Cut the Crap, by Ruth Field

According to the ubiquitous Google the definition of the word ‘diet’ (as a noun) refers to the ‘kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats’; ‘a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons’; or as a verb the word diet is used to suggest an attempt to ‘restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight’.

And that was just the first of 93,700,00 results that took a mere 0.29 seconds.

What this result suggests is precisely one of the underlying features of Ruth Field’s Cut the Crap: No Nonsense Plan for a Healthy Body and Mind. That the diet industry, one of the biggest in the world is riddled with fraudulent weight-loss schemes (crap) and invariably encourages you to eat things don’t suit your body, metabolism or lifestyle aka more crap!

It’s a bluntly written highly personable exercise in re-programming how we think about food. Yes, some will say that’s exactly what every ‘diet’ seeks to do brain-wash you into believing that their way will take you straight onto a staircase to skinny heaven. But Field doesn’t care about the dieting industry – what she does give a damn about is her husband who despite having a wife who thrives on living a healthy lifestyle hasn’t quite managed to break some fundamental bad habits. Even though being cooped up at court with the only light coming from a miserable vending machine is a pretty good reason. But not good enough and no matter what you’re excuse, the Grit Doctor asks you to take a personal challenge, for no one else but yourself.

There is actually nothing startling new in Cut the Crap. Field outlines the illusions and the delusions many of us have experienced when it came to these so-called miracle workers but it’s not about making anyone feel bad: its facts, hard and fast, and a relentless emphasis on stripping away any shred of self-pity or victimization. Informative and broken down into clear chapters, she is uncompromisingly in giving you your marching orders, almost quite literally because as everyone knows there is no substitute for exercise and a well-balanced daily intake of highly nutritious food.

Personally, I’m quite glad she introduced various recipes throughout the book. Don’t know what to have with your roast lamb aside from the predictable spuds? Try kumara or even better eggplant roasted in the juices with a tad of cumin and dollop of yoghurt to top it off. And as familiar as Paul Newton’s face is in the shelf of your fridge making salad dressing from scratch is far healthier and obviously tastes better.

Again, the suggestions are nothing new – but it is Ruth Field’s style that will win people over. She seems to have the uncanny gift of knowing when you’re cresting the wave of super-optimism and ready to throw out any and every vaguely unhealthy titbit into the bin and saves you having to rummage through the garbage by encouraging moderation. But you can hear her voice in your head every time you fall prey to the rows of cavity inducing tempters as you head for the checkout – and that the homemade veggie hummus in the fridge that she recommended is probably a much better choice in the long run.

Cut the Crap works on the basis of not madly separating your proteins from your carbs and refusing to whinge about being allergic to everything. It demands you taking an active role in your regaining your ideal weight. Her mantra: “you can eat more of what you love if you make it from scratch and move in between’ seems ridiculously simple, admittedly more labour intensive than some of us would like, but inevitably effective.

It’s a good read, and whether you’d like to go the whole hog or just adopt certain parts (I love the salad recommendations) it’s guaranteed win-win for people trying to achieve some stability in their life and manage their relationship with what they eat and how they feel. It’s certainly not a guide for dummies who want a nutritionist’s qualification overnight nor is it ideal for folks with diabetes or prone to heart attacks – but there are plenty of books (and real people) to talk to about making those choices. In the interim it’s probably solid succinct advice from the Grit Doctor: Cut the Crap!

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TITLE: Cut the Crap: No Nonsense Plan for a Healthy Body and Mind
AUTHOR(S): Ruth Field
PUBLISHER: Hachette
RRP: $34.99
ISBN: 9780751556742

Dione is an Auckland based theatre director and writer with background in performance and community & cultural development. She works as a freelance arts journalist, guest lecturer and creative advisor on a range of different projects both in New Zealand and internationally. She is primarily a non-fiction reviewer who adores travelogues, history, memoirs and creative cooking texts. Read more at www.dionejoseph.com

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