Hi everyone. Sorry for all the silence around here lately. It is officially crunch time for my Royal College studying (are you sick of hearing about that exam yet?? You should be. I am rather sick of talking about it). I write the first half in 4 weeks (cue the palpitations… ) which means I won’t be able to post as often as normal. I am apologizing in advance! Please forgive me.
I am breaking away from the usual recipes today to share a different kind of health related post. This one is all about books. Health and food related books to be exact. It’s no secret that I like to read. A lot. Fiction, non-fiction, humour, mystery, drama, health, nutrition…. there is not a topic that I am not interested in. Ok that might be a lie. Romance. That is a genre I can honestly say has no place on my book shelf. My girly tendencies only go so far.
Over the years I have read many books related to health, food and wellness. Some of which have been instrumental to my healing journey, others which I thought were total bogus or not very helpful. And if you are just starting on your real food or health journey I know it can be overwhelming trying to find quality resources. So I wanted to weed through some of the junk out there and share the books that I think you might be interested in. And I am always looking for more reading material, so if you think I have missed an important resource please let me know!
*** Disclaimer: You can purchase any of these books by clicking on the link provided with each book title. You will be taken directly to the Amazon website. If you do purchase anything through the links in this post I will get a small portion of the cost which helps me keep this blog running, and which I thank you for! Note that the prices are the same as they normally are on Amazon.
This is the book that started it all for me. After having only minimal results by going gluten and dairy free, the health care practitioner I was seeing suggested I try the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Now I had never heard of this diet but this book explains it all. The diet was originally created for patients with inflammatory bowel disease but has since been adopted for many other health conditions. And while this isn’t necessarily a “paleo” book, the diet is very similar. The one major exception is that the SCD diet allows some forms of dairy. I owe the start of my healing journey to this book, and highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to start a real food diet. This is where I first learned about the healing powers of bone broth, the importance of the gut microbiome and is how I started to think of food as a form of medicine.
This was the second book I came across on my healing journey. I had heard about the Weston A Price Foundation through various channels and wanted to learn more about the man who started this movement. Weston A Price was a dentist who travelled the world looking at traditional cultures, their dietary practices, and how the implementation of a “modern, white man’s diet” changed their dentition and overall health. And what he found was dramatic. In the span of just one generation, the detrimental health impacts of refined sugars, white flour and processed ingredients completely changed not only the dental health of these people, but their overall health as well. Obesity, acne, cancers, joint pains… all of these problems appeared with the introduction of modern style foods. One of the criticisms I often hear against the paleo diet is that there is no evidence for it. Well I don’t know if the evidence can get much better than this book. While I realize that this is not a randomized control trial, or formalized study, even the skeptical scientist in me can’t ignore the harsh facts in this extremely through documentation. If you, or anyone you know is skeptical about the paleo or real food diet I would highly recommend reading this book.
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (also known as the GAPS diet) is very similar to the SCD diet. However, this protocol was originally developed for neurological and mental health conditions including autism, depression, ADD, schizophrenia and many more. However, I know many people, including those with autoimmune diseases who have done extremely well with this diet. One of the main differences between this diet and the SCD diet is the greater emphasis on quality meats and ingredients (think grassfed beef, pasture raised pork etc). The full GAPS diet also allows chocolate (hooray!) but does not permit dairy. And you may wonder if you really need to read both this book and the SCD book? Well that depends. The evidence presented in each book is quite different, and if you are one who likes to see the scientific evidence behind things (like myself) then I would recommend reading both. Plus the subtle differences in the two protocols can really be a game changer for some people.
Practical Paleo was one of the first paleo books on the market. Since publishing this book, Dianne Sanfilippo has become an authority in the paleo world, and for very good reason. This book is awesome. It is both a cookbook and a great resource. The recipes are not only delicious but very easy to make. This is usually the first book I recommend to my friends when they ask me for a great paleo resource. The introduction into why eating paleo is a good idea is extremely thorough, and she explains how to actually go about starting this diet. The ingredients you need, the tools you should invest in etc etc. And what you should see as results of the diet (there is even a poop chart to help you monitor your digestive symptoms). There is a reason this is one of the top selling cookbooks on the market (and not just in the paleo world).
This is by far one of my favorite books. I read this last summer and I just inhaled it. I couldn’t get enough. I plan on re-reading it again once my exams are over. It is that good. Now this is not a book oriented to a specific diet or eating style, but what it is is a thorough documentation of how our current food choices have evolved over the last few decades. It is both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. Michael Pollan did an extensive amount of hands on research to write this book, and the things he saw and experienced were rather incredible. He does an amazing job of documenting how the food we are eating today has NOT been guided by evidence related to better health, but instead by corporations and individuals with political influence who have their own best interests at heart. He describes the horrific conditions in which modern animals are raised to produce mass amounts of food at low prices, and how the evolution of a few genetically modified products (namely corn) have allowed this all to happen. Ever since reading this book I have made a conscious effort to boycott any meat or animal products that haven’t been ethically raised. His words are that powerful. I actually shed a tear or two reading this book. So you animal lovers out there have been forewarned. I could rave about this book forever, but the bottom line is that if you are at all interested in where your food is coming from and how it is affecting your health, you need to read this book.
This is one of the newer additions to my library. I got this one as a gift for Christmas and have been reading it ever since. If I had my way I would dedicate a day to read the whole thing in one sitting, but for now a page or two every night will have to do. And while I haven’t quite finished this one yet, I feel confident in recommending it to you. Liz has a no-nonsense way of discussing food and how it relates to your health. Her sense of humour and non-stop jokes also make this extremely easy to read. The book is broken up into various chapters, categorized by food group – fats, protein, carbohydrates – which make it easy to digest (no pun intended) and understand. One of the best chapters is the one on fat, where she outlines why dietary cholesterol is not the enemy, and how the recommendation for eating a low fat diet actually has no scientific backing. After I finish reading this one myself I will definitely be passing it around to my friends and family members!
I have so much respect for Dr. Wahl’s. She is a physician who was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), ended up wheelchair bound, and through her own extensive research developed a protocol of nutrition and supplements that has allowed her to walk again and reverse many of the symptoms of her disease. Talk about will power and determination. She spent countless hours researching the advice that is given in her book, which covers everything from diet, to exercise to the supplements you should be eating. And while the book was written with MS in mind, the lessons in here can be applied to many other autoimmune conditions. This book also goes further into functional medicine than any of the other books that I have recommended. Not familiar with this form of medicine? In brief, it is almost like “personalized medicine” where treatments are based on your bodies biochemical test results. This is a very simplified explanation, but it would take an entire post to explain it properly. The bottom line is that many people who cannot find solutions through conventional medicine often find success using functional medicine principles. Like Dr. Wahls. So again, if you are interested in the science behind why diet and supplements work, this is another great one for you to add to your book collection.
The Books I Can’t Wait to Read
Below are some of the books I have waiting for me on my nightstand when I finish my Royal College Exams. These all come highly recommended from both friends and other paleo bloggers who I reached out to for reading advice.
Are there any other books you would have added to my list? Please feel free to share your suggestions!