Much of Bethenny Frankel’s advice in her book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting,
is widely available in popular health and fitness magazines. In fact, many of her tips are common sense ways to balance one’s everyday diet. The book focuses on eating in moderation, not denying oneself, and satisfying cravings, but parts of it seem to highlight some disordered eating behaviors. While nothing from the book was particularly surprising, Bethenny’s approach was a good reminder to practice a little self-control every now and then.
Naturally Thin is split into two sections: The Rules and The Naturally Thin Program. In the first section, Bethenny explain her 10 basic rules:
1. Your diet is your bank account
2. You can have it all, just not all at once
3. Taste everything, eat nothing
4. Pay attention
5. Downsize now
6. Cancel your membership to the clean plate club
7. Check yourself before you wreck yourself
8. Know thyself
9. Get real
10. Good for you
In theory, all of Bethenny’s rules are great advice for someone wishing to lose or maintain their weight. A number of the rules may change your thinking about how, when, and why you eat.
- Your diet is your bank account. Bethenny explains that you need to balance your food choices– similar to balancing a checkbook. She suggests balancing a carby meal (oatmeal) with a protein-packed meal (salad with chicken breast) and a final meal that combines both carbs and protein.
- You can have it all, just not all at once. Repeating this rule in your head may help when dining out or attending special events with lots of delicious food. Depriving yourself is not the answer, but you don’t need to treat yourself to every delicious treat that passes your plate. For instance, when eating out, have a piece of bread from the bread basket, a glass of wine, OR dessert! Not all of them! Bethenny suggests picking what you most want most and enjoy it. You can always have dessert another time– it’s not going anywhere.
- Good for you. Your friend may eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast, but that doesn’t mean you should eat the exact same thing. Maybe you dislike mushy foods. Maybe the thought of breakfast makes you sick to your stomach or dinner is your favorite meal of the day. You need to find out what is good for you and do it. You are the only person who really knows what is good for you.
The second section of Naturally Thin goes through a week of Bethenny’s eating and shows how to implement the rules in everyday situations. In this context, a number of her rules make perfect sense. In other instances, however, it seems like she did not eat enough calories. For example, here’s what Bethenny ate in one day:
- Breakfast: Hummus and roasted red peppers on one pita triangle. (One pita triangle is not a meal!)
- Lunch: 1 glass of Chardonnay, 1/2 spinach salad with crab meat and hearts of palm.
- Snack: 1/2 bag of popcorn with sea salt, one bite of a cookie.
- Dinner: 1 Skinny Girl Margarita; green salad drizzled with ginger dressing, 1 spicy scallop hand roll with mayo but no rice, 2 steamed vegetable dumplings, 1 steamed crab dumpling, 2 pieces of sushi. (Taste everything, eat nothing.)
- Snack: 2 bites of a friend’s Pinkberry frozen yogurt. (How is this a snack!?)
Bethenny may have been balancing her “bank account,” but skipping meals and counting 2 bites of food as a snack is not a nutritious diet. Of course, this was just one day of Bethenny’s life and she was doing what was good for her, but her calorie intake is low (even for someone living a relatively sedentary lifestyle). Bethenny admits that her eating habits are not perfect, but including the second part of the book sets a bad example for those striving to be “naturally thin.”
Even though many people may disagree with with various pieces of advice from Naturally Thin, there is something to be gained by Bethenny’s approach to eating. She calls on readers to be accountable and responsible for their food choices, but encourages them to enjoy “what you really want” in moderation. However, it is important to remember that this book was not written by a doctor or Registered Dietitian, and what works for Bethenny may not work for everyone. Some women may thrive to be “Hollywood thin,” but the Naturally Thin Program is unrealistic and unhealthy, especially for someone trying to lose weight in a healthy way. While some of Bethenny’s eating philosophy is quality advice, her program is not ideal for optimal health for most people.
(Image: Flickr, joanvicentcanto)