When some people struggle with a new diet, they turn to a book. Diet books and cookbooks can kickstart a journey toward health, especially ones written by respectable doctors, chefs, and dietitians. But which ones are reliable?
These are the health books that registered dietitians and nutritionists have recommended. From plant-based diets to rainbow meals to self-grown dishes, there are many science-backed books to choose from. Some are short and funny, while others are longer and more serious. Check out these dietitians and nutritionists’ favorite health and diet books.
Cravings By Chrissy Teigen
Celebrity chef and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen has a funny and helpful cookbook, Cravings. This critically acclaimed cookbook focuses on “clean” eating with a wide variety of meals. It was so popular that she wrote a sequel, Cravings: Hungry for More.
Registered dietitian Abbey Sharp says that she loves the book’s healthy recipes that aren’t centered on “diet food”. Instead of emphasizing weight loss or health conditions, Cravings concentrates on having fun without even noticing that your meals are healthy.
The Rainbow Diet By Dr. Deanna Minich
For years, nutritionists have encouraged people to “eat the rainbow” in terms of fresh fruit and vegetables. According to nutritional biochemist Dr. Libby Weaver, brightly-colored produce contains antioxidants called phytochemicals that benefit your body in unique ways. The Rainbow Diet, by nutrition and health expert Dr. Deanna Minich, covers these benefits.
The Rainbow Diet goes beyond the subject of “whole foods are good for you.” It explores the health benefits of different foods and how to incorporate them into your diet. If you want a more colorful dinner plate, read this book.
Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow By Shalene Flanagan
Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow was written by Olympic silver medalist and World Marathon gold medalist, Shalene Flanagan. Her co-author, Elyse Kopecky, is a nutrition coach who has guided the runner’s healthy diet for years. Together, they made a cookbook of simple, nourishing meals for athletes and non-athletes alike.
During an interview with Women’s Health, Kopecky said that she does not like restrictive diets. Her goal was to create a flexible cookbook with healthy meals for everyone to make on a budget. Based on the reviews, it seems that she succeeded.
Thug Kitchen 101 By Thug Kitchen
Want a vegan guide and cookbook that is also funny and a blast to read? Then Thug Kitchen 101 is the book for you. “I love the thug-life way it’s written, and [that it] reminds people not to take cooking so seriously and just have fun with their food,” says registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin.
Thug Kitchen is a website and podcast hosted by Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway. It combines comedy with comfort food and plant-based recipes that even people who hate cooking will enjoy.
Oh She Glows Everyday By Angela Liddon
If you need a vegan cookbook, many dietitians recommend Oh She Glows Everyday by Angela Liddon. “This is hands down my favorite cookbook,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Jen Flachbart. “It’s a plant-based cookbook, and even my meat-loving friends have enjoyed the recipes out of it.”
Oh She Glows Everyday offers a variety of recipes for every occasion, focusing on everyday ingredients and appliances. On her YouTube channel, registered dietitian Kristen Yarker says that the book supplies simple recipes for meal planning as well.
Vegetable Literacy By Deborah Madison
Do you like to grow your own vegetables? If so, you may benefit from Vegetable Literacy by chef and food writer Deborah Madison. “Is it a nutrition book? Absolutely. Kind of,” says registered dietitian Sherry Collins. “It’s actually part gardening, part botany, [and] part cookbook.”
Along with providing over 300 recipes, Vegetable Literacy details how to grow vegetables and how to cook them. It also covers edible flowers and herbs. If you want to add more plants to your diet, Vegetable Literacy can help.
The Plant-Based Solution By Dr. Joel K. Kahn
Dr. Joel Kahn is a cardiologist who has promoted plant-based diets for years. Unlike a vegan or vegetarian diet, plant-based diets focus on eating more produce, nuts, and seeds without excluding animal products. The Plant-Based Solution explains how to incorporate more plants into your diet.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, researchers have linked plant-based diets to a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. The Plant-Based Solution discusses this research. “[The book] keeps the focus on the benefits of plant-based living rather than attacking meat-based living,” says registered dietitian Paul Salter.
Food Rules By Michael Pollan
If you’re not a reader, pick up the short and sweet book, Food Rules. Journalist and professor Michael Pollan writes a simple, to-the-point manual on choosing foods wisely. Upon finishing the book, readers can make healthier choices to enhance their meals.
Registered dietitian Lisa Young sums it up best: “Small and simple! Yet to the point.” Food Rules has received raving reviews since it released in 2006, and it inspired a four-part Netflix series by the same name. Before you watch the series, read the book!
Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi By Yotam Ottolenghi
If someone thinks that vegetables are boring, then they haven’t read Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi creates a fresh spin on vegetables, from spicing them up with Moroccan flavors to steaming them in a noodle dish.
“Great for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, it gives vegetables new looks and flavors for anyone looking to increase their vegetable intake,” explains registered dietitian Jen Flachbart. Plus, the pictures are beautiful, and Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi makes a great coffee table book.
Integrative Nutrition By Dr. Joshua Rosenthal
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition teaches health coaches around the world. Its founder, Joshua Rosenthal, focuses on holistic health– exploring all aspects of one’s life to determine the cause of a condition or disease. His book, Integrative Nutrition, analyzes how nutrition impacts holistic health.
Whether or not you’re training with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, this book is eye-opening. It not only covers how diet affects the body, but it also offers simple recipes for anxiety, sleep troubles, weight loss, and more. If you are interested in holistic medicine, check this book out.
Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook By Lori Zanini
People with diabetes and prediabetes may struggle to adjust their diet. Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook by Dr. Michelle May can help. Nutrition coach Alissa Rumsey says that the book offers healthy comfort food that a patient can indulge in while remaining healthy.
Along with recipes, the book also focuses on mindful eating. The technique teaches people to chew slowly and only eat when they’re hungry. In 2012, a study from Ohio State University reported that mindful eating improves symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Check out Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook to learn more.
The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook By Toby Amidor
If you struggle with meal prep, pick up The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook by registered dietitian and nutritionist Toby Amidor. The book details how health experts cook meals for their upcoming week. The process saves money while preventing people from hitting up a drive-thru.
“Toby breaks down the process beautifully and simply,” says Amy Gorin, fellow dietitian and founder of Amy Gorin Nutrition. With over 15 years of experience and three kids to look after, Amidor knows how to meal prep for a busy life. Give it a shot if you feel too busy to cook.
Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix By Mark Bittman
If you want a cookbook that doesn’t highlight the health stuff, check out Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix. Mark Bittman has written New York Times food columns for over five years, and his experience as a food journalist lead him to some amazing recipes.
Although the book doesn’t focus on health, certified sports dietitian Edwina Clark says that it emphasizes whole foods. From easy potato dishes to pasta primavera, it can guide beginners to prepare more meals at home. Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix offers over 700 recipes for any diet plan.
The Inside Tract By Dr. Gerard Mullin and Kathie Swift
If you’re one of the 60 million Americans who suffer from digestive disorders, The Inside Tract was made for you. This science-backed book explains how the digestive tract reacts to certain foods. For patients, it also provides a step-by-step guide to implementing a healing diet.
“It is great for both nutrition professionals and patients,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Naomi May. The Inside Tract discusses how the stomach works, what causes complications, and the validity of supplements. All facts are backed by research from a nutrition doctor and registered dietitian.
Cook’s Illustrated The Science Of Good Cooking
Cook’s Illustrated The Science Of Good Cooking is more practical than health-based. The book ensures that you won’t overcook food and explains how to use a thermometer correctly. If you grapple with the logistics of cooking, this book will supply science-backed tips.
Registered dietitian and nutrition Amy Gorin calls this her “go-to book” to learn new recipes that taste great. Along with over 400 recipes, Cook’s Illustrated The Science Of Good Cooking teaches readers when to freeze, precook, stir, and flip meals. It’s practical as well as healthy.
The Pescatarian Cookbook By Cara Harbstreet
Those who want to try a plant-based diet may struggle to adjust. The Pescatarian Cookbook, written by registered dietitian Cara Harbstreet, can help people get there. Pescatarianism focuses on plant-based foods and seafood, and it may provide a stepping stone for those interested in vegetarianism or veganism.
The Pescatarian Cookbook “provides insights regarding potential health benefits of a pescatarian diet while also offering tips related to sustainability, food safety, and meal planning,” says registered dietitian Alyssa Lavy. The diet has many health benefits, including essential fatty acids and weight loss meals.
Dirty Genes By Dr. Ben Lynch
Dr. Ben Lynch focuses on epigenetics and how diet affects it. Epigenetics explores changes in peoples’ genes– not your actual DNA, but rather, how your genes express themselves. Dr. Lynch asserts that diet and lifestyle could alter your genes for better or worse, which he discusses in Dirty Genes.
The book explains how genes could “dirty”, or work against your health, and how you can “clean” them to work for your health. Many doctors and dietitians have acclaimed his work. “Dr. Ben Lynch is widely considered by the medical community to be the authority on gene variations,” says Alan Christianson, a naturopathic doctor.
Secrets Of Feeding A Healthy Family By Ellyn Satter
Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family advises parents about how to cook healthy meals. Ellyn Satter, who later inspired the Ellyn Satter Institute, devoted her life to creating healthy meals for kids. Parents may may have a difficult time creating healthy meals for all family members, and this book can help.
Dietitian and nutritionist Stefanie Williams also references this book to help emotional eaters and weight management diets. Ellyn Satter discusses intuitive eating and how normal eating is, which can assuage anxieties about finding the “right” food for your diet.
The Dish By Dr. Carolyn O’Neil
For the science and history behind healthy foods, check out The Dish: On Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous! by Dr. Carolyn O’Neil. The book includes tidbits of advice from registered dietitians, doctors, and chefs explaining why some foods are labeled as “healthy” and “unhealthy.”
Although The Dish is geared towards women, it includes healthy facts for everyone. “It is packed with the science of what to eat in the most delightful manner,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Liz Berry. If you want to learn facts from several professionals, give it a shot.
Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook
Sports dietitian Nancy Clark has written a diet book for athletes. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook covers building muscle, losing weight, and managing stress. It also breaks down nutrition needs by sport and suggests what to get when you eat out.
Registered dietitian and nutritionist Nicole Rodriguez recommends this book for its “no-nonsense approach.” Since it published in 2013, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook has garnered positive reviews for its research-backed tips about sports nutrition. Anyone who exercises regularly can benefit from this book.