The title of the book is Why Women Need Fat. At first, the answer seemed obvious…so other women don’t hate them and talk about them behind their backs, duh.
I don’t usually review non-fiction books. In fact, I don’t usually read much non-fiction, especially diet related non-fiction. I like to do book reviews, though, and BlogHer’s review program is a good way to keep my hand in and I figured that given my little writing hiatus, I could use the kick in the drawers to get going. The BlogHer review program pays a little bit (a very little bit – as in a few lattes) but I assure you that you will never read anything in a book review I write that isn’t my entirely unvarnished opinion. Besides, BlogHer is paying me, not the authors of the book.
The authors of the book are William Lassek, an M.D., and Steven Gaulin, a Ph.D. The title is a bit of a gimmick, obviously, but the premise of the book, refreshingly, is not. Neither, more remarkably to me, was the delivery of the premise. The point is the women have evolved to require a certain amount of body fat in certain places in their bodies, and men have evolved to appreciate that body fat where it should, evolutionarily speaking, land.
American women have, in case you haven’t been paying attention or were lost on a desert island island somewhere, are getting larger in an unhealthy way. Obviously, I’m speaking in a general way here – this shouldn’t be a big newsflash to anybody. The amount of weight and the placement of that weight on women’s bodies has been changing, particularly in this country, over the last few decades. The authors of the book wonder why, and in noting that “as the American diet… changed to get ”healthier,’ food got less tasty, and yet Americans – especially women – started gaining weight” they trace the scientific, anthropologic, and evolutionary history of women and diet and fat.
I could explain it all, but why should I, they did, and far more clearly and compellingly than I could. (And people are continuing the discussion of many of the finer points of the book HERE, if you’re interested.) My only gripe is that there were times when I found myself saying, “For the love of Canola Oil, just give me a list of what I can and can’t eat,please!” Which, by the way, they sort of did, in the back. Instead of me re-hashing the whole shebang, you could read the book, which you might want to do, because I think it’s a gap in our cultural awareness.
I know there are people who are hardcore Food People, but I think most of us who can’t spend all of our food budget on top of the line produce and grass fed everything and who can’t spend all of our time researching this stuff could use a clear synopsis – which this book provides – about cleaner, healthier, simpler eating.
It’s not a diet book, although it might help some people lose some weight. I appreciated the fact that research and data was explained to me in real terms, and not in metaphors, as though I am some kind of jello-brained seven year old incapable of comprehending anything not put in the context of popular culture. I also felt comforted by the references to Michael Pollan, a familiar and reliable name. Maybe that’s silly, but still.
Despite all the science talk and explanation of the principles behind what Lassek and Gaulin advocate and describe, ultimately, it’s about eating real food, rather than the processed crap we’ve been told will make our lives easier and then become addicted to. It’s all very sensible and straightforward, and, if what it says on page 142, that a person can get as much DHA from the dark chocolate mousse made with omega 3 enriched eggs featured on the book’s cover as from a fish oil capsule, then I’m all for that.