Success Story: "Born Round" by Frank Bruni

Seasonal Vegetables Terrine
Several interesting books have been published lately in which the author traces his or her lifelong relationship with food, and some of those confessions have been reviewed by Darya Pino, Ph.D., who believes in sticking to local, seasonal foods and shunning any kind of faux food. (It’s amazing how many names there are for the stuff. Fake food, ersatz food, pseudo-food, food-like substances, we are surrounded by them.) Anyway, Pino has an optimistic philosophy that certainly applies to childhood obesity:

Nutrition science is not as nebulous as the media would lead you to believe and healthy living is not as difficult or time consuming as you might think. Your daily food choices are by far the most important factors in your long-term personal health, and upgrading your healthstyle can add more than a decade of quality years to your life.

Pino admits to being less than impressed by the two most recent books on healthful eating that she has read. But she likes this one, Born Round by Frank Bruni, who is a food critic for the New York Times. She admires his honesty and his determination, through years of binging, drugs, bulimia, fanatical exercise, and continuing weight gain, to somehow turn things around.

Pino mentions the vicious cycle, the “perpetual loop of failure” that the author has encountered. She makes the excellent point that, unlike other potentially embarrassing deficiencies, obesity can’t be disguised:

Intellectual or personality defects are relatively easy to hide or obscure, but extra body weight must be worn like a badge for all to see.

There is something about the Old World attitude to food which seems to be a real mental door-opener for certain people. Bruni is not the first person struggling with food issues to have experienced an epiphany in Europe. New thoughts led to new habits, and Bruni has found a lifestyle he could live with.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that he then went to work as a restaurant critic, which pretty much means eating all day long, and still he kept the faith. This has got to be inspirational. If a professional diner-out can confront a series of splendid gourmet meals every day and still maintain a healthy weight, there is hope for anybody.

Pino says of Bruni’s book,

His story is deeply personal and, though he goes into the scientific theories behind all the popular (and unpopular) diets he’s tried, he never pretends his experiences amount to anything more than his own reality.

That is a very important point, the validity of individual experience. That’s why we need as many books of this kind as people may care to write. Yes, each person’s story is only her or his own reality. But if it includes an answer or two, somebody out there is looking for that answer. Childhood obesity doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Different tactics work for different people. We’ve talked about some of the highly individual, yet workable, solutions found by kids who write in to the Weigh2Rock website.

And yes, there are solutions that work for a lot of people, like the technique suggested by Dr. Pretlow, of quitting one problem food at a time. But even when a large number of people have been shown to benefit from any plan, there are still untransformed people stuck in the wilderness of food addiction. This is where all the individual stories are so useful. The writer might reveal one insight, one quirky idea, that can unlock a response in the reader where others have failed, and provide the inspiration needed to make a life-changing decision.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Book Review: Born Round by Frank Bruni,” SummerTomato, 11/01/10
Image by DarioMilano Food Styling and Photograpy, used under its Creative Commons license.

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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