Review: The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto

March 16, 2009 at 7:07 am

Originally published at Paper Palate on March 13, 2009.

In this age of the burgeoning American palate most people find themselves in one of two categories: those who eat to live and those who live to eat. Live-to-eaters are also called foodies. Folks like me who maintain their favorite meal is always their next. People who marvel at the creative minds at Charm City Cakes, or wait anxiously each night to hear Emeril cry, “Bam,” or openly covet being a judge on Iron Chef: America (seriously, ICA, I’m perfect for it). In other words, the readers of Paper Palate.

The other camp, the eat-to-livers, view mastication as an annoyance, something to interrupt their schedule three or four times a day. Sure they may enjoy a perfectly cooked steak or luxurious pasta dish but they would just as soon eat a can of pork and beans if it were faster, cheaper or less work. Prior to the 1990’s this described about 90% of Americans. Since then the equilibrium has grown closer to balance but the sad reality is that we should all be somewhere in the middle.

Tom Venuto is a pioneer of the weight-loss industry. He is a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, motivation coach, fitness model, health club manger and best selling author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscles. He is quite possibly the most informed mind in the western world on fitness and nutrition. Venuto is a steroid-free example of proper diet and exercise. He is also the author of the new principal-based guide The Body Fat Solution, a veritable owner’s manual for the human body.

What makes The Body Fat Solution apropos to foodies is Venuto’s attention to diet. He addresses emotional eating – consumption that is triggered by something other than hunger – and offers easy and healthy alternatives. Be it stress, depression or boredom most of us use food as an escape, the obesity numbers do not lie. The author tackles this issue identifying each person’s individual causes for emotional eating and offers solutions with his A.W.A.R.E. Formula or five steps to end emotional eating:
1.Become AWARE of your eating behaviors.
2.WATCH OUT for your emotional eating triggers.
3.ARREST the behavior patterns when they happen.
4.REPLACE the old emotional eating behavior with more constructive alternatives.
5.ESTABLISH new beliefs about food and the right reasons for eating.

Venuto also speaks to the foodies’ heart refusing to endorse starvation diets or any diet plans that deprive someone of the foods they truly love. Rather, he opts for a practice of moderation. He also emphasizes the “eat more, lose more” philosophy of five to six meals a day. What foodie can argue with that?

Tom Venuto also handles the natural food issue better than any I have encountered to date. He starts by asking the question, “Did the food come directly from a tree, from a plant, from out of the ground, or did it walk, fly, or swim?” He stresses, “If the answer is yes, then it’s natural.”

The following paragraphs underscore the depth of his logic:

Most of the time, processed foods are easy to identify, as they’re usually found in boxes, cans, cartons, packages, or wrappers. Sometimes what’s natural is not as obvious, so you need to read the labels and think it through carefully.

You’ve seen and orange tree, but you’ve never seen an orange-juice tree. Durum semolina from pasta is processed from wheat, which grows from the ground, but there’s no such thing as a pasta plant. Even a lot of health foods don’t meet our criteria for natural. There are “nutrition” bars you can get at the natural foods store, but have you ever seen a protein bar hanging from a branch? They’re all manufactured.

After asking the “natural question,” you’ll be left primarily with lean meats, fish, shellfish, fruits, fibrous vegetables, salad vegetables, root vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and natural starches such as brown rice, yams, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. For the most part, this is what human beings ate before the arrival of modern food processing.

Venuto’s prose is as powerful as his calorie burning workouts and it makes this “fitness” book a surprisingly easy read. The Body Fat Solution is perfect for those of us who live to eat because it puts proper focus on the “live” part.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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