FAQ: Is your book a diet book?

I have learned from reading the reviews since I first published my book five months ago that some readers were hoping for a specific weight-loss plan with a detailed outline of exactly what to eat along with exercise routines (even though my book clearly discusses integrating movement into your daily life). I have also learned that some people see counting calories and watching what they eat as incompatible with it being something they would do for the rest of their lives as a lifestyle.

"Diet" literally means "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." In my book I go into detail about food groups, methods and vintage guides for deciding what to eat and how much is right for you. "Diet" is NOT the same thing as what was referred to as a "reducing diet" in the 1950s or what we know today as "Weight Watchers" or "Nutrisystem." 

There were plenty of gimmicky reducing diets in the 1950s only it was a tiny fraction of today's billion dollar industry because the overall need was significantly less. It would be a disservice to my readers to offer you those plans that tell you EXACTLY what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Why? They didn't work then in the long run and they won't work now. We have no shortage of specific plans that are NOT tailored to individual dietary needs. I feel comfortable stating that if I included a specific eating plan with recipes that that would become the focus, and the temptation would be to simply follow it and not think more deeply about our relationship to food and our health, clothing, and moving. Also, we all have unique health issues and demands that call for different choices. If you watch Cheers for Chubby you will notice that the solution was a diet of general guidelines recommended by a doctor, counting calories and making permanent lifestyle changes. 

Our culture of dieting has become so twisted that we now think "diet" always means a magic plan to follow instead of an overall lifestyle of relating to food in a balanced and healthy manner.

My book outlines the average 1950s diet and compares it to what and how the typical American woman eats and evaluates her health today. The 1950s diet worked for millions of American women-- a decade of hard evidence of an overall thinner nation is hard to dispute! It also promotes a healthy lifestyle and by applying it to my life I lost weight as have many of my readers. Making permanent lifestyle changes is what works, and my book gives readers the tools to make those changes.

So, is my book a specific plan with detailed recipes and rules? No.

Is it a diet book that can help you lose weight by giving you the tools to make healthier choices, the most important tool and weapon in your arsenal being your attitude and understanding of fit living with the motivation to follow through with behavioral changes? I hope so!

Comments

  1. It's been a month of counting calories using My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone and I've lost 6 pounds! I've been pinning photographs from the 1950's on Pinterest as well to keep me motivated. And I even found a pink 1950's vintage scale in mint condition. It's made it fun to weigh in each week! :) Thanks for all your information and encouragement. I love this vintage way of getting back my health!

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    1. Outstanding!! And standing on a cute pink scale to weigh yourself DOES sound like a fun way to keep track! Good thinking, I love it!

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    2. I should have said it's an outstanding idea to have a stand-out scale. : ) I'd love to see a pic and with your permission post it to my blog and credit you. I think it can inspire others.

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    3. Yes! I will email it to you! :)

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  2. In regards to your post today, I agree with you. Giving an "exact" diet defeats the purpose! However, since you have so much knowledge of this time period, I personally think it could helpful if information could be shared about what a typical 1950's breakfast, dinner, etc. looked like. That way it's just giving ideas (and inspiration) on how women ate in the 1950's instead of some specific diet. Just a thought. Have a great day, Averyl!

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    1. Thanks, Tammy. The issue I have is that I am not aware of any research on the popularity of specific dishes cooked, because again "typical" would come down to specifics. But I can and do offer what general food groups of which the typical diet was comprised. I do believe the recipes on my blog give people ideas about what they ate but again, I am not aware of any trend. The images we see in vintage magazines are not an accurate reflection of real life any more than they are today since they are advertiser sponsored.

      I talk to a lot of people about what their grandparents made for them growing up, my grandparents and elderly people as well when I've volunteered, and each shared something different, especially since I have many friends of other ethnic groups.

      The common theme within all of them is that they were minimally processed and home made. On Snark-Free Cookery I am trying to offer recipes for foods beyond "American" since we have and had diversity in the kitchen.

      I hope this makes sense!

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    2. Thanks, Averyl. I totally get that. I'm glad you told me about the images of meals in the 1950's were done by advertisers. I never thought of that! And I'm loving your recipes on Snark-Free Cookery. So I guess it all boils down to what you said, "minimally processed and homemade"!

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    3. You're welcome! Many of the recipe books were also advertiser sponsored-- they were trying to find as many ways as possible to work in their product into people's everyday diets. : )

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  3. I guess this book was for me at the right moment. I was reading all kinds of reducing advice from the 20s when I found your blog. Counting calories was already around then, and there's quite a bit written by people who were over weight and finding success with it. The tone of these books is quite different from today's. Not that they were a fat shaming escapade, but they definitely laid the responsibility at the individual's feet. That being said they are quite humorous and encouraging. Reading them caused something to click in my brain. That "responsibility" became freeing if I was willing to take up the challenge. I don't need someone's food plan because I need to be responsible for it myself. So I'm writing all my meals down. There are patterns popping up. I like FAT! A lot.
    I've also been talking to my naturally thin mother to find out her mindset. As far as exercise goes it never would have crossed her mind to go to a gym, or buy running shoes for actual running. She despises it. But she doesn't shirk house work, yard work, digging post holes for fences, tar papering her shed roof, or making me drag a baby horse carcass to the dump. Her day job is accounting.
    She loves liver, quick egg and bacon sandwiches, onion sandwiches with mayo, salt and pepper, salads, and one piece of beef ever day. I can't keep up with her eating habits. I tried and gained five pounds. But I can do my own thing by modifying and tweaking it for myself. So far I've lost over ten pounds since December.
    Averyl, I think your approach with gently modifying you calories, and losing the weight over a year is better than what I am doing. I was impatient when I started out. You're advice doesn't promote the crash and burn mentality. Unfortunately, I think the negative reviewers of your book are in that cycle. Some of them were very detailed and thoughtful, but I was left wondering if they had read the same book as I!
    I mean, besides the book's price, the advice you have is almost free! And easy! I mean.....the only time I feel deprived is when I don't eat all of my calories for the day.
    I'm going to go now. I'm trying to find organically raised pig fat so I can render my own lard.
    Love from, V. :)

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, V, and your positive feedback!

      I've learned a lot from writing my book, and one of the things is that, like you noticed, different people have taken different things away from my book. No matter how clear I try to be, I can't control the interpretations. It surprised me how divergent some of the comments have been and likely will continue to be.

      You are correct that what works for one person, in this case your mom, can be the wrong diet for another. We need to do the work of finding out what works best for us by using reliable guidelines and medical advice. It sounds like you are doing just that!

      You are also right that I didn't feel deprived because I simply stopped dieting and did not go for a quick weight loss. I was averaging over 2,000 calories a day. I'm tall and move a lot so that amount for someone else could mean weight gain. Now that I've lost the weight I want I keep counting calories and weigh in so I don't gain it back.

      I'm very glad you found my blog and book. Thank you for your support!

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  4. I guess many people want to be spoon fed rather than learn anything. I resist that also with my writings. I mostly provide a structure where the person can adapt and modify for themselves. Probably because that's the way I like it for myself.

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    1. I guess you could say that spoon-feedings might expand waistlines but not minds!

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  5. A great quote from Averyl:

    "Diet" literally means "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats."

    And, "Our culture of dieting has become so twisted that we now think "diet" always means a magic plan to follow instead of an overall lifestyle of relating to food in a balanced and healthy manner."

    I thought these things before I ever discovered this blog and the book. I think they both expound upon these ideas, informatively and entertainingly. (Gee, I hope those are actual words.)

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    1. Thanks, Beal! They ARE real words and really appreciated.

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