September 29, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 43°F


Diet book restates helpful advice

“Your Big Fat Boyfriend,” a new book by Ithaca College alumna Jenna Bergen, reads more like a chat between girlfriends than a book on dieting and exercise. Inspired by her horror the day her “totally hot, erase-10-pounds, make-my-ass-look-amazing” jeans began to expose an unsightly “muffin top” of triple chocolate chunk proportions, Bergen weaves together anecdotes about her weight struggles with helpful nutrition pointers.

It was an “ah-ha” moment, when Bergen ’04 realized her BF was a BFB — a big, fat boyfriend who was making her fat too. The extra 13 pounds she packed on during the course of her relationship prompted her to write “YBFB,” a dieting and nutrition book that explores the BFB phenomenon and offers ways to stay skinny while dating a BFB.

It provides no revolutionary dieting tips, nor does it advocate becoming a “Skinny Bitch,” like another popular dieting book bearing that name advocates. Instead “YBFB” reiterates what every woman should know about eating right. While most readers probably already know to order salad dressing on the side, they may not have thought to substitute applesauce for butter or oil in baking. These little tips make it worth the read.

Bergen says the terrible truth about relationships and food is that while weight is influenced by a variety of factors — ranging from parents’ eating habits to socioeconomic status — women tend to gain weight during a relationship because it is a significant life change. Men on the other hand, tend to pick up the healthy habits of their partner, thereby losing weight. Unfair.

With practical, easy-to-understand health facts and obvious but easily overlooked tips, “YBFB” offers gentle reminders on how to eat healthy, with or without a BFB.

Bergen divides her advice into chapters based on eating healthy at restaurants, at home, at the grocery store and in the kitchen. Her quick picks at a restaurant, for example, restate common food sense — think grilled chicken over fried and a salad over fries. But her lists and charts, such as one that compares “tubby terms” and “waist-friendly words,” are new and fresh: Choose “braised” over “béarnaise,” “poached” over “pan-fried,” Bergen says.

The workout chapter, “You gotta move it, sista,” gives a million reasons why women should go to the gym, but women have heard them before. Bergen’s tips for ways to “health-ify” a BFB offer some reasons why some guys are afraid of the gym and how they can get moving without overdoing it.

“YBFB” is essentially a dieting and nutrition book, only with more life and pizzazz. Bergen’s anecdotes and real BFB stories contributed by readers make it a hilarious and fast read at fewer than 200 pages. Instead of reading it cover to cover, readers should flip to the chapters most relevant to them to target specific personal and BFB-related problems. Even for those without a BFB, Bergen’s tips are useful for any diet makeover.

Don’t close the book before trying the recipes at the end. The Bangin’ Buffalo Chicken Tenders are easy to make and sure to please a BFB craving something fried and fatty. The Best Booth Berry Smoothie is lighter and more flavorful than any smoothie in Campus Center and makes a quick breakfast for the college student rushing to class at 8 a.m.

Don’t want to buy the book? Visit “YBFB’s” Web site at for more recipes, BFB-approved snacks and drinks and more BFB horror stories.

“YBFB” won’t make the reader drop 20 pounds, but it’s still worth the $15 for someone who wants more from a diet book than a regurgitation of scientific terms. It advocates healthy, balanced eating and nothing extreme, beating “Skinny Bitch” any day.