Gretchen Rubin

Are you looking for reading recommendations to help you eat more healthfully?

Are you looking for reading recommendations to help you eat more healthfully?

One of the most common goals that people express – in fact, it’s THE all-time most popular goal, according to the fabulous goal-recording site, 43 Things -- is the goal of losing weight. (The goal to “be happy” is number five! But I imagine that most people want to lose weight because they think it will make them happy.)

And even people who don’t want to lose weight often want to eat more healthfully.

I think these three books are outstanding – fascinating, full of useful information and advice, and well-written.

After I read these books, I started eating more appropriate portions, feeling fuller because I was eating MORE filling food (but less of the unsatisfying food, e.g., pretzels), and eating mindfully. Without “dieting” (which I refuse to do), I cut calories.

Zoikes, I sound like an advertisement.

I don’t always follow this advice (my downfall is “fake food”), but it has made a difference. So, for inspiration, and in this order, I recommend:

  1. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think – Brian Wansink. How various factors lead us to eat without noticing -- light in a restaurant, portion size, whether we're pouring from a big box of cereal or a little box, convenience etc. Tons of fascinating information about human behavior.
  2. Volumetrics: Feel Full on Fewer Calories – Barbara Rolls and Robert Barnett. How to make food choices that mean that you eat a lot and feel full and satisfied, instead of choices for the same calories that leave you feeling hungry and like you haven't eaten much. E.g., eat a big bunch of grapes instead of a few raisins. Surprisingly obvious and sensible, when you think about it.
  3. The Portion Teller: Smartsize Your Way to Permanent Weight Loss – Lisa Young. How to think about portion size to get control of what you're eating without realizing it.

These books sound like “diet” books, but they’re really about making healthier choices, on a permanent basis, whether or not you care about watching your calories. But it turns out that when you eat more healthfully, you tend to consume fewer calories.

Folks with a Buddhist outlook will like these books, because they focus on eating mindfully -- choosing food mindfully, eating mindfully, eating in a way that allows you not to obsess about food.

I also recommend Michael Pollan’s terrific New York Times Magazine article, Unhappy Meals, where he wrote memorably, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

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