Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eat This, Not That!

Eat This, Not That!
by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding
Rodale Inc, 2009
415 pages

I like food, I like books about food, and I like to cook. So, when Matt (A Guy's Moleskin Notebook) reviewed Eat This, Not That! late last summer, I knew I'd have to take a closer look. My library hold finally arrived - just in time for the holiday marathon of shopping, decorating, baking, and parties. As we spend more time at the food court, restaurants, and grocery stores, this slick little book aims to provide the information needed to make healthier choices.

Before blogging, I went on a food book binge with Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and, of course, Fast Food Nation by Michael Schlosser. These books are full of general principles and good, practical information. They provided an excellent foundation of "food knowledge".

Eat This, Not That! goes one step further and names names.... lots of them! There are 24 short chapters all titled "The Best (&Worst) ...", each devoted to categories such as Salads, Burgers, Frozen Foods, Mall Foods, "Healthy" Foods, Sushi, and even Beer & Wine. They are full of charts and nutritional information, with photos of best and worst choices appearing side by side.

So, what did I learn? McDonald's Egg McMuffin was named the best breakfast in America with 300 calories, 12 g fat, 820mg sodium, and the extra advantage of protein.

What surprised me? Subway's foot long sweet onion chicken teriyaki was the worst "low-fat" sandwich. "... teriyaki sauce...covers this chicken like a blanket of briny syrup, simultaneously providing a day's worth of sodium and 4 Peanut Butter Twix bars' worth of sugar..."

Under the Best Healthy Food in America, I was happy to find Panera's Asian Sesame Chicken Salad.

Good grades for fast food and chain restaurants went to Subway, Chick-Fil-A, Red Lobster, and several others.

I enjoyed my browse through, but 16 year old Twin A poured over this for hours! She even noted the "worst" choices were photographed to look sloppier, with food often spilling or dripping off the side of a plate.

My recommendation: Save yourself $25 and borrow this from the library, or browse though it at the bookstore while you sip a Tall Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Latte + Protein (Best Coffee Drink in America).

Visit Beth Fish Reads for more Weekend Cooking posts.


  1. LOL! If 820 mg sodium for one sandwich is considered the best, I'm glad that I don't usually eat that kind of fast food. I do like that Panera's chicken salad, but I bet I'd be shocked at the numbers.

    Your teen has a good eye -- tricky photography to make the point.

  2. Very interesting reading! For entertainment in the grocery stores we read the nutritional values on things like Hungry Man frozen dinners...blech.

  3. I've read the first 2 books by this author and enjoyed them. Good info.

  4. I just read about the worse ice cream treats in America, most of which I have regularly. I think publishers should ban such information unless you can testify to having willpower and swear to eat only brussel sprouts for the rest of your life!

  5. Fast food stats are absolutely shocking sometimes! I would love the chance to browse through this.

  6. I don't eat much fast food but it is good to have a better idea of what is in your options when you do partake.
    I remember watching a young man in McD once eating a Big Mac, Giant fries, the biggest soda they have and was just amazed thinking of the salt and fat and sugar in that one meal...eeek

  7. Your review is just in time for my determination to eat better after the holidays. (I know my lack of willpower.) I'm going to check my library.

    I like your list of some other food books. I've read Barbara Kingsolver's book but the others are new to me. I'd like to know more about them.

  8. I love flipping through these books! I've acually learned a lot about simple changes to make my choices a bit healthier.


  9. I love this book...I saw that there's a new one, Cook This, Not's on my list!!

  10. We don't eat much fast food thank goodness...don't know if I could handle the truth! These books sell real well at the book fair, but they annoyed me a little just because the title sounds bossy! Like my husband!

  11. I saw Supersize Me in college and walked away feeling very smug. I'd quite fast food years ago.

    There's a book I've been wanting to read called An Unhealthy Truth (forgot the author's name). It's all about the artificial additives in processed foods, as well as the hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy, and how horrible all this stuff is.

    This books sounds very useful but I imagine it's going to date very quickly.

  12. A great book. If only it would really make us Eat This and Not That :)

  13. GREAT review. I'm interested in looking at this book but I agree that borrowing might be best. :-)

  14. Beth F - I thought that was an incredible amount of sodium for the 'best' breakfast, too! After my daughter made the comment about the tricky photography, I couldn't believe how obvious it was!

    Darlene - My daughters will sometimes throw a Lean Cuisine frozen dinner into the shopping cart, but I'd be afraid to read the Hungry Man box!

    Diane - I'm going to see if the library has the other books - lots of good info in this one!

    Rhapsodyinbooks - I draw the line at ice cream. If I'm going to indulge, then I want the good, rich, full-fat variety!

    Verity - There were quite a few shockers here. Glad I only eat fast food very rarely!

    Caite - I'm amazed all how much fat, calories, sodium,etc. they can pack into a single meal - yuck!

  15. Margot - I'm always full of good intentions in January, too...but I'm going to try harder during the holiday season this year.

    Lezlie - There really is some great info in here. And some of the health choices are so easy to make...

    Jill - I'll have to look for Cook This, Not That. It may be even more useful for me - thanks!

    Sandy - The title does have a distinctly bossy tone...especially with the exclamation point! I can see how this would be popular at the book fair.

    E.L.Fay - Thanks for mentioning An Unhealthy Truth. I'm going to look for it.

    Book BIrd Dog - How true! I think we all know what many of the 'best' choices are, it's just hard to follow through sometimes!

    Marie - Thank you. I do think it's useful to look through this book...but I'd rather spend my book money on other titles!

  16. wow - you did read the big 4 of food books, didn't you. I have them all on my tbr. Looking at the challenges I'm signing up for, I best sched them for 2011!
    Very interesting abt the Egg McMuffin.

  17. I've seen this book at the library...but I don't want to know about all the stuff I shouldn't eat LOL!!!

  18. Care - My food book binge was pretty intense...but a real eye opener, too. I still need to decide what I'm doing about 2010 challenges. Will take a look at them after Thanksgiving.

    Staci - The old 'ignorance is bliss approach', huh? LOL!

  19. I have to agree with your verdict. I do not own a copy myself since D has one in his glove compartment. He's always on the go so it's handy to have one when he is pondering at fast food. They are fun to read and help make me make smarter choice. When we were in Palm Springs this weekend, we went to Red Robin and knew better to skip all the cheese and bacon in our burgers! :-)

  20. Did you have to ruin my sweet onion teriaki for me?! This does look like something I need to look through. Thanks :)

  21. Matt - It is a handy little guide, and I'm glad you highlighted it on your blog. I'll be checking out his other books, too!

    Stacybuckeye - Sorry ;-) No more sweet onion chicken teriyaki for me, either!


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