Foreword Review — Jan / Feb 1999
Heber, the director of the UCLA center for human nutrition, has treated thousands of overweight patients at the UCLA Medical Center over the last twenty-three years. Heber’s inspirations for writing this book was his own overweight problem as a child as well as teenage friends, both male and female, who suffered the loss of self-esteem that comes from being thought of as unattractive or undesirably overweight.
“Why are we getting fatter?” Heber asks in the first chapter. He feels that there are four reasons: the hidden fat and calories in our diet, our basic genetic blueprint, increased stress and lack of physical activity. What he says about our genetic blueprint is that it has permitted humankind to survive starvation in many different environments. We have a built-in ability to conserve fat and calories, which were scarce in the environment our ancestors lived in. This genetic tendency varies from one person to another. We all know people who can seemingly eat whatever they want and not gain weight. Genes confer the capability to gain weight, but your diet and lifestyle determine whether and to what extent that potential is realized.
In chapters two through eight he addresses such topics as getting ready to lose weight, keeping the promise, meal replacement and portion controlled foods and the trigger food strategy. At the end of each of these chapters he presents a profile that consists of questions for the dieter to answer for guidance to the right strategy for losing weight. Some of his suggestions, however, should be scrutinized before acting upon. For example, he suggests that someone may want to have plastic surgery on their stomach if there is excess skin after dieting thereby increasing self-esteem, resulting in weight being kept off easier. Another example is his recommendation for using a meal replacement such as Ultra Slim Fast or energy bars to supplement meals.
Information about eating a diet with whole grains, legumes, low or no dairy and a plant-based diet is helpful. He also mentions the California Cuisine Pyramid and compares it to the food pyramid that the USDA had previously prepared.
As with any diet, the desire and commitment to change life habits to include physical activity and lowering fat intake are essential.