Rating:

secrets from the eating lab book coverPlease join Traci Mann, author of Secrets from the Eating Lab, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

We have all heard plenty of advice and news about dieting and losing weight–what else could there be to say? Traci Mann, author of Secrets from the Eating Lab, is truly an expert, and does offer some new insights into losing unwanted pounds and improving overall fitness. Mann, a professor of Psychology, runs a laboratory at the University of Minnesota that researches eating habits. Her book reviews her research on diets, debunks diet-based myths, and offers strategies for achieving optimum weight.

The book is sectioned out into 12 chapters that cover the science behind real weight loss. Mann discusses how diets are bad for us and why said diets do not work. She also touches on willpower myths, living with obesity, tricking friends into better health, what fruits and foods are really healthy, learning how to turn off our brain, and provides tips for learning to love our bodies.

While most of us probably already know that diets are frustration-causing propaganda meant to thwart us from the “success” of real weight loss, Mann does provide the real scoop on diets. As the standards for what makes a diet appear successful get lowered over time, our idea of success within that flawed framework will keep us perpetually unhappy–no news here. What is more important about any weight loss regimen is whether or not it results in a long-lasting weight loss. Hmm. Unfortunately, diet studies usually rely on dieters to call or email in their weight, and the diet study participants (20-26%) were on another diet at the same time as the study diet was being recorded. Okay then.

Next, we find out that physiologically speaking, our genes will work hard to level off our weight to a set balance–yeah, blame your ancestors. Even in studies of identical twins raised apart, the twins’ weight matched 70% of the time. Okay, so genes rule.

We learn that losing body fat is not all good because body fat is needed to power a healthy endocrine system. And psychologically, when we diet, our minds become obsessed with the idea of food; it stresses our bodies and our thoughts, and makes cortisol, which is linked positively to belly fat accumulation.

Finally, we learn that people are or are not tempted by certain foods, and that being distracted can have a huge effect on making us want to eat more (cue in watching television for over 8 hours a day). We learn that we jut should not participate in diets, really ever. Okay, okay, heard it before.

The book does go over much information that we have seen and heard before, such as yes, our portion sizes over the years have mushroomed, and yes, you can trick children into eating their veggies. It reviews the purpose of reading food labels, developing good food habits, discusses our anti-fat beliefs, and tells us to please be “okay” with the sum and substance of our bodies. This will encourage us to exercise even if it does not result in any objective weight loss, and help to remind us of our organs and the benefits of staying active.

At the end of the book, there are notes, citations and a reference regarding the topic for anyone wanting additional insight on weight loss methods. I recommend the book to anyone wanting a refresher on weight loss tips.


After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Harper Wave. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.