— Jamie Pierce
Salt Lake City, UT
Skinny Bitch advertises itself as “a no-nonsense tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!”
While I do give the book credit for rightfully criticizing the treatment of farm animals and dedicating a Marion Nestle-inspired chapter to the politics behind the approval process of artificial sweeteners and other substances, I summarize it as “an often inaccurate, wannabe-“shocking” nutrition book that sometimes spouts crap and is under the impression that insulting the reader is fabulous!”
Skinny Bitch claims to “finally tell you the truth about what you’re feeding yourself.”
However, despite its “hip” title and grrrrl-power writing style that launched it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, it is riddled with faulty facts, bad science, hyperbolic pronouncements, and silly suggestions.
Skinny Bitch makes the argument that the only way to be healthy is by becoming a vegan who shuns alcohol, white flour, and caffeine. Let me make one thing very clear — I don’t doubt for one second that one can achieve health by being vegan and avoiding those three things. However, it is untrue to claim that is the only way.
Disturbingly, the author prey on readers’ body image fears by making the case that not only does even the smallest amount of meat and dairy make you sick, it also makes you — gasp! — fat.
Allow me to share some passages that elicited groans and eyerolls from me.
* “Soda’s high level of phosphorus can increase calcium loss from the body, as can its sodium and caffeine.”
While phosphoric acid in soda has indeed been linked with leached calcium from bones, the sodium mention is odd. Did the authors take look at the nutrition facts on a can of soda? A 12-ounce can of Coca Cola contains 35 milligrams (that’s 1.4% of the suggested daily maximum intake). Ironically, the frozen vegan burger products the authors endorse so enthusiastically can contain as much as 500 milligrams of sodium per serving.
As for the caffeine-calcium loss link — it’s weak, at best.
* “One study even links caffeine to an increased susceptibility to diabetes.”
Bad science alert! The studies they refer to are ones suggesting that people who already have diabetes may benefit from cutting back on caffeine in order to improve their blood sugar levels. Besides, certain compounds in coffee — such as chlorogenic acid — have been linked with reductions in blood sugar levels (and, therefore, a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes).
* “When we eat fruit with other foods… it rots and ferments in our stomach.”
Not surprisingly, that ludicrous statement is not attributed to any source. Right, because it’s science fiction. Feel free to enjoy nectarines in a salad, bananas with almond butter, and sliced apples with oatmeal.
* “We have food rotting, decomposing, and fermenting in our intestinal tracts and colons, hence the need for colonics.”
Did the author with the Masters degree ever take a human physiology course? I assume she didn’t; otherwise, she would know that nothing can cling to the colon and “rot away” since the cells that line that organ slough off several times a day. There is no physiological need for colonics. The best thing you can do is consume plenty of fiber and remain well-hydrated.
* “You don’t see many tigers getting colonics, do you?”
A very weak argument. I also don’t see tigers brushing their teeth, wearing contact lenses, or making green smoothies. Does this mean I shouldn’t, either?
* “Your body can’t handle animal fat, so it settles like lumpy shit all over your ass, thighs, sides, arms and stomach.”
I’ll let that ridiculous quote speak for itself.
* “If you want to get skinny, you’ve got to be a vegetarian.”
The idea that vegetarian = skinny is ludicrous. After all, vegetarians can eat ice cream, cakes, cookies, muffins, pizza, french fries. They can consume more calories than they need and, consequently, gain weight.
There is no doubt many vegetarians eat whole, minimally processed foods and enjoy plentiful health benefits. However, the mere act of not eating dairy or meat does not equate with weight loss. Furthermore, this quote is disturbing in that it is focused on weight, rather than health.
* “Dairy products produce mucus.”
Another myth these authors clearly didn’t research (spoiler: dairy sticks to existing mucus; it doesn’t produce it).
* “[Dairy products] are the perfect thing to eat if you want to be sick and have a diseased body.”
As much as I dislike the narrow-minded notions that dairy products are the only way to get calcium and absolutely necessary for human
health, I am also irritated by the frantic and inaccurate warnings that dairy products are equivalent to chugging Draino.
* “Eggs are high in saturated fat.”
Absolutely untrue. One egg contains approximately 1.5 grams of saturated fat — that’s 0.4 fewer grams than a tablespoon of olive oil!
After pages upon pages of criticizing processed foods and sugar, the authors go on to recommend a variety of frozen vegetarian burgers, soy ice creams, and tofu hot dogs. HUH? Frozen vegetarian foods, like other frozen items, are hyper processed, high in sodium and offer minimal nutrition. Soy ice creams are high in added sugars; the fact that they are free of dairy does not turn them into a “health” food or a daily staple.
* From the FYI chapter: “Donate blood. You can save a life and lose weight at the same time.”
I think that was when my eyebrows hit the ceiling.
Alas, I could go on (trust me, I could!), but I think you get the point.
To “make up” for their verbal abuse at the reader, the authors conclude the book with positive-thinking mantras lifted right out of The Secret (“every day in every way my stomach is getting flatter”) and a clearly-tacked-on-by-a-public-relations-friendly-editor reminder that, despite the title of the book, unrealistically thin illustrations on the front and back cover, and constant references to weight, “they couldn’t care less about being skinny.”