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The California Wine Country Diet: The indulgent approach to managing your weight (December 15, 2005)

book review
by Dean Tudor

The California Wine Country Diet: The indulgent approach to managing your weight (Quill Driver Books, 2006; distr. by University of Toronto Press, 368 pages, ISBN 1-884956-48-3, $36.95 hard covers) is largely by Haven Logan, a psychotherapist with a PhD, with the consulting help of Sharon Stewart, RD, for the nutritional and exercise content of the book. Logan is concerned with the main framework and the motivation (to take you through the process of losing weight and keeping it off, a sort of hand-holding), while Stewart (who is not mentioned at all on the promo sheets) deals with the nitty gritty of balanced meals and some fitness programs.

Part One of the book deals with six aspects of weight management (known as the six spokes of the Wheel). For those of you not tuned into the California lifestyle, you'll need to know that any mantra or chakra treatment demands a "wheel" image of some kind. Build the "wheel" and they will come! Part Two is the implementation of your own diet and physical activity, plus other aspects of the remaining four spokes.

There are three weeks of suggested daily food plans for three calorie levels (1200, 1600, and 2000 calories) based on USDA 2005 dietary guidelines. You can use up to 15% of these calories for pleasure foods, which this book wants you to sink into wine. For women, the USDA says 5 ounces a day; for men, that figure climbs to 10 ounces, with twice the calories. If you don't drink, you could choose bittersweet chocolate. Or potato chips, cheesecake, brownies, cookies, cream, croissant: not more than 15% of the total per day. But that 15% wiggle room is very important, and makes you feel good. She claims that the "art of conscious indulgence" will stop yo-yo dieting. If you choose not to drink wine, then the rest of the book means nothing to you.

There are some two dozen commonsense recipes based on California wine country cuisine, such as black bean burritos, broiled lamb chops, penne, salads, walnuts and walnut oil, and an additional 41 upscale recipes from local restaurants and inns (Benbow Inn, Patrona Bistro, Fetzer Vineyards Café, John Ash, et al.). There are end notes, bibliography, website listing, and extremely small typeface for the index. You'll need to pay attention to details, follow the prescriptive tables, and don't wander. It also helps to live in California.

Audience and level of use: Those who need to lose weight, people who live in or near California.

Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: On page 348, the Wheel of Weight-Management has six spokes: Nutrition (I am giving myself the foods I need to nourish my body), Activity (I am enjoying an active life), Practicality (I am simplifying my life through practicality), Pleasure (I am slowing down and taking time to enjoy my life), Relationships (My relationship with myself enhances my relationship with others), and Variety (My life continues to unfold in new and exciting ways as I embrace variety). And that, I think, is all you really need to know.

What I don't like about this book (its shortcomings): Diet or not, wine is an indulgence, and counts as 15% of your play calories. You don't need to drink wine to lose weight, thus obviating the whole selling point of this book. Also, there is no getting away from the fact that you are going to have to do more physical activity than before if you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off. There is no getting around this, and that's why you'll need a motivational psychotherapist.

What I do like about this book (its positives): Lots of motivation here. For the serious dieter, there are copious tables and charts to fill in to monitor your progress.

Quality/Price Rating: 88




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