Fit for purpose: Books to inspire good health in 2021

It’s the start of not just a new year, but a new decade, the perfect time to take stock and plan. Let’s start in the pantry. After all, we are what we eat (and read).

Here are some of the best and the most popular health and diet books of the past decade.

DIET – The best-seller: The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

This tome, written by the nutritionists behind Whole9, an online community serving 1.5 million visitors a month, topped the USA Today list of the most popular weight loss and diet books of the past decade.

Good Reads says The Whole30 offers a “standalone, step-by-step plan to break unhealthy habits, reduce cravings, improve digestion, and strengthen your immune system”. 

“There is no counting calories or weighing food. Instead, dieters are given a restricted, primarily protein-filled diet in which foods are slowly reintroduced over time.” – Financial Review

HEALTH – The body-affirmer: Body Positive Power: Because Life Is Already Happening and You Don’t Need Flat Abs to Live It

In a way it’s sad that a counter to body image self-consciousness is so desperately needed. This book, from Instagram star Melissa Jayne Crabbe, topped Book Authority’s 100 Best Fitness Books of All Time.

“A body-positive call to arms that’s as inspirational as it is practical … For generations, women have been convinced that true happiness only comes when we hit that goal weight, shrink ourselves down, and change ourselves to fit a rigid and unrealistic beauty ideal. We’ve been taught to see our bodies as collections of problems that need to be fixed. Instagram star Megan Jayne Crabbe is determined to spread the word that loving the body you have is the real path to happiness.

“In her debut book, Megan shares her own struggles with self-acceptance and her path to body positivity. With whip-smart wit and a bold attitude that lights up her Instagram feed, Megan champions a new worldview for all of us: It’s time to stop dieting and get on with your life.” – Book Authority

EXERCISE – Fitting in: The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That’s Smarter, Faster, Shorter

British lifestyle site puts this 2018 ground-breaker for the time poor at the top of their best fitness books. These days, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all the rage, with even fitness ‘snacks’ recommended for those of us confined by sedentary occupations. This was one of the books that increased awareness of how much could be achieved in a short time.

“A decade ago, Martin Gibala was a young researcher in the field of exercise physiology – with little time to exercise. That critical point in his career launched a passion for high-intensity interval training (HIIT), allowing him to stay in shape with just a few minutes of hard effort. It also prompted Gibala to conduct experiments that helped launch the exploding science of ultralow-volume exercise.

“His work demonstrates that very short, intense bursts of exercise may be the most potent form of workout available. Gibala busts myths (‘it’s only for really fit people’), explains astonishing science (‘intensity trumps duration’), lays out time-saving life hacks (‘exercise snacking’), and describes the fascinating health-promoting value of HIIT (for preventing and reversing disease).” – Good Reads

DIET – Man with a plan: The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor’s Plan Designed for Rapid Results

Mike Moreno’s bestseller is a highly organised diet book that makes it clear how you can improve your health – fast.

“The key, according to the San Diego family medicine doctor, lies in changing your calorie count and food combinations every 17 days for four cycles. This, he says, keeps your metabolism in a fat-burning state because it is constantly guessing how much food it will have to process. –

“Another diet that restricts what you eat by eliminating sugar, grains, fruit and dairy to speed up one’s metabolism” – Financial Review

FOOD – The crowd-pleaser: Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

In 2020/21, it can’t all be about abs and repetitions; there’s more to life than discipline. Ina Garten’s joyful comfort food extravaganza was voted the best cookbook of 2019 by Good Reads subscribers, topping some battler called Gordon Ramsay. More than 27,865 dedicated eaters and readers can’t be wrong!

“Author and alpha foodie Ina Garten takes the Food & Cookbooks prize with a collection of recipes perfect for the quarantined lifestyle of 2020. The 85 dishes featured here – many of them childhood favourites – are easy to make and meant to provide culinary comfort in this strangest of times. Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese! Creamy Tomato Bisque! Banana Rum Trifle! We’re feeling better already.” – Good Reads

What is your favourite health-related read? Are you looking for diet and exercise inspiration to get 2021 off to a good start?

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Written by Will Brodie

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