Physician Howard Shapiro - a health consultant to the New York City Police and Fire Departments - conceived the idea of a visual program to enlighten dieters about the nutritional content of food as they strive for permanent weight loss. In his book Picture Perfect Diet, Shapiro presents dieters with beautiful, luscious photographic images of food and corresponding information regarding its caloric content and nutritional pros and cons, with the idea that a visual connection to calorie counts will register and stay with dieters longer than just reading the numbers. His "look and lose" strategy has you, say, look at a photo of a tiny piece of carrot cake, and it will be contrasted with a photo of a calorically equal, yet overflowing mixed greens salad. Shapiro calls this process "Food Awareness Training" or FAT. It’s not a diet per se, but a strategy to develop the ability to recognize what you're doing to yourself calorically and nutritionally with the food choices you make.
Dr. Shapiro asserts that Picture Perfect is not about deprivation and going hungry, but eating good food to contentment while keeping a cap on calorie intake. He provides a recommended food pyramid of the to-be-expected whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean proteins, nuts, soy, etc. to guide you towards healthy choices. The more regularly you choose the salad over the carrot cake, the more naturally and regularly the pounds will melt away. Earlier versions of Picture Perfect were light on meal planning advice, but the "30 Day Plan" offers a complete outline for a month.
Picture Perfect has been a media hit in large part because of Shapiro and his program's role in helping dieting NYPD and NYFD members shed a collective 2,544 pounds. That is absolutely fantastic on every level, and they're all to be applauded. Still, if this philosophy sounds familiar, it should. This is the "calorie density" concept common to many other bestsellers. Except this one is dressed up with great photography.
Our fundamental problem with the Picture Perfect Diet and other calorie density-focused plans is this: most reasonable people already know that carrot cake isn’t diet food, and that they're better served having the mixed greens salad. It's getting to the root of why you continue to choose the carrot cake, and finding the inspiration and dedication to want the mixed greens salad because you know it's the better choice. And the best way to do that is to start getting active and physically feeling the difference in your body, and visually seeing that difference in the mirror.