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

I have long been a fan of 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 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.

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, even a small amount 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 symptom 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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fat man exercising

Weight Science from Linda Bacon’s Body Respect – HAES Book Summary

We are constantly warned about the dangers of obesity and urged to manage our weight. These messages come from all directions, including authorities we trust and peers who judge us. But consider for a moment that our accepted assumptions may not represent fully what we know from scientific evidence.

To begin with, the following facts are from Body Respect by Linda Bacon, and you can confirm them in the peer-reviewed article at

  • People who are categorized as overweight or moderately obese have shown time and time again to live as long as or longer than people with weight in the normal category (confirmed even by the CDC)
  • BMI standards were written by the pharmaceutical industry to increase weight loss drug profits, ignoring that health decrement hasn’t shown to occur until a BMI of 40 (they funded the international obesity task force that determined the WHO’s standards and therefore the U.S. standards)
  • Larger people are more likely to develop several diseases but fatness is not the cause – there are many confounding factors like fitness, stress from discrimination, and inflammation from calorie-restriction dieting and weight cycling – “blaming fatness for heart disease is a lot like blaming yellow teeth for lung cancer”
  • “There has never been a research study that has demonstrated long-term maintenance of weight loss from lifestyle change for any but a small minority” – the rare person who does maintain weight loss is as lucky as the smoker who lives to be ninety
  • Health can improve when diet and/or exercise improve – not as a result of weight loss – yet at the same time, health behaviours account for less than 1/4 of differences in health outcomes, while social differences (i.e. poverty and discrimination) are the main determinants (again confirmed by the CDC)

If you’re like me, you’re probably tempted to object to the above sample of facts because we fear fat so strongly. However, ignorance has hurt us through lifetime yo-yo dieting, obsession with food and body, disordered eating, weight discrimination, and even poor health, the very thing we think we’re helping by stigmatizing fatness.

Honestly, though… even if I can be healthy at my current weight, I still deep down really want to look the way I did when I was slimmer. In the past I was able to lose weight by manipulating calories – if only I’d just tried harder and longer! Mind you, I’m still stuck with these feelings years after I learned exactly why the belief that I can just force a caloric deficit long-term is, well, unfounded. So let’s forgive each other for not being without bias and just open ourselves up a little more to the possibility that there may be a better way than constantly forcing an attempt to lose weight.


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Entitlement for Progress? Ask Gen Y HR

At this year’s Canada’s Top 100 Employers summit, one of the speakers made a comment that stuck with me in the weeks since. A senior executive, laughing like we’re all think the same thing, stated how “interesting” it is that Gen Y employees expect their employers to take some responsibility for their health and well-being – and yet they’re the generation known for not staying long in one place! He all but said the word I hear all too often regarding my generation: entitled.

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Movie Snack Pairings – Mid-life Crisis

In the same way people pair wine to food, I pair food to movies. It’s a very special combination that delivers on so many levels, from entertainment to comfort. For this post, my theme is mid-life crisis. Not always technically mid-life, each of these movies still centre around a American Beautyreevaluation of the protagonist’s life and ultimately a changed course. Everything featured here is available on Netflix.

American Beauty instantly became my favourite movie at the time. Kevin Spacey’s character lets go and frees himself in a way that is both funny and inspiring. A classic in my mind, I pair it with a twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie: soft warm oatmeal chocolate chip cwhile were youngookies and a spoonful of vanilla ice with every bite.

While We’re Young is a newer movie with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. They befriend a younger cooler couple and lose themselves in the process. Because it’s about youth, I suggest a trip to the local bulk food store to bag uTiny Furniturep candies you loved as a kid: sour patch kids, fuzzy peaches, etc. Continue reading


Health Motivation from Spiegleworld’s Empire acrobatic show

Last night, I was brought to react-out-loud awe of the human body potential. My boyfriend surprised me with Spiegelworld’s Empire show, described to me as erotic acrobats. It also happened to be hilarious.

Between moments of “wow!” and “oh!” I found myself reflecting a few times that these people are not only physically beautiful but the way they move is extraordinary – meanwhile, I was shifting in my seat uncomfortable near the end of the show. I can’t even sit while these people are balancing and twirling in impossible ways.

Up until now, I’ve been walking for physical and mental health with the occasional bodyweight strength session. I’ve focused more on food because I believed including something unhealthy was worse that excluding something healthy. This show was a bit of a reality check on how out of shape I really let myself get these past few years, and how detrimental that’s really become.

Today, I’ve got my Fitbit on and sweat through Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis level 2 on top of a healthy breakfast and lunch. I was settling for “good enough” but I realize now that’s actually not good enough for me. I have renewed motivation to be comfortable and strong. And sexy😉