There is an absolute minefield of nutrition books, DVDs and more, with claims ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. So as a little guide, I have made a list of useful information available in a variety of different forms of media, written by qualified dietitians, doctors or well respected academic nutritionists. Please do comment below with any more books that you have found useful; this information needs to be shared!
The World is Fat by Barry Popkin
I read this book because a lecturer during my nutrition MSc recommended it. I raced through it; a great distraction during long commutes into uni. Barry Popkin, an eminent obesity researcher in the US, does a wonderful job of fusing nutrition with economy, translating it into something that the general public can understand. Popkin is credited with introducing the ‘nutrition transition,’ a theory referring to the changes in diet in the Western world from high-fibre diets to those based on more processed foods containing more fat and sugar. Furthermore, Popkin attributes much of the rise in obesity rates to people being physically inactive more than was previously the case. These theories about the global spread of obesity are explored in the book. Well worth a read for anyone interested in obesity at a population as well as individual level.
The rather punchy front cover of ‘The World is Fat’ by Barry Popkin
Carb and Cals by Chris Cheyette and Yello Balolia
This book was originally written for diabetics; it contains over 17,000 photos of foods we regularly eat, detailing their carbohydrate and calorie content. The newer version also protein and fat content added in. This book is incredibly handy for those who want to watch what they eat without spending ages looking up the calorie content of foods. You can even get it in a handy pocket size. Ideal.
Mindfulness Meditation by Professor Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman
Over Christmas 2013, I was lucky enough to visit Myanmar with my family for three weeks. It is such a beautiful country, the people seem happy and relaxed, the food was unbelievably delicious. I found the Buddhist approach really interesting, and was inspired to take up meditation. Mindfulness Meditation is a non-sectarian form of meditation which promotes awareness of the present. Its founding father and co-author of this book, Mark Williams, is a professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University. Mindfulness meditation has gained much interest from the medical profession; it is currently promoted by the Mental Health Foundation and National Institute of Clinical Excellence for treatment of people who are currently well but experienced three or more previous periods of depression. This approach is very much in it’s infancy in the nutrition and dietetics fields, but it certainly helped me get through my exams!
Heart Matters from the British Heart Foundation
I stumbled across this beauty in a waiting room in a hospital, and thought I’d just pick it up for a quick flick through, mainly because it was the only alternative to OK! and I have close to zero interest in following celebrity gossip. It is an absolutely fabulous magazine; it has a whole section on some of the truth behind the headlines, explores some ‘hot topics’ like popular diets or foods and even has recipes. And whats more… its free!
Couch 2 5k from NHS choices
As a non-sporty person, I took up running 100% because of this app. It guides you through three runs per week, each starting and finishing with a 5 minute cool down walk. From a standing start, it attempts to get you running 5k in 9 weeks. I say ‘attempts,’ not because the app isn’t inspiring (it really is!) but because just downloading the app isn’t enough… You have to actually follow it!
The British Heart Foundation Recipe Finder
Having a recipe app on your phone is unbelievably useful. You stumble into a supermarket on the way home from work, knowing you have some onions and a bag of spinach which needs using up and wanting to pick up a few bits to spice up supper. Having a handy app can help give you inspiration for using up what you already have. You can search by main ingredient, condition, dietary requirement, meal or cuisine. You can even create your own shopping lists. And just like the BHF’s great little magazine, it is also free. Ideal.
My Fitness Pal
This app is pretty handy if you want to really keep tabs on your diet. You can enter the foods you have eaten for the day, and it approximates your calorie intake, you can track your exercise and weight loss progress. Its pretty user friendly. There is some suggestion that close monitoring of your food intake and weight change is important for weight management, and this app allows you to do that from your pocket.
Map My Run
After completing the Couch 2 5K plan from NHS choices, I really felt I needed to get a running app which tracked my ongoing progress. Completing the plan was a great feeling, but it is the start of a new beginning. This app allows you to map out routes, follow previous routes and even has voice coaching. To me, this feature is really important because it tells you every time you have reached a particular milestone. If I am going on a longer, steady run I set the voice coaching to a 1K distance, but if I want to mix things up a bit and go for interval training, I set voice coaching to every minute.