The New York Times bestselling author of Tomatoland test drives the most popular diets of our time, investigating the diet gurus, contradictory advice, and science behind the programs to reveal how we should—and shouldn’t—be dieting.
“Essential reading . . . This will completely change your ideas about what you should be eating.”—Ruth Reichl, author of Save Me the Plums
Investigative journalist Barry Estabrook was often on the receiving end of his doctor’s scowl. Realizing he had two options—take more medication or lose weight—Estabrook chose the latter, but was paralyzed by the options. Which diet would keep the weight off? What program could he maintain over time? What diet works best—or even at all?
Over the course of three years, Estabrook tried the regimens behind the most popular diets of the past forty years—from paleo, keto, gluten-free, and veganism to the Master Cleanse, Whole30, Atkins, Weight Watchers—examining the people, claims, and science behind the fads, all while recording his mental and physical experience of following each one. Along the way, he discovered that all the branded programs are derived from just three diets. There are effective, scientifically valid takeaways to be cherry-picked . . . and the rest is just marketing. Perhaps most alarming, Estabrook uncovered how short-term weight loss can do long-term health damage that may go undetected for years. Estabrook contextualizes his reporting with an analysis of our culture’s bizarre dieting history, dating back to the late 1800s, to create a thorough—and thoroughly entertaining—look at what specific diets do to our bodies, why some are more effective than others, and why our relationship with food is so fraught.
Estabrook’s account is a relatable, pragmatic look into the ways we try to improve our health through dieting, revealing the answer may be to just eat.