How Not to Die By Dr. Greger – Plant-based nutrition book summary

I have long been a fan of NutritionFacts.org. Funded only by donations from individual visitors, Dr. Michael Greger and his team read every English-language journal article on nutrition every year and share their critical analysis free of charge. When it can feel like everyone is trying to manipulate and profit off of others, sources like these stand out as much more credible to me.

After a long wait from the library, I have finally read Dr. Greger’s book How Not to Die. Again, all proceeds go directly to fund his free educational website – he takes no compensation. For most books I discuss on here, I provide a comprehensive summary of the key takeaways as I see them. For this one, though, you can just go directly to NutritionFacts.org and search for any and all the information that interests you. If you’d still prefer a summary, check out the one done by Chewfo or the video published by Dr. Greger himself.

Instead, I’d like to share with you the little notes I took for myself to give you an idea of what the book offers.


First up, probably the most controversial: a whole foods, plant-based diet recommendation. This blog demonstrates how open I am to considering all different ways of eating and I still believe that there is no one right way – not only because we are individuals with different needs and different reactions to foods, but also because a good diet I can incorporate into my life is heaps better than a great diet I can’t keep up. All that said, this book devotes the first half to explaining exactly why a whole foods, plant-based diet is best for optimal health and avoiding the 15 leading causes of death.

One of those causes is depression. I’m aware that with the exception of the most severely depressed, anti-depressant medication has not been proven to be more effective than the placebo effect. If capable of exercise, 30 minutes of walking is at least as effective as those drugs without the negative side effects. And interestingly, certain foods are naturally beneficial for mood-enhancing neurotransmitters: apples, grapes, onions, green tea, cinnamon, and sesame, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds.

Plus, an intriguing theory was presented: since consuming a lot of manufactured highly-palatable foods can make a person less sensitive to the dopamine it continually spikes, which often leads people to overeat those foods trying to reach the original “high,” some people then find it harder to achieve their usual “reward” feelings from other sources in their lives – this can lead to the common symptoms of low motivation and reduced interest towards things enjoyed before depression. By eating mainly whole foods, not only will you soon better appreciate their tastes but you can also better appreciate the joys of life.

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Eat Q (100% in 1% Book Summary)

This is the first post in my series of ‘100% in 1%’ by which I mean 100% of the key messages in 1% the time to read. I devour books, particularly the self-improvement variety, and create summaries for myself to reference. Speaking with an expert in the wellness community, I was encouraged to share these summaries with people who have the interest but not the time to read so much (in other words, most people).

I hope you’ll help me shape this to be as helpful as possible for you! Please comment below or contact me directly via the About page or Twitter.

Original: Eat Q: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence by Susan Albers

Concept

  • Eat Q is a play on IQ which combines implications from research on Emotional Intelligence (EI), emotional eating, and mindfulness. For instance, EI involves emotional regulation, which is is about understanding and tempering emotions so they work for you, not against you. It is the dimmer switch that allows you to turn down a specific emotion to the level that feels right.
  • Emotionally driven eating is when food decisions are determined by current emotional states, often leading to automatic reactions. For instance, emotional eaters tend to consume more sweets when sad, double the chocolate when depressed, and overall more calories whether happy or lonely.
  • Eating issues are ingrained in our brains. Food reward is associated with the mesolimbic dopamine system and sensitivity to sweet and fatty foods. In the prefontal cortex, both inhibitory control and time discounting (favouring an immediate reward over a better reward in the future) are located in the dorsolateral region. The memory of a food that felt good or comforting in the past is stored in the amygdala.
  • What we resist persists. Both avoiding and clinging to feelings drain your energy.
  • Self-control is a strategic allocation of your attention; “change the way you think instead of trying to suppress a thought.” “You can’t decide how you feel. You can decide what you’ll eat.” The moment of decisions is the one you can control so it is the one that matters.

 Recommendations 

  • The EAT Method is to Embrace feelings (notice, identify, feel); Accept them; and, Turn to positive, healthy ways to manage feelings and moderate eating. Learn to reconnect and identify feelings with words. Sit with them – pain is okay for a short time and feelings pass, cravings pass.
  • Rather than emotionally driven eating, the objective is insight driven decisions. In this way, feelings are used for guidance only. They are still important or you may get stuck in an internal pros & cons debate.
  • Know yourself. What is your decision making style? Consider how you deal with stress in a good moment, and how you deal in a difficult moment. Peek behind your cravings to understand triggers: where are you, what are you doing, who is there, how are you feeling, and why do you want to eat?
  • Food may numb an emotion but it won’t get rid of it. Look for what is useful about an emotion then commit to taking one action to manage it in a positive way.
  • Build a new healthy habit consistently for 2 months; it may take that long before it becomes natural with little effort, no willpower. Then move onto the next.
  • Planning to eat may be part of the pleasure and overeating an attempt to prolong the pleasure. Turn daydreaming toward aspirations beyond the next meal.

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