At first glance of The Manhattan Diet, hitting store shelves today, I was hesitant. My reaction was that it was just feeding the fad diet fire that consumes women in this country, and that could still very well be the case. Not only that, it seemed to glamorize a fad, diet-obsessed lifestyle; even the book’s subtitle refers to “a fabulous life.” However, in my conversation with Eileen Daspin, the book’s author and an award-winning journalist, I learned that her intent for The Manhattan Diet wasn’t a packaged diet per se, but a journalistic glimpse at a lifestyle that keeps many women thin. Once she included a 28-day diet plan without any fitness or nutrition credentials or background, her intent went out the window and the potential for one more dieting bestseller flew in.
Daspin worked on the book two years ago after learning that the women of Manhattan were the thinnest of all of New York City’s five boroughs. She recruited an anonymous group of 25 women who kept diaries of their eating and fitness habits in fine detail. From this, Daspin said she built spreadsheets to help her map out all of the details of these women’s habits and from that defined The Manhattan Diet. The book acts as a sort of American version of French Women Don’t Get Fat, explaining why and how the women of New York City, amongst all that frenetic energy and world’s best pizza, manage to stay slim, fit, and always fabulous. Of the women in New York City I know, it comes from walking more often than cabbing it because it’s more affordable, being conscientious about what they eat (not obsessed), fitting in regular exercise, and not over-indulging in rich desserts, appetizers, and cocktails at every single meal. Again, because they can’t afford it.
“I based [the book] on a way that a group of women I know, not exercise nuts but slim, stay healthy and in shape,” Daspin told me in an interview on the day of the book’s release. “It’s based on real women’s eating habits.” (The definition of “real women” could be loosely defined here.) She then explained the four tenets of the book, which are portion control, eating foods you like (not skimping!), cheating a little, and walking. I like these tenets, they are the foundation of any truly balanced eating plan. But they tend to get overshadowed by some of the more “exercise nut”-style advice doled out in the sometimes breathy 256 pages.
Read Full Post >