Updated: Jul 6
If education is your business, you never stop learning. Most people in my field are constantly trying to assimilate the research and data as quickly as it comes out, which can be exhausting. And sometimes confusing. But lots of fun.
Right now, I subscribe to the following publications:
I feel like these journals keep me savvy on current research that would affect my clients the most. They are how I keep up to date and I love getting to read them.
But. Books. Oh, books. I adore them. Kindle and iBooks will suffice, but I really love opening a brand new real book, feeling the pages, smelling the paper, and making notes and highlights. There are few things better, in my...book.
If you are looking to further your knowledge on nutrition, consider reading some of the following books. I think these are some of the most valuable books I have read to date. It probably helps that they were some of the first books I read regarding this field!
1) Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (Weston A Price)
This is the classic tome for the WAP peeps. I ordered it when I was exactly 24 years old, after the birth of my second baby. A dear friend was visiting and was telling me about
A Good Way to Eat:
"Yeah, I know," I said. "I need to be a vegan. I just can't do it. I'm hungry."
She looked at me, eyebrows raised.
"Actually," she said. "Meat is good for you. Red meat. And dairy. And fat."
"Reeeeeally?", said I.
And I was hooked. I read through the book in a few days, during naps and feeding sessions.
It all made so much sense to me. The book is written by Dr. Weston A Price, a dentist practicing in the 1930s. He wondered why Americans were getting so unhealthy (!) and decided to study people groups all over the world, firsthand, to see what commonalities healthy cultures shared.
He was interested in the teeth, of course. He had observed in his patients ever-increasing rates of narrowed dental palates, which crowded out teeth. He noticed an steady uptick in cavities, especially in children. He realized that, interestingly, many of his patients with poor dental health also had poor mental and emotional health.
He set out to visit the four corners of the earth and found the following: all people groups who enjoyed robust health ate animal products. They prioritized giving good food to their children, pregnant women, and babies. They ate organs and animal fat, and gave the low fat muscle meat (boneless, skinless chicken breast, my loves!) to their pets, or threw it away. Some ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, if their longitude and latitude allowed for it. Some ate none at all. And all of their teeth looked niiiiiice. Obesity, cancer, heart disease, mental disorders, and infertility were quite rare, or absent completely.
What was missing from their diets?
Jams and Jellies.
White flour products.
Once "white man's diet" was introduced, Price noticed the "diseases of civilization" start to set in. Without sugar, he would be out of a job.
He made it his mission to teach his findings to as many people as possible. His last words were "You teach, you teach, you teach."
This book sparked my obsession with the fact that what we put into the body undeniably affects our health.
2) Nourishing Traditions (Sally Fallon/ Mary Enig)
First you read the Dr. Price. Then you read the Sally Fallon. This is just how it goes as you venture down the nourishing and traditional food path.
These crazies were talking about kombucha before the we had kombucha on tap at Whole Foods or GT Dave's at Walmart. They were advocating a high fat diet before keto was even slang for "I don't eat carbs, thank you very much."
This area of nutrition is solid and fad-proof, because the research goes so far back and is spread so wide- with real humans, not rats or rhesus monkeys. If you are looking for health and not a temporarily smaller jean size, these books are for you.
What is real health? Health is not thinness. It is hormonal soundness. It is deep sleep. It is a sound mind, every day of the month. It is plenty of energy to get through the day. It is knowing your body well enough to stand against the fickle winds of diet fads.
I love this book not for the recipes. The recipes can be kind of gross and very involved. But surely, you will find a few gems for your family. I especially love the enchiladas made with coconut milk and plenty of other good fats.
The true gem inside this book lies with the margin stories of why traditional cultures eat the way they do, and how it affects them. I used to read this book every New Years Day, but now my life is too hectic.
Read it like a novel, snippets at a time, to really...digest the information.
For my clients who want more than just being told what to do, I recommend this book.
The very back of the book has recipes for babies and children. When my babies were born, I couldn't make enough milk to feed them. I was damned determined that they would get as much breastmilk as possible, so I used a supplemental nursing system every time they ate. Into the reservoir of the SNS went my homemade baby formula. (Yes, I used to be that mom. I'm 'pologize.)
But really. If you don't want to give your kid formula (no judgment if you do!), check out the recipe in the back of the book. I used to know it by heart.
3). Deep Nutrition- Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (Catherine Shanahan)
How I love this book. Dr. Shanahan is a student of the human body, and almost poetic with her illustrations of how foods affect life.
Originally published in 2008, Dr. Shanahan was already talking about how she would drink a cup of coffee with a ridiculous amount of heavy whipping cream in it each morning, and not be hungry until dinner.
She was intermittent fasting before intermittent fasting was the #1 Google health topic search.
She didn't make a big deal out of it though, because she knew that while the weight balance was nice, she was giving her body nourishing, delicious, traditional foods that people have been eating for thousands of years, all while enjoying relatively robust health. (There are outliers, of course).
Man. Now you've got me all excited to re-read this book.
All three of these books are quite grounding in a sea of dietary confusion. They are not anecdotal. They don't focus on "before" and "after" pictures, unless you mean these:
Financial advisors get this question: "What do you think of Bitcoin?"
FDNs get this question: "What do you think of intermittent fasting and keto?"
I think the same thing about IF/keto as my husband thinks about Bitcoin.
No, just kidding.
Hear me. Those things have their place. People do need to reduce sugar. We all need to reduce sugar. And polyunsaturated fats. These are bad.
Insulin drives fat storage.
Intermittent fasting or zero carb, high fat meals means no glucose is available for the body.
No glucose available for the body means no insulin release.
No insulin release means less insulin resistance.
Less insulin resistance means less fat stored.
In that vein, intermittent fasting and less simple carbohydrates are a good thing. Reduce insulin. Reduce fat storage. Yay!
Just don't keep your dietary dogma at the expense of your hormonal health. If you need carbs one day, eat them. Your keto community won't exonerate you. And if they do, find a new community. Know why you are doing what you are doing. Don't adopt a dietary plan because some 25 year old with washboard abs tells you that is what worked for him. Besides, there are degrees of working.
Do you have energy?
Are your periods normal?
Is your weight normalizing? (Like, legit. Not diet culture skinny.)
Are you keeping your muscle?
Do you want to get it on with your husband?
Can you be in a normal social situation without freaking out about your diet?
Are you sleeping well?
Do you have balanced moods?
Is your digestion working well?
Are you peeing normally and not excessively?
If so, get on with your bad self. IF as much as you want. Go carnivore. Just make sure you are doing these things for the right reasons- health, not thinness. A stable body weight is a secondary benefit of internal health. Pursue that first.
That is why I love these books. They seek to inform, not to set a new diet gospel. Well, crap, perhaps there is a little of that in the WAP Foundation, but look past it to see their intentions. Education, health, and nourishment are the keys to this area of the nutrition world. It's what I started with and it is what I continue to see as beneficial, 11 years later. It's what I hold valuable in my practice, and it's what I hold as paramount as I teach my clients about nutrition.
Will you read them? What do you think?
To your (actual, long-term) health,