The Little Swedish Kitchen by Rachel Khoo [epub | 126,80 Mb] ISBN: 0718188918

  • Full Title: The Little Swedish Kitchen
  • Autor: Rachel Khoo
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2019
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718188918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718188917
  • Download File Format | Size: epub | 126,80 Mb
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From spring picnics on the archipelago and barbecues at the summer cabin, to cozy autumnal suppers and dark snowy winters filled with candlelight, gingerbread and glögg, Rachel's new cookbook lets you in on what the Swedish like to call Lagom—the art of not too little, not too much but just the right amount. Learn how to cook beautiful, fuss-free food. With over 100 recipes, Rachel explores Sweden's simple and balanced approach to cooking. Dishes include Poached Chicken with Quick Pickled Strawberry Salad—or replace the chicken with grilled halloumi cheese for a delicious vegetarian alternative; Peas Potatoes and Chicken in a Pot, a one-dish delight; Midsummer Meringue Crowns—Swedes wear flowered crowns for Midsummer, so try making an edible kind for parties; and Plum Tosca Cake—named after Puccini's opera, this cake is filled with tart plums and sweet almonds. Includes metric measures.


Editorial Reviews


"I am so ready to race home and devour these fun, effortless and beautiful recipes that just beg to be cooked." —Melissa Hemsley, coauthor, The Art of Eating Well

"The magic of Sweden's beautiful seasons comes alive . . . a real celebration of seasonal Swedish home cooking and tradition with Rachel's trademark inspirational twists." —Donal Skehan, author, Fresh

Rachel Khoo’s quest for balance has helped her to build a repertoire of recipes for life, as well as cooking – – Healthy

Delicious and seasonal Swedish recipes . . . celebrating traditional fare, embracing local ingredients, exploring what the Swedes eat at home and offering her own fresh and stylish takes. – – Evening Star

About the Author

Rachel Khoo studied pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school. Rachel's TV series, The Little Paris Kitchen, was broadcast by the BBC and her beautiful tie-in cookbooks have been published around the globe. Her other books include The Little Paris Kitchen and My Little French Kitchen. She now lives in Sweden.



Under the direction of Jean-Louis Flandrin

and Massimo Montanari


Translated by Clarissa Botsford, Arthur Goldhammer,

Charles Lambert, Frances M. López-Morillas,

and Sylvia Stevens





Publishers Since 1893


Histoire de l’alimentation Copyright © 1996 Gius. Laterza & Figli, Rome, Bari/Librairie Arthème Fayard

Copyright © 1999 Columbia University Press

Paperback edition, 2013

All rights reserved

E-ISBN 978-0-231-54409-2

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

[Histoire de l’alimentation. English]

Food: a culinary history from antiquity to the present /

edited by Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari;

translated by Albert Sonnenfeld

p. cm. — (European perspectives)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-231-11154-6 (cloth : alk. paper)

ISBN 978-0-231-11155-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Food—History. 2. Food habits—History. I. Flandrin, Jean

Louis. II. Montanari, Massimo, 1949–. III. Sonnenfeld, Albert.

IV. Title. V. Series.

TX353.H525 1999



A Columbia University Press E-book.

CUP would be pleased to hear about your reading experience with this e-book at [email protected]

Designed by Linda Secondari

Illustrations by Martha Lewis

Cover image © RMN – Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY


Lawrence D. Kritzman, Editor

European Perspectives presents outstanding books by leading European thinkers. With both classic and contemporary works, the series aims to shape the major intellectual controversies of our day and to facilitate the tasks of historical understanding.

For a complete list of books in the series, see Series List



Albert Sonnenfeld

Introduction to the Original Edition

Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari




The Humanization of Eating Behaviors

Jean-Louis Flandrin


Feeding Strategies in Prehistoric Times

Catherine Perlès


The Social Function of Banquets in the Earliest Civilizations

Francis Joannes


Food Culture in Ancient Egypt

Edda Bresciani


Biblical Reasons: The Dietary Rules of the Ancient Hebrews

Jean Soler


The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians: The Early Mediterranean Diet

Antonella Spanò Giammellaro




Food Systems and Models of Civilization

Massimo Montanari


Urban and Rural Diets in Greece

Marie-Claire Amouretti


Greek Meals: A Civic Ritual

Pauline Schmitt-Pantel


The Culture of the Symposium

Massimo Vetta


The Diet of the Etruscans

Giuseppe Sassatelli


The Grammar of Roman Dining

Florence Dupont


The Broad Bean and the Moray: Social Hierarchies and Food in Rome

Mireille Corbier


Diet and Medicine in the Ancient World

Innocenzo Mazzini


The Food of Others

Oddone Longo




Romans, Barbarians, Christians: The Dawn of European Food Culture

Massimo Montanari


Production Structures and Food Systems in the Early Middle Ages

Massimo Montanari


Peasants, Warriors, Priests: Images of Society and Styles of Diet

Massimo Montanari




Food Models and Cultural Identity

Massimo Montanari


Christians of the East: Rules and Realities of the Byzantine Diet

Ewald Kislinger


Arab Cuisine and Its Contribution to European Culture

Bernard Rosenberger


Mediterranean Jewish Diet and Traditions in the Middle Ages

Miguel-Ángel Motis Dolader




Toward a New Dietary Balance

Massimo Montanari


Society, Food, and Feudalism

Antoni Riera-Melis


Self-Sufficiency and the Market: Rural and Urban Diet in the Middle Ages

Alfio Cortonesi


Food Trades

Françoise Desportes


The Origins of Public Hostelries in Europe

Hans Conrad Peyer


Medieval Cooking

Bruno Laurioux


Food and Social Classes in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Allen J. Grieco


Seasoning, Cooking, and Dietetics in the Late Middle Ages

Jean-Louis Flandrin

easy dinner recipes for kids, dinner ideas, bourbon chicken recipe, italian recipes, cooking pork loin,
ontain gluten.

Then it’s on to the recipes, including gluten-free takes on all of your favorites—pasta, stir-fries, barbecue, casseroles, burgers, and even pizza. Because baking gluten-free is a challenge, we provide a recipe for a simple all-purpose flour blend used in our banana bread, muffins, classic cookies, and more. Icons at the end of each recipe identify dishes you can make ahead or prepare in 30 minutes or less . Low-cal , heart healthy , and high-fiber recipes are indicated, too.

Whether you are eating gluten-free or cooking for someone who is, Easy Gluten-Free! aims to take the worry out of gluten-free shopping and eating. So, check our ingredient lists, shop, and start cooking.


Food Director, Good Housekeeping


You may be opening this book for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re one of the estimated 3 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Perhaps you’re wondering what’s up with all the gluten-free products that can now be found lining the shelves at your local supermarket or popular outlets like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, and even Walmart. Possibly you’ve seen celebrities touting the benefits of a gluten-free diet—or you’ve heard friends or extended social circles buzzing with stories about how gluten-free living has made them feel healthier. You may have even heard reports that eating a gluten-free diet can help relieve autism or lead to weight loss. Not all of these claims have been proved. But if gluten-free eating is truly necessary for you, growing numbers of products—along with resources like this book—are making life easier than ever.

One reason gluten-free food has become a booming $2.6 billion market, growing by 30 percent a year (according to the research company Packaged Facts), is that many consumers now think gluten-free foods are healthier and of higher quality than “regular” foods. But only a small percentage of the population actually requires a gluten-free diet to stay healthy. For those people, eliminating wheat and many other grains has sometimes been a hardship marked by difficult restrictions and tasteless, often expensive alternatives. That’s where Good Housekeeping Easy Gluten-Free! comes in. Here, you’ll find a balanced mix of satisfying recipes for every meal, including naturally gluten-free dishes, plus reworks of favorites that substitute gluten-free grains and flours. These recipes can be the foundation of a healthy, gluten-free diet for those who need it. Does that include you? See “Who Benefits from Gluten-Free?” to find out. We’ll also offer tips on navigating the grocery store and kitchen for those who must eat gluten-free as a necessity and not a lifestyle choice.


People on a gluten-free diet must avoid many foods, although the good news is that more gluten-free alternative products appear on the market all the time. Here’s a balanced look at what’s allowed and what’s not. Even with this list in hand you’ll need to read labels carefully, especially of items in the “may be allowed” category. For tips on some key words to look out for, see “Hidden Gluten on Labels”.

* * *


* * *


* * *



Bean fours

Buckwheat (pure buckwheat)

Corn (maize)


Legume fours (garbanzo/ chick pea, lentil, pea)


Montina (Indian rice grass) Flavored and seasoned rice mixes

Oats, oat bran, oat syrup (see “The Story of Oats,”)

Rice and corn cereals

Soba noodles (choose 100-percent buckwheat)

Wheat starch (OK if

specially processed to remove gluten) Barley



Couscous (Moroccan pasta)

Cracked wheat

Durum four





Nut fours (almond, hazelnut, pecan)

Potato starch, potato four


Rice (brown, white, basmati, etc.), rice bran, rice polish


Seed fours (sesame)


Soy (soya)

Sweet potato four

Tapioca (cassava or manioc)

Teff (tef)

Wild rice Gluten, gluten four

Graham four


Malt, malt extract, malt favoring

Matzoh, matzo, matzoh semolina

Orzo (rice-shaped pasta)


Semolina (durum wheat)

Spelt (also known as dinkel)


Wheat four, wheat germ, wheat bran

* * *


* * *

Plain fresh, frozen, and unfavored canned fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables frozen or packaged in a sauce

* * *


* * *

Aged hard cheeses (Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan, etc.)




Plain yogurt Cheese sauces (plain or on frozen vegetables or in frozen dinners)

Cream cheese

Flavored yogurts

Ice cream

Ricotta cheese Malted milk

Packaged shredded cheeses (grate your own instead)

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those that may be used in the actual products is necessary in many cases to achieve a closely cloned end result.


It’s not easy to express in words just how grateful I am to everyone who has helped transform a 134-page trade paperback published in 1993 into a continuing series of cookbooks that has sold more than 4 million copies. From the person who plucked that first unsolicited manuscript out of the slush pile at Plume nearly twenty years ago, to the casual cook who uses these books—and to everyone in between—I am so very thankful. As long as delicious new brand-name foods are created, and as long as I am lucky enough to have such a great crew behind the scenes, I hope to continue developing these culinary clones that can make home-cooked foods cool and fun.

Thanks to all at Penguin Group: Clare Ferraro, Cherise Fisher, Barbara O’Shea, Sandra Dear, Kimberly Cagle, Cherisse Landau, and everyone else who has tossed a pinch of this and a dash of that into these books over the years.

Thanks to the awesome hosts at QVC: Jill Bauer, Bob Bower-sox, Jayne Brown, Rick Domeier, Carolyn Gracie, Dan Hughes, Dave James, Pat James-DeMentri, Lisa Mason, Lisa Robertson, Mary Beth Roe, Jane Tracey, David Venable, Dan Wheeler, Leah Williams, and all of the QVC buyers, planners, and producers.

Thanks to Robert Reynolds, Bill Brucker, Perry Rogers, Robert John Kley, Darren Emmens, Malena Gibaja, and MeLinda Baca for their contributions, assistance, and advice.

Thanks to everyone at the Howard Stern Show for always keeping me entertained during those long hours in the kitchen. Bonus points: If Howard hadn’t ended up on the radio, he says he would have been a chef.

Thanks to Anthony Corrado (a man who works even better without sleep), for always making the food look so delicious in photos and on TV. He’s a master at turning the hard work into a really good time.

Thanks to my family and friends, for stepping up as willing and honest taste-test guinea pigs.You didn’t have to eat that really gross one, but you did anyway.

And a huge thanks (with a hug and a kiss) to my dearest critic and supporter, Pamela. She’s the secret ingredient behind everything that I have created, including my most cherished reproduction yet—my little daughter, Morea.


In his hilarious Raw stand-up special from 1987, Eddie Murphy tells a story about when he was a kid begging his mother for a McDonald’s hamburger.

“I’ll make you a hamburger better than McDonald’s,” she tells him.

“Better than McDonald’s?”

“That’s right.And you can help Momma make it. Now go get that big black frying pan under the stove.And go to the fridge and get me the chopped meat, and while you’re in there get a green pepper and an onion.”

Eddie is confused.“But there ain’t no green pepper in McDonald’s.”

“I need a green pepper and an onion, and while you’re in there get me an egg out too.”

Now Eddie is even more confused. “What you need eggs for? I want a hamburger.You’re making an Egg McMuffin!”

“I’m not makin’ an Egg McMuffin. I don’t even know what a damn Egg McMuffin is. Just get me the egg out and shut your mouth.”

He then describes how his mom takes the egg and mixes it with the meat and big chunks of green pepper and paprika and a bunch of other crazy stuff, and then she makes a giant meatball out of it and slaps it down into the hot frying pan, and it starts cooking.

Eddie is disgusted. “There’s a big split in the middle and grease is popping out, and you’re looking at it while it’s poppin’ and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘That don’t look like no McDonald’s!’ ”

Eddie’s right, of course.That burger didn’t look like anything from McDonald’s, and it surely didn’t taste like anything from McDonald’s, unless the chain starts to sell a McGreasy Green Pepper Paprika Meatball Sandwich.

Little Eddie was able to tell right away that Momma’s burger was going to be a bad McDonald’s clone, even before tasting it, because he knows what a McDonald’s hamburger looks like . . . and what it shouldn’t look like. Momma’s clone was obviously way off, but knowing which recipes are going to work and which ones aren’t isn’t always that easy. I have seen many so-called copycat recipes created by people with very little kitchen experience, and dubious intentions—the recipes are poorly designed, ingredients have been tossed together without any analysis or testing, and then a brand name is slapped on top.What’s up with that? A “copycat” recipe, at first glance, might seem to make sense. It’s not till you and your bummed-out crew take the first bite that you realize you’ve been duped.The end result is big waste of time, and a waste of the money you spent on all the ingredients. Oh well. Crank up the garbage disposal. Call in the dog.

Making good clone recipes takes time—a lot of time. Ingredients are tactfully added and subtracted from every attemp
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that specific examples may fall somewhere between these two extremes; but a simplistic assertion is sometimes useful as an explanatory tool, as long as we don’t forget that it is only a tool.

Herbal remedies in the former category may have been discovered by careful research, trial and error, experience, or just plain dumb luck. The fact that they work is of great interest to scientists and physicians and certainly to people who may benefit by treatment with the herbs. Such plants contain compounds that have been used either directly as medicines or as sources of materials in the formulation of modern pharmaceuticals.

Among the ones that work, we may include those plants that are especially high in valuable nutrients. Some herbs, such as purslane and sorrel, do have substantial quantities of ingredients that are essential to our well-being. These two, because they are eaten in large enough quantities to provide a significant quantity of these nutrients, are exceptional. Most herbs, even though they are rich in vitamins and minerals, are used primarily as seasoning. One simply doesn’t consume enough of the plant to make much difference in health.

The second category (“medicinal” plants that don’t work as medicine) offers a number of intriguing areas for our scrutiny. If there is no scientific proof that an herb has curative properties, yet there is anecdotal evidence for its efficacy, we must look to other causes. Once again, there are two possibilities: the scientific basis has not yet been found (but if found, moves the herb into our original first category) or the herb has some placebo effect.

Mysticism and Culture

Placebos may work for many reasons, but they all depend on the belief of the individual taking “the cure.” Beliefs are, by definition, not susceptible to proof by logical means. Some philosophers would argue that any subject that cannot be resolved by logical means is not worth discussion. This, however, is not a philosophical discussion. It is cultural. Herbs have been part of human culture for a long time. They have acquired a lot of cultural baggage along the way. It is this baggage that gives credence to the faith healers’ claims.

The metaphors that are at the heart of these beliefs are also close to the associations we make when we eat. To say that taste resides in the tongue, with assistance from the nose, is to grossly oversimplify. We taste with our brains. Our palate resides there, making use of tongue and nose as tools—effective, but not exclusive, tools.

Everything we know—or think we know—affects our perceptions of food. When we taste the rosemary, sage, and thyme in the stuffing of a Thanksgiving turkey, we do not taste the sum of the ingredients alone. We taste all the collateral cultural associations as well. An ancient remembrance, pleasurable or not, can be relived through a single taste. Does anyone honestly believe that Proust’s epiphany with his madeleine was accomplished by his tongue?

What does this mean for us, as herbalists in the kitchen? Whether we do or do not believe in herbal cures, the stories, metaphors, and allusions from which the placebos derive their power affect us as cooks and diners.

There may be some symbolism based on physical resemblances between the herb and the human body, or parts thereof. Plants that look like sexual organs are alleged to have aphrodisiacal properties. Hepatica is named for its leaves’ supposed resemblance to the shape of the liver. The roots of mandrake and ginseng are thought to look like miniature human beings. Many cultures make medical use of these plants solely because of those resemblances. This form of analogous thought is known as “the doctrine of signatures.”

A similar process, involving the physical appearance of herbs, is somewhat more removed. Sometimes visual features provide an herb with its name. If an herb is named after an animal, and the animal symbolizes certain strengths, the herb may be considered to share those traits. This could be called “the syllogistic method.”

Closely related is what may be called “the assumptive method.” The consumer of a certain plant assumes, or benefits from, the characteristics of the plant. Rosemary, having a long-lasting scent, is believed to help its users to recover their memories.

Sometimes herbs suggest their use as remedies by growing in proximity with other plants. Plants that grow near each other may be thought to either reinforce or counteract the properties of the other. Jewelweed grows near, but not right next to, poison ivy, so some people believe it to be a natural antidote for the itch of poison ivy. This belief process could be called “the proximate method.” Whether or not jewelweed actually has the desired effect is outside of the scope of this book.

These quantum jumps of the imagination are exactly the kinds of creative association of ideas that are the foundation of poetr
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appetite so that you begin to crave nutrient-dense food. It’s not that you aren’t “allowed” to have less healthy foods. You can have them. But you won’t want them.

Five Types of Eaters

Everyone has their own habits when it comes to food, but I’ve found over the years that many of my patients tend to fit into one of the five categories below. Each eating “type” is also clearly aligned with certain psychological and emotional types. Which type are you?

The Food Eliminator. Anyone who follows rules like “no carbs/no fat/no gluten/no white food/no solid food/no fruit/nothing cavemen didn’t eat.” Elimination is always appealing to dieters because it gives them a simple regimen, a food or food group to draw an X over. The problem is, cutting out any food group is not optimal from a nutritional standpoint. We need it all—carbs, fat, protein, fiber, fruit—to stay healthy, lose fat, and grow muscle. If you eat 5,000 calories of protein, for example, you will still feel hungry because your body is hungry for other nutrients. Also, if you are left with options that are unsatisfying or get boring fast, it makes the forbidden fruit all the more tempting.

The Out-of-the-Box Eater. Now that so-called healthy, low-calorie food is widely available in packaged form, some women rely on frozen or prepared meals for the bulk of their calories. This type of eating is the main culprit of late-night bingeing. Your body demands nutrients. If you haven’t supplied them throughout the day because all you’ve been eating is packaged cereal bars or frozen low-fat lasagna, your brain will override your willpower and force you to eat until your body gets what it wants.

The Meal Skipper. Too busy to eat. Not hungry in the morning. Too tired to cook dinner. The Meal Skipper might eat healthfully, but the erratic timing of her meals causes her metabolism to slow down. If your body doesn’t get food regularly, it will, by default, go into starvation mode and hold on to energy stores for dear life.

The Overeater. Many of my patients fall into this category. They know what’s good for them, including healthy fats, home cooking, and keeping a regular eating schedule. They just eat too much of the good stuff. It’s about quality and quantity. They bake ten flour-free cookies and eat all of them. Or they drizzle tons of olive oil on a salad or smother it with chopped nuts.

The Diet Cycler. These women leap from one restrictive plan to the next. They are always on a diet or planning the next one. Most of the diets deprive the body of food groups and/or nutrients and disrupt the metabolism and endocrine function. Their bodies never get the chance to recover before they’re on to the next plan. The logistical nightmare of trying to remember the rules of whatever plan they’re on is so consuming that the diet cycler’s life shrinks down to the size of a single plate. After she rebels against her self-imposed rules, she blames herself for failing instead of blaming the true culprit—the diet itself.

Do you recognize yourself in one or more of these eating types? If so, you’re not alone. The first step is to be aware of your particular style, and keep an eye out when bad tendencies sneak up on you. The only healthy “type” of eater is someone who is mindful about her choices, responds to the messages her body is sending, eats when hungry and stops when full, and enjoys every bite. Within weeks on the Well Path, my patients’ eating habits are transformed. The elimination and obsession and unhealthy habits are replaced with genuine curiosity about nutrition and a love for food that feeds their cells and fuels their metabolism.

Change Blocker #2: Magic Bullets Are Real

Hope is more powerful than failure. For this reason, it’s easy to sell a miracle pill or product to desperate people. You intuitively know that no ingredient exists that will make weight drop off your body effortlessly without changing your eating habits or lifestyle. The quick fix dream won’t die because it’s a compelling fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to drop ten pounds overnight?

A supplement or ingredient won’t make you confident, thin, or strong. But restoring your health, one step at a time, will change your body and mind so profoundly it will feel like magic. The magic bullet doesn’t exist.

Change Blocker #3: If You Lost Ten Pounds, Then You’d Be Happy

The number on the scale doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t tell you how fit you are, how much muscle you have, how energetic you are, or how well you’ve gotten through the day without going nuts. I often ask patients, “When you get to that dream number, how will your life change exactly?” Will they have a new apartment? A new husband? Better kids? A better job? Smaller bills? Usually, they don’t even know the answer. They have an amorphous idea about having more confidence and feeling better about
e 25 calories (and many more)? Well, yes, but that’s assuming your body doesn’t compensate for the lack of calories. And the bad news is, the research says that’s exactly what the body does.

How our bodies react to calorie restriction

There haven’t been many times in medical history when researchers have been permitted to starve humans on purpose. But in the dying days of World War II, one of the founding fathers of human nutrition in America, Ancel Keys (much more on him later, in Chapter 8), was given the go-ahead to study the effects of starvation on human volunteers. He recruited 36 healthy young men of normal weight from the ranks of conscientious objectors to the military draft.

The men were accommodated in the football stadium of the University of Minnesota and starved for 24 weeks. Depending on their initial weight, they were restricted to consuming between 1600 and 1800 calories a day while still working and performing physical exercise – they had to walk 15 kilometres a week. The purpose of the experiment was to simulate the starvation that would be occuring in war-torn Europe. The researchers would then refeed the men according to different schedules so that the US had real data on the best diet for the recovery of Europe.

As expected, the men experienced significant weight loss (25 per cent on average). Their diet was strictly controlled, so it makes sense that if they were fed a lot less than they needed, their body had to compensate. It did so by dropping muscle and fat mass. What was less expected were their other symptoms. The men immediately lost all sex drive. They were constantly hungry, became tired and lethargic and slept as much as they were allowed. They reported feeling cold all the time and struggled even to lift their feet over the gutter when crossing the road. Eventually, the researchers noted that their subjects developed significant apathy, irritability, loss of cognitive function (not thinking clearly) and depression.

And just in case you have an aversion to olden-time research, much more modern data are now becoming available. Medical researchers aren’t allowed to starve people on purpose nowadays, but that doesn’t stop them studying people who’ve been purposely starved for less high-minded purposes (oh, say, for a television show). Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge accompanied Biggest Loser participants on set in the US season 8 (2009). They presented their findings at a meeting of the Obesity Society in San Diego in 2010. As you might expect, they found that by Week 6, participants had lost 13 per cent of their body weight and by Week 30 it was 39 per cent. But the study revealed a much more interesting finding, with hard data to back it up.

As we lose weight our metabolism slows. We don’t need to produce as much energy as quickly because we have less weight to carry around. So, just as a small car needs a smaller, more fuel-efficient engine than a large truck, we can run our engines at a lower, more fuel-efficient rate. But this study found that by Week 6, the contestants’ metabolisms had slowed by 244 calories per day more than would have been expected from their weight loss alone. By Week 30, they were burning an astounding 504 calories per day less than expected. Effectively, that means they’d have to eat one meal less a day than someone who was naturally the same weight, just to maintain their weight loss. Perhaps that’s why so few Biggest Loser contestants manage to keep the weight off.

Our body’s response to insufficient calories is to demand more, a response we know as hunger. When calories aren’t forthcoming, the body compensates by progressively shutting down energy-consuming systems and then using up muscle and fat. Physical movement is minimised, sleep is the preferred option, body temperature is lowered and eventually even thinking (cognitive function uses a massive 25 per cent of the energy we consume) is minimised. None of these actions is a conscious decision.

The Minnesota trial and The Biggest Loser are pretty extreme experiments, but there’s nothing to suggest our bodies aren’t up to this sort of caper all the time. Our body detects any reduction in available energy and compensates by lowering our peripheral (arm and leg) temperature, doing things a bit more slowly than it otherwise might or making us sleep for slightly longer than we usually would.

Intentionally reducing calories also assumes we don’t accidentally compensate by eating more of something else. The men in the starvation experiment and the contestants on The Biggest Loser had no choice, but our body’s first line of defence to intentional deprivation would be to ask for more food by making us feel hungry. Our ability to resist that signal varies enormously over time and depends a lot on our motivation and circumstances. When we ignore it, as we do with determination in the first few weeks of a diet, our


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