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From cookbooks to books on healthy eating, there’s a nutrition book for every kind of eater.
When it comes to choosing a nutrition book that’s right for you, there’s a lot to consider. After all, you’ll want something that’s written by a reliable source, educates you in an interesting way, and meets you where you’re at nutritionally. So, we tapped experts in the field of dietetics to share their go-to, best nutrition books they recommend to clients to get them started with better health.
Some nutrition books are information-focused and act as a guide to allow you to implement changes on your own. If you’re looking for one of these, ask yourself if the book you’ve picked up will truly help you learn, suggests Angel Planells, M.S., R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. His favorite picks (more on that below) are ones that do just that and make you want to dive deeper and learn more.
Other nutrition books on our list also double as a cookbook to start you on a nutritious path with recipes. Be sure to flip through the recipes before purchasing to ensure you like how they’re laid out, they’re easy to follow, and they’re customizable, Planells suggests. And if you’re worried about not finding the motivation to pick up the book, aim for something well-written, with enticing photos and recipes that take you on a culinary journey, like a book focused on Mediterranean or Indian cuisine, he adds.
As you begin your journey, you should also note that nutrition books don’t necessarily overlap with weight loss books—they focus more on different aspects of nutrition, like nutrition for specific conditions such as diabetes, or your relationship with food, says Abby Langer, R.D., a Toronto-based registered dietitian and author of Good Food, Bad Diet. She typically avoids any books that don’t feel sustainable, offer quick-fix solutions for weight loss, or anything that is overly restrictive.
For those who feel defeated by every diet out there, this book, written by two registered dietitians, is the best starting point for approaching nutrition from an anti-diet perspective. We love this book for those that want to focus on healing their relationship with food, while honoring nutrition through very specific steps and reflections.
“This is a great book for those that may not have the best relationship with food and/or have experienced a frequent cycle of chronic dieting,” says Andrea Mathis, M.A., R.D.N., L.D., an Alabama-based registered dietitian and author of The Complete Book of Smoothies “This book focuses on building a healthy body image, making peace with food, and learning how to respect your body at any age, weight, or stage of development.”
Research has shown that the MIND diet, a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, can be incredibly effective in reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. For those looking to learn about the approach and how to incorporate this brain-boosting diet into their life, Planells recommends The MIND Diet by registered dietitian Maggie Moon, M.S., R.D. Plus, once you understand how the diet works, Moon includes easy-to-follow recipes, like tango fish tacos, sweet potato lentil soup, and banana chocolate cookies to help get you started and begin to incorporate the nutrition into your daily life.
For insulin-dependent diabetics looking to make healthy choices and manage blood sugar through diabetes cookbooks, Planells suggests Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook by registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Lori Zanini, R.D., C.D.E. Readers will learn detailed nutritional information to make healthful decisions when building meals, without ever giving up the flavors and foods they love. Plus, this book is especially great for visual learners because Zanini includes icons that show which macro particular foods represent, making diabetes management as delicious and easy as ever.
Nutrition isn’t always just about dropping pounds or the number on the scale. Fueling your body adequately, especially as an athlete, is incredibly important to reaching your goals and keeping your body nourished. That’s why Rachael Hartley, R.D., L.D., a certified intuitive eating counselor and author of Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Healthy Eating recommends this book. Because every body requires different nutrients based on factors like your age, goals, and activity levels, each page helps athletes determine their specific requirements with calculations, explanations, and advice specific to them.
“Googling information about nutrition rarely goes well, and that’s especially true in the case of nutrition for athletes,” says Hartley. “The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition by Anita Bean is a fantastic resource for athletes and active people who are looking to use nutrition to improve their performance.” And for kiddos who like to hit the soccer field, Planells recommends Fueling Young Athletes.
For those looking to rid their guilt around food and drop pounds for good with real food, Langer shouts out her own book, which is far from a classic diet book. “It teaches you the why behind your food choices, so you can heal your relationship with food and your body and stop dieting forever,” she says. Unlike other nutrition books that simply tell you how to eat, Langer breaks down your personal roadblocks so you can stop dieting for good and feel empowered to make more healthful decisions.
For a no-nonsense approach to science-backed nutrition, Planells suggests going straight to the source with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. The fifth edition of this gold-standard guide to nutrition is the “everything you need to know” resource on kickstarting your health journey and eating a nutritious diet. Each page includes the latest nutritional research while allowing for personalization and a broad look at the nutrition industry.
Hartley is so passionate about a non-diet approach to nutrition, she even wrote a book about it. For those looking to finally get healthy instead of just hitting a number on the scale, this one’s for you. Especially for those who loved the first book on our list, Intuitive Eating, but don’t know where to start, Hartley offers 50 delicious recipes to kickstart your journey to a healthier you. Plus, strategies and tips to keeping your new nutrition a long-term lifestyle.
“Most nutrition books are centered around the idea of weight loss being the goal. Gentle Nutrition is different in that it explores the role of nutrition in intuitive eating,” Hartley says. “It teaches readers how to have a healthy relationship with food and take care of their body without trying to change its shape or size.”
Planells loves How to Eat to Beat Disease Cookbook by registered dietitian Ginger Hultin, M.S., R.D., to learn how to use nutrition to tap into your body’s natural defenses. For those specifically interested in using your body’s biology to fight disease and make you your healthiest self, this book teaches how to maximize the health benefits of every meal you make and includes a 14-day meal plan to get started.