10 Must-Read Books for Happy, Healthy Eating

Woman holding a cookbook


Expert advice to eat healthier and live happier.

We all know that what we eat has a major influence on our overall well-being. But with the cascade of conflicting nutrition information out there, the problem is knowing exactly how to go about eating well. The nutritional experts themselves don’t always agree on what’s good for us—or what’s good for the planet. Should we eat “good fats,” including red meat—as several new books espouse—or stick to a plant-based diet. Should we seek out fermented foods for gut health, or focus on avoiding wheat as our primary dietary goal?

We have gathered a full spectrum of current expert opinion on healthy cooking and eating in the books listed here, so in the end you can...go with  your gut, and follow whatever advice seems right for you and your lifestyle. And there is some common ground: Reduce your sugar intake. Eat veggie-centered meals. Drink lots of water. Make your meals colorful by including a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Cut out processed food.

The opinionated—sometimes cutting-edge—books included here should help you make better, more educated decisions when you stroll through the supermarket aisle or sit down at the table.

1. The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet
By Nina Teicholz

If you like to discuss what’s healthy and what’s not, this book will get you talking. Author Nina Teicholz, a New York Times writer and former NPR reporter, is all for eating meat, eggs and dairy (saturated fat), and she backs up her claims with research from various scientific studies. The author is not a fan of vegetable oils, processed carbs (boxed snacks) and sugar. A lover of whole foods, she encourages you to eat bacon with your eggs, but to put down the candy bar.

2. Eat Fat, Get Thin
By Dr. Mark Hyman

In Eat Fat, Get Thin, New York Times best-selling author Dr. Mark Hyman doesn’t advocate eating fast food; instead he recommends eating the healthy fats found in eggs, nuts, olive oils, avocados and other super foods. According to the author, you can achieve optimum fitness, lose weight, prevent disease and increase your energy just by making smart food choices and eating the right kinds of fat.

3. The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health
By Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.Ds.

Trust your gut. New scientific research shows that caring for our gut microbes might be the most important health choice we make, according to Stanford researchers and husband and wife team Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, Ph.Ds. In their new book, The Good Gut, the authors explore how processed food and overuse of antibiotics are damaging our healthy gut microbiota. They then detail how we can take steps to nourish and strengthen our gut health by eating more high-fiber food. Bacteria in our bodies can fight pathogens, digest food and produce energy and hormones. Learn how your mood, health and weight can all be influenced by the state of your gut microbes. This book includes recipes and a meal plan to show how more mindful diet and lifestyle choices can prevent disease and improve our overall health.

4. Hungry Girl: Clean & Hungry
By Lisa Lillien

New York Times best-selling author Lisa Lillien, who has made her name as the “Hungry Girl,” offers decadent-sounding recipes such as PB&J waffles, Hawaiian Shrimp-Fried Rice with Pineapple and BBQ Meatloaf in a “clean eating” style, which means they are made with healthy, unprocessed ingredients. Clean & Hungry features 90 vegetarian recipes, 108 gluten-free recipes, and 56 “regular” recipes that can be made in less than 30 minutes.

5. The Joy of Half a Cookie: Using Mindfulness to Lose Weight and End the Struggle With Food
Jean Kristeller, Ph.D., and Alisa Bowman

The author’s Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training Program involves mindfulness techniques to transform your relationship with food. The Joy of Half a Cookie is filled with practices that will help you make healthier choices around food with fewer struggles. You won’t find a list of forbidden foods, daily menus or calorie counts in this book. What you will find are the tools that help you “tune in to your own hunger experiences” and begin your journey toward mindful eating.

6. Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food
By Melissa Hartwig

Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the bestselling The Whole30 cookbook, explains how you can develop a better relationship with food by letting go of the stress and anxiety around choices. Discover how to choose differently and experience food freedom when you start from a position of strength. Food Freedom Forever is part guidebook and part nutritional coach. Learn how to create healthy habits and be compassionate with yourself when you slip back into old habits. Because this book is a follow-up to The Whole30, you can bet that the program is going to involve giving up some food groups.

7. Forks Over KnivesThe Cookbook: Over 300 Plant-Based Recipes for Plant-Based Eating Through the Year
By Del Sroufe

Forks Over Knives is not only a cookbook but also a movement that advocates cutting out meat, dairy and oils to prevent disease and lose weight. With recipes centered around fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, this cookbook doesn’t just tell, it shows you what you should be eating. Del collaborates with other chefs to design creative vegan meals that are easy to make. Even if giving up dairy or meat isn’t in your plans, this cookbook offers some delicious ways to incorporate more vegetable-centered meals into your week.

8. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life
By Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung

Renowned Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh joins Harvard nutritionist Lilian Cheung to urge people to be mindful of what foods go into their mouths. A combination of nutrition book and meditation book, discover how to pay attention and breathe to eat healthier. Both experts contend that mindful eating can help everyone eat less. This book also offers healthier alternatives to popular food choices, and several practical exercises to help you build a healthier relationship with food.

9. The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness 
By Dr. Frank Lipman and Danielle Claro

Author Frank Lipman has practiced and studied integrative medicine for 35 years. In The New Health Rules, he offers actionable items you can do for optimal health. The book outlines which foods help prevent Alzheimer’s, why sugar can be destructive, and how to use good bacteria to improve our digestive system. It also includes simple rules to improve your health, such as choosing healthier fruits like berries or melon instead of high-sugar fruits such as pineapple or mangos.

10. Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan
By Dr. William Davis

What started as an anti-gluten and -wheat manifesto by cardiologist William Davis in his original Wheat Belly book has become a worldwide grain-free phenomenon. In Wheat Belly Total Health, the author explains the differences between grains and why and how you should avoid each of them in order to regain full metabolic health and well-being. Wheat and other grains, he contends, are the culprit not only of excess weight but of a laundry list of maladies, including auto-immune diseases. The book provides scientific backing for his claims, as well as first-person testimonials of people who have lost weight and regained their health.

Sandra Bienkowski is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO of TheMediaConcierge.net.


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