Saturday, 24 September 2016

Grylls Grilled [Bear With Me On This!]

As promised, the review of this book which I borrowed from the library last week. A few initial comments- yes, I think he is a Jolly Nice Chap, and an excellent Chief Scout, husband and father. I am glad that he and his wife are Christians, and people of integrity. He appears to have done some amazing things, surviving in the craziest situations [by choice!] and helping other people to be more confident about what they can achieve, and he is a great encourager, and competent teacher. All round Good Guy.
BUT I am not altogether sure about THIS book!
The basic premise - which I go along with, is that food is primarily the fuel that keeps our bodies going, and it provides us with the building blocks which our bodies need to be maintained and kept strong and healthy. Bear suggests that we must eat the right sort of healthy food, rather than poor substitutes.
He has a fondness for analogies, which make for good reading [if not pressed too far]  He talks about a house - you can either repair the walls with bricks and cement, and burn firewood in the grate - or bung up cracks with sand and dirty water, and burn old plastic on the fire. The former approach keeps the house solid, and warm - the latter repairs do not last long and look ugly whilst the burning plastic makes smelly soot and smoke. But it is so much cheaper you just keep doing it...
Similarly, he says, if we fail to eat healthy food and eat rubbish, we will not heal when we are sick, and what we eat may even contribute to our ill-health.
So far so good. More stories about protein [think Lego - the different coloured bricks fit together to build a solid structure. We need different proteins to build strong bodies] and cholesterol [more complicated stories about lorries carrying little tubs of butter round your system]

I can go along with the 'if you eat meat or fish, make sure it is farmed in an ethical, sustainable way - better to eat less of the 'good' sort than more of the factory fed chickens and depleted fish stocks.
But his diet is dairy, wheat and sugar free. Not for any personal allergy reasons, or even for conscience [he is not a vegan] just by choice, he believes this is the best way. 
  1. I am not convinced by his arguments about cow's milk. He points out that most human babies are fed mother's milk [almost exclusively] till about 6 months, but they don't usually go on much after that. Maybe not in the UK - but in other times and cultures, breast feeding continued for 4 or 5 years [see Isaiah and other Bible passages about the 'suckling child'] So he maintains we should stop drinking cow's milk [which is very similar] as we don't need it. He says we can get our calcium from broccoli, and protein from soy milk. But I don't want broccoli with my porridge or my coffee!!
  2. Sugar - I don't deny we all need to cut back - but I am not convinced that replacing it with stevia is the way forward [there are very few long term studies into side effects available at present] . And if you buy the pure stevia, as he suggests, it is very expensive. Dates and maple syrup are his other alternatives - but he admits these are high in fruit sugars. Perhaps we should learn to reduce our desire for sweet things?
  3. Water - drink more [I agree] but Bear says NEVER tap water. What??!! Why? well, says Bear, "chances are it's been recycled more than may have already passed through someone elses body, or a sewer" Bear drinks "artesian water...from a mineral rich underground aquifer" in top quality recycled plastic or glass bottles. That comes in at around £20 a week if you are drinking 2 litres a day. Install a reverse osmosis filter in your tap, and you can reduce your costs [but you need £250 upfront to do it] Can I just point out that many of the bottled waters on the supermarket shelf may have come from natural springs - but that water got there by filtering through the rocks, and before that it was urine, drainage, seawater, rain ...
  4. Microwaves. These work by electromagnetic radiation. ALL radiation is dangerous, says Bear. Therefore they are dangerous, don't use them. That's a bit simplistic I feel.
  5. Gluten. BAD. At one point he suggests that our grandparents didn't have gluten allergies because they didn't eat as much bread. But I remember [check it out sometime, Mags] at the Titanic Exhibition in Belfast, a notice explaining that the main diet of the men who built that mighty ship was simply bread and tea [with gluten, sugar, caffeine and milk]
So, these are some of his arguments about his healthy eating regime, and I do feel that a lot of it is cod-science, not fully borne out by research. I wonder how much of the 'eating principles' section was written by Kay Van Beersum, his co-author and nutritional therapist. Furthermore, whilst his recipes are chock full of healthy ingredients - salads, fruits, seeds etc, many are not cheap ingredients. His recipes do seem delicious when you read them - but sadly not everything is pictured in the book.[I suppose a pretty pink beetroot soup is more photogenic than a grated Brussels sprout salad]  
The first 40% of the book is theorising, the remainder is recipes - but out of 250 pages, an awful lot were just pictures of Bear [Grilling, or liquidising or just looking thoughtful in a field] I would not spend £15 on this in a bookshop. 
He does stress it is important not to get too 'preachy' about your wonderful diet, and also says that if you cannot eat like this all the time, then just go 80/20, or 70/30. Bear drinks the occasional glass of wine [organic, good quality,premium wine] and has a bowl of chips on 'cheat' days. I feel sorry for the catering team at his church - it must be a nightmare preparing his Alpha Supper.
Summary of the book - Drink more water, eat more veg, beans and seeds, limit meats and fish, get your sweetness from fruit. Avoid sugar, dairy and protein. I think I knew that already.
Oh dear, it was all a bit disappointing! I had hoped for something a little more realistic which the average family could take on board - and fit into their budget. I so wanted to like this book. 
Sorry, Bear, only ** here  


  1. Angela, I borrowed this from the library too, wanted to love it too but just couldn't wait to take it back for all the sames reasons.

  2. That's reassuring, I thought it was just me!

  3. He's here next month, filling our huge SSE Arena doing I'm not quite sure what. I'm sure the ticket price will preclude our finding out!


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