Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald

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4/5 stars.
ebook, 336 pages.
Read from May 11 to July 19, 2014.

This book reaffirms many of my beliefs in regards to food and was, in a way, a relief to read for this reason. I am a very active person but my eating habits are far from clean ( I just love beer too much) but through moderation I’ve managed to find a balance between food and exercise that keeps me healthy. Diet Cults explores a variety of diet fads and discusses why they work for some people, why they are hard to maintain and how they have shaped how we feel about the food we eat. Fitzgerald then delicately discusses each of the fads and explains their fallacies (while never fully discounting all of them either) as people are constantly searching for the ‘one true way’ to eat. Fitzgerald then lays down the science with how adaptable the human stomach is and provides a variety of  diets from cultures all over the world to show just how diverse they are in terms of their nutritional content.  As Fitzgerald concludes, to the dismay of some diet-faders, there is no ‘one true way’ to eat and advocates for more agnostic eating.

Fitzgerald is an athlete and sports nutritionist and has written numerous pieces on running and fitness. As he discusses in this book he wasn’t always fit and trim either and had to work hard to get back on track. One thing that Fitzgerald notes is that athletes are by far the best and most agnostic eaters, which may sounds really obvious but that is because athletes eat for optimal performance, but this doesn’t just mean physically. Food has a powerful way of shaping our moods; we like to eat for pleasure, and it is this aspect that athletes and agnostic eating really advocates. As many diet fads have endorsed, most of us believe that if something is tastes good then it must be inherently bad for us which isn’t necessarily the case. While that Big Mac is never going to be good for you, Fitzgerald discusses the benefits of coffee, potatoes, wine and chocolate and breaks through some of the myths surrounding them (hooray)! He also goes to explain that through moderation,  items like a Big Mac can still be something you indulge in from time to time. There is no food that is off-limits in this book.

As someone who has never been overweight, I can’t imagine what it must be like for so many people who are wanting to lose weight as the amount of information that’s floating around on the internet alone is enough to overwhelm anyone. Fitzgerald truly makes food simple; his writing is down to earth and simple to read but still provides you with all the nitty-gritty and well-researched details.

Fitzgerald breaks down all the groups of food as such:

Food table

There are only two essential types of foods that we require to live healthy: fruits and vegetables. Get enough of these and you’re good to go but for the average person, especially an active one, we often require a bit more which is where the recommended foods come in. Fitzgerald gives a good break down of what types of foods are included in each group but for example, in the nuts and seeds section, he includes items like olive oil and all-natural peanut butter, where as commercial peanut butters are not included as they contain way too much sugar and unhealthy oils. Within high quality meats, he includes almost any part of a chicken, while bacon and hot-dogs are classified in the low quality meats area under acceptable foods. Other foods, include things like alcohol and anything else that doesn’t fit into the other categories.

The idea of moderation is that you eat more of the essential and recommended items than the acceptable ones. While this is such a simple concept that almost seems too obvious, nothing is off limits in terms of food choices. Fitzgerald just wants to reestablish a healthy and pleasurable relationship with food again and it’s easy to forget sometimes with many people’s busy lifestyles. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed or rammed down our throats just out of pure necessity and by following some basic moderation, getting some exercise and stepping away from the crazy calorie counting it’s simpler than we think to be healthy.

Fitzgerald effectively questions the madness of dieting with this book and brings nutrition back to its simple basics. Now what are you waiting for?! Shed some food-guilt and read this book!

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Filed under 4 Star, Fitness & Health, Non-Fiction, Read 2014

Wolf Moon: A Grazi Kelly Novel by C.D. Gorri

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Thanks to the Online Bookclub for allowing me to read and review this novel. Please click the link below to read my review of this book on their site:

Click here!

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Filed under 3 Star, Fantasy, Online BC, Read 2014, YA

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Q19

4/5 stars.
ebook, 325 pages.
Read from June 23 to July 04, 2014.

You know what, I’d say that this book is deserving of all of the hype and fame that it has received. Why you ask? Because this is one of the few YA novels that isn’t chalked full of a bunch of barfy teenage romance but instead focuses on the more interesting dystopian setting and all of its encompassing action!

Divergent is set in a dystopian version of Chicago in which everyone is separated in to five different factions that represent different ideals to create a whole and peaceful unit of government:

1) Abnegation; The Selfless: “I choose to turn away from my reflection, to rely not on myself but on my brothers and sisters, to project always outward until I disappear.”

2) Erudite; The Intelligent: “Ignorance is defined not as stupidity but as lack of knowledge. Lack of knowledge inevitably leads to lack of understanding. Lack of understanding leads to a disconnect among people with differences. Disconnection among people with differences leads to conflict. Knowledge is the only logical solution to the problem of conflict. Therefore, we propose that in order to eliminate conflict, we must eliminate the disconnect among those with differences by correcting the lack of understanding that arises from ignorance with knowledge.”

3) Dauntless; The Brave: “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another… We believe in shouting for those who can only whisper, in defending those who cannot defend themselves.”

4) Amity; The Peaceful: “Give freely, trusting that you will be given what you need… Do not be angry. The opinions of others cannot damage you… The wrong is past. You must let it rest where it lies… You must no longer think cruel thoughts. Cruel thoughts lead to cruel words, and hurt you as much as they hurt their target.”

5) Candor; The Honest: “Truth makes us transparent. Truth makes us strong. Truth makes us inextricable.”

At sixteen, each teenager is given an aptitude test to see which faction they would be best suited to. While the test is often the best suggestion to which faction they should go to (often the same one they grew up in), each teenager has the free will to choose which faction they would like to go to. Each faction follows specific rules and ways of life. For example, the Abnegation faction is based on selflessness. They dress drab, as to never focus on themselves and believe in helping others. A quirk with this faction is that they don’t have mirrors. It is in the Abnegation factions where the main protagonist, Beatrice Prior grows up.

The Abnegation faction is not the most well liked faction as they are the ones that run the whole government, given their selflessness. The Erudites, believe that because they focus on knowledge that they should be apart of the government which has created a massive rivalry between the two factions. Beatrice never feels like she quite belongs in the Abnegation faction, she isn’t quite selfless enough, not like her brother. When Beatrice takes her aptitude test she isn’t quite sure what to expect. He assessor tells her that she is Divergent, a word she had never heard before, and warns her not to share this information with anyone for fear of her life. When it comes time to pick a faction she decides to go with the Dauntless faction, and her brother, shockingly to the Erudites. It is not often that teens will leave their faction and family.

Beatrice is thrown into the world of the Dauntless, the brave and the fearless. They sport tattoos and eccentric clothing which, is unlike anything that Beatrice has ever seen before. The first few tests with the faction force her to do some death-defying feats in which not all new initiates make. For those that survive and fail any of these feats, they are considered ‘factionless’ and are sent to live, homeless, outside of the city.

Making her way from an initiate to a full Dauntless member, Beatrice learns what it means to be Divergent and why it was so important to keep it a secret. She also unfolds a plot which will change and destroy the way of life for each an every faction.

The book spends most of the time within the Dauntless faction following Beatrice’s trials, which are action packed and intense. She fights and beats up boys, she has to constantly put herself in the face of danger and stand up for those that were not Dauntless-born, like herself. Granted, she does meet a love interest but that doesn’t really unfold until near the end of the book and up until that point you’re taken on a wild ride of adventure and awesomeness!

Unlike a lot of YA novels, the qualities that make Beatrice different from the rest of the characters are not necessarily a good thing or overly exceptional. As Beatrice is Divergent, she thinks differently and has harder choices to make than those who aren’t. Things are not cut out so nice and clear for her as they are for others. It also raises the question of the potential that perhaps everyone is capable of being Divergent if they were given the chance to think outside the box of what their faction and government restricts them to. What makes Beatrice remarkable and a great heroine are her choices to want to be something more and her ability to stand in the face of fear even though she is deeply afraid. While she ends up fully embodying the Dauntless creed: “…ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another…” she ultimately represents every faction by being Divergent and shows that every person is able to display the qualities of each faction.

For those who are looking for a refreshing YA read and have been curious about the potential for this book I strongly encourage you to give Divergent a read!

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Filed under 4 Star, Dystopian, Read 2014, YA