As much as I love bargains and writing about them, in my other life I’m a registered dietitian and thrive on helping people understand that deprivation does not equal healthy eating. If you’re striving to lose weight or just eat healthier in this new year, you need to know that eating a wide variety of foods throughout the day is your key.
January brings with it double the TV and radio ads for various companies telling your their food is what you need to lose weight. And of course, their food comes at a hefty price. I did the math: Depending on which diet plan you choose and which specific foods you buy, you could pay anywhere from $300 to $700 per month. Plus, if you have a family, not only are you paying for and preparing this special diet food, you’re also still buying groceries and cooking meals for the rest of the family. Not much of a bargain there.
Luckily, those diet plans aren’t the only game in town. There are countless diet books on the market. You could spend a pretty penny at the bookstore, too, if you decide to check out each and every one. Fortunately you’ve got me, with a direct line to some of the best registered dietitians in the country. I’ve chatted it up with them a bit to come up with a list of the most helpful healthy eating books. They run the gamut from cookbooks to guidebooks, as well books for athletes, vegetarians and much more.
Check out the descriptions below to find the book that fits your lifestyle best:
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to 200-300-400 Calorie Meals: This book is full of almost 300 delicious recipes that are full of real, whole foods — not a bunch of chemical-laced, fat-free and sugar-free ingredients that some other popular “diet” cookbooks offer. You’ll also find a simple nutrition primer on healthy eating, as well as two-week meal plans at three different calorie levels using many of the book’s recipes. But the best part is that with this book, my cousin, Michele Cruz, was able to succeed in losing more than 150 pounds. In the beginning, she learned from the book’s recipes and tools. Eventually, she began exercising and applying the techniques she learned in the book to other recipes. Now, healthy eating and being active is just a part of her life and she couldn’t be happier. (Full disclosure: This is my latest book.)
- The Small Change Diet: This diet isn’t about creating unrealistic, unsustainable rules — such as calorie counting, restricting choices, or eliminating entire food groups. It is based on 10 small changes that will help you turn smarts habits into second nature, one step at a time. And one of the best parts is that you decide what to focus on first and when you are ready to move on. The end result is a lifetime of good health.
- The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty! The book offers insight into which veggies can help accomplish which goals — like veggies that are better than wrinkle cream, veggies that reduce stress, reduce bloating or aid in quick weight loss. The book also includes a great 10-day jump-start plan for weight loss, belly de-bloating and toxin flushing.
- Southern Living Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating well and living healthy can be difficult in the land of biscuits and bacon. This book includes more than 100 amazing Southern Living recipes, from breakfast to dessert. It proves you can enjoy fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese and mile-high pie without the guilt or the extra pounds. Southern and healthy? You bet your biscuits!
- The Plant-Powered Diet: This book provides a blueprint for following a whole foods, plant-based diet, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. Diets based on whole plant foods have been linked with multiple health benefits, including achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and lower risk of diseases, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.
- The Teen Eating Manifesto: The 10 Essential Steps for Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy: Perhaps your goal is to help a family member become healthier. This is a guide for teens who want to learn how to eat healthy, lose weight and look and feel great. Whether in high school or college, living at home or in a dorm, this book teaches how to eat well and manage weight in any situation. Plus the book includes practical tools, including sample meal plans, exercise advice, cooking tips, recipes, a grocery list and a one-week menu.
- Death of the Diet: This is a healthy lifestyle book. If you’ve had enough of the crash-diet roller coaster, Death of the Diet will empower you to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting, get permanent fitness results and live the life you want — and deserve. The book includes more than a dozen activities and assessments and hundreds of tips, and coaches you step-by-step through the process of first envisioning and then crafting a set of sustainable eating and physical activity habits that are tailored to your preferences and your real life, because you designed them.
- When to Eat What: This is another of my books, but it’s probably my favorite so I had to include it. Lots of books tell you what to eat in a perfect world — but what about when you oversleep, are going to a party, work out at meal time, or countless other curve balls life throws us? This book helps you eat healthier and lose weight in the real world with all the challenges real life brings.
- Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook: This will help you learn to lose weight while maintaining energy for exercise. Both fitness exercisers and athletes can find the practical help they want to lose undesired body fat, eat healthfully and manage food despite a busy lifestyle.
- Lose It For the Last Time: A step-by-step proven strategy for losing weight and keeping it off, teaching you the tools and techniques for making small changes in your eating behaviors and lifestyle that lead to permanent weight loss. Learn how to make healthy decisions that replace unhealthy habits and reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Bottom line, all of these books are filled with practical tips, advice and more for how to eat real food, be healthy, and lose weight, if that’s your goal. Plus, no cooking separate meals for you and your family. The whole household can eat and enjoy the same meals, so no need to spend twice as much on food. And even better, these books average out at $13 each, with the most expensive costing $17.