There have been a few diet plans published for geeks over the years – we told you about a few of
including the famous Hacker's Diet. This latest one, The
Geek Diet, is a 51 page ebook by Mark Faithfull, who describes
himself as a typical geek who wanted to tackle his weight in a
sensible and easy to manage way.
He has clearly approached his subject with the scientific curiousity of a geek – in fact he says he got the idea for the Geek Diet from a Scientific American podcast. He's sprinkled the book with quotes from various studies on eating, food and weight loss. I have to admire the honesty of a diet book which begins by quoting a UCLA study which found that 83% of people who go on diets end up weighing more than when they started.The Geek Diet attempt to shortcircuit the reasons why many diets fail by trying to help you reprogram your eating habits to choose healthier options, and help you train yourself to avoid overeating.
It gets rid of calorie counting or weighing food and instead offers some simple rules which can work when preparing meals at home or when ordering at a restaurant.
Some of these tricks include reducing portion sizes by using smaller plates for dinner (LET PLATE = .8 * PLATE), and giving you pretty much free rein with your dinner as long as half of it consists of vegetables (LET DINNER = 0.5 * VEGETABLES).
One eating strategy the book comes up with which I really liked was the “Gateway Food” - a healthy snack which you reach for before your indulgent snack or dessert. Gateway foods are fruit, veges or low fat yoghurt. If you train yourself to reach for a Gateway snack before dessrt, it will either satisfy your hunger/craving or will make you content to have a smaller serve of the 'naughty' food. This is a great idea, although I would have liked the book to include more ideas for Gateway foods.
The book also offers a “50/50” rule for alcohol. Basically it means for every beer, wine or spirit consumed, you should have a glass of water the same size before you refill. It also suggests that if you're into high fat, high sugar Starbucks type drinks that you switch to a low fat or skim milk version, and applying the 50/50 rule if you have more than one of them a day.
Overall, the simplicity of the rules is very appealing and makes the Geek Diet seem like something which could be applied to everyday life without much difficulty. I like the fact that it deliberately aims at helping you create a workable eating plan that you can stick to for the long term.
However, in a relatively free system like this one, you would still need to apply some common sense when planning your meals – even if dinner is 50% veg, the other half being loaded in a cheesy, creamy sauce could pretty easily see you take in more calories than you need. This boils down to learning a bit more about food, healthier ways to prepare it, and willingness to make the effort to change your eating habits into something healthier.
Overall, the Geek Diet was a fun read, sprinkled with geek references. I liked the overall attitude - it's clearly describing a way of eating which the author's committed to for the long term, and he knows that if he sticks with the Geek Diet, he can indulge in the occasional croissant without having to worry. This is a sane attitude and I suspect if you're ready to dedicate yourself to reprogramming some of your eating habits for the long haul, it could work.