My Favorite Nutrition Books

One of the things I’m looking forward to next week is reading books…on the beach. With every new rotation in my internship, I have plenty of reading to do, but reading scientific articles about tube feeding isn’t exactly my first choice. I’ve loaded my kindle up with fiction and some nutrition books because there’s so much to learn.

If you’re looking for some interesting books about nutrition or food or are scrambling for a Christmas present for someone, here’s a list of my favorite nutrition and food books.

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1.) In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. This was the first book I read when diving into the world of nutrition, and I found myself nodding my head yes with every sentence I read. He defends real food, not the “edible foodlike substances” attached with health claims that we’re currently eating. It touches on how the food industry and even the nutrition world influences the way we eat by picking apart nutrients, throwing them in processed foods, and slapping a “good source of vitamin __” label on it. Instead, he encourages us to eat how our great grandmothers ate. Did your great grandmother stock her kitchen with Fiber One Bars, egg whites, and frozen pizza? I doubt it. She probably ate local, fresh food that was hand-prepared. His shorter book, Food Rules, is also a great, quick read and handy guide to have on your coffee table. While you’re at it, head over to his site to read his articles about enacting change in the food industry.

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2.) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. In this fascinating novel, Barbara and her family commit to one year of being locavores and growing and raising their food. The entertaining stories are alongside explanations about why we should eat locally. How many of you know where that bag of broccoli in your fridge came from, or how that chicken was raised? It’s also a lesson in eating seasonally. We have access to food from all over the world at any time of the year and likely have no idea where it came from, how it was raised or grown, the conditions of the farm, not to mention the environmental costs of how it gets to your fridge. This book really forces me to think about what I’m putting in my cart and try to buy locally at my farmer’s market as much as I can. You’ll notice a difference in taste when you purchase locally too; my farmer’s market eggs are 1000x better than store-bought eggs.

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3.) Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA. This book by two Registered Dietitians is all about forming a healthy relationship with food. Disordered eating is rampant in this society for a number of reasons. It may be an eating disorder, behaviors such as overeating, emotional eating, restricting food for weight loss, yo-yo dieting, or even as simple (and common) as food rules like no eating after 6 pm. This book guides you through a plan to stop fearing food and instead listen to your body in order to nourish it. The principles of intuitive eating will help you create a healthy relationship with food and your body to stop the dieting cycle. You’ll begin to re-establish your hunger and fullness cues rather than eating because on a strict schedule. Even if you don’t have (or don’t think you have) problems with food, I still highly recommend this book. It’s a great lesson in eating mindfully to fully enjoy your food rather than eating on the go and scarfing down food.

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4.) Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. This book is for the science-lovers, and it is eye-opening. It examines the obesity epidemic alongside the current dietary guidelines and makes the claim that the USDA is harming rather than helping the cause. It shatters the thought that we need a high-carb, low-fat diet, as well as the calories-in, calories-out theory. Most people believe low fat is better, and calories are all that matter. I’m planning to write more about this, but it’s the quality of calories that matter more than the quantity. 100 calories of sugar does not act the same way as 100 calories of fat in the body. This book is based in science and research, and unfortunately, the current dietary guidelines are not really based on sound science. If you don’t want to read a full novel about this, at least read this NY Times article he wrote.

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5.) Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. We make over 200 food-related decisions a day, but do we actually stop and think about what we’re putting in our mouth? If you have a bowl of popcorn in front of you and it’s burnt or stale, how often do you eat it anyway? This food-psychology book answers the question of why we eat more than we think. For example, when we eat off large plates and only fill a small portion of the plate, we may not feel satisfied compared to eating the same amount on a smaller plate. Our eyes (and all our senses) play a huge role in our food satisfaction. This is highly entertaining, and understanding the psychology behind our food decisions can help us make better choices.

What nutrition/health/fitness related books are your favorite? I’m always looking for new ones to read!

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