Book Review: Barry Estabrook’s Just Eat

Many Americans have a fraught relationship with food. Some fear it, some love it, some think of it as medicine while others believe much of it is toxic, there’s the judgmental “good food versus bad food” camp, and myriad variations on all of the above. That’s one reason the weight loss industry is a 70+ billion dollar one—we all want someone to tell us when to eat, what to eat, and how to eat it for optimum health and wellness. And we want it to be easy and painless.

Investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook has delved into the issue of nutrition, diet, and weight loss in his new book Just Eat: One Reporter’s Quest for a Weight-Loss Regimen That Works. When his doctor told him he had to lose a significant amount of weight or face grim consequences, Estabrook embarked on a journey to find a way to eat that would help him lose weight, get his elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure under control, and, he hoped, prevent him from becoming yet another male in his family to succumb to cardiovascular disease at a young-ish age.

Over the course of four years, he explored highly-marketed and wildly popular diets like Whole 30, South Beach, and Weight Watchers, as well as lifestyle eating like the French Paradox and the Mediterranean Diet. Through it all, he experienced what any dieter will recognize—the yo-yo of dramatic weight loss followed by a gain of everything lost and then some.

Estabrook digs into the science and history behind dieting, and unlike many books written by doctors, nutritionists, or diet gurus, he presents well-researched information in a highly readable and sometimes humorous way. He’s not shy about presenting his own experiences with self-deprecating wit: going out to dinner with colleagues who are chowing down on oodles of delicious regional specialties while he sips sparkling water and nibbles at a salad; the battles with intestinal upsets, irritability, grumpiness, and sleeplessness; and the boredom and tediousness of eating a restricted diet and keeping track of it. Anyone who’s ever been on the diet treadmill will relate.

Never a dieter in his life, Estabrook comes to the conclusion that he’s still not one. Yet, he’s managed to lose weight, get off the pharmaceuticals for his blood pressure and cholesterol, and become a thinner, fitter version of himself. He did it by taking information and pieces of wisdom from every plan he tried and every expert with whom he conversed. He incorporated what he learned into a way of eating and drinking that fits with his lifestyle and allows him to experience the joy of eating well. His method may not work for everyone—nor does he intend that to be the point of the book—but he saves the reader the time, expense, and frustration of trying so many diets that, by their very nature, doom most people to failure.

Estabrook says he still enjoys a good grassfed steak once in a while as part of his quest to eat the highest quality food he can find and to consume less of it. He’s eliminated the so-called bad actors – food that he recognized contributed to his weight gain, whether a loaf of home-baked whole wheat bread or a bag of potato chips. He’s changed his relationship with alcohol and takes the time to focus on food when he’s eating, rather than on the work on his desk. And he’s added an hour of physical activity to his daily routine. 

For anyone who’s been frustrated with the pounds-off, pounds-on rollercoaster of trying to lose weight, Just Eat is an entertaining revelation. You don’t have to “diet” to be healthy. You just have to find what works for you. And stick with it.

The Benefits of Bone Broth

Panorama Meats is proud to announce its newest product, organic and grass-fed beef bone broth. With eight grams of protein per serving, the broth is made by slow simmering bones from organic, grass-fed cattle for 12-24 hours. The addition of organic vegetables and spices makes for a nutritious and delicious drink, a base for sauces and gravies, or a stock for soup. As with all of Panorama’s products, the bone broth is Paleo Certified, Whole30 Approved, and Keto-Friendly.

The health benefits of bone broth have been touted by The Weston Price Foundation; author and primal food entrepreneur Mark Sisson; and Robb Wolf, author and Paleo guru. But bone broth isn’t a new thing. Cultures all over the world have been simmering bones for centuries to extract the minerals, collagen, and other nutrients, realizing that bones aren’t waste—they’re a valuable source of healthy food.

Why is bone broth good for you?

Slow-cooking bones, especially those with lots of connective tissue, extracts protein like collagen, a good source of amino acids including glycine and proline, as well as other amino acids including glucosamine and glutamine. In addition, bone broth contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, along with vitamins K and A. 

What do you do with bone broth?

Drink it. Heat it and pour it in a mug for a before-bed snack that will help you sleep. Glycine, one of the amino acids in collagen, has been shown to be a sleep aid, and it also may soothe the gastric mucosa (settle an upset stomach) and inhibit cytokines, which cause inflammation. 

If you’re following an intermittent fasting plan, bone broth is perfect for fasting days. It’s low in calories and easy to digest, yet gives your body plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It also helps take the edge off of those inevitable hunger pangs.

And finally, if you’ve imbibed a little too much, bone broth is an excellent morning-after drink for helping with a hangover. I used to know someone whose grandmother made soup every Monday because, after a weekend of carousing, his grandfather could only tolerate a simple broth with vegetables. Moderation in all things is the key to a healthy life, but when you slip, bone broth makes the aftermath a little more tolerable.

Make soup. Add a few of your favorite chopped vegetables to a pot of simmering bone broth and within minutes, you have a healthy, easy, and delicious dinner or lunch. You could also add protein, like organic grass-fed beef from Panorama, or even rice or noodles. It’s a good way to use up what’s sitting in the refrigerator.

Make gravy or sauce. Sometimes it’s not convenient to spend all day in the kitchen making a big dinner, but some gravy to go over that roast beef sandwich sounds so good. Brown a little flour in some butter, add the bone broth, and cook it down to a thick and rich gravy. Or, reduce the broth and a little red wine in a skillet to make a delicious and elegant sauce for steaks. Add some mushrooms, if you like.

Experiment. Some people add bone broth to their coffee, their smoothies, or other drinks to add nutrition. 

Panorama Organic and Grass-fed Bone Broth is currently available at Whole Foods stores in Northern California, and will soon be found in retail grocery stores across the country.