List Maker's Get-Healthy Guide
by Prevention Magazine Health Books
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
List Maker's Get-Healthy Guide / 978-1-605-29409-4
I'm a *list making fiend* - I love lists, love making them, love using them, and have a lifetime subscription to my favorite online list organizing service Remember The Milk. I also have a lot of health problems on a day-to-day basis, so I was excited to pick this up, thinking that there might be a lot of useful advice about medications, doctor visits, and daily upkeep information. Instead, I got a reminder of why I never maintain a subscription to Prevention magazine for very long - this book is mostly "diet" and "beauty" tips, which center more around how to spend more money rather than how to be healthy and happy.
The first chapter is devoted to food - "good" foods, "bad" foods, and how to trick yourself into maximizing the former and minimizing the latter. Putting aside HAES philosophy for the moment, I don't think these lists can be followed practically. There's a "superfoods" list that contains 10 foods that everyone should eat every day, and if you're still hungry after your daily mandatory servings of fresh figs, turnips, lychee, spinach, asian pears, bok choy, papaya, soy, wild salmon, and walnuts, then you've a faster metabolism than I. The "must haves" lists for your pantry and freezer (which, surprisingly, don't contain the superfoods - are they not "must haves"?) don't provide any real information on how to actually *serve* the foods, and the lists are fluffy in the extreme: of the 5 "must haves" in your freezer, 1 of the items on the list is "Fresh Herbs!". "Herbs" are not universally healthy, but this book seems to claim that they are - there's no accompanying list in this "List Maker's Guide" for which herbs provide which health benefits!
I was also startled by the simplistic "3 Food Groups Worth Buying Organic" list. You see, this is a hot topic in the foodie community, since buying organic is expensive and not everyone can afford to go 100% organic. As a result, a LOT of research has been done on which food items have the most "organic payoff" and which ones can be (relatively) safely bought as non-organic. So what are the "3 Food Groups" where you MUST spring for organic, according to this book? "Fruits and Vegetables", "Meat and Poultry", and "Dairy". What does that "list" leave to be safely bought in non-organic form? Twinkies?
The "exercise lists" are almost all about how to spend money: "how to buy a sports bra", "how to buy tennis shoes", "how to pick a gym", "how to hire a personal trainer". The "mental health lists" feature rather insipid platitudes and strange advice: the "how to deal with toxic people list" advises that posture is very important when dealing with toxic people - from the text, it seems to be saying that toxic people are like wild animals, and if you don't sit up straight, they'll pounce on you. (In which case, I recommend taping extra eyes to your body so that the toxic people think you're a large predator and they'll back away slowly.) Like the "exercise lists", the "beauty lists" are almost 100% buying stuff: "If you don't have the time or budget for regular facials," do at least buy "pore cleaning strips sold in drugstores." I don't know why organic soap and tap water is deemed insufficient - if chemicals aren't touching your skin, then it's not beauty?
I'm probably being too hard on this book - it's pretty clear once you get into it that this is really just a "companion text" for regular readers of Prevention magazine, despite the title call to list making and health. It's probably meant to combine all the material of a year's run of the magazine with none of the overt advertisements, and if that's all you want, this book probably delivers. I picked it up in mistake, thinking it would be more about "health" and "list making" than about random combinations of platitudes (wash your hands after using the toilet!) and marketing advice regarding the proper ways to select day spas and personal gym trainers. However, I'm frustrated that this is spun as a "list maker's guide" when the lists are just random groupings of advice, not truly distinct points to be crossed off towards the completion of a task, and I'm annoyed that a "get healthy" guide is really 90% about consumer spending on daily frivolities, with almost 0 discussion on how to deal with doctors, medications, or "real" health issues besides your daily moisturizer choice.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll
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