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Fascinating look at nutrition - and not just for the sick
on March 13, 2001
Although I don't necessarily agree with everything Annemarie Colbin has to say about food & health (for example, I believe that certain immunizations are a critical part of one's health care and not unnecessary or harmful), "Food and Healing" is an excellent and thoughtful treatment of a complex subject. The title may erroneously give the impression that the book is just for those who are ill. In fact, the book has a lot to offer to anyone who is interested in learning more about nutrition, and how what we eat can make us feel better or worse. We know that caffeine can give you energy or make you nervous, and that a high-fat diet can cause heart disease; Colbin theorizes that other kinds of food, food ingredients and even methods of preparation affect the body in different but no less profound ways. Particularly intriguing are Colbin's musings on "food philosphy": e.g., multi-faceted comparisons of different diets; how different thinkers approach food in a different philosophical way; various ways to look at food choices and their effects on the body. I was impressed by the breadth of the sources Colbin cites (although occasionally one finds an outdated reference, like the ones to the now-debunked Tasaday "tribe") and how she weaves everything together into a coherent and readable book. What really won me over, however, was Colbin's insistence on taking a flexible approach to eating. Colbin emphasizes that no diet should remain static, and we need to choose different kinds of diets to reflect and address what is going on in our lives at different times. She is remarkably open-minded and tolerant of all points of view, allowing the reader to take away nuggets of wisdom from unlikely sources. If some of the opinions expressed seemed a bit too airy-fairy for me (e.g., auras, and her apparent rejection of the germ theory of disease transmission), even these sections were interesting and thought-provoking. Required reading for anyone who has "food issues," wants to improve her diet, has a chronic health problem, or works in the nutrition field.