As part of my yearly resolution to amp up my healthy eating and fitness habits, I’ll be providing you with umpteen reviews of different fitness/workout plans (DVDs and video games) and nutrition plans (“diet books”). Let’s start with a great new book that HarperOne released on December 28! I received the opportunity to review an advance copy of this book as an offer from One2One bloggers’ network. I knew almost nothing about it or the author and was surprised to find a well-organized and nutritionally sound plan.Title: Cinch!: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches
Author: Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., who previously collaborated on Flat Belly Diet! (Rodale Books, 2008)
The Big Cover Promise: “Lose Up to 7 LBS in the First Five Days!” “Stop Counting and Start Living”
Main Points: This is a thirty day plan, with explanations for how to continue to follow the basic ideas once the thirty days are over. You can start with an optional five day “fast forward”; that’s followed by a 25-day (or 30-day, if skipping “fast forward”) set of meals made up of specific ingredients (or “puzzle pieces”) set at timed intervals. You get three meals and two snacks per day and plenty of beverages (from a list of approved choices, including “Zesty Cinnamon Berry Basil Tea”). Sass provides plenty of recipes, or you can build your own from the “five puzzle pieces” the meals are made from. The puzzle pieces are: produce, whole grain, lean protein, plant-based fat, and SASS – Slimming and Satiating Seasonings, which replace things like butter and cream. Sass emphasizes choosing organic options and fair-trade chocolate, and encourages readers to avoid red meat (which is not part of the Cinch! plan). Additional chapters encourage walking as exercise, explain how to continue using what you have learned past the 30 days of Cinch!, answers multiple questions readers may have, and includes a chapter on conquering emotional eating. If you are a vegan or interested in eating fewer animal products, Sass provides plenty of options for you, too!
What I Like: First of all, dieting or no, I would encourage someone to buy this book just for the recipes alone. Chocolate Pear Ginger Smoothie has quickly become one of my favorite things to whip up. Other meals include combinations of ingredients that may be new (and tasty) to you, such as strawberries, avocado, and balsamic vinegar in tacos, or green tea for stir-frying veggies! Most recipes seem pretty quick and easy to whip up. And, dark chocolate is required as your daily fifth “meal” (with a few truffle recipes provided)! The plan does seem nutritionally solid. Sass stays on top of current research and studies and clearly knows her stuff; she explains multiple recent studies to back up her including certain foods in the plan (and asking you to refrain from others, such as red meat). Her “five puzzle pieces” idea can work for a lifetime, not just 30 days. There is a quiz you can take to help you determine if you might need to decrease or increase the sizes of the meals to fit your personal needs. There is NO calorie counting which is refreshing … Sass puts more of the emphasis on enjoying your food. Sass’s writing style is smart, easy to read, and friendly, and the research she discusses is interesting and thought-provoking.
What I Feel Iffy About: Reading about the five day “fast forward” made me hungry just thinking about it – as in, I feel like I would be starving on it. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. (As Sass points out, it’s not a bad thing to feel hungry before you start chowing down for a change – but I think feeling too terribly hungry would make me go nuts and get way off track!) In that plan, all of your meals are made up of just five ingredients. Thankfully, it is optional, so there isn’t much to complain about. (Sass even asks you some questions to help determine if it’s a good idea for you to try it, and then gives you a food diary to guide you if you do try. My trying is not entirely out of the question, by the way!)
What I Don’t Like: I never like claims that you can lose X amount of weight in Y days by following Z plan. Why? It just makes the plan sound gimmicky. Most of what you will lose is probably water weight. And anyway, the focus of the fast forward is to prime your body to eat differently and get you energized and ready to change your habits for good. So it seems unnecessary and even counterproductive to tout this claim on the cover. Some of the ingredients for the meals can be pricey.
Final Thoughts: If you have a hard time disciplining yourself for any plan, you may find this one just as difficult. But there are so many recipes and new food combinations to try that you may not. And you aren’t counting carbs or calories or fat grams, just changing what goes into your meals and when you eat them. My favorite thing about the plan is that it really is not so much a gimmick but a way to change your eating. Some diets out there are too “yo-yo” meaning you can actually hurt yourself and your body’s metabolism by doing them. But I don’t see that you have anything to lose by following Sass’s ideas – everything is fresh, unprocessed, and good for you, and no, you definitely won’t starve!
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist nor a doctor and this blog constitutes my opinion only and not medical advice. I did not receive compensation for this review and was not required to write a positive one. This information was current at the time of my review. Do not start any eating plan or program without first talking with your doctor. You are responsible for your own actions. I disclaim any liability from the use, proper or improper, of the material in this review or of the product mentioned therein.