Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: The Diet for Teenagers Only

A Book You Can Buy From Me

Book Title: The Diet for Teenagers Only

Author: Carrie Wiatt (and Barbara Schroeder)

Author's web page:

Publisher: Harper Collins

Date: 2005

Length: 244 pages

ISBN: 0060793619

Illustrations: line drawings by Atousa Zlatabari

Quote: "This is the most critical time for you to learn to eat right and treat your body with the respect (and the nutrition) it deserves."

The ideal review of this book would be written by a teenager who had been medically obese and used The Diet for Teenagers Only to shed some flab. (For "teenager," here, read "female teenager"; the authors have nothing to say to guys.) I'm not one. I'm not currently related to one.

So here's what I can tell you: The Diet for Teenagers Only is a sensible summary of current beliefs in the medical community about weight control, and the need to balance losing flab and cutting out junk calories with feeding bodies that are supposed to be gaining both weight and height--but not flab. If you're a teenager with no food tolerance issues, it's likely to work for you. Teen reviewers on Amazon say it's worked for them.

If you have food tolerance issues, this book won't help much. Two different body shapes that develop in the teen years are associated with food intolerance. Some people with severe food intolerances become hypothyroid, and can gain ugly pounds on a starvation diet. People whose food intolerances are a little less severe become skinny, but flabby and sickly. They are the ones who can pig out every day and never weigh more than 110 pounds, but also never get rid of those inches-they-can-pinch in the most unflattering places.

And The Diet for Teenagers Only won't help, whether what will help is to cut out of your diet all dairy products or only all uncooked milk or all cheese, all wheat products and/or all oat and rye products, all nuts, all coconut, or all citrus fruit. No allergen-free menus here! The authors think every girl has to choke down three servings of dairy products per day! And don't even think about divorcing that turkey burger from at least half a bun!

Teenagers who know they have food intolerances will be able to adapt these menus to their needs, but I have to deduct a few points for this book's failure to mention food intolerance as a possible factor in teenagers' weight and health problems. I remember too well trying to get rid of unflattering inches while eating a sensibly balanced reduced-calorie diet with lots of healthy, low-fat, whole-wheat bread, and not even wanting to think about any of my other early symptoms of gluten intolerance, except about using clever verbal attacks to cut down anybody who was rude enough to notice them.

What The Diet for Teenagers Only does have to offer: Some recipes that are palatable, nutritious, and free from junk calories. Some tips on reading labels, cooking, and eating in restaurants or school cafeterias. Encouragement to exercise, with some of the classic spot-reduction exercises that don't actually remove that much weight (it takes prolonged, aerobic exercise, like walking or swimming, to peel off pounds) but do strengthen the muscles that shape up the body.

This could potentially be a good first book for its target audience of teenaged girls...but I think I'd rather pass it on to someone with no family history of food intolerance issues, instead of saving it for my niece. Want it? Send $5 for the book plus $5 for shipping, and Carrie Wiatt (or her favorite charity) will get a dollar. Or, if you're in Gate City, look for it at the Mountain Treasures store, where whatever you pay will go to a legitimate local charity.