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Customer Review

898 of 1,046 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is definitely about living to eat, July 25, 2008
This review is from: Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss (Paperback)
Although I wasn't "living to eat" before starting this diet, I certainly was while I was on it. You have basically two choices: (a) keep it simple, eating fruit for breakfast, salad and beans for lunch, and salad and two cooked vegetables for dinner; and (b) extremely complicated meal plans, where you often end up using and cleaning a blender *twice* for each meal. I was shocked to see one dinner included both homemade soup and chili. Yikes. Option a left me starving and falling off the diet (even though I was already a vegetarian), as well as too disgusted to put one more piece of lettuce in my mouth. Option b was close to impossible. I'm a freelancer, so I have time on my hands to cook, and I couldn't come close to re-creating that meal plan. The idea that this diet takes no willpower is laughable. Any diet that focuses 90% of calories on one food group takes an iron will. I doubt most Americans could even manage that with grains.

Anyway, food tastiness (or lack thereof) aside, I had some problems with the huge leaps of logic in the book. On the subject of fiber, Dr. Fuhrman cites observational studies instead of hard science. On oils, he admits the research is inconclusive, then claims oils don't have any benefits. On age of maturation, he says that the age of menarche (female puberty) has dropped significantly from age 17 to 12, but his chart shows that in the U.S., the average age has dropped from only 14 to 12 1/2 since 1870, when I presume we weren't eating too badly. He also doesn't give any support to his idea that earlier maturation causes early death. There's probably a good reason for that - as we've matured earlier and earlier, we've lived longer and longer. If I were Dr. Fuhrman, I'd probably commit a fallacy now and claim that correlation proves those two are related. I'm not suggesting they are, but I certainly don't see where he's getting the opposite opinion.

One point that bothered me in particular was his claim that it's not important to eat organic to get nutrients. That completely ignores many recent studies that have shown that non-organic produce, and even meats and cheeses, have 20-90% less nutrients than their organic counterparts and the same items 60 years ago. Did the author never hear about these studies? Did he consider that having low-nutrient food may be what's causing people to overeat (his own hypothesis, though he doesn't blame non-organics)? Or did he just presume if you're eating a head of lettuce a day, it doesn't matter much?

Several times he says that his opinions on certain issues (which he writes about as fact) aren't proven because the benefits would show up only after the course of a lifetime. Then later he claims it's never too late to start. Which is it?

I'm willing to say, hey, maybe he is right about the ideal human diet. But if he is, it's from a whole lot of guessing and cherry-picking information from different studies (e.g., looking at low cancer rates in plant-focused societies that don't live past age 55 - they aren't old enough for much of a cancer rate!).

In addition to the logic of the book, I was also disturbed by the commercialism: (1) Pushing the (very expensive) Vitamix mixer and setting up a way to get kickbacks from its purchase. (2) The use of hard to find ingredients, with no substitution listed. For example, Vegebase instant soup mix is listed as an ingredient in several major recipes in the book. I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the veggie capitals of the U.S., and I couldn't find it in three stores (finally found it at Whole Foods).

Finally, I don't think this is necessarily the doctor's fault, but he appears to have an almost cultish following. On my visits to his website, everything discussed is "Dr. Fuhrman said" like it's gospel. Followers even seem to search constantly for negative reviews in order to refute them. The author admits he doesn't know the answers to everything. I agree with him on that.
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Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 31-40 of 75 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2011 1:08:48 PM PDT
Robert Ruddy says:

Certainly all he healthy, long-lived populations eat plant-based (plant-based, not vegan nor vegetarian) diets, .i.e. Okinawans, Sardinians, etc. I was surprised to find this article at Science Daily:

Posted on Jul 23, 2011 12:44:57 AM PDT
LL Cool Jack says:
My goodness.... all this snarky "debate" over a reader writing her opinion? Someone obviously needs a little more wheatgrass in their masticator. Sentiments similar to "You obviously don't know what you're talking about" are such a turn off. Whatcha hoping for Drew? A retraction from the reviewer?

I thought the reviewer sounded earnest. After reading all this bickering and condescension flying about, I'm going to move on and look for a fact book where it's adherents aren't so stinking cranky. Yuck!

Posted on Aug 4, 2011 8:13:00 PM PDT
I just wish I could afford all organic food. My question is this. Is it better to eat lots of "regular" produce that isn't organic, or am I putting too much chemicals into my body for it to be a benefit to me? I really just can't afford it at all. My grocery bill is already almost too high since I've switched to eating so much more fresh fruits and vegetables, we are really pushing our budget limits. I have two kids, 13 and 9. I don't want to poison them by feeding them so much non organic produce. Thanks for any replies.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2011 8:46:09 PM PDT
Robert Ruddy says:

Boy I hear you loud and clear! Sadly, healthy eating isn't cheap as you've come to see for yourself. There are certain foods that you should absolutely buy organically grown due to the ease of pesticides penetrating the food. Strawberries are one of the worst. On the other hand I wouldn't waste my money on buying organically grown foods like bananas, with thick skins. I try to buy mostly organic because mostly organic is the best I can do for the time being. If I buy non-organically grown apples I peel off the skins. If I buy organic ones I eat the skins, after washing. I really try to buy the best quality food, locally grown when possible and organic most of the time but sometimes the reality of it forces you to buy what you can afford rather than what you want. I don't know if this helps answer your question or not.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2011 7:19:51 PM PDT
J. S. Reiner says:
The average age of menarche was 13.9 to 14 in 1900 and about 12 to 12.5 today. The foods listed could be considered a group as they are all non-animal. I have not read the book: just commenting on your attack on a comment you considered an attack. Just let the numbers of possitives and negatives balance themselves out. I always read a negative or two before I read all the positives just to get the other side but I found your attack too funny not to remark upon.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 12, 2011 9:46:06 PM PDT
Robert Ruddy,

You really helped me a lot! Strawberries and bananas are the fruits we have been eating lots of because my kids love them, so your advice is perfect! We also eat lots of apples, so I will only worry about buying organic strawberries, and peel the apples and not worry about the bananas!

It's so funny to me now that I fill up my grocery cart in the produce aisle now and don't have room for much crap. But I tell you, between the price and all the work cleaning and preparing, it's no wonder our ancestors gave up on it for the convenience and cheapness off processed's a struggle...

Again, I thank you. I was almost in tears thinking about doing all this work for the last 4-5 months, to think that I was just substituting crap food for poisioned food! =D

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 22, 2011 12:31:07 PM PDT
charlotte says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2011 7:14:18 PM PDT
Blue Topaz says:
Robert: Dr. Atkins did NOT die of heart disease. He died of a fatal head injury from falling. Google Dr. Atkin's Death.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2011 7:20:24 PM PDT
Robert Ruddy says:

Robert? I never said Atkins died of a heart disease!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2011 12:34:40 PM PDT
Camperkat says:
To save money on produce, know which fruits/veggies that the most pesticides are used on--buy those as organic produce. A good list can be found on, at

Here is part of the article: If you want to maximize the good you do to your body while minimizing the cost, you could choose to purchase organic produce for the fruits and vegetables which tend to have the most pesticides in the United States. It is estimated that if a consumer avoids eating non-organically grown produce in the top 12 ("Dirty Dozen") on this list, pesticide exposure can be reduced by up to 80%. This list was compiled by the Environmental Working Group from approximately 96,000 studies by the USDA and FDA of the 49 fruits and vegetables listed between 2000 and 2008. There are many fruits and vegetables that are not on this list -- these were chosen because they are most commonly eaten.

The scores given are simply a ranking of the different items, from the most problematic in terms of pesticides, to least likely to have pesticide residue. (Unlike other years, there is no attempt to make the numbers reflect the amount of pesticide residue found, only the ranking.) The fruits and vegetables were washed or peeled as most people use the produce - for example, apples were washed, bananas and oranges peeled.

Heavy use of pesticides are in this order: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries (U.S. grown), nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, potatoes, grapes (imported) lettuce, blueberries (imported).

And then...we have to worry about GMO food...most corn in the U.S. is from patented Monsanto seed that has genetically built-in BT to fight pesticides aren't used as much. So I don't eat corn anymore.

Watch these documentaries: "Food, Inc.", "The Future of Food", "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead", and read all of Michael Pollan's books. Good luck to us all.