Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eat This Not That! by David Zinczenko

Title: Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide
Author: David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding
ISBN: 9781605298382, Rodale, 2009
Genre: Diet/Health
Rating: A

First Line: It can be a place of wonder and excitement, of bright shiny colors, delectable scents, and enticingly sweet delights.

I have to admit that I'd never heard of this book. Grocery shopping is one of my least favorite chores, and there's no way that I would agree with the first line I typed in above. Perhaps it's because I hate to cook. Perhaps it's because I've been in retail too long and I know too many marketing strategies aimed at having consumers do the wrong thing. However, after a visit to his doctor, my husband came home rabidly against carbonated soft drinks, and when I saw Eat This Not That! on a shelf in Target's book department, I opened it and immediately saw that it was packed full of things that I could use, not only to my husband's advantage, but to mine as well.

I think one of the reasons why I hate to grocery shop is that, in order to buy the right things, I have to spend an inordinate amount of time reading the blasted labels on everything. The Food and Drug Administration does very little to curb misleading information on food packaging. Ever read portion sizes? Hah! Do you believe labels when they tell you "Zero Trans Fat!"? Hah! Do you know the difference between "whole grain" and "multi grain"? (They both sound healthy, don't they?)

Eat This Not That and its author, David Zinczenko, will take a lot of guess work out of grocery shopping for you. The first part of the book explains what's happened to our food over the years. In many ways, it's not nearly as healthy as it used to be, and explanations are given. It doesn't make for comfortable reading, but it's certainly necessary reading.

The main part of the book is divided into sections just like a supermarket. One side of the page will show common items that are healthier to eat:

...and give the reasons why they are, while the opposite side of the page will show more common items in the same category that are not healthy eating: well as why they aren't the best items to choose to eat. (If it's as hot where you live as it is here in Phoenix, you'll understand why I chose the pages on ice cream!)

Although the entire book wasn't eye-opening, many pages were, and I took several notes while I read. I've now passed the book on to Denis, so he can read it and understand why a few things are forever disappearing from the menu.

Eat This Not That is touted as a No Diet weight loss solution, and if you only have a couple of pounds to lose, have been eating healthy to begin with and get regular exercise, making the substitutions suggested in this book will help you to lose weight. (Denis and I have already lost a few pounds.) If you have a lot of weight to lose, it's going to take more than the substitutions this book suggests. But you knew that already, didn't you?

After reading Zinczenko's book, the major thing I took from it was how the companies that give us such a wide variety of food to put on our tables are allowed to lie...and it's all perfectly legal. It made me angry--almost to the point where I wanted to be a modern-day Carrie Nation and stomp into the nearest grocery store carrying a hatchet. Since I'd probably do myself a mischief with the hatchet, I'll make my point with my wallet while I try to see what can be done about forcing companies to put the truth on their packaging instead of lies that can kill us.

No matter how much you think you know about the food in your local grocery store, you owe it to yourself and your family to read this book. You can also click on the author's name at the top of this post to visit the Eat This website to sign up for newsletters and to read more information.


  1. We bought the original "Eat This, Not That!" a while back, and we've loved it! I think the information is invaluable if a person wants to eat a bit healthier without having the get a degree in nutrition. :-)


  2. I love, love, love to cook and as long as I have the time, I love to buy food. I'm always amazed at how little most Americans know about what they put in their bodies. DH and I pretty well informed. Eating fresh foods and avoiding processed foods is the first step.

  3. When I was dieting more strictly awhile back, I thought about getting this book but then got turned off by the price (I'm a poor student, for goodness sake). Thanks for the review though, from your comments it looks like it could be a really helpful book for me now that I'm not dieting and mostly trying to maintain my weight but still eat healthier.

    The food that I find most complicated to pick out is bread because they all sound sort of the same to me!

  4. Pretty exciting that they have some ice cream on the "eat this" page!!! Thanks for the notification!

  5. Sometimes I think we are twins, separated at birth - I hate to go to the grocery store, too. I love the way this book is set up - I think I'll get it for my son.

  6. This book does sound like it would make going through the grocery store quicker--always a good thing, if you ask me. For a more in-depth look at how food manufacturers lie, you could read The End of Overeating, by David Kessler. I'm about halfway through it, and if it's interesting enough will review it soon.

  7. I think this might be a great tool to help make better choices ... thanks for sharing. I like the simplicity of it!

  8. I hated grocery shopping too. All those people clogging the aisles in addition to too much label reading. Then I noticed that the 'real food' is sold around the edges in most stores. Produce, meat, dairy, bakery are all along the edges. If I circle the store and dash into an aisle for the occasional pasta or rice, my experience is much more pleasant and we eat healthier. I'm going to check out this book. My husband loves ice cream way too much.

  9. Lezlie--I agree. This book does help a lot. I didn't want to get that degree!

    Beth--You can never be all that sure exactly what goes into the "process"!

    Kim--Just go for whole grain, NOT multi-grain! LOL

    Rhapsody--My husband loves his ice cream!

    Kathy--If he's interested in eating healthier, he'll get a lot of use from it.

    Jeanne--Thanks for the title. I'll check into it!

    Jenners--Yes, I believe in Simple, probably because I'm simple-minded!

    Margot--I don't care how many "dashes" I make into the aisles, there's always someone planted right in front of what I want! LOL

  10. Having just ended our 4-week Game On Diet challenge, I am much more aware of what I put into my body (and how much can be hidden in sneaky labels and packaging).

    I appreciate this review; the bold graphics and fun fonts make me think it's something I could leave around and the kids might even browse thru it (and learn something!)

  11. Ever since my husband realized he loved to cook (Jan of 2008 - I will never forget the date LOL), we don't buy as many processed and ready-made foods. He's the kind of purist who likes to do things like make his own salsa (me: hey, why not just grab a jar off the shelf). But if it was me doing the groceries, this would definitely be a handy book to have!

  12. Dawn--I think that's an excellent idea!

    Belle--Can I borrow your husband occasionally? LOL

  13. I didn't read it, kind of just flipped through it a few times but I thought it was interesting.

  14. Jen--I think it's one of those books that you can pick info up from just from flipping through the pages. :)


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