A book on nutrition penned by none other than the Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard is a prestigious read.
Walter C Willett is also a professor at Harvard Medical School and heads several studies on the effect of nutrition on human health. So, the reader is right in expecting a book that contains up-to-date data on the link between what we eat and the state of our health.
Therefore, be aware that the Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating is not a book for light afternoon reading but something you need to really go through carefully.
Eat, drink and be healthy: an overview
The basic premise of the book is that the USDA approved food pyramid that is taught to us in elementary school is a big sham. It is based on vested interests and is therefore not to be trusted as the representation of healthy eating.
Willett offers his own healthy eating pyramid (one, which is subject to change as researchers uncover more data) based on current research. The first step of the pyramid is plenty of exercise because as he rightly points out, calorific restrictions cannot be a long-term solution to weight gain.
In the next level of the pyramid, we have lots of fibrous vegetables and a sprinkling of vegetable oils. Whole grain foods are also on this level. This is the thrust of Willett’s diet plan – the substantial intake of fibrous foods like healthy veggies and fruits.
Above this level come nuts and legumes. Fish and poultry appear towards the top of the pyramid. Red meat, butter, refined carbs, vitamin supplements and sweets dominate the evil end of the pyramid.
Eat, drink and be healthy: a review
It may be argued that nothing radical is offered in the book but the fact that Willett has included and assessed many of current eating habits makes this book a great read.
The book offers a lot of commonsensical but never-spoken-of before insights. For instance, Willett states clearly that we must drink plenty of water and that tap water is perfectly alright. He asserts that fruit juices cannot replace water as they do have calorific content. He also points out that soft drinks are empty calories, that it is ok to have limited amounts of alcohol and coffee.
The book also includes useful tips about where to shop for food along with important insights into how to make wise substitutions in recipes so that one can achieve great taste without compromising on health.
- Based on healthy eating patterns
- Based on individual studies
- Written by an expert
- Backed by scientific data
- Emphasizes exercises
- Loads of commonsensical tips
- Discourages harmful practices like smoking
- Easy to follow
- Encourages a change in eating habits
- Nothing radically new
- Many claims are unsubstantiated
- Skeptical of all traditional diets
This is not a weight loss book. Rather, it is a healthy eating guide. Of course, healthy eating can lead to weight loss but that is extraneous. This book has the backing of one of the leading authorities in food and nutrition in America. Therefore, the findings are not arbitrary. They are the result of observation and research. However, much of what you will read you already know.