BOOK REVIEW: NeuroSlimming by Helena Popovic
Penguin Books Australia
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo
Non-Fiction/Fitness & Diet
We live in an obesogenic environment. It’s a world of fast living, sedentary jobs and leisure activities, labour-saving devices, and an overabundance of cheap, accessible, energy-dense, nutrient poor, highly-processed foods. It’s also an environment where a growing majority of people are overweight or obese and those who succeed in shedding weight will often find themselves regaining it (and possibly more) in the 12 months after the fact.
NeuroSlimming looks to address some of these problems and get people to really stop and think about how and why they eat, rather than getting too hung up on what they consume.
Dr. Helena Popovic is a specialist in lifestyle health and weight management. Dr. Popovic is no stranger to poor eating choices because she herself developed some poor food habits when she was a teen. Fast forward a few years and she has worked with countless individuals and has accumulated many lessons over time. In essence, she tries to take a more holistic view to weight management. She also crystallises this advice as well as scientific evidence and anecdotes into a series of 28 missions. To say this is dense reading and a lot to take in is nothing short of an understatement.
Dr. Popovic is an advocate of mindful eating and changing your way of thinking in order to get more in touch with the natural hunger and satiety cues the brain produces and to connect with the brain’s pleasure centre so that one can enjoy eating because it fuels and maintains a healthy body and avoid the kinds of eating that are emotional or habitual.
Within this book are “parables, client narratives and stories from my own journey to food freedom.” Dr. Popovic offers these stories in order to help individuals to recognise that struggles with food are part of the human condition and provides scientific evidence to support these claims, she also suggests that the science will allow readers to make their own interpretations of things to see how the concepts can apply to their own specific circumstances. Unfortunately, these studies are not provided in full so, in many cases, the reader has to assume that the methods undertaken were sound from a research and scientific perspective.
The prose in the book itself is easy enough to read, but often the messages are repeated and you feel like you could easily skim over some parts because the text is so long. This could be in order to reinforce Popovic’s points, but at times it could feel a little like oversaturation. The 28 missions seem rather practical and sometimes the advice given is akin to common sense, but the reader really has to take their time to stop and reflect on all of these lessons because the average human would be hard-pressed to recall this many things off of the top of their head. These missions include things from eat when you’re hungry and enjoy what you eat to having a think before you drink and making sure you move, sleep and laugh more.
The modern world is rife with so much information and misinformation about diet and exercise, it is easy to get confused by conflicting pieces of advice. Books like NeuroSlimming add to the conversation but can hopefully help individuals to consider some key points and enact positive change. At the end of the day we can wrap things up in clever schisms and sound bites but the most fundamental message offered by NeuroSlimming seems to be that weight loss is dependent upon adequate physical exercise and sleep, plus less stress and a diet that contains predominantly whole foods that are rich in fibre. Books like NeuroSlimming can help to reinforce these positive points and offer a few more and this all adds to the dialogue that needs to be had in today’s obesogenic environment as it can offer readers some more important ideas about food for thought.
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