If you're like most people, when the holidays ended and New Year's Day rolled around, you promptly resolved to toss out the cookies and lose weight... again. Eating healthy is a challenge for pretty much everyone.
So it's no surprise that our first book review of 2013 is Amy Stockwell Mercer's new book, The Smart Woman's Guide to Eating Right with Diabetes. While her last book, The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes, covered the whole kit and caboodle of living with diabetes, her latest book hones in on one particular trouble area: good nutrition and weight loss.
While most books on eating are very prescriptive, focusing on "do this" and "don't do that," this new book is more anecdotal. Amy brings in some expert testimony -- such as Joslin nutritionist Amy Campbell and Franzika Spritzler, an LA-based RD and CDE, to discuss food myths, proper nutrition, and even thoughts on the popular high-protein Dukan Diet and "caveman" Paleo Diet.
But the book primarily shares the experiences of Amy and fellow FWDs (females with diabetes), like fellow D-authors Riva Greenberg, Ginger Vieira and Cheryl Alkon and D-bloggers Sysy Morales and Elizabeth Edelman. Considering diabetes and nutrition are both such individual things, it makes sense to incorporate as much personal testimony as possible, along with sample daily meal plans of the women interviewed.
The book is easy-to-read and engaging, constantly switching between interviews with diabetes educators and dieticians, to quotes from real women with diabetes, to Amy's own experiences, to well-researched recaps of the latest studies on nutrition and weight loss.
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Nearly everyone Amy interviewed for the book is living with type 1 diabetes. On one hand, it makes sense to focus on one type of diabetes since food can affect patients so differently due to differences in medications. But on the other hand, I also think a lot of these food issues (including the great low-carb debate) are completely relevant to type 2 PWDs as well. Even though there's a lack of type 2 emphasis, I definitely think this book is suitable for both. You'll just need to do some tweaking and evaluating on your own. (Hey, Your Diabetes May Vary, right?!...)
Although the book title's subhead declares "What Will Work," I didn't think the book told me to "do this" all too much. Instead, it seemed to more suggest a variety of things that one might consider, like eating lower-carb or becoming a vegetarian. The overall message: whole grains, vegetables, fruit and protein are good; and refined sugars, processed foods, and sugary drinks are bad. Seems simple enough, and not really breaking news to anyone.
A significant portion of the book is devoted to carbs, which we PWDs often have a love/hate relationship with. Although the book is balanced between high-carb vs. low-carb diets, several of the women share that they eat strict low-carb diets because fewer carbs cause fewer excursions in blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association and many dieticians have expressed worry that a low-carb diet means too much protein, which could have a negative impact on heart and kidney health. Plus, carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy, so cutting back too much could be counterproductive, they say. It's a tricky compromise, and while this book gives plenty of examples of how to make either type of diet work, at the end of the day, the message here is that each PWD needs to focus on what works and is sustainable for us as individuals.
Even Amy admits what an impact a number of carbs (literally!) can have on her blood sugar, and she says, "I lived with the roller-coast spike and fall of my blood sugars for years until I became pregnant for the first time and finally said good-bye to breakfast cereal."
Haven't we all met our arch-nemesis in food form at one time or another?
Even still, Amy writes, "Food is a complex issue for people with diabetes. What we eat affects how we feel, physically and emotionally. Everyone is different, and what works for one may not work for another. What's most important when making food choices is to be informed, know the difference between good and bad carbs, and choose what works best for you."
We all know that diabetes is more complicated than just carbs. Amy also has a whole chapter on celiac disease, which affects 10% of people with type 1 diabetes. That part of the book includes interviews with PWD-health coach Ginger Vieira and blogger Nikki Coar. In that chapter, Nikki shares her story of being diagnosed with type 1 and celiac within five months of each other, and how she's had to change her diet. She even includes a recipe for Crustless Spinach Quiche — I might even give it a try! Gluten intolerance and gluten allergies are also more and more common, so even if you don't have a formal diagnosis of celiac disease, this chapter might be worth a read!
Nutrition is something I'm constantly struggling to understand myself, and it seems like every day there is a new discovery saying that the previous discovery was totally wrong! How does anyone keep up? It's a never-ending battle.
In the end, the moral of the story is really to be as informed as possible. My personal feeling is that Eating Right with Diabetes is a great addition for those seeking expert info coupled with real-world experience from women who "get it"!
The Smart Woman's Guide to Eating Right with Diabetes is available on Amazon for $14.21.
The DMBooks Giveaway
We remain committed to sharing our book finds with you, our Dear Readers! Please follow the instructions below for your chance to win a free copy of this book. Entering our giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment.
Here's what to do:
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the comment (beginning, end, in parenthesis, in bold, whatever). That will let us know that you would like to be entered in the giveaway. You can still leave a comment without entering, but if you want to be considered to win the book, please remember to include "DMBooks."
2. You have until Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, at 5 p.m. PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
The contest is open to all. Good luck!
UPDATE: Congrats to D-Mom Rebecca Stearns, who Random.org selected as winner for this book giveaway!