Review: Naturally Thin

As you’ve probably noticed by my recent recipe trials:

I’ve been reading Bethenny Frankel’s new book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting.  Dori also reviewed this book recently, so check out her take on it as well.


Bethenny’s book is broken into two parts – Part One: The Rules, and Part Two: The Naturally Thin Program.  She also includes what she ate over a period of 3 weeks.

The main idea of Naturally Thin is that everyone can be “naturally thin”.  You eat what you want, in moderation, and stop obsessing about food all the time.  Sounds familiar, right?  It seems like this is the main idea of most of the newer diet books (like French Women Don’t Get Fat).  The difference with Bethenny’s book is that she gives you a set of 10 rules that make this easier to figure out.

I’m feeling conflicted in my views on this book.  I will admit: at first I loved it.  I couldn’t stop raving about it.  Bethenny had just about replaced Jillian Michaels as my idol.  And she does offer some wonderful advice in the form of cute sayings: “you can have it all, just not all at once”, “pay attention”, “downsize now”, “check yourself before you wreck yourself” (this one’s about bingeing), and “know thyself”.

The chapter on binge eating (“check yourself before you wreck yourself”) was really meaningful and helpful for me.  I struggle with eating a lot at night.  Right now I’m trying to do Ashley’s after dinner challenge, so that’s helping too.

She also offers some solid advice for monitoring yourself – using small ramekins for snacks, only eating when you’re sitting down, eating slowly, etc…  She also has some great recipes (see above) and a bunch of signature drinks.  It’s a very good resource for healthy eating ideas.

Onto the bad.  Bethenny clearly has food issues.  Looking at her food journal, I would guess that she probably eats anywhere from 700-1100 calories per day.  She also exercises (nothing too intense, but lots and lots of walking, yoga, and other random classes).

She encourages some disordered eating behavior – scooping not only bagels (which I think is fine), but even Ezekiel English muffins!  You can also only ever have half of a bagel (scooped of course), you can only have 3 bites of steak, you have to pass off most of your food to other people, and you may never finish anything.  Oh, and it’s perfectly fine to skip meals!  Don’t eat if you’re “not hungry”.

To prove my point I want to talk a little bit about her food diary and give 2 examples.

Wednesday (week 1)

  • breakfast: medium sized oatmeal with a little bit of cinnamon and brown sugar
  • lunch: none
  • snack: none
  • dinner: Greek meze platter with hummus, red peppers, falafel, and Greek salad.

Monday (week 1):

  • breakfast: 2/3 of an egg white omelett, 1/2 pita
  • lunch: bowl of Japanese soup (but don’t eat the noodles!)
  • snack: teeny bowl of ice cream (I would guess 1/4 cup)
  • dinner: salad, 1/2 turkey burger (no bun!), 1/2 baked potato
  • snack: teeny bowl of froyo.
  • Remember – she never finishes any of these (that’s the “cancel your membership to the clean plate club” rule).

This is definitely not a healthy diet but she does admit that she isn’t perfect.  I’ve been talking to Bobby a lot about it and he says, “she has a lot of good ideas and good points, but the way she executes them is pretty restricting.” I think that sums it up pretty well.  It’s a good book, and she has great recipes… but please don’t follow her advice exactly and use your own discretion.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

45 Replies to “Review: Naturally Thin”

  1. “Naturally” Thin? What your describing sounds completely unnatural. I was intrigued by the book after seeing your recipes, but now I know that it is definitely NOT for me. Thank you for your HONEST review.

  2. thanks for this review! i have been hearing lots of positives about the book, but yes, those two days of meals are defintiely not okay. good to know!!

  3. Wow, this is the first review of this type I’ve seen about this book and Bethenny. I think I saw an interview with her where she said she once had an ED, but I think it was more of the bingeing variety. Really I’ve heard nothing but great things about this book and your different and honest perspective is much appreciated. I would love to hear from other people who have read this book.

  4. gosh that doesn’t really look like a book i would be interested in buying – the recipes sound good, but all in all it could do a lot of mental harm….. thank you for this!

  5. thank you for your honest review of naturally thin while the blogosphere has been raving about it, I really appreciate your critique

  6. I would have to agree with you! I read a few pages and had to stop becuase it sounded so distorted! I’m glad I’m not the only one. She has good ideas, but she just takes them to the extreme!! I don’t want to be terribly thin, I want to be happy and healthy!

  7. VERY interesting – sounds like her information needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and that it’s very misleading. Thank you for your honest review, Maggie!!

  8. Wow… I don’t even know where to begin! I’m just blown away by the fact that this book is published. Yes, there may be some valuable advice in it, but unfortunately, especially as women, this is NOT teaching is not to obsess and is definitely NOT teaching healthy eating habits. These books genuinely scare me.

  9. Haven’t read this book but now I SO want to. You’re right, it does sound a little disordered… am very very curious to read this now. Thanks for a solid review!

  10. Haven’t read it but thanks for the review so now I know not to waste my time. I am so like you in not wanting to waste food. It kills me when people do!! I almost cant watch Hells Kitchen because of all the food he just throws away. It makes me angry!! Haha 🙂


  11. Wow- I haven’t read it, but now I definitely don’t think I need to. This sounds disordered for sure! Not a healthy role model. Especially not for an athlete or anyone active! Thanks for your honesty- much appreciated.

  12. She’s just recycling a lot of old ideas. Leading a healthy lifestyle is really basic – just look back at what your grandparents ate – nothing fancy and processed. All natural and coming straight from the home kitchen.

  13. great review Maggie! I don’t think I can read a book from someone who execute differently than what she says. I just can’t stand any kind of person who behave this way. I’d rather like people who admits they can’t do it and try the best!
    So agree with you, she eats tooooo little food, I eat 3 times of what she eats!!! And so proud of it! 🙂

  14. That doesn’t sound good at all. I’m surprised she could get a book published with that information.

    A book I thought offered good, realistic advice is: The Skinny: How to Fit into Your Little Black Dress Forever by Melissa Clark.

  15. wow, thanks for the review. I wonder how she even got her book published in the first place. Young girls should not get their hands on those books because those distorted behaviors could definitely lead to ED.

  16. I have not read the book, but I have seen several segments on morning shows with her promoting it. I must admit that I suspected some disordered eating by her comments–she seems to have a lot of arbitrary rules.

    Thanks for the review!

  17. i have to admit, when i first read that you were into this lady, i googled her. and looking at her and then looking at myself…she doesnt look healthy to me. she looks drawn and exhausted.

    and i HATE to admit that all my judgements were based on what she looked like. but knowning myself…i guess i can kindof “pick out” the “look” of someone who doesnt eat enough.

    im glad you recognized this through reading the book as well, and im kindof glad my judgement was justified.

    im staying away from her stuff, personally.

  18. Thanks for the shoutout!

    Fantastic review — your critiques are right on the mark, as is what Bobby said. Her overall themes are wonderful, but her eating habits and advice are not. It’s no wonder she is now so thin, but personally, I like to EAT!

  19. I haven’t personally read the book but a lot of bloggers have been talking about it lately. Thanks for the review – I appreciate your honesty!

  20. omg where do i start? her behaviors are totally disordered to me and i can’t believe someone let your publish that! i def agree with your opinion, but she does seem to have good ideas none the less!

  21. thanks for the honest book review – i don’t think that’s a very healthy way to look at nutrition, so i’m glad that you posted your real opinions on it 🙂 thanks!

  22. From reading your review, I can see why you would be conflicted on the book. Definitely some sound (old?) ideas about weight management but she sounds super restrictive. I am still intrigued by the book because I do struggle with things like cleaning my plate (I blame my dad, tooo!).
    Thanks for the review, I feel like I know enough now to buy it and read it at my own risk 😉

  23. I hadn’t heard of this book before, but I’m really glad you gave such an honest review of it. It sounds like it has some great recipes, but that is definitely not an eating plan that is healthy.

  24. Naturally Thin? Ha, sounds more like Naturally Starving to me! I eat twice as many calories as the author does, and I always want more than a few bites of my favorite foods. If on the rare occasion I choose to eat cake, then I’m eating the whole damn slice, ya know? Think I’ll take a pass on this one.

    Have you read any reviews on Jillian Michael’s new book? I’ve only heard good things, and I’m dying to read it!

  25. wow. Thanks for the review Maggie! It’s really interesting to see people’s different view points on being healthy….but I agree with everyone else…I WOULD STARVE eating that way. Unless I have a GINORMOUS meal, there is no way i could not snack or eat all day. Plus doesn’t that slow down the metabolism? Seems more damaging than helpful.

    Again, echoing the others- thanks for your honesty!

  26. Okay, I have to stick up for Bethenny here. I have read the book and think it’s a great resource. One thing that she says constantly is that this works for her and what works for you is going to be different. When she talks about skipping meals, she clearly says that this works for her but that she knows it’s not good for others. She is not in any way restrictive. I can honestly say that Bethenny has completely changed my views on food to a much healthier outlook. The recipes are terrific and I’ve been having fun making them as well as riffing off of them (fyi, to say I’m not known for my cooking is an understatement). I also don’t get upset with myself and give up anymore when I have an off day eating. I think the best thing you can take away from this book is her attitude towards food and unfortunately, I think it is very mis-represented here.

  27. I really appreciate this review, Maggie. I have heard nothing but positives about the book and was thinking about ordering it, but now I’m not so sure I want to. Your honesty was very helpful.

  28. Bethenny was always my favorite housewife of all of the casts. I just picked this book up yesterday and will be starting it today. Thanks for the review!

  29. I totally agree with you about Bethenny’s book…loved it at first, but realized her habits aren’t the healthiest. I also got bored about half way through the book – it was way too long!

  30. I, like you, liked it and hated it for many reasons. I actually skipped the last half of the book. I also do NOT want to look like her…I think she’s skinny fat in my opinion. She doesn’t workout and doesn’t have the muscular build that I find attractive for myself and for a strong, healthy and in shape female. That being said….

    I do like some of the aspects of her book that I think help w/ some of the ideas around not finishing everything on your plate and never binging again! It’s all in how you apply them to your life…not the same way that she has.

    I would recommend it as a good read though even if it is a bit weird in her application of her rules!


  31. What an interesting review. Thank you so much for your honesty. You have a similar perspective as I do about Bethany. Thanks for the reviews!!

  32. I just ordered this book the other day and wish I would have read your review before I did. That does not sound healthy! And as you are, I am cheap and only fix what I can eat so I won’t waste food!

  33. I am all about healthy eating, but that is crazy! I can’t believe that her book is doing so well and that anyone would publish something that would encourage that kind of eating. That is the definition of dieting!

  34. I’ve been reading the book and I will agree with a previous poster that she never ever said, do as I do. There’s a whole chapter on “Know Thyself” and it talks about ideas that might work for others. She repeatedly says, these are general ideas and I don’t expect that you do exactly like I do, but to take the concepts and apply them how the realistically fit in your life. Plus she never discusses calories. The above calories were based on assumptions made by the reviewer.

    The main goal of the book (which I have found very liberating and helpful (and I’m a chronic dieter)) is to stop limiting yourself to what others tell you to eat (meaning diets that say: eat only protein, eat only low fat, eat only fruit, eat only low glycemic carbs). The goal is to teach a person that living on a diet forever is not a life and that the goal is to listen to what your body needs and wants and give it these things without jumping off the deep end for straying from a diet. Example, low carb usually limits out milk..well she says ignore that silly rule, have milk but only have as much as you truly need, don’t drink specifically 8 oz if maybe you only really want/need 4 oz. She also says don’t just have 4 if you really want 8. Have the 8 oz of milk for crying out loud. Same rule applies to ice cream chinese food etc.

    I know I have been guilty of giving up on a diet and the next day having a big mac, chinese food, and pizza. She suggests instead of being on a diet, how about on one day you have a big mac as lunch maybe, and then have a light dinner such as a salad w/ feta cheese and chicken on top. So she focuses on balancing out your choices instead of binging brought on by restricting yourself.

    I could go on further about the positives to the book, but as you can see it’s not meant to be a “diet” do eat only this book. It’s meant to teach you to make smart decisions to eat only really what you need (not emotional eating etc), and still have what you want because it’s real life not another diet.

  35. Okay, first I must admit I am not a Frankel fan and never had any intention of purchasing the book. I only googled reviews for her book secretly hoping to find a review that would trash it and I nearly gave up until I came here where I thought I had found THE review as catty as I find Bethenny.

    BUT what I found was a fair review that intrigued me enough to now get up off my naturally unskinny behind and go buy it! Here is why:

    You gave the honest PRO’s and the honest CON’s and without both I would never have become interested in reading the book. While some people here note in Frankel’s defense that she says everyone is different and can apply it differently, there are some people out there who buy diet books (or undiet books) to guide them. If people knew what worked for them THEN THEY WOULDN’T BUY YOUR DIET BOOK! Sorry but I have been dying to shout that to the people who keep posting that she says that in her book.

  36. I couldn’t agree more! I recently purchased this book, and as a “former” anorexic, I can say with great certainty that Bethenny has an eating disorder. She does have a lot of good advice in the book, but her food diary is absolutely shocking. I may have even eaten more when I was severely anorexic! I can’t believe people are not more outraged about this book, simply because it really does encourage a lot of eating disordered behaviors.

    And the other thing that bothers me, is how I thought throughout the book, how could anyone be full just by eating 2 or 3 bites of everything? How could you never want to eat an actual meal and eat enough food to feel satisfied? That’s what really disturbed me about this book. Bethenny sees nothing wrong with her behavior, but who really eats 2/3’s of an omelette, or 3 bites of an expensive steak? I even have been doing the “scooping bagels” thing, but I feel like I’m eating disordered still when I do it– and even I finish the whole bagel! There is something desperately wrong here that no one said “hold on a second!” when they saw this woman’s food diary before publishing it!

    I certainly wouldn’t want my pre-teen or teenage daughter (if I had one) reading this book, that’s for sure!

  37. I agree that Bethenny’s example menus are quite restrictive, and I’m sure that I could not always limit myself to only 3 bites of steak or never finish my plate. But many of her points make a lot of sense. Per B, we Americans tend to “use food rather than eat it” and always eat on the run. Our portion sizes are also completely out of control. The mentality of “don’t waste food” is outdated-the problem now is that we are overstuffing ourselves in the name of “value”. Which is leading to obesity, poor health and of course low self-esteem. In order to stay thin in this climate, where food is plentiful and advertisers are working hard to tempt you everywhere you look, you truly have to be mindful of what you are eating. This was the take home message for me from Bethenny’s book. It has changed the way I view food and eating.

    1. @Ashley: I definitely agree with you that people “use” food and don’t eat mindfully. When I wrote this review I was still struggling a bit with disordered eating so I was probably overly critical of her because I saw a lot of my bad (disordered) habits being promoted via her book. But for some people her tips are VERY helpful. Thanks very much for your comment. I’ve been thinking of re-reading the book and updating this review as well.

  38. Keep in mind…she repeatedly says that she is not giving “restrictions.” In regards to her “few bites of steak” she is saying that she fills up on soup, salad then has a few bites of something “decadent” such as steak. She doesn’t feel the need to clean her plate if she is not hungry, if she is hungry she eats more. Prior to giving her personal food journal she points out, very clearly, that she is not a good example. She has really good days and really bad days.

    1. @ksquared: really good points! I have been meaning to update this review. My opinions have definitely changed in the time since I first read the book. I think there is more value in her recommendations than I originally thought. Thanks again for the comment!

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