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Published:April 22nd, 2006 09:15 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Stephen Lanzalotta, Author of The Diet Code

Judyth Piazza chats with Stephen Lanzalotta, Author of The Diet Code

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

Excerpt: `The Diet Code` by Stephen Lanzalotta

If you`re a fan of Dan Brown`s novel "The Da Vinci Code," and you want to lose weight, then you may be interested in "The Diet Code" by Stephen Lanzalotta

Just as Brown`s book discusses Da Vinci`s Golden Ratio, Lanzalotta`s does too " and tells you how it can help you shed pounds. Lanzalotta, a baker who lives in Portland, Maine, applies mathematical principles to his cafe menu and shows you how to apply it to your daily eating for optimal health.

Below is an excerpt from "The Diet Code."

Chapter One: Leonardo da Vinci, the Golden Ratio " and What`s for Dinner

The wisest and noblest teacher is nature itself. " LEONARDO DA VINCI

Man achieves the height of Wisdom when all that he does is as self-evident as what Nature does. " I CHING

Milan, Winter 1492

The pencil drops from Leonardo`s left hand as he picks up a chunk of bigio, or whole grain bread, to soak up broth from a steaming bowl of minestra, a Milanese broth featuring the region`s distinctive savoy cabbage and a mix of root vegetables and their greens. He distractedly stabs at a bit of turnip with the fork in his right hand. Within reach are some thin slabs of creamy Taleggio cheese and a flask of wine from the vineyards of his patron, Ludovico Sforza, duke of Bari.

Momentarily focusing on his soup, Leonardo reminisces about his native Tuscany and the Florentine minestrone, spicy and meaty from a soffrito mix of minced and sautéed chicken giblets, pork and peppercorns. The duke had been suitably surprised by the dish when Leonardo prepared it for him. The Lombard ruler is quite fond of meat from the pig and well knows of Leonardo`s reputation as a brilliant cook, but it was the last meal he expected from a vegetarian`s kitchen.

Leonardo isn`t painting much these days, because the duke is presently more interested in civic planning and engineering " moats, walls, war machines and the like. But the duke has been suggesting a fresco for the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and Leonardo is already plotting the depiction of another meal of bread and wine. Unbeknownst to his patron, the artist has in mind to use the fresco to convey a message so grand, so unexpected and so shocking that its deepest meanings will have to be encoded if the fresco is to be painted at all.

That will come later, though. Now, Leonardo occupies his peripatetic mind with plotting the geometry of what will become one of his greatest works. Lifting the bowl to sip the last of his soup, he contemplates proportioning the enormous work by what he calls secto d`aurea " golden section or, as it is later renamed, the golden ratio. He visualizes the way lines will relate to each other, forming key angles. If the numbers governing the structure of a painting are right, he knows, the aesthetic will resonate deep within viewers.

Leonardo lifts the bowl to his lips, sips the last of his soup and mops up the final drops with a crust torn from the loaf, enjoying a secret latent in his lunch: the key to long life and good health is literally in his hands.

In this imagined scene, one of the world`s great geniuses finishes a meal as ideally proportioned as any of his master works. What Leonardo da Vinci brought a tavolo (to the table) was as balanced as anything he consciously designed during his long career " a career in which he devoted much energy to exploring and exploiting an ancient mathematical formula that`s come to be known as the Golden Ratio. Leonardo`s application of the Golden Ratio was arguably quite calculated when it came to his art, but it was likely intuitive when it came to his meal planning. Leonardo simply chose from the variety of fresh whole foods available to him, nourishing his body and mind with ease in a way we seem to have entirely abandoned today. The effect of proper proportions is just as powerful on the plate and in the body, however, as it is on a canvas. Leonardo dined on the particular ancient triumvirate of bread, wine and N cheese, which makes up the trinity of essential macronutrients " carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Leonardo, for one, reaped the benefits. He was slender throughout his long life and famously strong. (He was said to be capable of bending horseshoes with a single hand or stopping a horse running past him at full gallop with his bare hands.) That`s not to mention cultivating perhaps the most amazing brain ever " one of the keenest, most synthetic and far-reaching intellects of all time!

While I can`t guarantee that eating the same way will turn you into a great painter, inventor, architect, engineer, botanist, anatomist, astronomer or sculptor, I can promise that consciously re-creating the quality, combinations and proportion of foods Leonardo relied on will help you become lean and strong. Put these new proportions inside your body, and you`ll soon see new proportions outside. All you have to do is crack "The Diet Code" " master the simple formula that unlocks the secret to easy weight loss: maximizing nutrition and metabolism.

As a self-taught baker raised on my grandmother`s rustic Italian cooking, I`ve thrived on meals much like those on which Leonardo must have supped. I make breads hardly different from those he would have known, using the exact same technology as bakers in Leonardo`s time did. More directly, I`ve admired Leonardo`s polymath mind and strived for decades to take what insights I could from him and apply them across multiple aspects of my life. Again and again, I`ve circled back to that one formula, famously encoded in the angles of his spread-eagle Vitruvian Man, among many of his other works, not to mention a litany of designs dating back to the earliest human civilizations: the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio guided Leonardo in designing the famous fresco (The Last Supper) that I imagine him contemplating in the opening of this chapter and has been given credit for the enthralling effect of his Mona Lisa. He used it in his more practical undertakings, too, proportioning garden schematics, city planning layouts, everyday engineering plans and the like. In doing so, he was rediscovering wisdom from ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia, which had at that point been all but lost; among Leonardo`s many extraordinary achievements count rescuing and revitalizing this vital knowledge.

The latest cutting-edge science and technology has proven just how deep this mathematical wisdom goes, documenting the Golden Ratio in everything from the pattern of galaxies and the shape of ocean waves to the spiral of seashells and the arrangement of petals in a rose. The same natural laws of design also dictate the form of human genetic material (the DNA double helix), the development of the human fetus and many details in the architecture of the human body. The Golden Ratio has been successfully applied by humans in so many arenas simply because they affirm the greater wisdom of nature when they do so.

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