Book Review: Undiet by Meghan Telpner

I absolutely loved this book!  First of all, let me explain that I hate, no loath, the word diet.  I think that our culture has gotten so screwed up over the whole concept of dieting, and the marketing, the industry, the mindset around it makes me so unbelievably mad.  To me, anything with the word diet in it is just marketing magic tricks and no diet ever works.  Why don’t diets work? Either your intentions are completely off, so for example, you’re aiming for a perfect, slim body to look like someone else.   If you think that will make you happy, you’re probably wrong because if you can’t get comfortable with yourself, as you are, being slim won’t change that.  Furthermore, if your sense of identity and self-love comes from what other people think of you, then that’s something you need to change in your brain, not your body.

A diet where you are cutting out major things you like to eat, such as bread or carbs, is not sustainable.  Yes, people have lost weight on diets like this, but eventually they go back to their old eating habits because these diets are not designed to be long-term.  Not only that, counting calories and weighing yourself every day and being happy or sad depending on the number on the scale will turn you into a self-absorbed crazy person who measures their self-worth by a stupid number that doesn’t even really matter at all.  I’m sorry, it’s not your fault.  It’s the industry, the supplements, the magazines, the promise of quicky-solutions, and our lack of education about what we eat….but we have the option to forget all of that and start learning.

There is only one thing that will “work” long term and that is a lifestyle change, without weight loss goals but overall health goals and that is what Undiet is all about.  Meghan Telpner, the author, was working in an ad agency when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  Doctors did not give her a hopeful prognosis and soon she was unable to do her job.  Doctors said her only options were a lifetime of medications, surgery to have her intestines removed and a colostomy bag to replace them, which would collect her poop outside her body.  She decided not to listen to doctors and instead, took her health into her own hands and began researching diet and its relation to illness.  Changing to a gluten, dairy, chemical, and processed foods-free diet, using organic foods and making everything from scratch healed her completely from her Crohn’s disease within about a month.  No poop bag!  During this research, her life path became clear and she decided to go to school to become a certified nutritionist.  Because of her education, she is able to explain clearly what foods do what in your body, both good and bad, and why it is so important to avoid processed and chemical laden foods.

Meghan is brutally honest and clear in her book about what is going to work and what is not going to work for you.  She breaks things down into smaller more doable steps and she cheers you on throughout the book.  This is not an easy lifestyle change, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  What she is asking you to do is extremely difficult and it is not for everyone.  Your health (and your kid’s health) should be a top priority for everyone, but convenience often wins out in this busy day and age and it’s usually not until something scary happens (like getting really sick) that we are motivated to change in such a major way.  This is not an easy solution to good health.  You have to make a commitment and do the work to get the benefits, but the rewards she offers with this lifestyle change are so much more than a slim body (you will probably lose weight by default not because it is your main goal).  These rewards include more energy, higher libido, easing of mental health symptoms like anxiety, depression, not being able to sleep at night, better skin, better hair, stronger immune system, no more digestion problems, less PMS and more.

Meghan also does something key in this book, she forces you to look at your life in general, not just what you’re eating…but she asks are you living the good life? Are you living your best possible life? or are you a stressed drone polluting an overworked body?  If you’re a stressed drone, it will catch up to you.  I promise it will.  I did not take care of my body, my eating and my health because it was not a priority to me until I got sick.

My one complaint about the book is that it is more dogma than recipes.  I did enjoy the dogma (a lot), but I would have liked more recipes.  She directs you, of course to her website, but when I went there and signed up for her newsletter I also found that there wasn’t a lot of ‘free’ recipes or articles/blogs.  Most of it was offering courses/seminars that you had to pay for with ‘teaser’ videos.  I would like to see a little bit more stuff that offers value to her community on her website (without having to pay) even if it’s just articles about lifestyle, chemical-free living and I didn’t really like being prompted often to sign up for her uber-expensive courses.

Most of the recipes in the book I tried were very good.  My favourite so far is probably her blueberry pancakes.  I’ve also tried her quinoa tabbouleh which was decent and her almond cookies that didn’t quite turn out (I’ll have to try again).  I make her almond milk now weekly.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is ready to commit to better health, but needs a bit of guidance and would like to do it in stages, or someone who has already started the commitment to healthy eating and is interested in more of a breakdown of healthy foods and what they do for you plus some good tips and recipes.

Have you read Undiet? What did you think?