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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2005
I was familiar with the work of Donald Altman from his earlier 'Art of the Inner Meal' and was impressed how his writing has found a fresh and densely pragmatic new form. 'Meal by Meal' is a fluid read of inspiring quotes coupled with practical insights by the author. This book is extremely handsome, a beautifully laid out composition making this both useful and pleasurable to read. If you have the discipline to read a page at a time, you will find this helpful day by day. I personally had trouble putting it down and would read a month at a time... but the suggestions are valid and useful on a second slower read. Worthwhile investment for someone wishing to calm their compulsive behavior for a more reflective perspective.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2004
Beauty is not just skin deep with MEAL BY MEAL. This is a gorgeous book by any standards, and usually I don't mention cover and interior layout design when reviewing a book. But this one stands out above the crowd. The content is awesome, especially because of the unusual format-- daily themes around food (7 of them) that repeat week after week for the entire year. Each daily theme begins with a quotation, and these are from such wide-ranging sources that they are a joy to read in and of themselves! From Gandhi and Jesus to Sophia Loren and Mark Twain, these quotes set the stage for Altman's insightful and memorable commentaries about how you can engage with your daily meal in a mindful and aware way. In particular, I like that Altman includes everyone-- singles, those with partners, and families--and all ways that food is experienced alone or with others. There is no judgement here of eating either--just more and more awareness of how to break free from unhealthy eating habits and how to use food for mind, body, and spirit. Altman even includes lots of little nutritional ideas and tips, such as using food as medicine by getting enough vitamin K and antioxidants in your food choices. I find myself jumping ahead from page to page just for the fun of it. This book is an eye-opening and mouth-opening experience that you won't want to miss, and personally, it has made food a more delightful and less stressful experience for me. Whether you're on a diet or just eating food because you love it, this book helps you experience and savor food more deeply in each of the book's food themes-- Entry, Choices, Preparation, Ritual, Eating, Community, and Departure. Great book to share with others, too.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2004
I open this book up several times a day to get inspiration. It always gives me a big dose of compassion and acceptance for my food struggles. Best of all, it connects me to a deeper source of food that gives me strength for mind-body-spirit. Rarely have I read a book that improved and changed my life on a dialy basis, but this one does! Perhaps it can for you, which is why I highly recommend MEAL BY MEAL as one of the most caring and compassion-filled books that I have ever had the opportunity of reading! This book makes love part of your daily recipe for eating, and it removes the guilt of food! Forget dieting, because if you use this book each day you will apply your deeper awareness and soul to your food choices. This book is a real blessing, and I am thankful it is there for all who need it!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2004
Among life's simple pleasures that can be enjoyed every day there is now the book, Meal by Meal. With pages designated by the days of the year rather than page numbers, you are expected to read one page each day; although I have to admit to reading ahead. I get caught up in the quotes and always need to read a few more.
There's a lot of wisdom and guidance here, that's delivered with enough humor and warmth to make it a joy to read, rather than a scold about all of the habits associated with food that our culture has just gotten wrong. It's the spiritual key to thinking more rationally about the simple act of eating, which too often gets driven by emotions rather than the need for nourishment.
Each page is a meditation, complete with a quote, a one-phrase directive and a few paragraphs. Some of these paragraphs are points of departure, prompting you to think and challenge yourself. Some are short parables from a number of different religions. Others are just good advice. None are preachy. It's a page-a-day means of feeling more centered and in control of your life, that can do more good for your health and diet than any one-a-day vitamin.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2004
I really like this book. It is a fitting companion to Altman's "Living Kindness". The daily quotes, the thoughtful vingnets, and the affermations all work well together. I like the Idea of having quotes from people from all walks of life. This is a book of meditations to be read a day at a time; though, I must admit, I have already scanned through the whole book. I like that it is spiritual without being religious, instructive without being preachy and serious without being dour. It informs our attitudes about food, but it is really about a mindfulness and living kondness. While it should be helpful for those with eating disorders, it should also prove useful to anyone seeking a little balance in his/her life. Besides, it is a lot of fun to read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"Meal by Meal" is more than a book - it is a meal companion. The "daily meditation" format books have been around for many years now: go to any Goodwill or Salvation Army store and you'll find a handful. This one, however, in my prediction, will be on the self-help orbit for a very, very long time.

Here's why. Disordered eating - be it of compulsive/conditioned or emotional/coping type - is a habit. Any habit is a stimulus-response pattern. Big Ben (London, UK) chimes 12 pm - must be lunch time. Big Ben (Pittsburgh Steelers) is on the field - it's beer and nachos time. Whatever the habit, a stimulus (e.g. to eat) is conditioned to a response (e.g. eating). The only way to break an association is form a new one. Habits - as we are told by behavior modification gurus - can't be un-learned, but only over-learned.

And this is where the "daily meditation" format comes in handy. Altman - a former Buddhist monk and an author of "The Inner Meal" - is "channeling" the paradigm of mindfulness. You've heard all about it, of course: increase the presence (in this here-and-now), facilitate change (from an old pattern to a new pattern). Simple enough, heh? The challenge, however, is to go from knowing to doing. Altman's solution is to turn each meal into a meditative practice of mindfulness. To take it one meal at a time.

Altman has done the homework and come up with a year (!) worth of original meal-by-meal meditational recipes - each consisting of a quotation, a brief mindfulness-provoking vignette, and a "bullet point" to sum things up and to chew on.

A major strength of this "meditational guidance" is a uniquely soothing rhythm of Entry>Choice>Preparation>Ritual>Eating>Community>Departure. Altman himself, in the preface, refers to these as "themes." In particular, he explains: "Meal by Meal uses daily themes that target your real world experience with food. With a theme for each day of the week <...> you are guided gently and surely onto the path of mindfulness" (p. 3). The apparent effect of these rolling phases is a kind of conditioned internalization to treat each meal as a series of mindfulness crossroads: you enter into hunger, you make a conscious choice as to how to satisfy it, you mindfully prepare the food, with ritualistic mindfulness of the process you consume it, while appreciating social company or merely communing with the world at large by meditating on how this act of eating connects and unites you with the rest, and eventually exiting the moment of eating with mindful grace, without the baggage of disordered eating - a meal after meal after meal.

What Altman succeeds in doing with this book is somewhat paradoxical: he is helping you turn mindfulness into a habit. Why is this paradoxical? Habits - to be habits - have to be mindless stimulus-response associations. But here it's a different story. By reading a page from Altman's "meal by meal" once a day, you are gradually instituting a habit of remembering to wake up, to go off your autopilot whenever you sit down to eat - and the behavior of eating mindfully, with time, becomes second nature, an altogether different kind of auto-pilot, a kind of auto-pilot that reminds the pilot to get back in the driver's seat, and that, in turn, un-yokes the mindless eater from the shackles of mindless eating.

Altman's writings on mindful eating, in my opinion, are a staple for a weight management self-help library. Altman's "Meal by Meal" isn't a cookbook but it is a recipe book for mindful eating.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D.
Author of "Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time" (New Harbinger, 2008)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2004
What a delicious book!
Of course I went to read what was written on my birthday before I read anything else.
Altman writes eloquently for every day of the year.
It's hard to put the book down after reading the daily meditation. You just want to read more. It's that inspirational.
At times, my life can be so fast paced that by the end of the day I don't even know I've eaten. This book reminds me that food not only feeds the body but it feeds the soul if you take the time by using a mindful approach.
Ingredients: Insightful, inspirational with some dashes of humor.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2006
I might not call this book meal by meal but I would call it day by day. I've been using it for about a month now as a guide for mindful eating. Some of the ideas are things I do, some of them are easy for me to implement, and some of them are a challenge. I like the idea of focusing on eating rather than dieting and it appears to be helping me make more concious choices about how I approach food.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2009
This is a must have for those of us that need constant reminders to slow down, smell the roses, taste the food and enjoy the moment. I leave it out on the coffee table to check every day. Plenty of "food" for thought.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2008
One of my favs! Must buy for everyone! this "calendar for eating consciously" is sooooo helpful and motivating. 9 out 10 times the daily meditations speaks to my heart and helps me focus on being mindful...and that one day the meditation misses the mark i just go back to a message that spoke to me. the messages really gets u thinking and helps u grew. so glad i bought it.
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