August 2019 Book Review “What to Eat When”

What’s in this post: Review of the 2019 book, What to Eat When, by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H. with Ted Spiker


Our bodies “operate with a strong desire to sync what you do with when you do it”. In seven sections, these doctors break down the science behind “when” to eat, outline what they call the “when way” of eating, and provide practical guidance for following the “when way” in different situations, such as “when you’re bummed” and “when you’re at the stadium”.

They rely on three guiding principles:

1-Food is medicine.

2-Timing matters.

3-Give taste a chance.

For the last principle, they note, “Healthy eating does not mean boiled chicken every day of the week.” Their point is that eating health doesn’t mean eating flavorless foods; they advocate eating a variety fresh and flavorful foods, boosted with herbs. I agree!

The book concludes with a pithy “Ten Commandments of the When Way” with easy-to-follow advice such as “stop stereotyping foods” and “more early, less later”.

What I liked

  • Written in plain, friendly English, like a friend telling you about their work
  • Built off peer-reviewed medical research that is listed in the sources
  • Syncs with the other reading I’ve done on intermittent fasting*

What I didn’t like

  • Overly simplistic at times.
  • Constant reference to spinach, beans, and…salmon.

I recognize that the conversational tone is also one of the things I liked; however, sometimes it just seemed too watered down for me. That preference is personal and not a ding against the book.

Similarly, I read through the entire book, even the issues that don’t apply to me like nursing and “shrinking  your prostate”. The book wasn’t designed to be read this way, hence I was exposed to more refrains of “eat salmon!” than intended by the authors. Also, beans and greens ARE amazingly good for you, hence why there are so many admonitions to eat more of them.

My only significant complaint is that they fail to discuss where  to get all the fish you’re supposed to be consuming. You owe it to yourself, the fishers, fish farmers, and our oceans to choose wisely.

Check out some sites like Seafood Watch or Marine Stewardship Council to learn more about how to make better seafood choices. My personal choice, if I’m going to eat salmon – based on what I know at this moment – is wild-caught salmon from the West Coast of the US. Canned or frozen are both good options. Canned has the advantage of a nice long shelf-life.

Worth your time?

Yes, it’s quick easy read full of actionable information that you can start incorporating into your life immediately. Though the book is 312 pages, most folks can skip many sections.

You might give this book a pass if you’re already well-versed in intermittent fasting and nutrition, as there is relatively little new information in here. If you fall into this latter category, it will be a solid recommendation for friends and family that are interested in the topics, but not inclined to read journal articles.

Find it online or at your local library:

What to Eat When: A Strategic Plan to Improve Your Life and Health Through Food

Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H. with Ted Spiker

National Geographic Books, 2019
*Intermittent fasting – Don’t freak out. A fast doesn’t necessarily mean no eating all day. There are different kinds of fasts (excluding certain kinds of foods or drinks) and durations can vary. In intermittent fasting, the time period could be 24 hours of low calories (500 or so) once a month or a 12 hour window of eating as normal. There are varying approaches, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In this book, they are advocating a dawn-to-dusk window of generally 12 hours, and they devote a couple of pages to the topic of fasting.

Book review? That’s new!?! I read a fair amount, usually 30 to 50 books a year, if I’m lucky (and if they aren’t 500 pages of economic theory and history). At least every fifth book is about food or nature, and in my continued endeavor to share what I’ve learned with y’all, I thought reviewing these books might be of interest or – even better – help to y’all. Let me know what you think, and if you have any book recommendations or requests.


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