About 5 1/2 years ago, I began a weight loss journey. I lost over a hundred pounds in about 16 months. I’ve since kept that weight off. It’s a powerful journey, weight loss, and one that is so full of ridiculous judgment and rhetoric in our modern western society (of which I will not engage in). Still, it is a powerful, personal journey and one in which finding folks to relate too isn’t always easy, so when I was given the chance to review, Eating in the Middle, I jumped at the opportunity. The idea of wholesome weight loss and living has become quite a passion of mine, after all, and one that I’m dedicated to continue pursuing.
Before we get any further, this is a much more personal post than I usually write, it is also a topic I don’t cover (or intend to cover) often here at Homespun Seasonal Living. However, it does fit into this idea of living a Fiercely DIY lifestyle and is very much responsible for how I view healthy eating and habits. Also, I was given Eating in the Middle from the publisher to do a review, that free copy did not color my opinion.
When I began my weight loss journey, I had to learn how to make and enjoy healthy food choices. Even back then, we ate mostly from scratch. I didn’t cook from a box or packaged foods, that was never my style. However, my food choices revolved around a whole lot of white flour and white sugar. A whole lot of white sugar. Changing those poor habits and maintaining good ones are difficult even now years later. It was for these reasons that I was excited about reading Eating in the Middle. I was excited about the potential for new recipe ideas from someone else who had been there and done that and continues to travel that road every day with me. I was excited about sharing wholesome cookbook resources with you.
Sadly, I think Eating in the Middle failed to deliver. The recipes are not bad by any stretch of the imagination but they’re unnecessarily focused on kicking up flavor and while it is not supposed to be a ‘diet’ book, the recipes feel very focused on not making us feel deprived (and for the record healthy eating is never about deprivation). Like most ‘diet’ cookbooks, it seems as if the focus is on fooling ourselves into believing that nothing has changed rather than trying to get us to create new, healthier habits. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it often feels like we’re trying to keep old habits instead of committing to switch to new ones. From my own experience that doesn’t work for long, but even more than that it makes cooking from scratch in a healthy manner more labor intensive and mentally exhausting than required. From my own experience, it is the commitment to learning and embracing new healthy habits and food that leads to long-lasting results and true wholesome living.
Some of the recipes include splurges, like doughnuts – baked but still doughnuts – and use things like reduced fat cream cheese in the glaze. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know I eat sweets and post those recipes, but I’m not a fan of altering foods – eat whole foods, even full fat foods because they have a place in a healthy diet when we’re eating whole vegetables, grains, meats, fruits, etc. There is a place in an overall healthy lifestyle for splurge foods and I feel like the book tried to gloss over that fact by hiding the idea behind low-fat substitutes.
The 80 recipes included in Eating in the Middle all come with nutrition and calorie information. Admittedly, these are wonderful bits of information. I counted calories and watched nutrition information carefully to attain my own personal goals and this information helped me truly understand healthy food better. It’s not only about calories, it is about nutrition but I didn’t fully understand that until I started using an app to help me actually see the numbers rather than guessing that because it was made from scratch it was automatically healthy. Having all that information on each recipe makes it easier to incorporate the recipes into a meal rotation.
Eating in the Middle is first and foremost a cookbook and is being marketed as such. It’s beautiful, the photos are gorgeous and the styling is amazing but that’s not enough for a cookbook to earn a permanent spot in my limited bookshelf space. I did appreciate the essays in the book, which means I should probably read the author’s memoir. I appreciated and related to many of the author’s viewpoints and struggles. The thing about losing weight and keeping it off is that it requires a heck of a mental change that is difficult at best to attain and maintain. It’s a worthy struggle but no one should ever think it’s easy, because it is most certainly not, and it doesn’t get easy once the weight is lost (nor does suddenly being a normal weight not obese person make life magically easier).
Maybe my own weight loss journey, my own biases towards how I accomplished that original 100-pound loss and how I’ve chosen to maintain it have colored my opinion of this book. I fully expected to embrace it and recommend it heartily in a blog post. That’s worth mentioning because we often enjoy or don’t enjoy something simply because of our personal prejudices and beliefs. I don’t want to say that this book wouldn’t be enjoyed and loved by many people, indeed the reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive, which is probably a sign of how my personal journey has colored my view of ‘diet’ cookbooks. Again, I wouldn’t say that Eating in the Middle is an awful book, however; it isn’t a book I’d keep in my personal library either. I would suggest checking this book out of your local library first and see if it resonates with you before purchasing.