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The Stamford Times
Copyright © 2003 The Stamford Times
Best-selling diet book author talks back
Dr. D'Adamo discusses the theories behind Eat Right 4 Your Type
By MAYA TALL
"Is one man's food another man's poison?" Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo, a naturopath and the best-selling author of "Eat Right 4 Your Type" asks, and his answer is "yes".
D'Adamo's theory posits that following a specific diet according to your blood type can help you lose weight, stay healthier and live longer. Lumped together with the "fad diets," including Atkins, the Zone, and Pritikin's low-fat diet, he validates neither the low fat nor the high-protein approach, instead insisting that different blood types need different foods to stay healthy.
"We have blood types for fairly old and deep reasons that have nothing to do with transfusions," he says. He says that blood types evolved to help people survive infectious diseases and changing food sources.
At the same time, he struggles for credibility in a market that has turned the findings of a self-proclaimed "geek" into just another media fad. "What's the problem with blood type? Bad PR", says the Stamford doctor. "It wasn't that I sat in a garret somewhere and said, let me come up with the next fad diet book."
Instead, he received a call from Houghton Mifflin one day when the company was in search for authors on 'alternative medicine,' which they expected to be a big new wave in publishing in the mid 1990s. The publishers had read about his remedy for hangovers in Details magazine. When he sent in manuscripts, they insisted that his writing was "too technical" and his project was finally dropped when the company changed its focus. However, the editor who had been assigned to the project connected him with an agent and a co-writer ("it's humanized by Catherine Whitney for me", he says) and Putnam eventually published the book.
"Eat Right 4 Your Type" has received heavy criticism from several arenas, including nutritionists and vegetarians. Many say that the theory is simplistic and unfounded. Dr. D'Adamo takes issue with his critics. "What do the critics do?" They hang me to dry because I wrote a book for the average person to understand," he says. "I could take you to New Canaan and show you a wall of thousands of articles on blood type. Before somebody should criticize this... they should have their own wall, so t hat I could feel that their criticism would make me a better researcher".
D'Adamo received his doctorate in naturopathic medicine in 1982 from Bastyr University in Seattle. He was drawn to naturopathic medicine because his father, James, was also a naturopath. He defines naturopathic medicine as fully licensed health care system with an emphasis on lifestyle and traditional medicine.
"I think one rabbi said it best when he said, 'go see the naturopath and if he can't help you, then go see the other guy,'" says D'Adamo, who has treated Orthodox Jews from New York for decades.
"You require honesty on both sides of that. I have to be honest enough to say you need a surgeon. You don't need a cup of chamomile tea".
D'Adamo runs his practice, staffed by two naturopaths, one M.D. and on R.N., out of Stamford. "This part (of my career) is the oldest and nearest to my heart," he says.
His Web site, www.dadamo.com, contains testimonials from these who have followed the diet as well as a database of "BTD knowledgeable" doctors. The Web site, and his book, focus on the diet's effect on medical conditions and mention little about drastic weight loss, making his association with the "fad diets" somewhat misleading.
For D'Adamo, who "gnashes his teeth" at most of his book reviews, the mainstream popularity of his work has been a mixed blessing. "I've been traumatized and I've been helped by this notion of fad diets," he says.
"Ten years ago, if there was no interest in fad diets nobody would have read my book. On the other hand, the tendency of people nowadays is really not to look seriously at these things."