Impressively modern in design, The No-Grain Diet brings a realistic viewpoint to the problems of weight loss in a genuine effort to improve the health of an ever-growing number of obese people. Offering a variety of "food plans," along with a set of techniques aimed at controlling emotional eating and cravings for "bad" foods, Dr Joseph Mercola clearly understands how to motivate--in one section, he suggests that rather than "living by the scale," we measure our success in relation to the fit of our favourite pair of slightly-too-snug jeans. Many recipes are included, most of which are free of the boring flavour substitutes so common in diet books.

The diet itself combines several familiar concepts. The "no grain" model emphasises organic vegetables and quality protein, with limited fruits and absolutely no simple carbs. Mercola's idea of "quality protein" is somewhat startling--he is deeply concerned about toxins, and urges grass-fed beef over potentially mercury-filled fish. His main point is frequently reinforced: refined grains of any type are basically deadly and eating them should be viewed as an unhealthy addiction.

Here, the book veers off in a new direction: rather than gently nudging our habits in a new direction, he suggests we break what he insists is an addictive cycle with a method called "EFT," or "Emotional Freedom Technique." As a way to avoid surrendering to desires, his system of tapping acupressure points and repeating affirmations is used to overcome them. While repeat dieters will understand the necessity of examining emotional ties to food, Mercola's voice becomes a tad strident, and possibly downright offensive to those with a different opinion on what constitutes an addiction. --Jill Lightner,