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Joy Bauer's Food Cures, A Review

Posted Jun 23 2011 11:22am
I have long been a fan of Joy Bauer, nutritionist for The Today Show, so when her publicist offered to send me copies of her two latest books for review, I was thrilled! Bauer’s book, Food Cures is a New York Times bestseller, and it is easy to see why. The book is divided into chapters which address a variety of common health concerns: weight loss, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, mood management, PMS, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, memory, cataracts, macular degeneration, and most importantly for us, Celiac Disease.

In each chapter, Bauer provides an overview of the condition, explains how food affects the disease, and discusses which foods to eat or avoid to manage the condition. If applicable, she lists supplements which may help. Every chapter has a “FAQS” box in a Q&A Format with questions a reader might have about his or her health concern. For example, in the Celiac Disease Section, the question is, “I just found out I have Celiac Disease and it seems as though I have to spend hours at the grocery store reading labels, does it get any easier?” Throughout the book, Bauer offers examples of her clients with each condition, the challenges they faced, and how she addressed them. I appreciated this, since all of us facing difficult situations want to feel that we are not alone in our journey.

What I like best about the book is the 4-Step Program Bauer outlines at the end of the chapter for each condition. If you are new to gluten-free living, this section will be a quick and easy way to become familiar with eating gluten-free and staying healthy. Step 1 lists the basics in bullet form (understand what foods you must avoid, check all products in your pantry and get rid of any with ingredients containing gluten, don’t cheat, get regular screenings for bone density, nutrient absorption, and celiac disease markers, and consider taking a multivitamin, calcium supplement and vitamin D3). It think this all sensible advice for our kiddos.

Step 2 is an “ultimate grocery list” for Celiac Disease. Where applicable, Bauer lists brands for items (like cereals, popcorn, salad dressing) and has a list of GF food companies. The list is good, but I did not find it to be comprehensive enough. For the next edition, I suggest she add Bob’s Red Mill, Pamela’s Products, Kinnikinnick, Udi’s, Applegate Farms, Boar’s Head, Bakery on Main, and Envrokidz, for starters.

Step 3 is called “going above and beyond” and in the chapters for other conditions, usually mentions supplements and physical activities or exercise tips. Bauer uses the space here to discuss the question of Oatmeal and whether it is safe for those with gluten intolerance to eat. She does a good job of explaining the controversy, however, I would add that in addition to McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Bob’s Red Mill also makes gluten-free oatmeal in a dedicated mill.

Step 4 is a series of meal plans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Step 4 is my favorite part of each chapter, including the Celiac Disease section. These are really sensible and easy to follow plans using simple “whole food” ingredients that are naturally gluten-free and in most cases dairy-free too. Recipes are included. Step 4 also offers snack options such as Enjoy Life snack bars, Genisoy crisps, fruit smoothies (recipes provided) and more.

For those of us living with children on the spectrum, I found the chapter on mood management to be of interest. Bauer explains how neurotransmitters work and how food choices contribute to mood problems. She recommends cutting out “low quality” carbs, and increasing protein, Omega-3, Vitamin D, B Vitamins and Folate, preferably from whole foods (and she lists best choices for each) or from supplements. The use of St. John’s wort and SAMe supplements are discussed. With the exception of St. John’s wort and SAMe, both the Prince and I have benefitted from the very suggestions Bauer lists. For the Prince in particular, we have found that adding a little protein with each meal and eating every 4 or 5 hours greatly helps his mood, as does Omega-3 supplements. I found Bauer’s chapter of mood to be very good.

This book is written for adults--although there is a chapter on hair, skin, and teeth which seems targeted towards teens—but the basic nutritional information can be applied to children. In the future, I would love to see Bauer write a book similar to this one, but focusing on children’s health problems. In the ideal world, in the next edition, maybe she would consider adding a chapter on ADHD and autism, asthma, and perhaps nutrition for cancer survivors.

Bauer’s Food Cures website has much of the information contained in the book. You can even receive a brief list of best food customized for your health condition, free of charge.

I highly recommend this book and know that it will be a much-used reference book for my entire family. I also received a copy of Bauer’s other new book, Slim and Scrumptious, a cookbook, which I will review separately. But as a teaser, I was pleasantly surprised. I probably would not have picked up the book, due to the title—I gravitate towards more family-oriented cookbooks—but there are some terrific recipes that are GFCF or easily translatable. Stay tuned!
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