“Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less” by Mollie Katzen and Walter Willett, M.D.

The year after my 40th birthday I was very smug. Life was largely good. 41, however, has not been so kind. Weight gain, blurring of up-close vision, aching knees and joints were among the harbingers of age. As is my wont, I threw a flurry of attention at diet books, got several from the library, then ignored them for weeks. Several I returned. But Katzen and Willett’s Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less I renewed and finally read.

Simply, this book is what most everyone should do about their diet and health. Eat better (not less or more) and move more, and your chances for things like heart disease, diabetes and other age-related maladies are reduced. Throughout, Willett lists the long-term studies that prove what we know already: eat better, exercise more, and we’ll be in better health. The book is structured around 9 pieces of common-sense advice, such as eat more veg and fruit (but fewer white potatoes), choose good fats like olive oil over bad ones like trans fats, choose whole grain rather than simple carbs, and stay hydrated.

Additionally, Katzen, the author most famously of The Moosewood Cookbook (from which I learned to cook), includes a wealth of simple recipes and food advice. I tried several of the recipes, like the vegetable broth with peas, the vinaigrette and the avocado butter; all were easy, healthful and tasty.

For those looking for a diet book, this contains a quiz, a 21-day plan, a portable plan for travel and non cooks and maintenance advice. For everyone, though, is the short, sweet warm-up plan and the advice to practice the advice until it becomes standard practice.

What this book lacks is an emphasis on fresh, seasonal, local foods. For that, though, there are other books like Mark Bittman’s Food Matters. What this book does is make common sense health improvement easy to understand and easy to implement. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, or suffering from the lurking knowledge that your diet and exercise are not what they could be, this is a smart, helpful book to have on the shelf. Worth owning.

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