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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and fun...not boring
Books that deal with preventative health issues are of great interest to me because I learn so much and my life always improves. This is one of those books that is not boring, but such a great joy to read. A physician friend recommended it because it deals with the whole issue of how and where we eat and not just what we should eat.
Part Two chapter two is one of...
Published on July 22, 2003 by Beth DeRoos

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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Horrible!
Ms. Kesten's book claims to be a treatise on traditional food wisdom, but it is obvious from the book that she knows very little about traditional diets or what native peoples throughout history have eaten.
Ms. Kesten makes many dismaying and untrue statements like this one: "Not only do diets high in 'sat fats' [saturated fats] make you feel sluggish (by lowering...
Published on June 11, 2002 by Stephen Byrnes


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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Horrible!, June 11, 2002
By 
Stephen Byrnes (Honolulu, HI United States) - See all my reviews
Ms. Kesten's book claims to be a treatise on traditional food wisdom, but it is obvious from the book that she knows very little about traditional diets or what native peoples throughout history have eaten.
Ms. Kesten makes many dismaying and untrue statements like this one: "Not only do diets high in 'sat fats' [saturated fats] make you feel sluggish (by lowering the amount of circulating oxygen in the blood), they may also impair memory and alter your mood by encouraging depression." No scientific references are given for this idiotic tidbit.
Throughout the book, Kesten disparages fats in almost any form and in this she shows her lack of knowledge about lipid biochemistry, as well as native diets which are rich in animal fats as numerous explorers have reported (e.g., Weston Price, Viljhalmur Stefansson, Cabeza de Vaca, and Samuel Hearne). Kesten offers no reputable research to back up her dubious claims about fats--how convenient to be able to make far-flung claims and offer no supporting proof!
In chapter three, Kesten states that saturated fats are "memory-dimming," citing the ideas of Richard and Judith Wurtman who claim that eating fats may slow down serotonin production and therefore cause depression. This unsupportable claim is at variance with research which shows that vitamin D (found only in animal fats which are highly saturated) can fight chronic fatigue, depression, and seasonal affective disorder. Traditional peoples who ate lots of animal/saturated fats were strong, healthy, and cheerful as Price's seminal work showed. Mood disorders and depression go hand in hand with poor nutrition--something Kesten's book is teaching though she is unaware of it.
The book has several chapters on "healing secrets" and the importance of being mindful, appreciating food and socializing while eating. She does have some good ideas, but they are eclipsed by her dismal dietary advice.
Chapter seven is devoted to urging people to eat fresh, whole foods. She then makes the outrageous statement that "technically, because they are not plant-based, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy aren't whole foods." HUH!? I guess making up your own definitions is one way to make your plan seem logical!
She then addresses the "Paleolithic perspective," and makes the false claim (a la Boyd Eaton), that our Paleolithic ancestors ate a lowfat diet--something that is not supported by nutritional anthropology (HL Abrams. J Appl Nutr, 31:1,2:43-59, 1979; HL Abrams, Food & Evolution, Temple University Press, 1987). She mistakenly claims that wild game has a fat content of about 4%. Did she check with any hunters before she wrote her book? Obviously not as wild animals like bison have a high amount of body fat in certain areas. Anthropological research shows unequivocally that native peoples prized the fatty parts of the animal over the lean muscle meats. And the whole animal was consumed, including the inner organs some of which (e.g., the brain) are very fatty.
The bizarre grand finale of her book is her description of a Christmas dinner of "optimal foods" in Norway, 1995. She rightly describes the typical Norwegian Christmas foods of fresh cod, lutefisk, pork ribs, sausages, and mutton--all true traditional foods that nourish and sustain during the dark, cold winter. For this dinner, however, she comes up with a mostly vegetarian meal consisting of melon soup, freshly squeezed juices, and plant foods with a little dairy. She admits how difficult it was to find such foods in Norway during the winter. This should have given her a clue about the validity of her dinner: She's going against nature with her strange ideas about food and native diets!
How serving a meal of fruits and veggies during a frigid Norwegian winter has anything to do with "ancient food wisdom" is hard to understand. Do not be deceived by this book. It is a far cry from traditional food wisdom.
A better and more accurate book would be Fallon & Enig's NOURISHING TRADITIONS, also available from amazon.com.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and fun...not boring, July 22, 2003
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Books that deal with preventative health issues are of great interest to me because I learn so much and my life always improves. This is one of those books that is not boring, but such a great joy to read. A physician friend recommended it because it deals with the whole issue of how and where we eat and not just what we should eat.
Part Two chapter two is one of my favorite chapters because it deals with the healing secret of socializing and the "French paradox" which is all about how eating at an hour and with others, that best suits the individual is healthier, and that communing which is where the term communion comes from, helps a person to not overeat and to better digest one food because when we eat amongst those we like, we tend to eat slower and we tend to eat better or healthier foods as well. The story shared in this chapter about the midnight meal is well worth the price of the book itself.
Chapter Seven titled The Healing Secret of Optimal Food is wonderful because it deals with eating healthy whole foods and not getting sucked into believing good food needs to be difficult to prepare or fancy in any way. That having a bowl of fresh apples, oranges, kiwi, bananas, peaches, grapes etc and eating some with pleasure and passion does wonders for the senses. Or a simple fresh spinach salad with lemon juice and oil dressing and cutting off some fresh slices of hearty rustic bread to eat with the salad can be like dining at a quaint café in the French Alps. Or how about some garbonzo beans (chickpeas) with fresh tomato and steamed shrimp with a vision of a Greek seaside café?
The book also speaks of meats and how to choose them wisely and prepare them so they retain their goodness. And eating meat in smaller servings like the French, Italians, Greeks and Asians do, which is more as a condiment in many ways. I was also pleased to read the "Asian Wisdom" section that spoke of how some eat congee which is a soup for breakfast since we eat soup for breakfast a lot. Or even vegetable stir fry.
Come to think of it, the books great value for me, was how it kindly pointed out to Americans that other cultures have a great deal of wisdom to share when it comes to eating well and not being unfit or fat.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food Secrets that Have the Power to Heal Millions, October 29, 2001
Nutritionist/author Deborah Kesten invites the reader on an alchemical journey to discover The Healing Secrets of Food-a remarkable melding of cutting edge science with ancient food wisdom. She has blazed a path to vitalizing and refreshing new nutrition terrain-one that nourishes body, mind, and soul-even our social well-being.
As a nutritionist who has been teaching a similar paradigm of intuitive eating, integrative nutrition and spiritual healing, what I appreciate most about Kesten's approach is her ability to blend the science of nutrition with the art of eating from the heart. She has solid research into the ancient healing traditions involving food, as well as religious, cultural and social customs and rituals. The healing secrets of food have actually been practiced for centuries, even millennia. Our modern culture has simply lost focus, by turning our attention outward-to (ever-changing) data, popular belief, and appearances. Many people are ready to end their struggles with food, eating, their weight and figuring the nutritional math. They are ready for a new focus and direction: a journey home, a return to the heart. The Healing Secrets of Food offers the tools to create this change and the map to discover the answers within. Everyone's journey is different and it is their own-that is the beauty of it.
In a society so dependent on numbers to define what and how much we eat, The Healing Secrets of Food takes you to a place where numbers are meaningless, where the authenticity of foods and nutrition inhabit a different kind of value. We discover that the incredible advances in nutritional science have not translated into optimal eating and improved health for most of our population. Simply eating from a nutritional databank can leave one depleted of meaning and deaf to the intuitive wisdom from within, and that can lead to unhealthful and disordered eating. For instance, Kesten links the newly identified eating disorder, orthorexia (an obsessive fixation on eating the "right" food) to the emphasis on what she calls "eating by number"-weight watching, calorie counting and figuring grams of fat, protein or carbohydrates. In the Healing Secrets of Food, Deborah Kesten unveils a new paradigm. Here, you will find the "nutrients" missing from the food charts. Kesten points out that what is not so easily measured might be much more valuable to our health. If not numbers, where does the meaning or nutritional value come from?
Food is more than a "product"; it is a culmination and assimilation of vital life force energies, whether in animal or plant food, that have been nurtured by air, water, soil, and sun. Kesten demonstrates that when we eat--and take in the vital life force energy in food--from a place of appreciation, mindfulness, and connection (love), and we honor our social heritage as well as our feelings, we will choose the optimal foods for our own health that are capable of nourishing and healing all aspects of the self. Optimal eating is not something that we calculate and obsess about, rather it is something that we naturally know about and crave to experience.
Kesten doesn't tell the reader any one way to eat. Rather, she leads you to form your own conclusions based on your personal health and nutrition concerns. Incorporate the healing secrets and watch your health and well-being improve.
It is an inside out approach, the kind that really works because a shift is made from the deepest part of the self. Kesten reveals that by practicing these secrets, "we have the potential to heal our body, our emotions, our sense of spiritual connection, our social link to one another and communities, and potentially our world and planet." Food can heal on many levels. And the healing gifts of food are available to us each and every time we eat. Kesten beautifully illustrates that we can imbue our food with love-from the time we plan what to eat, through the shopping, preparing, cooking, serving, eating and even clean-up-and when we ingest that spiritually instilled food, we reap the benefits: better tasting food, feeling more connection, feeling more centered and at peace, and even a heightened ability to metabolize more nutrients.
From Kesten's wonderful personal experiences, her fluid and poetic writing style, and her culinary metaphors--such as flavoring your food with love, spicing it with meaning, or seasoning it with the sacred--I had the feeling that I was reading a time-tested heirloom recipe book for enhancing my physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. I am recommending this book to my clients, colleagues, friends and family, as it dishes up a timely, inspiring and transforming message palatable to all.
A truly wise and generous serving of delicious secrets that has the power to heal millions.
Highly rewarding, highly recommended!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big disappointment; Beware 5 Star Ratings, June 24, 2003
By A Customer
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I hate to write negative reviews, but here goes. I was extremely disappointed in this book. It basically amounts to be grateful for your food, eat with others when you can, chew slowly, and eat whole natural foods. Good advice, yes, but not worth the price of the book. I was also disappointed in the book's failure to include much in the way of scientific proof in support of the statements. Many times the evidence presented is purely anecdotal, or purely personal. Examples of the latter include the author's telling us how a neighbor surprised her one year with a chocolate cake left on the doorstep, and how after she and her husband hiked in the mountains for days on end, they each ate two full meals at the first restaurant they visited. Not much there in the way of nutrition or health information. Lastly, I think that the glowing quotes on the book jacket should come with a truth in advertising disclosure. One of them was written by her husband (who works at Ornish) and another comes from another executive at one of the Ornish groups. Oh, did I mention that the author has worked at Ornish too? I just think that I could have done better for the money, and would advise anyone looking for substantial nutrition and health information to look elsewhere. Like a book by Dean Ornish (who wrote the book's introduction). By the way, one of the glowing 5 star reviews of this book was written by the author's husband, who didn't disclose his status as such in the review. Sheesh; hype, anyone?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Food Insights, September 6, 2002
By 
Because I tend to overeat, I've had a weight issue my entire life. Because of this, I've turned food, eating and nutrition into a kind of hobby, second only to dieting, my #1 hobby and pastime. I read whatever I can about food to find out what's healthiest. After reading The Healing Secrets of Food, the way I've thought about food my entire life has begun to shift--ever so subtly. For instance, I'm actually eating less fast food, and instead of "inhaling" my food, I've begun to take the time to slow down when I'm eating. And I tune into my feelings. Slowly, somehow I'm focusing less on dieting and instead, I sometimes actually taste my food and enjoy it. Also, I've always wanted to meditate, but don't seem to find the time. With Kesten's tips and new ways of thinking about food, I've decided to use the times I eat as a chance to meditate. And all this has happened without much effort. This book is filled with fascinating insights about food that I've never thought about before, and it's already changing my life. Not drastically. But enough to begin to make a positive difference. I'm amazed at the difference this book has already made in my life. And I think you will be too. It's not just about the healing secrets of food. It's also about the healing secrets of life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT YOU EAT HAS A PROFOUND AFFECT--AND EFFECT, July 5, 2003
By 
Kim Ann Miller (Far Hills, New Jersey) - See all my reviews
This book is a new kind of nutrition guide. It starts with an overview about how so many of us have spun out of control with food--66% are overweight or obese and even more Americans obsess about food by what Kesten describes as "counting calories, watching weight and figuring fat--both in food and our bodies." It then goes on to explain how diet can radically affect more than physical health, that it also influences how a person feels emotionally, even spiritually. The antidote to our disordered eating is the remainder of the book, which turns to science and story-telling to explain long-lost secrets about the many ways food heals. Finally, this book offers a step-by-step, practical solution to eating well and to actually enjoying your food at the same time. This book is highly informative and enlightening. My only criticism: This isn't a cookbook, but I would've liked to see some recipes. Still, it brings up and answers a lot of diet and food questions that other books on the subject miss or ignore completely. It's a gem.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DEMYSTIFYING OPTIMAL EATING, July 2, 2003
By 
Kim Ann Miller (Far Hills, New Jersey) - See all my reviews
Unlike most books about food and diet, this book is a celebration of the intelligence inherent in both food and in human beings. The approach and guidelines outlined in this book could save you years of confusion about the best way to eat. By merging food wisdom of ancient civilizations and religions into an effective and scientifically validated approach, this book has had a profound influence on my life, the role of food in it, and my health--both mental and physical. I found the "Personal Food Profile" quiz to be an invaluable tool for feedback. Read it--no, savor it--for a new understanding of food.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary View of Food, September 26, 2001
I read Kesten's first book about food and spirituality, FEEDING THE BODY, NOURISHING THE SOUL, several years ago. Since then, I've known that whatever she writes about will be thought provoking and will offer a new perspective in some way. Well, THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD surely achieves this and more. It really created a whole new view of food for me. How so? Kesten writes about food and nutrtion like a poet. Each page is filled with substance and amazing information about food and its power to heal. Her many stories about her own experiences with the healing secrets are fascinating. Reading THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD is a chance to visit with an amazingingly insightful and wise writer and researcher. Kesten has put together such an amazing array of information in such a way that you feel transported, a partner on her nutrition journey. To say THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD is fascinatng does not begin to express the wisdom on each page. It is riveting reading, filled with enthralling ideas and stories. Nutrition is kind of my hobby, and I've read lots of health books, but I think that THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD is the most amazing book about food that I've ever read. With THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD, Kesten promises to revolutionize our ways of looking at food and health. It is truly a gift for body, mind, and soul.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient nutritional wisdom meets modern science, September 26, 2001
"While over 2,000 new books about food were published over the past year, the most successful books on food were neither recipe nor diet books. They are, instead, part of a new trend of books exploring the comfort, humor, social comaraderie, and physical and spiritual healing we receive from food...Author Deborah Kesten...is at the forefront of this new look at nutrition...
Kesten's book, The Healing Secrets of Food, is like a nourishing meal - a shaman's soup which has slow cooked for days so that the bones have become one with the broth and even the scent is healing to body and soul."
--Rev. Dr. Katherine O'Connell
--"Food for the Soul" column
--Santa Cruz Sentinel
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary View of Food, September 26, 2001
I read Kesten's first book about food and spirituality, FEEDING THE BODY, NOURISHING THE SOUL, several years ago. Since then, I've known that whatever she writes about will be thought provoking and will offer a new perspective in some way. Well, THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD surely achieves this and more. It really created a whole new view of food for me. How so? Kesten writes about food and nutrtion like a poet. Each page is filled with substance and amazing information about food and its power to heal. Her many stories about her own experiences with the healing secrets are fascinating. Reading THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD is a chance to visit with an amazingingly insightful and wise writer and researcher. Kesten has put together such an amazing array of information in such a way that you feel transported, a partner on her nutrition journey. To say THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD is fascinatng does not begin to express the wisdom on each page. It is riveting reading, filled with enthralling ideas and stories. Nutrition is kind of my hobby, and I've read lots of health books, but I think that THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD is the most amazing book about food that I've ever read. With THE HEALING SECRETS OF FOOD, Kesten promises to revolutionize our ways of looking at food and health. It is truly a gift for body, mind, and soul.
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The Healing Secrets of Food: A Practical Guide for Nourishing Body, Mind, and Soul
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