Brain Food

Mosconi, Lisa. Brain Food: the Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power. New York: Avery, 2018.

Reason read: as a member of the Early Review Program for LibraryThing…

I admit it. I underline passages in my books. I mark them up, make notes in the margins, circle and highlight. With Mosconi’s Brain Food I was doing a lot of all of that. Pages upon pages were worthy of notation; simply chock full of interesting information. To say that I had several ah-ha moments is an understatement. Those moments were like finally figuring out how to get out of a maze; driving a tangle of street before you finally find a sign for the highway. Like listening to a foreign language and it’s all garbled until you hear that one word you can translate and then the entire sentence becomes clear. What Mosconi is trying to relate makes sense. There is just a lot to process.
But, here’s another element to Brain Food that I didn’t expect. Mosconi makes the information so compelling that you want to listen to it and what’s more, follow it. Case in point: how many times have you heard about the benefits of drinking more water? Me too. Except it never sunk in. No matter how many times I heard the about the science of staying hydrated, it never prompted me to fill the water bottle a second time. Something about Mosconi’s writing made me sit up and take notice. Something she said finally resonated with me. I may only fill the water bottle a second time, but that’s a start.
I think what makes Mosconi’s book different is her approach. The language is not snooty, doctor on high advice. Her tone isn’t didactic or preachy. She simply tells it like it is. She makes it personal and the information, approachable.
Bonus points for the quiz on dietary brain health and the recipes.


Clean Food

Walters, Terry. Clean Food: a Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source With More than 200 Recipes For a Healthy and Sustainable You. New York: Sterling, 2009.

A friend gave me a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Happy birthday to me! Except I have a weird relationship with B&N. On the one hand, I’m a librarian through and through. I borrow my books. Sending them back is in my blood because I really don’t have the space for keepers. Wait. Let me rephrase. I am picky about my keepers because my space is limited. There. That’s more honest. Quite simply, I do not have the luxury of holding on to every book. When I was a child my father and I belonged to a mail-away book club. Every month we would pour over the selections, pick out a few we thought we could read in 30 days and then wait anxiously for their arrival. The package would come, heavy with books, complete with a postage-paid return label as well as a crisp, new padded envelope to send everything back in. Even in high school I couldn’t keep my books. I had to pass them onto my younger sister in an effort to save the family some money. In college I returned my textbooks to pay the phone bill. You could say I’ve never been comfortable with book ownership.

But! But. But, when it comes to gift certificates to book stores I make exceptions. I make exceptions, but there are rules. I can keep books I will use over and over again (like cookbooks). I can keep books I consider educational, something I can learn from each and every time I pick it up (think reference).

The book I purchased with my gift certificate exemplifies both attributes of my exceptions: Clean Food is a cookbook and a reference book. It goes beyond vegetarian eating. Probably the best thing about Clean Food is that it will put an end to struggling to use all the produce we get from the farm share. Every year it’s the same thing – what do you do with 15lbs of bok choy? There’s only so much stir fry one can eat!


Nutrition for Life

Hark, Lisa. Nutrition for Life: the no-fad, no-nonsense approach to eating well and reaching your healthy weight. London: DK Publishing, 2005.

I would have preferred this book title have one small change – instead of “reaching your healthy weight” why not “maintaining your healthy weight.” Why does it have to be all about being fat? Why can’t it be about being healthy? But, aside from that small gripe this is a great book.

Nutrition for Life is overflowing with information. Even though the emphasis is on nutrition there is a whole chapter dedicated to weight management. It is more than an “eat this and not that” book.  The attempt is to make the reader more aware of the benefits of eating better by supplying information about the medicinal value of food, the difference between store-bought and farm-fresh, and the right foods for different age groups. Nutrition for Life also includes a diet directory. Every well-known diet (including famed Scarsdale, South Beach, and grapefruit diets) is explained with a section on how it works, how you do it, whether it is healthy or not and example of a day on the diet.

I appreciated the case studies of people with examples of special dietary needs. Putting a face to different health issues helped put the importance of food into perspective. The other thing that was great about Nutrition for Life was the photography. The pictures are extremely glossy and gorgeous.


fit + female

coopersmith, geralyn, b. fit +female: the perfect fitness and nutrition game plan for your unique body type. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006.

Here’s what I liked best about the book:

Sense of humor: joking about having to get rid of her hydrostatic tank because it clashed with the couch.

Names for exercises are goofy: the Looky Looky for turning your head and looking to the right and left.

Informative: exercises are well illustrated; nutrition is carefully spelled out.

Unfortunately, the key to this whole book is figuring out your body type. Through a series of 32 questions you are supposed to figure out if you are:

  1. endo, eco or meso
  2. an apple or a pear
  3. advanced or beginner

In the end the key was, “if you answered mostly 4s you are endo,” “if you answered mostly Bs you are a pear” (as examples). After taking the test I knew only two out of the three categories. I am meso and advanced but I answered right down the middle for apple and pear qualifications so I’m either both or neither. I didn’t answer more one way than another. Frustrating. In all honesty I look like the chick on the cover, just 20 years older and with slightly smaller boobs. All in all, because I couldn’t definitively figure out my body type I couldn’t use the rest of the book.


August ’10 was…

August. The last gasp of summer before everyone starts thinking about back-to-school clothes, back-to-school school supplies and back-to-school attitudes. I know my college has already adopted the attitude now that the athletes and international students have started arriving on campus. August was quiet compared to July’s crazy traveling. But, for books it was:

  • The All-Girl Football Team by Lewis Nordan ~ Nordan is my emotional train wreck.
  • Zarafa: a Giraffes’s True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris by Michael Allin ~ in honor of Napoleon’s birth month even though Napoleon is a teeny part of the story
  • Zel by Donna Jo Napoli ~ the clever, psychological retelling of Rapunzel.
  • The Meaning of Everything: the Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester ~ in honor of National Language Month, but I didn’t finish it. Not even close.
  • Undaunted Courage by Simon Winchester ~ a really interesting account of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles ~ probably one of my all-time favorite books.

For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program: I started reading Play Their Hearts Out by George Dohrmann. Review coming in September.

For fun I read:

  • fit = female: the perfect fitness and nutrition game plan for your unique body type by geralyn b. coopersmith ~ the cover of the book didn’t use capital letters so neither did i.
  • Nutrition for Life: The no-fad, no-nonsense approach to eating well and researching your healthy weight by Lisa Hark, Phd, RD & Darwin Deen, MD ~ this is a really, really informative book.

Lining It Up

Now&ZenYoga

(Now & Zen Yoga: photo by Chris Szarek)

Back when I was training for the LLS Alton Bay half I was striving for The Trinity: a good running plan, a good eating plan and a good yoga plan. I’m one of those nutty people that earnestly believes that all these things go together. Especially yoga and running – I’m convinced they go hand in hand. Think about it. Let’s take the run first. Some people say a good run is mind-clearing. Others say it’s a good chance to relax. Okay – so the “relax” factor might be stretching it in terms of physical, but think about it from the mental for just a sec. I don’t know about you, but when I run, there is a cadence to my breathing – one deep count in, two long counts out. Slow & steady with the mantra “must beat cancer” right behind it. There is a rhythm to my running that parallels my practice in yoga.

Now let’s move onto a good yoga session and how it relates to a good run. Tight hamstrings, tight hips, tight anything is bad, bad, bad for running so… what better way to stretch it all out than with a session of yoga? Go on any running site (take Runner’s World, for example). I bet there is an article or two (at the very least) about good stretching. The Y word might even be thrown around a little. I know for a fact Runner’s World has a video of three yoga moves designed to free the hips, loosen the quads and stretch the calves.

My point of all this preaching is not to get runners to become yogis or vise versa. My point is all about me, myself and moi, actually. I wanted to outwardly vent about lining it up – the yoga, the running & the eating well. Only now I’ve added a fourth component so I’ll have to rename the Trinity as the Fantastic Four: running, yoga, eating well and…Hello Mr. Bowflex – strength training!


Jerusalem Diet

Besserman, Judith and Emily Budick. The Jerusalem Diet: Guided Imagery and Personal Path to Weight Control. Jerusalem: Green Publishing, 2007.

The very first thing I liked about this book was the statement that it is not a conventional “diet” book. Yay for that! It’s a book about making choices. Sometimes, in the world of nutrition and eating better, it is better to not think in terms of dieting; instead think in terms of getting healthier. Period.
The second thing I liked about this book is the disclaimer about gender. Right in the introduction the subject of why women are ‘targeted’ is addressed. The authors are quick to point out that while men have benefited from their methods, the conversation of this book is directed toward women because a woman’s reasons for dieting differ from a man’s.
Other points made in The Jerusalem Diet seemed to be common sense. A lot of conversation covers emotional eating and how food takes the place of other wants and desires. This is something any dieter has definitely heard before. The recommendation to start a food diary seems commonplace as well. Doesn’t Weight Watchers encourage the same awareness of dietary intake?
The main focus of The Jerusalem Diet is the use of imagery, or guided visualization. Throughout the book there are 43 different imagery exercises to be practiced during both the dieting and maintaining stage of weight loss. The exercises are conveniently indexed in the back as well. There is a pleasant mix of “lecture” and storytelling between exercises. Besserman and Budick share the experiences of their patients, which results in personalizing the “how to-ness” of the rest of the book.
One final addition to the book is a list of soup recipes designed to promote weight loss. It isn’t clear why the program is called the Jerusalem Diet other than the fact Besserman practices in Jerusalem and Budick teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

*Disclaimer: while reading The Jerusalem Diet for review I also practiced what it preached to see how effective it was in helping me with my dietary concerns. Stay tuned because I’m still working on it!