Book Review: "The Good Mood Diet"

Thursday, May 3, 2007 - 9:39am

By Erica Lesperance, RD, LD

I don't believe in miracle diets or quick weight loss schemes. If it were that easy, we wouldn't be facing the obesity problem that plagues our nation. So when I was asked to review the book The Good Mood Diet, I approached it with the same skepticism that I would any diet book that boasts the ability to help you "get thin quick." However, you can't always judge a book by its cover. As I read this book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Good Mood Diet is not another fad diet, but rather a logical and refreshingly positive approach to losing weight while focusing on eating foods that make you feel and look your best. I am also thrilled to see that someone is calling attention to the downfall of most dieters-not eating enough.

No More Restricting Calories

Author Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, has hit the nail on the head. Most diets require excessive calorie restriction, not providing enough energy to function effectively. This makes you tired, sad, and depressed, which is a recipe for disaster when trying to draw on the willpower to continue depriving yourself of food. Losing weight alone is not an effective motivator to make you stick to a diet. Nobody has the willpower to continue a diet that makes them feel sluggish or depressed, even if it makes them lose weight.

Though it is counterintuitive to some, I completely agree with Kleiner's assertion that if you are severely restricting calories, your body "braces itself not to lose weight," and you need to eat more to weigh less. But The Good Mood Diet takes it one step further by focusing on eating foods that are scientifically proven to improve your mood and make you feel so good that you wouldn't want to go back to your old habits. Thus, feeling great is your motivator for eating right, and losing weight is the side-effect.

The Food/Mood Superhighway

Kleiner describes the connection between food and mood as the "Food/Mood Superhighway," explaining that what, when, and where we eat directly affects our mood, and our mood in turn affects our food choices. Based on this reasoning, she lays out a sound plan for including as many "feel great" foods as possible each day. The "feel-great" foods include beans, blueberries, nuts, oranges, turkey, egg yolks, and much more.  She even includes small amounts of wine and chocolate on the "feel great" list beyond the first 2 weeks of the diet. While she also recommends restricting the number of "feel bad" foods you consume, such as fried foods and refined sugars, the main focus is always on getting in the "feel great" foods so that your mood stays elevated, which is ultimately what makes you stick with the program.

To Err Is Human

Perhaps the most admirable part of Kleiner's approach is that it allows room for error. If there are days when you don't follow the Good Mood plan, she says not to sweat it. You will notice that you don't feel as good, and will naturally want to get back on the bandwagon so you feel better.  The Good Mood Diet is based on sound logic that if you choose foods that improve your mood, you are much more likely to reach your weight loss goals. I will recommend this book to all of my clients.