To find the skinniest reads, we queried American Dietetic Association spokeswomen Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., M.A., R.D., the Tampa, Fla.-based co-author of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy (Marlowe & Co., 2004), and Lona Sandon, M.Ed., R.D., assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Here, Sass and Sandon weigh in on their top picks; see which book is best for you.
> Thin for Life
By Anne M. Fletcher, M.S., R.D. (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2003)
Diet philosophy Different weight-loss strategies work for different people.
Best suited for The dieter who's tried it all -- without success
Recipes included? Yes. Recipes from successful dieters for everything range from starters (Sensibly Thin Vegetable Salad) to decadent-tasting desserts (Black Bottom Cupcakes).
What's inside This hefty tome reveals the weight-loss secrets of 160 men and women who have shed pounds and kept them off for good. It also explains the key differences between the diet and exercise strategies of weight-loss maintainers compared to regainers. You'll find popular diet myths debunked plus expert advice on meal planning, identifying and tackling high-risk situations, setting realistic goals and overcoming issues like emotional and binge eating.
The nutrition expert says "If you've picked up this book, it's probably because fad diets haven't worked for you or you're ready to let go of the quick fix," Sass says. "Instead of promising dramatic short-term results, the book provides lasting results by focusing on the big picture of lifelong weight management."
> Getting Thin and Loving Food!
By Kathleen Daelemans (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004)
Diet philosophy Yes, you can eat delicious food and still lose weight.
Best suited for Foodies and free spirits who hate to count calories
Recipes included? Yes, for all meals
What's inside Food Network TV personality Kathleen Daelemans, a chef who shed 75 pounds and has kept them off for 14 years, will have you laughing out loud at her ongoing struggles with chocolate, emotional eating and self-control issues in this cookbook/self-help guide.
Daelemans offers more than 200 delicious recipes, as well as creative solutions that encourage healthful cooking, from finding offbeat times of day to prepare meals to overhauling your pantry and restocking it with low-cal yet exotic staples (think pickled ginger, Asian fish sauce and dried mushrooms).
You won't find any calorie counts or fat grams here, since Daelemans lost weight without tracking these. Dishes range from flavorful meals you can toss together on weeknights, like Chicken With Quick Citrus Pan Gravy or Baked Polenta With Basil-Tomato Sauce and Cheese, to yummy portion-controlled desserts such as Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse.
The nutrition expert says "Daelemans' book has a great positive energy," Sass says. "Her message is that weight loss doesn't have to be based on deprivation and negativity."
> The Dish
By Carolyn O'Neil, M.S., R.D., and Densie Webb, Ph.D., R.D. (Atria, 2004)
Diet philosophy Losing weight doesn't have to be boring.
Best suited for Dieters who don't want to sacrifice style for pounds lost
Recipes included? Yes. Contains a few recipes for chic dishes such as Simple Chicken Breast Saute and Rosemary Lemon-Lime Pasta.
What's inside Written in a dishy, girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, this entertaining crash course on nutrition basics is filled with quizzes, mini-profiles of real-life "hip & healthy heroines," fun food facts, recipes and practical diet strategies. You'll find tips and tricks to help you navigate high-calorie minefields like restaurants, airports, the drive-through (yes, sometimes it's a fact of life) and cocktail parties.
The nutrition expert says "The Dish puts the fun back into eating," Sandon says. "It's an approach to an overall lifestyle, not just one nutrient."