A whole-food advocate shares her transformative experience when she realized that the obesity she struggled to control was caused by processed foods.
At age 30, McCaffrey (Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet that Will Change Your Life Forever, 2009, etc.) was 5 feet tall and weighed 210 pounds. She realized she was unhealthy, but it took a chance occurrence to get her to act. While studying organic chemistry in college and working in an environmental testing laboratory, she decided to check the label of the prepared angel-food cake mix she enjoyed. To her surprise, she recognized that it contained sodium lauryl sulfate, a “detergent-like chemical” that was routinely used at her lab to test “smelly water samples.” Shocked, she began to wonder whether the chemicals in the processed foods she ate were contributing to her obesity. The author describes the next two years as a time of “cognitive dissonance.” Despite her increasingly enthusiastic environmentalism, she could not bring herself to give up the processed foods that she knew were polluting her own body. Only after she had a “vital spiritual experience” (hearing a voice say, “Change your life or die”) was she able to give up smoking and eating processed foods. Just over a year later, she had lost 100 pounds, and she has kept it off in the 20 years since. No longer a compulsive eater, McCaffrey began to study nutrition in order to share her newfound wisdom, and she co-founded the Center for Processed-Free Food Living. In addition to her personal story, the author presents a number of dietary recommendations, some more mainstream than others. Few will quibble over the importance of eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains, but her ringing endorsement of saturated fats will be more controversial.
Although McCaffrey’s claims to be breaking new ground are exaggerated, sample menus, recipes and tips on how to avoid processed foods make this a helpful lifestyle guide.