- Hardcover: 230 pages
- Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (December 31, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1607744864
- ISBN-13: 978-1607744863
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Diets Fail (Because You're Addicted to Sugar): Science Explains How to End Cravings, Lose Weight, and Get Healthy Hardcover – December 31, 2013
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Q. What do you mean when you talk about sugar addition? I don't take sugar in coffee or add it to my food, so I would say I can’t be addicted to sugar – can I?
A. Even if you are not deliberately adding sugar to your drinks or food, sugar is already an ingredient in many foods and beverages – some of which you might not expect. This book discusses which types of foods and drinks contain high amounts of sugar and includes a questionnaire to help readers see if they show signs of a sugar addiction.
Q. What is a 'hidden' sugar, and how do I discover which foods contain them?
A. Hidden sugars are sugars contained in foods or beverages that you might not suspect. We know that many dessert items, such as ice cream and pastries, contain high amounts of sugar, but there are also a number of food and drink items that you may not expect to contain a lot of sugar, including certain yogurts, energy bars, barbecue sauces, etc. Hidden sugars can be identified by looking carefully at a food or beverage’s nutrition label, a topic we discuss further in the book.
Q. How does your eating program handle eating out and holiday times, especially if there are hidden sugars everywhere?
A. This book discusses the types of foods that tend to be high in sugar and that may contain hidden sugars, as well as the social factors that may influence food choices, equipping readers with information to make eating out and holidays less challenging.
Q. If I cut out the hidden sugars from my diet, will I be able to lose weight?
A. If you were to continue to eat the exact same way you have been minus hidden sugars, which also mean hidden calories, you would most likely lose weight, and this weight loss would be even greater if you cut out or reduced the other major sources of sugar in your diet.
Q. Is sugar really addictive? When people say they have a chocolate craving – are they being serious, or just saying that so they can eat what they like?
A. According to the research from our laboratory and others’, binge eating sugar results in similar behavior and brain changes as drug addiction, suggesting that sugar can be addictive. This does not mean that everyone who eats sugar or claims to have a craving for a sugary food is addicted; people often use the term “addiction” in everyday life to refer to their love of sports, online shopping, etc., however, there are certain criteria that are used in the medical field to identify substance dependence. As discussed in the book, these criteria have recently been adapted to refer to food instead of drugs and studies have shown certain individuals to meet the criteria for food addiction.
Sugar, fat, salt—a daunting combination. Avena and Talbott do an excellent job of analyzing the role that sugar plays in the obesity epidemic.”
—David A. Kessler, MD, author of The End of Overeating
“This book not only offers an in-depth explanation of our society’s dependence on sugar, it also provides a realistic, step-wise approach to managing it and improving your health.”
—Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, CNN diet and fitness expert
“Why Diets Fail describes the new science of sugar addiction and teaches us how we can use it to beat cravings and overeating—even in our modern food environment, which is plagued by sugary, hyperpalatable fake food. This book teaches you not only to think differently about how you eat, but also shows you how to do it.”
—Sara Gottfried, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure
“In Why Diets Fail, Dr. Nicole Avena and John Talbott discuss the addictive powers that certain foods possess over the mind and offer insight on conquering the addictive cycle. Following the guidelines in this book, you will learn how to turn your new diet into a lasting lifestyle, understand the science behind food addiction, and use this knowledge to approach your food as healthful nourishment rather than a source of guilt and frustration.”
—Andrew Larson, MD, medical director of JFK Medical Center Bariatric Wellness & Surgical Institute and author of The Gold Coast Cure and Clean Cuisine
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But the following chapters were all highly useful. It actually did make a difference to me to know, not just that sugar can be addictive, but how that works. This knowledge helped me realize that the process of eating sugar for me is way different than the process of eating other foods, which I don't crave or binge on. The desire for sugar, as these authors explain, comes out of a whole different part of your brain than normal hunger for food, and this fact alone helps you to think about the problem with sugar differently.
Which is why this really isn't just a diet book. (If it was, I wouldn't be reading it, as I don't have any interest in losing weight.) It's about eating to be healthy by eating what your body needs rather than what your brain wants. There are several strategies in the book to help you do this that come out of addiction science rather than the diet industry, which is what makes this book unique and helpful to more than just dieters.
I have already come a long way in decreasing my dependence on sugar. For instance, I'm past the cycle of using sugar to get energy, having a sugar crash, and then eating more sugar to get rid of the sugar crash feeling. If you're stuck in that cycle, I think this book would be very helpful, but even if you're beyond it and just dealing with the occasional craving or temptation at a party, it has some useful strategies and will help your awareness about what's going on.
There seem to be two criticisms of this book. First, that by including other carbohydrates, really this isn't about sugar and is just another low-carb diet. In fact, the authors break down sugar into a few different levels (which also roughly form the order in which they suggest you wean yourself off sugar): (1) added sugar, like table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc., which are simple carbohydrates, and (2) complex carbohydrates, like bread, pasta, cereal, and rice. The authors acknowledge that this is a very general distinction, and that there are levels of each thing (for instance, the more whole grain you have, the longer it will take to break down, but it still breaks down into sugar, maybe with a little fiber on the side). But the point is that we don't just become addicted to table sugar; we also become addicted to carbohydrates like bread that don't taste sweet for exactly the same reason: because they both function as sugar in our body and the response mechanism in our brain is the same. If you don't binge on unsweetened carbs, then great, don't worry about that part. But I know from personal experience that a loaf of completely unsweetened bread can be just as compelling to me as cake, and I'll binge on it the same way. On the other hand, I'm not all that worried about the sugar in fruits and vegetables, which the authors also give information on, because I don't tend to binge on these. It's all about knowing yourself and your tendencies, as the authors acknowledge. You can then use the information in this book to be intentional about your food choices in the way that you feel is best. The authors are simply giving you a comprehensive view.
The second criticism is that if you don't eat carbs, there's nothing left. If you believe this, have a look at the paleo diet. Again, I'm not saying paleo is the best diet or the way for everyone, but a book like It Starts with Food will at least show you a new way to think about your food options. There are more than you think. What I like about Why Diets Fail is that it takes into account that it might be hard for folks to switch their diet precisely because things like rice, pasta, and bread form a big part of what they eat. The gradual process outlined will help you adapt.
At the end of the day, no one's telling you to do anything. But if you want to learn more about yourself, feel better, and gain a sense of control over this aspect of your life, I think this book is a great tool.