'Eat This Not That! For Kids!" by David Zinczenko advertises itself as providing "Thousands of simple food swaps that can save your child from obesity." The book is all that and much, much more. I've been paying attention to nutrition for 30 years, yet I learned something new on every page. As the Washington Post said, "Once you open it, just try to put it down."

One of my friends was leafing through the pages in a leisurely, semi-disinterested way when he spotted his favorite Roasted Turkey and Swiss sandwich from Arby's. He makes this choice because it seems healthy. Not! Who knew that the bread alone adds 361 calories. Along with the mayo, this innocent-looking sandwich contributes 708 calories to his daily intake. Yikes! Bad enough for an adult, but what about that many calories for a child? Better to choose the Ham and Swiss Melt sandwich, which weighs in at a mere 268 calories. Page after page, I'm astonished by countless facts that strike me as counter-intuitive. In case it's impossible to memorize all the crazy comparisons, the book is a size that will fit in most glove compartments.

In addition to the riveting chapter on what to choose at favorite restaurants, there's more. The Menu Decoder chapter takes a more general look at menus, including Italian, Mexican, seafood, deli, Chinese, etc.

It provides surprising information on everything from rice to guacamole.

"At the Supermarket" advises us to "think of the grocery store as a battleground."

There's information about reading labels and understanding the games supermarkets play. There's also "Eat This, Not That!" information on cereal, yogurt, bread, granola, snacks, sauces, frozen foods, etc.

Other chapters demystify school cafeteria food, beverages and vending machine fare. There's also information on the perfect home-packed lunch and family meals and regular and special occasion meals. Even candy and smoothies come under scrutiny.

Absorb and employ all this information, and no worries. Not quite. Read "The Omnivore's Dilemma," "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and other apocalyptic takes on our compromised food chain. Then explore the plastics and other packaging that allegedly pollute food.

Food, food everywhere and nothing to eat!

Contact Fran Hawk at franbooks@yahoo.com.