nutritional advice, I suggest you look elsewhere.