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4.1 out of 5 stars
Eating Well for Optimum Health
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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
on April 2, 2002
I liked Dr Weil's book. It made some original points and explanations that are helpful in providing a basic understanding of nutrition, as well as what the function of macronutrients and micronutrients are. His tone is friendly and supportive. I think Dr. Weil pays a lot more attention to the social and cultural aspects of eating than other authors do. Perhaps his approach to integrative medicine has helped him in this area. He also identifies specific foods that can be used to help treat specific conditions. Few other authors provide this specific advice to particular types of foods. In his appendices, he provides a short summary of his position on optimal diet as well as tailored diets for specific conditions. Useful.
What I didn't like about "Eating Well for Optimal Health" is the authority for many statements. While there was a bibliography/reference list in the back of the text, there were few footnotes providing specific authority for many of the statements made. Reading diet texts such as "The Okinawa Program" by Willcox and Willcox or "Beyond the 120 Year Diet" by Walford, one appreciates well-referenced, well-supported argument. This way, you can critique the support any statement you have questions or concerns about. When an author merely pontificates without referencing his statements, it is difficult to seperate fact from opinion and assess the weight of the evidence. That said, I still think it's a good book. Just don't accept everything at face value.
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on April 15, 2001
Weil is very much a cultural phenomenon, and like Pritikin and Atkins
and Ornish, whom he attacks in varying degrees in this book, he is a
guru with a cult following. That alone doesn't take away from his
credibility or his meaning well, but Weil's cult status does say
something about his publicity-mindedness and awareness of what it
takes to get noticed in this crowded and confusing field. Weil seems
to take pleasure in a high-minded contrarianism that varies from being
well-founded to being less well-founded and seemingly for the sake of
ruffling feathers. I also find that his science becomes shakier when
he is espousing and advocating for what he wants to believe but of
which he can offer no real proof.
Weil is a heavy man. Is that fair
game? I think so. I myself have struggled with weight and turned to
this book because I am attracted by the idea of maximizing both
pleasure and healthfulness in eating. Of his seven core principles of
eating well for best health, two are devoted to the sensual pleasures
of eating. Weil rightly points out that the diet gurus who offer so
many flavorless recipes are often themselves people who do not really
enjoy eating per se. Unfortunately, the converse isn't necessarily
true, either: that is, that those who do enjoy eating offer recipes
that are both tasty and will make us lose weight effectively. Case in
point: Weil uses way too much olive oil in his recipes and in his
life. Olive oil has calories, lots of calories. He defocuses away from
this when he talks about the need for dietary fat and about "mouth
feel," the aspect of fat that makes food taste good and feel good
and "right" in our mouths. Olive oil is high on the "mouth
feel" scale and it offers the right kind of heart-healthy fat:
unsaturated. However, Weil sidesteps the whole calorie question,
making his own argumentation just as myopic as he accuses Ornishs's of
being (with Ornish's singular focus on avoiding fat per se).
The
worst thing Weil has to say about the Atkins diet is that it deprives
us of some pleasure, but Weil also, grudgingly and with much
side-stepping, still has to admit that Atkins works and even calls it
"harmless" at one point. "Harmless" can be the greater
part of virtue for someone who needs a jump start on losing 100
pounds, but "harmless" doesn't sell Weil's own books or, more to
the point, perhaps, "harmless" doesn't allow for the pleasures
of eating that seem so important to Weil in his own personal habits
(which he offers throughout as worthy of emulation).
Don't get me
wrong. I don't like Atkins or Ornish or Pritikin, either. I don't like
dieting. Left to my own non-weightloss devices, I'd eat too much
protein and fat and carbohydrates. Weil's paramount concern here is
"optimum health," a term that would seemingly encompass
"optimum weight" but doesn't, necessarily.
Close reading
also reveals a tendency on Weil's part to use phrases like "I like
to believe that," "I prefer," and "I'd like to think"
when he's on shaky scientific ground. Weil "would like to believe
that" wild salmon contains more Omega 3 fatty acids than
farm-raised salmon, but he can't prove it. He'd also "like to
believe that" ground flax seeds provide much more of that Omega 3
than any fish ever could, as the flax seed is a primary source of that
all-important nutrient. He offers no proof, however, only
well-reasoned theory.
I've put all of my criticisms of Weil's book
up front. And for all that, I learned a lot from it and give it three
stars for the good information it conveys and for Weil's sense of
showmanship in conveying it. Unfortunately, the conclusions he draws
from that information are every bit as suspect and debatable as the
programs he attacks, and you won't get a complete picture of human
nutrition here any more than you will from reading Weil's
contemporaries. Books like this can also lead, I believe, to a false
sense on the part of us nonscientists of actually knowing something --
which we don't. I'm not a scientist and am no more willing to entrust
my total health to Weil than I am to anyone besides a qualified
physician who actually knows me and my own personal issues.
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on April 3, 2000
I bought this book because I'd heard/seen Dr. Weil on TV and liked what he had to say. I agree with his basic premises, and believe that he gives sound advice. The book reinforced this opinion, but I did not particularly enjoy it or find it helpful in a practical way. There is far too much technical, detailed, BORING stuff about metabolism and nutrients. Those parts need to be streamlined. Also, the glycemic index table was very limited. I wanted a longer list of "good" carbs. The book is not really geared to the masses who will buy it simply because it's a well-marketed "diet" book on a bestseller list. (FYI -if you are thinking this is a book about losing weight, think again. It's simply good advice on how to eat healthily.)
I am a vegetarian, and Dr. Weil reinforces my conviction to stay that way. His mantra: "eat more fruits and vegetables." I enjoyed reading his daughter's piece on why she "eats healthy." Weil includes his recommendations on vitamin and mineral supplements, which I found helpful. I guess I would recommend the book, but not highly, because it's just a tad too intellectual and not a practical enough guide.
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on April 24, 2000
I placed an order for this book when I've read in Amazon.com reviews, that Dr. Andrew Weil is a leader in the new field of integrative medicine, which combines the best ideas and practices of Western and alternative medicine.
Really, with certainty, compassion and humour Dr. Weil addresses management for the intake of our food. But, unfortunately, I found it very basic. I think that this book is best for people who are just beginning to explore natural health.
Buy this book if you want the real facts of nutrition. But I was really hoping for more. So I guess I would recommend the book, but not highly, because it's just too intellectual and not a practical enough guide.
What is especially cool is that Dr. Andrew Weil invites his readers to visit his website and share our experiences on his program. Are you ready? Sure, I don't.
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on March 22, 2000
I've enjoyed and found useful many of the other books and tapes from Mr. Weil and since I've just started a weight watchers regimen I was looking forward to some good practical advice. Well it's here, but you better not be in a hurry to get to it. The majority of the first tape is filled with mind numbing chemical strings and body reactions that I found difficult to follow. I think Dr. Weil got bored with it also because his voice seemed to develop a meditative/monotone quality which I found dangerous to listen to while driving at night. The second, and in particular, third tapes finally get into the practical day to day recommendations for diet, vitamins and fitness that will be helpful to anyone that is seeking to start-up or tweak a healthy lifestyle.
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on June 10, 2001
A bit new age, and certainly not a lot of hard science, but the good doctor does make us sit up and think about our eating habits. He is, however a botanist in the main, so that a lot of what he says has to be taken in this light. Still, every so often a book comes along which sparks a new interest in a subject, and so while a lot of people have begative feelings about him and his book, it is terrific to see people worrying more about what people put into their mouths. For real high-quality information without quirkiness, try The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition from the University of California School of Public Health.
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on April 10, 2000
I am convinced of this....with the plethora of diet books lining our shelves, and so many experts in diametrical opposition to the other so called experts, it's honestly a refreshing change to have a diet book come out by an author who obviously has little desire to even remotely appear as though he follows his own advice. Let's face it, no one will ever mistake Andy Weil for Bill Phillips, but alas that is not my point! It's about time someone stepped up to the plate and wrote a diet book for all of us "corpulent contents" Thanks Andy....you da man! Peace be with you.
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on October 31, 2000
I read this book, but I couldn't get past how technical it was,which made it a very boring read. The only thing I really liked about is to eat in moderation and eat wholesome foods, nothing new really, just some motivation to continue. I appreciated knowing how olive oil is beneficial and how bad french fries are for you and why. Most of us already know how we should eat more fruits and vegetables. I found the recipes to be boring as well. I actually took my copy to a used book store and traded it for more interesting books, and I usually don't part w/my diet books.
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on December 8, 2000
Dr. Weil promises in the early pages to not bore the readers with too much very detailed scientific data, and to focus on what the reader can actually improve in his day-to-day diet. But Dr. Weil doesn't deliver. The book is full of so much science, in such detail, that i) it's hard to follow; ii) it's hard to understand what is the end recommnedation.
In net, not recommneded, unless you need it to get a PHD. If you're looking for a way to eat healthier, not sure you'll get it out of this book.
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on May 3, 2000
I have read several health related books and this one touches most of the basics. His guidelines are focused on the average over weight American. The concept of glaucemic index is a new one to me, but makes a lot of sense.
This will not wake anyone up or get anyone to make drastic changes in their lifestyle. It only covers the basics.
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