Interesting and Inspirational Books and Authors for the New Year: Some Old, Some New

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Detective’s Interesting and Inspirational and Authors for the New Year: Some Old, Some New

Get Smart: Samantha Heller’s Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body (Johns Hopkins University Press) by Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., C.D.

From the publisher: “Heller’s Nutrition Prescription plan considers each person’s habits, budget, and food preferences when making lifestyle recommendations. Raised on white rice and beans? Switch to brown rice instead. Can’t afford fresh Atlantic salmon? Canned salmon will do just as well. Fresh vegetables unavailable at the neighborhood bodega? Frozen are just as nutritious. Heller’s unique, user-friendly approach is based on the most current scientific and medical research, while her food lists, meal plans, substitutions, and recipes are easy to follow.

“Heller links the benefits of good nutrition to healthy brain functioning, explaining how readers can improve memory, focus, mood, mental clarity, heart health, psychological well-being, and energy levels ­ all through a healthy diet and regular exercise.”

Comments: This is a creative and inspirational guide to eating better.

About the author: Samantha Heller is a dynamo. She loves nutrition education, her voice is powerful and she and has a thorough understanding of the topics she discusses.


The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer Calories (Quill, 2000) by Barbara Rolls, Ph.D. and Robert A. Barnett

From the publisher: “Emphasizing the difference between high-energy-dense foods (including pretzels and other low-fat snack foods that are easy to overeat) and low-energy-dense foods (like fruits and vegetables, soups and smoothies, which have a higher water content), Rolls and Barnett show readers how to increase food volume without adding calories. This is the core concept in a book that offers a systematic new approach to weight control based on the science of satiety, the study of hunger, and its satisfaction. Effective and easy, here, at last, is a real lifetime approach to eating healthy fully!”

Comments: This is really a classic. And what a fabulous concept. Eat low-calorie foods in volume and be full for life. It works; just try it.

About the author: Dr. Barbara Rolls is a nutrition researcher from Pennsylvania State University and an outstanding authority on nutrition and dieting. Her research focus is on how to eat filling foods and stay full.


The Diet Detective’s All-American Diet: Lose Weight with the Foods You Already Love to Eat from Your Favorite Supermarket and Restaurant Choices (Rodale, 2011) by Charles Platkin

From the publisher: “Significantly less expensive, more accessible, and infinitely more practical than convenience eating programs like Jenny Craig or NutriSystem, The Diet Detective’s All-American Diet operates according to the same proven principles of portion control, behavior change, and proper nutrition for effective weight loss. The book gives readers a mix-and-match, Build-a-Meal program that shows them how to pick their breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack from lists of thousands of popular brand-name foods available anywhere. It’s that simple: Readers can simply go to the supermarket and start shedding pounds.”

Comments: Yes, I wrote it, but I really love this concept for people who are having trouble losing weight and are confused by all the mixed nutrition concepts out there. Show More

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About the author: I’m a syndicated columnist, nutrition advocate and assistant professor at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City.


Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time (Plume, 2010) by Bonnie Taub-Dix

From the publisher: “The whole foods movement explained how to shop healthfully at the farmers market, but how can families shop smart at Walmart? There is a wealth of information on labels, but most people have no idea that products labeled ‘trans-fat free’ can contain trans-fats or that ‘all natural’ is a meaningless phrase. Readers can bring this handy guide to the supermarket to help them interpret labels like a pro. How much sodium is too much? Are all carbs the kiss of death? And what does ‘organic’ really mean? Renowned nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix clears up the confusion by showing readers how to make sense of the labels and sidestep tricky marketing ploys. She walks them through a typical grocery store and points out the best food choices to make in every aisle.”

Comment: This book is just like having a nutritionist take you by the hand and shop at the supermarket with you.

About the author: For 30 years Bonnie has been practicing, writing and speaking about nutrition topics. She gets it!


The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health (BenBella Books, 2006) by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell II , Howard Lyman and John Robbins

From the publisher: “In The China Study, Dr. Campbell details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also its ability to reduce or reverse the risk or effects of these deadly illnesses. The China Study also examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by powerful lobbies, government entities, and irresponsible scientists.”

Comments: This book is responsible for the birth of the modern-day vegan. The information is incredibly compelling. Read my interview with Dr. Campbell here:

About the authors: Dr. T. Colin Campbell received his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Cornell and served as a research associate at MIT. He spent 10 years on the faculty of Virginia Tech’s Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition before returning to the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell in 1975 where he presently holds his Endowed Chair (now Emeritus). Thomas Campbell (T. Colin Campbell’s son) is now a student at the University of Buffalo Medical School. He plans to practice medicine according to the philosophy presented in The China Study.


In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (Penguin, 2009) by Michael Pollan

From the publisher: “In Defense of Food shows us how to change it (the American way of eating), one meal at a time. Pollan proposes a new answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.”

Comments: A great interesting read. Mr. Pollan really understands food and food policy.

About the author: Pollan is a professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and is considered one of the top food journalists in the country.

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