How to Eat by Mark Bittman & David L. Katz [6/10]

A comprehensive, practical guide to food in the 2020s, “How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered” might be just what you need to cut through the noise of self-promotion, greed, and idiocy. Mark Bittman was a NYT columnist for years and has written a slew of books about cooking (his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian occupies a huge slab on my meagre cookbook shelf) and David Katz is a physician specializing in preventative medicine. Using an energetic Q&A format, with both the questions and answers written with verve and humor, the authors walk through all the various diets we know and love, then talk about eating dynamics, then cover the main food groups, before finally discussing more general nutrition issues. The approach is refreshingly science-based: what can be truthfully said based on proper research. And the authors make clear that the science of diet is generally very woolly, simply because it is so complex. From the start, they lay out their thesis, one that makes all the sense in the world: be relaxed about what you eat, aiming for that elusive “balance,” but, hey, actually that means mostly vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lentils, seeds, berries, and nuts. Some of the fashionable diets are seen as at least partially sensible, a couple get short shrift. I’m an inveterate reader of books like this and found this one to be the most coherent expression of sanity for a layperson that I’ve come across, a real boon. The Q&A format does sap How to Eat of narrative flow, but if you’re after the real skinny on how to stay skinny and healthy, this is it.

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