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Fascinating information on the endocrine system
on August 24, 2002
Dr. Vliet is an M.D. and founder and medical director of Her Place: The Women's Center for Health Enhancement and Renewal in Arizona and Texas, a medical practice specializing in comprehensive hormone evaluations for women. She is the author of Screaming to Be Heard: Hormone Connections Women Suspect...and Doctors Still Ignore, an additional book on hormone issues which I own and found valuable when I was researching alternatives to HRT. Dr. Vliet is a clear, easy-to-read writer, and her book is well-laid-out and accessible.
The subtitle of this book is "A Weight-Loss Plan for Women Over 35." In it, the author covers the basics of when and why women gain weight from a hormonal perspective. The doctor does an outstanding job explaining how the female reproductive system is one part of the entire, intricate endocrine system, including the adrenals, the thyroid, and the pancreas. She speaks about these important concepts in clear, layperson's terms making them accessible for readers who want much deeper knowledge of their bodies than the average weight-loss book can provide.
The doctor's diet plan is basically the same as that in The Zone by Barry Sears, that is, he says we should eat 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fat, and this diet suggests 35% protein, 35% carbs, 30% fat. Interestingly, in Sears' subsequent Soy Zone book, he must have realized that it is a real pain to measure and count grams and ounces of food, and that most people just won't bother with it, because he recommends eye-balling portions. This means that you will basically cover one-third of your plate with soy products, and the other two-thirds with fruits and veggies. Dr. Vliet's method is more complicated than this. She provides meal plans which are supposed to give you an idea of what you will normally eat on her diet. Then, as Weight Watcher's does, she offers "swaps" (exchanges) for the two main food groups in her menu plan, protein and carb. For example, you can swap an apple for a pear in one of her meals. She states that she feels that pretty much all the fat you need will come from your protein foods (that is, be saturated, animal fat).
I applaud her recommending a basic plan of at least 1600 calories per day, wisely pointing out that if a woman goes much below that, her metabolism will crawl to a halt. I believe that many women who want a simple approach to menopausal weight gain will find this book useful. For further reading on diets like hers, I suggest Sears' book, the Eades' Protein Power and even Dr. Atkins (it can be done with lots of veggies for your limited carbs).