"The EatingWell Diet," by Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., R.D.

Pros: A helpful, common-sense (and no-nonsense) approach to losing weight
Cons: The easier recipes tend to be bland and underwhelming
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of The Countryman Press.

The EatingWell Diet: 7 Steps to a Healthy, Trimmer You is not a book for those who aren’t yet ready to make a serious commitment to losing weight. This isn’t a book full of empty cheerleading and excited promises. As such, many people who want to lose weight won’t be able to make full use of its suggestions. Those who are ready to make the serious commitment needed, however, may find this book to offer one of the more promising roads to healthy, long-term weight loss, and even those who aren’t will find useful suggestions to get them started and improve their diet.

Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino is the Professor and Chair of the department of nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont, and she developed the “VTrim Weight Management Program” upon which this book is based. Her background as a researcher shows—you’ll learn plenty in the pages of this book about what long-term studies have shown to be truly effective when it comes to health, nutrition, and long-term weight management. It’s a very readable book, however, with fascinating tidbits of information and nifty quotes.

Become Your Own Weight Coach

Dr. Harvey-Berino believes very strongly that you must track your calories, food intake, weight, and exercise if you truly want to succeed at weight loss. I can see why she believes this; as she says, people tend to eat more and exercise less than they realize during a day. It’s very easy to allow your portion sizes and sugar, calorie, and saturated fat intake to grow and grow without realizing it if you aren’t paying attention. If you aren’t ready to go whole-hog with the calorie tracking thing, at least try to track yourself for a week out of every month or a couple of days out of every week—even having that small reminder of where your limits should be is very helpful.

Become Food Wise—Then Make the Right Moves

The EatingWell Diet includes many tips on eating mindfully, eating better foods, knowing what a good-sized portion looks like, shopping carefully, and so on. While I feel I did learn a lot of good information from The South Beach Diet with regard to the value of different sorts of foods such as whole grains in place of processed carbs, I think The EatingWell Diet is a bit more realistic. For example, it doesn’t rely on the assumption that you’ll simply be able to substitute sugar-free foods for sugared foods, which is a blessing for those of us who can’t stand the taste of sugar substitutes.

The book then eases us into the idea of exercising. While there are many ideas in this book that match up with programs such as Weight Watchers (like the fact that losing just 10% of your weight can make a significant difference to your health), one key difference is that you aren’t encouraged to eat more when you exercise more—instead you’re asked to realize that you’re probably already eating a bit more and exercising a bit less than you think you are, and allow your exercise-burned calories to offset that.

Trip-Ups and Living Well

The EatingWell Diet doesn’t just try to walk you through losing weight. Despite the name of the book, the nutritionist who came up with the program firmly believes that it isn’t about ‘dieting’—it’s about adopting a healthy lifestyle. As such, there are plenty of tips for facing and handling everyday temptations and slip-ups. There’s also an entire chapter on maintaining your weight loss once you’ve lost it.

The Cookbook Side

Despite all of the fantastic information I’ve already mentioned, more than half of this book is actually a set of calorie-calculated menus and accompanying recipes. Some of the recipes are full-sized recipes, while some are quick little things often listed 5 or so to a page. The full-sized recipes I tended to enjoy, such as a “loaded spinach salad” with egg, carrot, toasted nuts, and blue cheese dressing in it. However, I was disappointed with all of the little mini-recipes I tried. Each one seemed to start with a basically good idea, such as sweet potato oven fries, or brown rice with Asian flavors, but they all came out tasting very bland and uninteresting. Diet food just doesn’t have to be bland, and it’s my own opinion that the fact that so much of it is designed this way is what makes folks think diet food is torture.

Mind you, I’m aware that there are plenty of people who like bland food, so you folks can ignore that particular complaint of mine and consider that you will likely enjoy the cookbook side of this book more than I did. One of the things I did like was the balance between slightly more complex dishes and simple ones. Many folks want easy things they can make on a weeknight, but being a cooking addict myself, I appreciate having some more complex things I can make as well.


All in all, I think this is a solidly practical guide to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Just be mindful that there are no easy answers, there’s a lot of hard work involved here, and you’re going to need a serious commitment to your health to make full use of this book.

Posted in Cooking, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
25 comments on “"The EatingWell Diet," by Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., R.D.
  1. booklogged says:

    What a wonderful blog you have. I can see that I will need to come back and linger.

  2. heather says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words, and I do hope you return!

  3. bellezza says:

    hmmm, not interested in Eating Well. Should be, but it never tastes as good as Eating Poorly. 🙂

  4. heather says:

    bellezza: goodness do I understand. I fall off the wagon every bit as often as I get on it. The only thing I’ve been totally won over by is whole-grain goodness; the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book had a lot to do with that!

  5. Saphrym says:

    “Specific” diets don’t help most people. A diet is a very personal thing. People have different tastes, different medical problems, etc. If you’re obese, you probably have a health problem. Talk to your doctor and find out if you do. Then ask the doctor what kind of diet you need to go on. Start there. I was diabetic and since being diagnosed I’ve lost over 70 pounds doing my OWN diet. My diet might not work for you though. Mine is based off of being diabetic and therefore limits my carbs.

    P.S. Love your blog. 😉

  6. heather says:

    Saphrym: Good advice at any time!

    And thank you!

  7. I agree, going on a diet is pointless you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Good book.

  8. Igtoss says:

    You’re right Peter, personally I’ve followed different diet programs wihout any luck in losing my weight :(. Healthy lifestyle, be happy always are as crucial as diet.

  9. Lipobind says:

    So much good advice – I agree that to lose weight a healthy lifestyle must be adopted – try exercise – but only exercise that you enjoy otherwise you will never stick at it!

  10. Jane Lee says:

    I took the woman’s fitness institute program at the University of Vermont associated with VTrim, and I want everyone to know that this is a horrible program. The lecture information is general and limited. The structure of the class is not thought out or organized at all. There was very little communication. I did not feel it was women specific in terms of exeercise, and the lectures were mainly for menapausal overweight women.

  11. Greenteadiet says:

    Good comments from everyone here. I beleive weight loss ties right in with eating good and exercise. We must make these things our daily routine, and eventually our habit. Only trying for a while usually doesnt produce much effect.

  12. Mercola says:

    Sounds like a good read. I myself believe in tracking everything from weight to calories. Good to hear that he encourages proper diet and nutrition as well, instead of taking shortcuts.

  13. Diet Reviews says:

    I agree that the most important part of dieting is finding a diet that you can stick with long term, not just a short term crash diet followed by a return to your old ways (and old weight!)

    With hard work, dedication and some well planned meals losing weight really isn’t that difficult at all!

  14. Acai says:

    it’s a lifestyle change not a diet that works. Once you get into a routine of being a healthier person it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight.

  15. Local Gyms says:

    TO be very true, It is the most difficult task to find a proper diet which would work very well. I always find myself lost in increasing population of all crap diet out there but a well described article can urge someone to go after a diet.

  16. Tristan says:

    I’ve read this book and it raises some good points. Your blog is fantastic, keep up the good work!

  17. keeley says:

    I think the comments regarding committment are true about anything and this includes dieting. Its the same with anything in life if you are not really ready to put in the necessary work etc you will gain nothing. The amount of diets I have started and failed because I guess I wasnt motivated enough.

  18. diet recipes says:

    I am impressed with information you give. I keep the advice above for dieting and eating.

  19. Really interesting article. The tips and advices are really useful. Thanks a bunch.

  20. A lot of people think they have to starve themselves when they go on a diet to try and lose weight, but it’s a case of eating the right foods and in moderation (with a little more exercise of course).

    And, you offer good advice. Anyone I speak to, I always advise them to take note of what they eat and how much. Not to count the calories, but to know what they have consumed.

  21. Chris says:

    Much as I hate to admit it myself, I do much better with weight loss efforts when I’m focused and track everything. Since I started keeping a notebook, pen, calculator and a calorie counter book in the kitchen, I’ve lost 30 pounds. Now this has taken me 6 months. but nothing else has worked consistently for me.

  22. Your all reviews about this book are so nice there 🙂 Losing weight requires many efforts from all of us. If we want to achieve this, we have to be highly motivated. Also we must remember that all people are very different so each of us should find a proper diet and exercise plan that works with the body.

  23. This is a good book; and so are the books by Michael Pollen; In Defence of Food, etc
    the main thing is that you should “eat plants; not too much.”

  24. Yep. There’s no magic pill or quick fix. You need to take ownership of taking care of your body and what goes into it.

  25. I believe that avoiding processed foods may be the first step to lose weight. They might taste very good, but processed foods include very little nutritional value, making you try to eat more only to have enough vigor to get through the day. If you’re constantly eating these foods, transferring to whole grain products and other complex carbohydrates will help you to have more vigor while eating less. Thanks alot : ) for your blog post.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for ""The EatingWell Diet," by Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., R.D."
  1. […] posted my review of Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino’s The EatingWell Diet. It’s a good, solid book, and my only real problem with it was that much of the food in the […]

  2. […] Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino of the University of Vermont has recently won a James Beard Award for her very successful book The Eating Well Diet book- recently printed in paper-back. The program is being offered online now, […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.