Thursday, 28 September 2017

Health & Nutrition: My Must-Have Books

"My experience as a human being changed when I realised that I am what I eat and when I decided to give myself the best chance possible to feel as good as possible."

It's human nature to want the best for ourselves. People fill up their cars with fuel that gives them the best value per mile. We choose the posh bleach that smells good and works better, rather than the value version. Yet, when it comes to food, we are often blinkered to the link between our diet and overall wellbeing as a whole.

Health and nutrition are a big interest of mine, and something I feel passionately about. When I am eating healthily I feel better in every way: not only physically in my digestion, body and skin, I also notice a huge difference in my mood and energy levels. There are so many aspects to nutrition and wellbeing that I find fascinating and want to discuss, but today I thought I'd start at the foundation by sharing some of the resources that have taught me, many which I still refer back to regularly, and have found fascinating in my approach to educating myself in this hugely important area. Ranging from theory-based to recipe-based, I genuinely believe that taking the time to learn from these resources is the most valuable thing I have ever done for my health.


Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart
Written by a former beauty editor, this fascinating book focuses on the link between food and beauty. Ultimately, when our body is nourished and functioning at its best this will show up through our outward appearance, and this book explains how every bite we eat can improve (or detriment) our physical appearance. Split into seasonal sections, it focuses on the beauty benefits of different whole foods, fruits and vegetables appropriate for the four seasons, as well as recommending year-round cupboard essentials and recipes.

Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin
After months of dabbling, umm-ing and ahh-ing, buying this recipe book was arguably the final straw which pushed me to commit to veganism. Aine is matter of fact and not preachy about why she became vegan, and her store cupboard essentials section is fairly sensible and attainable. I love her recipes as they are usually the kind you can make with ingredients you might already find in an average kitchen, and though the majority of her recipes use sugar in extreme moderation she does not forgo it entirely which is great for certain recipes that are just not the same when using substitutions.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz & Sandra Bark
If I could recommend just one of these books to anybody and everybody, this would be the one. An unlikely choice, admittedly, as I'm not interested in celebrity culture by any means but this book is so well written I'd implore you to look past the face on the cover and to focus on the content. There is no magic secret or cheat sheet in this book, criticised for having "no new information" but as an average person I found this book so fascinating because it gives extensive information about exactly what our bodies are comprised of, how our organs work, and the optimum conditions in which we can function healthily on a biological level. Best of all, it's written in a way that I found easy to understand and made me crave to learn more. Understanding exactly why our body needs micro and macronutrients, each individual kind of vitamin, fat, protein, carbohydrate, even water, educated me in a way that school never did and it was this book that made me realise exactly why healthy choices are so vital for our wellbeing. I genuinely think learning from this book changed my life, and I constantly refer back to it.

Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer
This is my newest read of the books featured here, and served to recap lots of information I have learned in the others. Freer is an omnivore, so not all of her suggestions are relatable to me, but I found this an interesting read nonetheless and learnt some new things too. This would be a great book for those looking to lose weight and struggling, or anybody omnivorous.

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward
The Deliciously Ella books are absolute staples in my kitchen, as Ella's whole foods plant based diet is the way we eat the majority of the time. Her recipes are plant based, natural, and free of refined sugar, dairy and gluten. The kitchen essentials section is a little fussier than Aine Carlin's, but for good reason - eating this way has hugely improved Ella's life after she was diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, which essentially breaks down the automatic nervous system. So you won't find anything processed at all in here despite a wide range of recipes that are both sweet and savoury. Even my parents who are omnivores make her black bean chilli amongst other recipes on a regular basis which speaks volumes to me! Ella's dishes are as delicious as they are nutritious and I always look to her books for inspiration.

Honestly Healthy In A Hurry by Natasha Corrett
Natasha's recipes are vegetarian and free of cows' dairy, refined sugar and gluten. I'll admit for this reason the book is less relevant to me now than it was prior to becoming vegan, but the reason I love it is because it addresses ways to eat healthily when you're busy and on-the-go: something I can more than relate to. The concept of food preparation is hardly groundbreaking but nonetheless I find her advice and recipes really helpful. At any rate, the book is worth it alone for the sweet potato and turmeric quinoa risotto.

NutriBullet Life Changing Recipes
On the whole I try and steer clear of anything that is overloaded with sugar, but I love fruit. That's why I love my NutriBullet. I'm pretty anti-juice, as despite originating from fruit the lack of fibre means it can give you a huge sugar spike which isn't good news. The "smoothie" created in a NutriBullet should be comprised of equal amounts of leafy greens and fruit, as well as adding seeds, nuts and/or powders (I love maca and cacao). This formula of course could work in any strong blender, as long as you do not use a juicer so the fibre remains intact. This means you avoid a sugar crash and stay full for a long time. I learnt a lot from this book and it contains many different concoctions for whatever health benefit you are seeking to achieve: the book isn't a must-have, but for me the NutriBullet is.

To be healthy means that you must not only learn how your body works and what it needs to be healthy, but you must also apply that knowledge as consistently as you can towards making the best decisions you can to achieve that health. If you are healthy, you are incredibly lucky, and you must do whatever you can to preserve that health.

My boyfriend once told me that in Japan, instead of having a recommended five fruit and veg a day, they aim to eat up to thirteen portions of vegetables and another four of fruit! While seventeen a day seems a little unattainable, I do think it's not enough to settle for five. The common thread that links these books together is they're all advocates of the fact that there are so many opportunities to eat tasty healthful food throughout the day to feel like the best version of yourself - the types of foods our bodies are designed to eat - the hardest part is avoiding the nutrient-starved, processed food-like substances that don't feed us in any way yet are so widely available. I plan to make this topic into a series so soon I'll get into how to eat this way on a budget as well as chatting about the hideous word "diet" and listing some documentaries that legitimately changed my life. I'd love to hear your recommendations, too.

But before I sign off, I just wanted to note that although these books have all inspired me to treat my body in the best way that I can, I also believe strongly that no human is perfect. Choosing to do what is within your power to live a healthy life is the best way we can invest in ourselves but we never know what's around the corner (especially these days with Donald Trump in charge of nuclear weapons, investing in longevity is seeming a more and more fruitless concept) so when I feel uninspired I try and focus on the way my diet affects me in the here and now: my energy levels, whether I feel good in my body, as living in the present is the most important thing. (Of course if present-you really wants some chocolate or a glass of wine, I suggest you absolutely go for it - just try not to indulge so much that future-you regrets it! Balance is everything, after all...) But these books have taught me that health is not to be taken for granted and we have far more power than we give ourselves credit for to hurt or heal ourselves through our chosen diet. I've loved learning, and hope to continue to do so for a lifetime.

Quoted text from "The Body Book" by Cameron Diaz & Sandra Bark.
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4 comments

  1. I absolutely love this post, and I have this overwhelming urge to read every single one of those books you've recommended. Lately I've been feeling so awful in myself and I do think that a large part of that is down to the way I eat and lack of exercise. You're making me look bad and I don't like it 😹

    www.life-styler.net

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    1. I really recommend them! Girl it's not making you look bad! The point of writing this I suppose is I wanted to share a different perspective - one I'd never ever considered before reading a lot of these - that health is a literal investment and there is such a vast difference between what I used to think of as "Oh I eat healthily" (fruit or veg on the side of a meal, low fat when I can, counting calories, still a lot of processed) and the point I'm at now where I feel super in touch with my body. It's a good feeling, so it's not to be self indulgent, it's more like... seriously, I wish I knew about this before!

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  2. Love these recommendations, I'm always looking for new books about food! I really like the recipes in Deliciously Ella and I'm a huge fan of The Body Book for breaking down the science side of things. Keep It Vegan has been added to my wishlist! xx

    Toasty

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    1. Honestly, I completely recommend both of Aine Carlin's books but the recipes in Keep It Vegan are my favourite. I got it in the Works for £5, too... you can't go wrong! xx

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