Thinfluence by Walter Willett and Malissa Wood

Thinfluence should not be considered a stand alone diet book; rather, this is a an excellent supplement/resource to any diet or lifestyle change program you follow to help increase your ability to lose weight and eat healthier.  What this book does that I haven’t seen any other do is to tackle the outside social influences that inhibit or make much more difficult the ability to eat healthier. I’ve read diet books about carbs, calories, emotions, genetics, hormones, age, etc., but this is the first book I’ve seen solely dedicated to tackling issues of family, friends, workplace, and environment/location.

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The book is broken down as follows: Chapter 1 is an introduction to the ideas in Thinfluence. Chapter 2 discusses emotional eating and how to deal with it. Chapter 3 tackles family and how to deal with everyone’s varied eating habits (the thin ones, the lazy ones, the stubborn ones, etc.) and strategies to bring them into a better eating lifestyle with you. Chapter 4 covers friends and any organizations you may be in – coping with eating out, eating in various celebration situations, etc. Chapter 5 discusses how to eat better in the workplace. Chapter 6 shows how to evaluate your ‘food environment’ and make it easier and more enticing to eat the right foods. Chapter 7 also discusses the food environment, this time tackling tv watching and exercise. Chapter 8 goes over media influences on our food choices, including junk food commercials and ‘quick fix’ diets. Chapter 9 discusses policy – how to work with your local city, state, and other government officials to develop programs and policies for better eating lifestyles. The last chapter summarizes without repetition.

All the chapters have personal examples of people with weight problems and the factors that were contributing to that problem. At the end of each chapter are subsections called Analyze, Act, and Influence. Analyze asks a short series of questions to hone in on your particular situation. Once you add up your responses in the Analyze section, you’ll get a score that you reference in the Act area to create the best possible solution to your personal problem areas with weight loss. Influence lists the positive outcomes that result from addressing that chapter’s issues – motivation, really. The Analyze questionnaires are typically only 3 questions long and very easy to answer – they work in levels of degree of a certain aspect or problem.

The author does a good job of ensuring the book can target each reader’s unique situation. It doesn’t feel generic at all and a lot of situations are covered – from kids who want junk food all day, grandmothers who reward with food, to coworkers who pressure you through peer situations at company lunches or dinners.

If the book has a flaw, it’s that being overweight is too often a lonely thing but the emphasis throughout the book is to use peer groups to motivate. Readers are given different ideas for finding peers who also want to lose weight but e.g., a stay-at-home mom without an extensive social network could find this daunting.

Thinfluence isn’t a diet book and there are no recipes. But it is a lifestyle evaluation and reeducation plan to help with one of the most difficult and least addressed issues of any diet: the influence that peers and your environment have on your eating choices. The book does an excellent job of suggesting solutions, most of which are not drastic, to deal with the ‘soft’ side of a diet (read: social).

As noted earlier, this is a great companion for ANY diet book or program since it addresses an real problem that rarely, if ever, gets considered. Yet is such a huge factor on our ability to not only lose weight but to redefine our lifestyles in order to live longer and healthier.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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This entry was posted in Book Reviews, fitness/diet, non fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

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