“The Manhattan nutritionist was raised by a diet junkie who tried every regimen under the sun and food — or the lack of it — ruled her life. My Fat Dad is about her eccentric upbringing and her constant state of hunger as Albert imposed his wacky ways on the whole family.” The New York Post
“ ‘My Fat Dad’ is a memoir of food, love and starvation” New York Daily News
“Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.”
New York Times Wellness Blogger and Nutritionist, Dawn Lerman, details her life-long obsession with food and her father’s regime of fad dieting in her new book,
My Fat Dad
“Every story and every memory from my childhood is attached to food,” Dawn Lerman writes. “As far back as I can remember, there was an invisible wall that separated me from my dad, a distance that I could never completely penetrate. His closest relationship was with the bathroom scale – his first stop every morning and his last stop every evening. The scale controlled his moods, our days, what we were going to eat and basically ruled our family life.”
It is a known fact that our relationship with food starts at a very young age: what and how we eat is often determined by our environment and our upbringing. Our eating habits and tastes are cultivated by our family members’ relationships to food, for better or worse. Dawn knows this first hand. The author of the New York Times Well Blog series, “My Fat Dad,” shares her food journey and that of her father, a brilliant copywriter from the “Mad Men” era of advertising at Leo Burnett and McCann Erickson, in her new book, MY FAT DAD: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes (Berkley/2015; Trade Paperback/$16.00).
Dawn spent her early childhood in Chicago constantly hungry as her ad man father—responsible for such iconic slogans such as “Fly the Friendly Skies,” “Coke is It,” and “Leggo My Eggo”—pursued endless fad diets from Atkins, to Pritikin, to The Sleeping Beauty Diet, to The Rice Diet. At 450 pounds at his heaviest, he insisted Dawn and her mother adopt to his saccharine-laced, freeze-dried food plans to help keep him on track.
By five years old Dawn had lived on shakes when her dad was on the liquid Metrecal Diet, broth when he was on the Cabbage Soup Diet, only apples for days at a time when he was on the Israeli Army Diet, and prayed beside him after he read the book, I Prayed Myself Slim.
Dawn’s mother never cooked and she witnessed her mother eat only one real meal a day—a can of tuna over the kitchen sink—while talking on the phone.
As a child Dawn felt undernourished both physically and emotionally except for one saving grace: the loving attention she received from her maternal grandmother, Beauty. Dawn spent every weekend with Beauty, and their time together instilled in Dawn a passion for cooking for oneself and others as she learned that the best food is prepared with the freshest ingredients. When she was with Beauty, Dawn learned to enjoy the adventure of picking out vegetables for a hearty soup and spent hours precisely rolling out dough for the perfect strudel. When Dawn’s father took a prestigious new ad job in New York City with McCann Erickson when she was in the fourth grade, Beauty’s culinary education continued as she sent Dawn a recipe card every week with a twenty-dollar bill. Beauty’s recipe cards became Dawn’s life-line as she navigated Manhattan on her own.
MY FAT DAD is as much a coming of age memoir as it is a recipe collection from Dawn’s upbringing and culinary adventures in New York City. Recipes in the book feature some of her grandmother’s favorite traditional Jewish dishes, Dawn’s healthier interpretations and creations, many gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. Some of the recipes found in the book include:
Beauty’s Chicken Soup
Aunt Jeannie’s Russian Borscht
Creamy Cashew Butternut Soup
Duke University “Fat Farm” Approved Parchment Paper Salmon with Leeks and Lemon Slices
Sweet Potato Hummus
Crispy Mushroom Latkes
Baked Beet Chips
Low Carb Chocolate Crepes
Mock Pecan Pie
Macrobiotic Apple Pie
Cottage Cheese infused Strawberry Pancake Sandwiches
Her father’s life-long struggle with food, along with her grandmother’s love of cooking fresh foods, led Dawn to become a well-respected nutritionist and NY Times blogger. Today her dad is a healthy 210 pounds and vegan.
Dawn believes that “everyone has a food story to tell. My Fat Dad is mine.” As we focus on healthy eating and new food choices in the new year, My Fat Dad provides everyone with a great story and healthy and delicious recipes.
“My Fat Dad is an exploration of the many ways food shapes our connection to family. It also includes many delightful recipes.” – Michel Martin, NPR, All Things Considered
“My Fat Dad highlights the relationship between family and food.” – NBC
“ ‘My Fat Dad’ is a memoir of food, love and starvation” – NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
“A quasi-memoir cookbook that will have readers laughing, crying, and nodding all at the same time…Lerman is engaging.”—Booklist