Wellness Book Reviews

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Finding Yourself in the Kitchen, Dana Velden – This reads more like a novel. It has some beautiful recipes, including one for homemade lemon curd. The author writes about her experience with the meditative qualities of being in the kitchen. Which I think we can all relate to. This is less about healthy vs. non-healthy food, and more about how to nurture your soul… which I’d say is the best kind of wellness.

The Ayurveda Way, Ananta Ripa Ajmera – I love this book. It is a friendly introduction to Ayurveda (traditional medicine that has been used for health and longevity for thousands of years). She has it nicely broken up into easily digested (!) sections. It includes Ayurveda practices (tongue scraping, yoga, etc.) as well as wholesome, enlightening recipes (see Spiced Milk, for example). I highly recommend this book; you will find at least one or two things that you want to incorporate into your daily practices here.

The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, Vasant LAD – If you find yourself wanting to know more after reading The Ayurveda Way, pick up this book. It truly is the complete guide to Ayurvedic medicine. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know. It has helpful food charts, references on ailments, food, yoga poses, and herbal remedies.

The Collagen Diet, Josh Axe – I am pretty conflicted with this one. I got this as a freebie in one of my grocery boxes. I was already skeptical, because Dr. Axe is quite the marketer, and I know he’s always got something to sell. Collagen has been a hot topic for several years. I was happy to have an easy-to-read book on the topic. I was certainly convinced to start drinking bone broth after reading it. Where he lost me was his meal plan and recipes. He offers a 28 day collagen diet, starting with a 3 day liquid cleanse. I hesitate any time there is a “cleanse”. I think if you’re concerned about having unwanted yuckiness in your body, then you should figure out how to incorporate gentle daily or weekly detoxing, so you don’t have to suddenly tax your body with a 3-day liquid fast. Try drinking ginger tea, or preparing dandelion greens, for example. That should be enough to keep your liver happy without feeling deprived.

The second part I was iffy on was his recipes – while the recipes were not bad in concept, there was a lot of usage of collagen and bone broth powders in the recipes. I think any time you add powdered food into your diet (especially if you’re doing it on the daily), that is An Issue. I believe in being connected to food – once you mill it up, pop it into a colorful plastic tub, and market it as a pricey supplement to add to your smoothie… I’m suspicious. It is no longer food at that point.

Bone broth in and of itself is a ritual – it is comforting and healing. So if you’re going to bring bone broth into your diet, I think you should either buy the legit thing, or make it yourself. I am not convinced that powdered versions are easily digested, or absorbed. I also wonder how your liver and kidneys feel about processing that stuff. The book is fine, I wouldn’t recommend the meal plan. You can be more innovative with your diet than this book is.

It Starts With Food, Dallas Hartwig & Melissa Hartwig – This (now ex) husband and wife are the same pair that came up with the Whole 30 diet. I loved this book when I got it. Obsessed over it, really. I did the Whole 30 diet. And wow does your body feel different when there is zero sugar in your system for 30 days! That is a powerful thing to recognize.

Whole 30 is a thirty day plan that feels very much like a combination of a Paleo diet and an AIP diet. You work food back into your diet after the 30 days… sort of like using your body as your own personal science experiment. The idea is to see what foods you are sensitive to. I don’t think I was successful in that regard. But it was successful in giving me a food complex – I definitely felt like if I ate one bite of something “out of bounds”, that I was ruining my body – how awful it is to feel like that!

I went without beans and legumes for thirty days – then I ate some black beans and was doubled over in pain for a day. But after that day, I could eat beans and legumes (still can) with no issues. So that led me to believe that cutting out starches, beans, and grains is actually harder on your body than you realize (celiac disease, etc. excluded).

The beauty about this book? I learned how to cook healthy, easy meals. Following the plan was LABORIOUS, big time. But after the 30 day stint was done, I felt like I actually learned how to cook/prepare foods better than I did beforehand. So there’s that.

If you have a tendency towards obsessions, addictions, or self-punishment… I would approach this book cautiously. It really makes you label foods as “good” and “bad” – and I think that’s harmful in so many ways.

The Happiness Diet, Tyler Graham & Drew Ramsey – A book about food and brain health. This one is really well done. I love that they include 100 reasons to not take supplements. They’re really sticking it to The Man there, and I can get behind that. The emphasis here is on having a healthy brain, good energy, and balanced mood. There is a meal plan, and really great recipes. But unlike some other meal plans in wellness books – this one prefaces it by saying “Remember, these menus are here to help, not overwhelm”. They encourage mixing and matching, and starting gently (swapping out one meal per day, for instance). It’s less of a militant approach, and more of an achievable approach – which will almost guarantee that you’re able to find success with this book.

Eat Better Live Longer, Dr. Sarah Brewer & Juliette Kellow – This book is divided into sections including ailments and foods. It is a great resource, with a friendly approach. I would recommend this book to any curious foodie or wellness nut (I might be both).

True Food, Annie Bond, Melissa Breyer, & Wendy Gordon – This is a book from National Geographic – it is really a wealthy resource on food. It talks about how to eat food that is best for you and the environment. Win – win!


I’ve gone through these books because I love thinking about food and my body, and the relationship to the world around us. I am a curious foodie. When you read these books (or other wellness books) – remember that a gentle approach is always the best approach. Do not use food as punishment. No food is bad. And if you eat something outside of a “diet”, you will not be harmed. Life is too wonderful to think that way.

Food is awesome. It connects us to the Earth, to ourselves, to each other, and to the sparkly skies above. Don’t use it as a weapon, and don’t make too big a deal out of it. Be lighthearted in your approach. Be healthy, not punishing.

Remember! You are already perfect. And all food gives us energy.

xoxo

Be healthy, not punishing.

Published by Needs More Lemon

I have a great desire to bring the ordinary to life. I think life is at once more beautiful, and more simple, than we have been taught to believe.

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