July 16, 2014 by Toni, Goodreads

Read original review here


3.5 stars – Good reference for parents interested in holistic nutrition and buying organic.

I received this book as part of a Goodreads First Reads contest giveaway. This book is intended for parents interested in organic food options and holistic nutrition. Parents these days are extremely busy and don’t always have the time or the means to prepare home-cooked, healthy meals for their families. It is much easier to go to a fast-food drive-through or order a pizza for dinner than to spend the time shopping for and preparing a nutritious meal. Plus, we are constantly bombarded by the media with ads for heavily processed, nutrient-sparse, unhealthy food choices. It takes a great deal of time, effort and will-power (and oftentimes money) to make healthy meals for the family that incorporate all the necessary food groups, especially when hungry kids are screaming for McDonald’s from the back seat of the car in between soccer practices and baseball games.


What I Liked:
Ms. Welch provides very useful information for parents regarding the importance of adopting healthy eating habits, incorporating fruits and vegetables into meals every day, and eliminating highly-processed or fast-food from the diet as much as possible. She also does a good job describing the various health benefits that one gains by eating a wide variety of colors of fruits and vegetables (called “eating the rainbow”). There are also several sections that help kids take an active role in their own health, which enables them to learn why certain eating practices are important and will hopefully make them more likely to adopt healthy habits that last a lifetime.This book also provides parents with healthy alternatives for desserts, such as frozen grapes or a few dark chocolate squares. Other sections are devoted to providing common-sense solutions to some of the frequent challenges that parents can face when trying to change the eating habits of their kids. A good sampling of healthy, easy-to-follow recipes is also included in the back. I definitely want to try the Cilantro Vinaigrette and the Black Bean Summer Salad recipes.
What I Didn’t Like:
Just as background, I received my undergraduate degree in Dietetics and my M.S. in Nutrition Science, so I look at food and nutrition with a scientific approach whereas this author seems to have more of a holistic, alternative viewpoint. While I completely agree that the current rate of childhood obesity and chronic disease in the U.S. is frightening, mainly due to frequent unhealthy food choices and a general lack of exercise, I feel that the author pushes “organic” foods much too heavily. She also makes numerous other claims throughout the book regarding various foods or food additives, using statements such as “[r]esearch has shown….”, but when I skimmed through the bibliography I did not see very many peer-reviewed scientific research studies or references being cited.For example, this author claims that organic fruits and vegetables are “30% more nutritious” than non-organic produce. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, organic and non-organic foods are not significantly different in their nutrient content. Another claim made by this author is that aspartame, a sweetener commonly found in diet soda, contains methanol which breaks down to formaldehyde in the body, so when you consume aspartame you are essentially “embalming yourself over time”. It is true that aspartame breaks down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol in the body. Yet, according to the American Cancer Society, while methanol can be toxic in high amounts, the amount of methanol produced from the breakdown of aspartame is much lower than with many “natural” foods. As an example of this, one liter of diet soda would break down to just 55 mg of methanol, whereas 680 mg of methanol would be produced from the breakdown of the same amount of natural fruit juice. Ms. Welch makes other negative claims regarding high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), monosodium glutamate (MSG), and other food additives and ingredients, but again, valid scientific research studies in humans have currently not proven any clinically significant carcinogenic or other damaging effects of these additives at normal levels.
In Summary:
I felt the overall message of The Pizza Trap was a good one – parents need to be better educated and take more responsibility regarding the food choices they provide to their children. The patterns that parents are setting for their children now when their kids are young will lay the foundation for the food choices their kids make as they get older. As the author states, parents need to remember that they are in charge – we parents make the rules. Parents need to tune out the protests and pleas from their children (when they would rather have a Big Mac than eat their broccoli) and ensure that their kids are eating nutritious foods and being active every single day. However, I feel many of this author’s claims are highly debatable and I personally don’t agree with this author’s controversial opinions that organic foods are far superior choices to non-organics and that various food additives have intrinsically dangerous or carcinogenic effects on the human body. To be clear, I do agree that organic foods are perfectly acceptable choices for those who have the access, economic means and desire to purchase them. However, due to the high cost and limited availability of organic foods in most local supermarkets, it is unrealistic in my opinion to tout organics so heavily when those choices may not be feasible or obtainable for a large majority of households, and current scientific research simply does not support the validity of these claims. For these reasons, I am giving this book 3.5 stars.

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