This book reminded me a lot of another wholefood-based diet plan claiming to cure autoimmune disease: I Quit Sugar (2013) by Australian journalist-turned-health guru, Sarah Wilson.
Gutsy by Nan Foster follows the same essential storyline: high-achieving city slicker gets diagnosed with autoimmune disease and goes on a spiritual journey to cure herself by changing her diet. Cuts out a lot, eats natural, feels better, wants to convert you.
If my introduction sounds a little cynical, that’s because I’m the daughter of a medical doctor, raised to be very suspicious of quick-fix natural remedies. But like other readers of these kinds of self-help books with a handful of health conditions that won’t go away, I want this to work. And I think this particular book has a lot to offer.
Foster writes with balance, wit and a self-deprecating awareness of her propensity to veer into the realm of cliché. At one point she describes her story thus: “Straightforward, no-nonsense, goal-oriented, unfiltered New Yorker finds health and self-love in California, embracing New Age, gluten-free, meditative, organic lifestyle.”
Her down-to-earth, journalistic style makes for a clear and engaging read. Facts and figures intersperse the stages of her own story, as well as the occasional real-life example of someone else who has found healing in Foster’s holistic ‘food-mood’ approach to well-being.
The most appealing thing to me about Gutsy is Foster’s explicit respect for modern medicine, a rare find in this genre. Foster’s husband is a doctor, and she regularly defends the important role of clinical treatment and oversight. Unlike many of her peers, Foster positions her dietary suggestions as complementing mainstream treatment rather than replacing it.
Her emphasis on the role of mood in eating habits and general well-being is also refreshing, and makes her approach more credible than others in the ‘kick gluten’ genre.
While not as visually appealing as I Quit Sugar, which is full of beautifully -styled food photography, Gutsy is pleasantly brief, straightforward and practical. Shopping lists and a comprehensive range of recipes accompany her lifestyle manifesto, and each section includes a list of questions for personal reflection and application.
Foster emphasises that improving your health and well-being is possible, but takes time; it requires a bit of sacrifice and a lot of support. All in all, she is an advocate for ‘real’ food, a plant-based diet, self-care and a positive mindset. Nothing wrong with that!
Reviewed by Sarah Judd-Lam
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Amazon Australia
Released: May 2016
RRP: $30.59 paperback, $5.30 eBook