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I love to read and I know so many of you do too! Today I want to talk about The Top 10 Real Food and Nutrition Books Everyone Should Read.
When I first started coming back to real food in 2009, I was craving information from people who thought like I did. You know, that butter was healthy and eating meat wasn’t going to kill me.
The very first book that I ever read about real food was Nourishing Traditions and I owe that book credit for my motivation to start this blog. I was so inspired and moved from the practical, no-nonsense information in that book, coupled with the insight into traditional cultures and how the nutrition information in this country (and world) has largely been controlled by politics.
That book blew my eyes wide open and from that point on, I was a real food knowledge junkie. I devoured every book I could find on the topic, first checking them out from libraries and then finding that I simply had to own them myself so that I could mark them all up with notes, thoughts, and highlighted sections.
It was the words on these pages that not only inspired the start of this site, but inspired me to create a life and business built upon a topic that I am forever passionate and excited about. There is no greater pleasure in life to love what you do every day and I am so blessed to have that opportunity.
The words on these pages also inspired me to break real food down into even simpler thoughts and show how it can be accessible to anyone and everyone, no matter your background or your budget in my Real Food 101 series. What’s so interesting to me is that I remember specific moments of reading these books — where I was, what I was doing, what I was thinking. I was so obsessed with real food knowledge that this information created lasting imprints into my brain!
I’ve read a lot of books over the last 6 years since starting Delicious Obsessions, but these are far and away my top 10 favorites. These are books that I recommend to anyone who is curious about real food and books that I love to give as gifts to people just wanting to start their journey.
The Top 10 Real Food and Nutrition Books Everyone Should Read
If you are new to the world of real food then you may be feeling overwhelmed at all of the new information. Luckily there are some great books available that you can add to your library to broaden your knowledge. These are real food and nutrition books that I think everyone interested in real food should read! Note that the links to purchase on Amazon are affiliate links and if you purchase through one of them, I may earn a small commission. If you’re not sure if you will like them, do what I did and check your local library first and then decide if it’s a book you want to add to your own collection.
1. Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck
This was the second book that I read when I came to real food. I literally could not put this book down when I picked it up. Nina Planck has a true passion for real food and has authored several excellent books on the subject. “Real Food: What to Eat and Why” is a truly great introduction to the concept of eating real food made from whole, unprocessed ingredients. It dispels the myths that traditional foods such as butter and animal fats are unhealthy and opens up a new way of eating that is as delicious as it is nutritious. If you read no other books on this list, read this one.
2. Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck
This was the third book that I read. I had just finished her Real Food: What to Eat and Why book and immediately wanted to read everything else she had written. This book is a must-read for any woman who wants to get pregnant. Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom surrounding what women should and should not eat before and during pregnancy is all wrong but Nina sets the record straight in a very approachable, easy-to-understand way. Nutrient-density is key and high-quality fats and proteins are crucial. You’ll learn how to raise a healthy eater by introducing foods such as meats and egg yolks early on, which supply the building blocks that cereals and low-fat dairy simply don’t.
3. Cooked by Michael Pollan
This is a newer book from Michael Pollan that was actually made into a series on Netflix, also called Cooked. If you have Netflix and have not watched this series, I implore you to do so (here’s the trailer for the series). Michael Pollan is another real food superstar and author of many fantastic books. I came to his work from Nina Planck and found his words to be so refreshing, so common-sense driven, that I immediately became a huge fan.
His book “Cooked” takes a fascinating look at the four classical elements of fire, water, air, and earth and how they are used to transform what we find in nature into the foods and drinks we know and love. This book shares his story of learning to cook with world-class chefs using the elements, including grilling with fire, cooking with liquid, baking bread (which is actually mostly air), and fermenting with the bacteria of the earth.
4. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
The Omnivore’s Dilemma takes a fascinating look at 3 different systems for obtaining food: industrial, natural/organic, and hunting/foraging. He discusses the ethics and issues behind all three systems and provides thought-provoking insights about our relationship to the plants, animals, and fungi that provide us with the food that nourishes and sustains our lives.
5. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
This was the very first Michael Pollan book that I read. I think this is an excellent book to start out on. It’s so approachable and fun to read. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual provides clear, concise information about how to choose healthy food – real food. In today’s world there are so many different diets with complex “yes” and “no” lists but getting back to our roots and eating whole, natural foods takes away the confusion. He takes information from a variety of cultures and their traditional food values.
6. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
In Defense of Food looks at the Western diet’s obsession with nutrients rather than good health and whole, real foods – he calls it the American Paradox, that the more focused we are on nutrition the less healthy we are. He calls for us to get back to basics and focus on eating foods given to us by nature, not a food science laboratory.
7. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
The very first real food book I ever read. This book will forever hold a dear place in my heart and I refer back to it even now. Nourishing Traditions is a classic text on real food and gives you everything you need to overhaul your diet from processed to nutrient-dense and traditional. You’ll learn why butter is a health food, why animal fats are good for you, how to properly prepare grains, and much more in this practical and entertaining book!
8. Know Your Fats by Mary Enig
Available in paperback format.
Dr. Enig was a nutritionist and researcher and expert on fats. There is a LOT of confusion and misinformation about the roles of fats and cholesterol in human health and many believe these things to be disease-causing and unhealthy. Dr. Enig dispels these myths and presents solid scientific information about human physiology and how different types of fats and cholesterol affect the body and our health. This is a must-read to overcome fat-phobia, but understand that it’s written in a more scientific manner than any of the other books in this list so it may be a little less entertaining and a little more study-like. Regardless, it’s an excellent resource to keep on hand, even if you don’t pick it up and read it from cover to cover.
9. Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon
When I was in my early real food days, I felt like I needed justification for eating things like butter and real food. This book was pivotal in me realized that FAT IS HEALTHY (the right fat at least)! Eat Fat, Lose Fat turns conventional Western dietary conventional wisdom on its head and explains why vegetable oils like corn and soybean oils are harmful and traditional saturated fats like coconut oil and butter are actually essential for good health and weight loss. If weight loss is a goal for you this book may be especially helpful in navigating dietary advice!
10. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price
Available in paperback format.
This is a classic. It’s not a sit-down-and-read-in-one-night book, but it is an EXCELLENT read for those who are ready to dig deeper into nutrition and traditional cultures. You may have heard of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) before, and this book is the basis for the real food, traditional dietary recommendations that the WAPF endorses. Dr. Price was a dentist who studied the impacts of poor nutrition from modern processed foods on skeletal development in the face and mouth. In order to better understand both disease and health, he studied indigenous people in 14 countries who had excellent health and learned some common features of their traditional diets. This book also provides a fascinating look at the deleterious effects of modern processed foods when they are introduced to populations who were previously eating their traditional diets. This is a very eye-opening book!
11. Bonus – Real Food 101 + Cookbook
The books in this top 10 list have inspired me to write my own comprehensive eBooks about real food. Real Food 101 will teach you all the ins and outs of how to choose real food (and help you understand why it is important) and the companion cookbook features over 70 delectable recipes that are easy to make and packed with nutrition. Learn more about Real Food 101 and the Companion Cookbook or just head over to my shop to buy them!