Book Review: "The Eat-Clean Diet"

Monday, May 21, 2007 - 2:15pm

By Michèle Turcotte, MS, RD/LDN

The author of The Eat-Clean Diet, Tosca Reno, is a columnist for Oxygen Magazine. She was prompted to write this book not only to share her own struggle and lifestyle transformation, but also to address the many inquiries she receives from readers about body issues. Prior to "eating clean," Reno was a busy mom of three, lacking energy and the "glow" of good health; tipping scale at just over 200 lbs. Now, at 48, she is a swimsuit model.

The Backbone of the Diet

The backbone of "clean-eating nutrition" depends heavily on consuming a colorful assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. These foods should be consumed at regular intervals over the course of a day. The term "eating-clean" refers to actively choosing to include only wholesome, natural foods and avoiding all processed foods. Clean-eating focuses on real food-not calorie-counting! Reno includes helpful strategies for dieters to keep calories under control.

Many weight-conscious readers will have heard much of the common-sense advice in this book before, but not quite in the tone used in The Eat-Clean Diet. The advice is presented in a personal, down-to-earth manner. Just as you learned negative habits, you can re-learn positive ones. Each shiny page includes colorful, beautifully displayed photographs of meals and is quite the feast for the eyes.

Eating and Mathematics: The Beautiful Body Formula

One should note that Reno exercises and weight trains five days per week to achieve her body builder's physique and encourages readers to exercise as much as possible, including weight training. Her beautiful body formula is that a beautiful body = 80% good nutrition, 10% training, and 10% genes. We should control what we can. She states that no amount of exercise will reshape your body without appropriate nutrition.

The Emphasis of and Tools Used in The Eat-Clean Diet

Reno is a big advocate of eating a healthful breakfast; indeed, she devotes a full chapter to this important meal. Other areas emphasized in Reno's book include packing healthful portable meals, weekly weigh-ins, proper hydration, and quick recipes all prepared with unprocessed "clean" foods. She encourages choosing foods from all food groups. The great thing about this book is that it guides us to the best fat, protein, and carbohydrate choices for taking off pounds and optimizing health. Readers are encouraged to eat a wide variety of unconventional whole grains, exotic fruits, and vegetables, with an emphasis on foods that invigorate and energize our bodies. Sample meal plans are packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Reno recommends a diet full of foods that contain beneficial, disease-fighting compounds and encourages readers to eat foods that provide more than just fuel. The book is packed with delicious recipes, tips for dining out, a list of recommended kitchen gadgets, a basic grocery shopping list, as well as helpful tips for "real" people.

The Eat-Clean Diet stands out from other diet books in its unique approach to nourishing the body and treating the whole person. The Eat-Clean Diet encourages an emotional and behavioral assessment of your eating habits. Becoming more aware of your food triggers and emotional health is a huge component of healthy long-term weight loss. This book does a good job of addressing diet, exercise, and eating behavior.

One section is dedicated to supplementation, including some controversial and unusual alternative recommendations that are not backed by hard science (i.e., Hoodia, creatine, and Holy Basil). There is no research indicating that any of these remedies will make a difference in one's health or functioning. Readers should consult a registered dietitian and/or medical professional prior to taking any supplements.

The Pay-Off of Eating Clean

In order to truly "eat-clean," you must be extremely dedicated and focused, avoiding all junk food or pre-prepared foods (those that are in the center aisles of the grocery store). Certain foods are labeled "enemy foods" and include sugary foods, bad fats, alcohol, and all refined carbohydrates. The Eat-Clean Diet does a great job of emphasizing how consuming healthy nutrient-rich foods will make you look, feel, and function.