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The Manhattan Diet

The Manhattan Diet

A look at the fitness and nutrition habits of the thin and somewhat famous in New York City.

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  • Established: March 2012
  • Founder: Journalist Eileen Daspin
  • Headquarters: Manhattan, New York
  • Accessibility: Book
  • Diet Type: Low-calorie and minimally processed
  • Gender: Female

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Release Date: March 27, 2012

The Mahattan Diet: Lose Weight While Living A Fabulous Life was written by journalist and magazine editor Eileen Daspin. The book, inspired by a NY Times article about Manhattan women being the thinnest of all the boroughs, promises recipes, interviews and advice from celebrity fitness trainers and top nutritionists. Eileen, who admits, “I’ve been dieting since I was about twelve years old,” set out to find how other Manhattan women stay so thin while living in a city packed with four-star restaurants, cupcake machines and vending carts. She decided to start with her own social circle. Married to celebrity chef Cesare Casella, Eileen began to “talk to every thin, fit, stylish, woman around me.”

Having moved to Manhattan 30 years ago, Eileen talks candidly about the unhealthy habits she arrived with, making salad dressing out of Miracle Whip and ketchup, and how her new environment began to change the way she ate, exercised and lost weight. She credits the daily microscope of scrutiny by other Manhattan dwellers as simply setting the bar for thin-living.

  • Emphasis on eating smaller portions
  • Lessons about empty calorie foods versus nutritious alternatives
  • Focus Cooking your own food
  • Guidance for dining out
  • Fitness guidance provided
  • Includes healthy recipes written by celebrity chefs

  • Author does not have a degree or background in fitness or nutrition
  • Large focus on “diet obsessed” habits
  • Tips are often buried in lengthy stories
  • Advice to hire personal trainers, dietitians and personal chefs may alienate those who cannot afford these services

In chapter 6, The Manhattan Diet lists a 28-day “Diet Weight Loss Plan” that runs 1500 to 1600 calories per day. Included in the diet are options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also healthy low calorie snacks and even ideas for how to handle cocktail hour.

The book also includes the “Thirteen Rules of the Manhattan Diet,” which seems to have fairly sage advice including:

  • Eat only when you’re hungry
  • Don’t let yourself go hungry
  • Eat your veggies
  • Avoid fast food

The recipes listed in the back of the book are plentiful and focus on lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains. Recipes have been provided by such esteemed names as Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, and Mario Batali. In the nearly 50 recipes you'll find sides, entrees, breakfast, desserts, pasta, sandwiches and salad. Some tempting inclusions are:

  • Zucchini Frittata
  • Oatmeal and Egg White Pancakes
  • Christine Baranski's Butternut Squash Soup
  • Turkey Chili
  • Rosemary-Roasted Trout
  • Mussels in Sake
  • Tuscan Tuna Salad
  • Marcus Samuelsson's Tomato-Watermelon Salad with Almond Vinaigrette
  • Mario Batali's Misticanza
  • Erika's Olive Tapenade
  • Lemony Hummus
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding

Because the author lives in New York and walks several miles each day for necessity, she is a firm believer in walking to stay fit. Daspin advocates doing whatever activity will get you moving - Zumba, pole dancing, tennis, kick-boxing, or belly dancing, and even spinning, accompanied by a long account of her class. She also stresses the importance of working exercise in to your everyday routine. She reminds us to take the stairs and not the elevator, bike to work, and when you do walk, walk like you mean it.


The Manhattan Diet: Lose Weight While Living a Fabulous Life offers a point of view from an author who, “lives and diets in Manhattan,” and while the recipes and overall advice may be rooted in fact and good health, there is an undertone of "mean girl" attitude and calorie restriction obsession.

The author claims even though her book is a look at the New York mindset of eating, her advice will translate to people who live outside the five boroughs. While that may be true, the majority of the book reads like a thin who’s-who of celebrity dieters and less like a realistic and helpful guide for "the rest of us."

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