It almost sounds too good to be true — Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. And it gets better: In the book, author Michelle May, MD, says that eating what you love is good not only your waistline but also for your mind, heart, and spirit.
Anyone who has lost weight and then regained it — something May, a recovering yo-yo dieter, refers to as the “eat-repent-repeat cycle” — knows the frustration of failed diets. That's why Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat focuses not on dieting but on a healthy approach to eating. The idea is that improving your eating behaviors and your relationship with food can allow you to manage your weight without restrictive diets.
Diets don’t work, so the sooner you realize that it is not about being on or off a diet, you can begin to take control over what you eat and realize that you really can eat what you love and love what you eat without guilt or emotional eating,” May says.
That doesn't mean it's OK to eat as much as you want of everything you want. The secret is learning how to get in touch with your hunger — becoming more mindful about what you put in your mouth.
“No one eats perfectly all the time, but when you start to pay attention to the taste of food, you can be satisfied without going overboard,” May says. “And when you do overeat, compensate by eating a little less at the next meal or do a little more physical activity.”
Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: What You Can Eat
Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat uses the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines and Food Guide Pyramid and Institute of Medicine recommendations as guidelines to help readers make wise food choices. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, healthy fats, fat-free dairy, and lean meats are the foundation of a healthy, satisfying diet plan. Alcohol, sweets, and treats are also part of the plan, but in small quantities.
In fact, all foods can be part of this non-diet plan — but first, you need to stop obsessing about food and start enjoying it.
Most people overeat eat not because of hunger, but because the food tastes good or because they're eating to satisfy emotions. May focuses on food's role as nourishment for the body and helps dieters slow down, eat instinctively, avoid emotional eating, and savor the pleasure of foods.
What you won’t find in this book is any discussion about calories. May believes it is not natural or effective to count calories.
“Once you start eating instinctively, you can begin to trust yourself and not have to worry about calories,” she says.
The book sets out no rigid rules, no dos or don'ts — not even a meal plan. You can lose weight following these strategies, but weight loss is a byproduct of adopting healthy behaviors, not the primary outcome.
And long-term changes take time, so don’t expect quick results. What you can expect is to improve your relationship with food — and your health. Losing as little as 5% of body weight can improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Throughout the book, you'll find tools on how to identify hunger and satisfaction. It includes a series of evaluations to help you determine which behaviors you should change, as well as tools and tips to help turn those unhealthy habits into healthier routines. For example, instead of eating “by the clock,” you'll learn to wait for your body's hunger signals – but not so long that you become ravenous.
Physical activity is a vital component of the plan, but don’t think of it as an excuse to eat more or as a punishment for overeating, May says. Instead, exercise regularly because it's essential for a host of reasons, including bone health, stress relief, heart health, and more.
“Do what you love and love what you do” also applies to physical activity. The book includes diagrams and recommendations for stretching, strength training, flexibility, and more.
Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: What the Experts Say
Former American Dietetic Association president Connie Diekman, RD, applauds the book's scientifically sound messages, healthy recipes, and advice that is doable for most people.
“Learning why we eat as well as what we should eat is very empowering, especially when it is delivered in a straightforward, easy- to-digest way with bottom-line messages you can take to the grocery store,” Diekman says.
Anyone who has been around the diet block a time or two will welcome the book's insights into the fact that eating is much more complicated than food, says Diekman, nutrition director at Washington University in St. Louis.
Diekman also gave a thumbs-up for all the exercise tips and user-friendly diagrams in the book that “make the information more real and make readers feel good about making healthy changes.”
Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: Food for Thought
The information in this book is not necessarily new, but the message is powerful.
The practical information presented in Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat can help motivate you to give up fad diets and show you how to create your own flexible diet and fitness plan. Follow the healthy-eating strategies in the book and you may never go on a diet again.