Book: “Body Respect” by Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight is the follow up to Health at Every Size, a science-packed book about body size and weight loss. Body Respect is geared towards anyone interested in evidence-based healthcare and a more just world.

The reality is that diets don’t work. While many people may be able to lose weight in the short-term, the act of restricting calories (through diet, exercise, or both) results in complex biochemical changes that trigger profound negative effects on metabolism, stress levels, mental health, and many other important aspects of health in the long term. It’s not that people aren’t dieting properly (in fact, humans are really really good at it), it literally means that diets don’t work, and in fact backfire the vast majority of the time.

This book was empowering and an important read packed with science and a rational approach to what’s wrong with diet culture, the media, and current approaches to healthcare.

Book: “Jennifer’s away” by Jennifer Esposito

I have been intrigued by Jennifer Esposito since she left a hit TV show due to celiac disease. She even wrote a book about it: Jennifer’s Way.

It turns out it was more complicated than that: her celiac disease is very severe (like mine), and her acting job was full-time hours at part-time pay without any accommodations for celiac. She became very ill and still got no accommodations.

It’s nice reading experiences of people with celiac as severe as mine. It’s validating and reassuring to know there are people who are as profoundly affected by this disease as I am. It’s important to hear people reiterate that this is an autoimmune disease, and it is serious. And it’s relevant to know that even thin and conventionally attractive women are not believed, or even committed to psych hospitals, before diagnosis (and sometimes after).

The first 2/3 of the book is her celiac story. It’s compelling and heartbreaking and infuriating and familiar. An illness so severe that it causes permanent damage, and takes an average of a decade to be diagnosed, with the simplest medical treatment in the world.

The rest of the book is about how to get diagnosed and adjust to post-celiac life. It’s the usual stuff about kitchen and bathroom products going to dumpsters, about missing nutrients, and navigating social situations. It wasn’t news, but it was interesting… until I read the part about lemon juice being alkaline and how important it is to make your body less acidic with foods like lemons and grapefruits.

It’s hard to take the rest of the science seriously when such a fundamental fact is mistaken.

Lemon juice has a pH of 2. It is unquestionably acidic. I believe this started when the Food Babe made these same claims.

I did learn (and confirmed elsewhere) that 90% of serotonin is produced in the small intestine… which explains a lot of mental health problems that pair well with celiac disease.

The lemon thing made me put down the book, though.