Diet blog: 2017 diet books

Judith Wills / 25 January 2017

Our diet expert reviews the current crop of diet books.



In my last blog I said I’d be looking at the crop of January diets to see if I think any are worth us trying. It’s been an interesting few days.

Louise Parker – Lean for life and Lean for Life the cookbook.  Mitchell Beazley, £20  Parker made me slightly annoyed straight away by saying in the intro to her new cookbook that she hates diets and they don’t work. Then she proceeds to offer a 2-phase eating plan, phase one of which is nothing other than a diet, complete with testimonials from people who have, for example, lost 25lbs in two weeks. Several of her recipes sound and look tempting though and she writes some sense about the benefits or otherwise of so-called superfoods and trendy items such as coconut oil and acai berries.   7/10.

How to Lose Weight well – Dr Xand van Tullekan. Quadrille, £15  Accompanies his current TV series. Tullekan says he’s studied all the world’s most popular diets, discarded the waffle and gimmicks and has put the rest into his ideas for this book. Similar to Louise’s philosophy in that he claims to offer sensible, proven advice. While having a go at the dieting industry, in fact he is part of it. E.g. he offers a quick-fix one meal a day diet, and talks about ‘short term fixes’. Though, again, plenty of his recipes are nice, I found the book quite complicated, with too much choice, so I got a bit confused about which of his plans and advice I should follow.  6/10.

The Happy Kitchen by Rachel Kelly.  Short Books, £14.99  This isn’t advertised as a weight loss book but a book to help you beat low mood, insomnia, depression and so on. However, if you follow her ‘kitchen rules’ – eat mostly plants, use herbs and spices, eat lots of nuts, eat for your gut and remember good fats are friends, I think you would lose weight quite easily if you need to. Also, of course, being fat can make you depressed so losing it will help that happiness along, too. Her nutrition advice is mostly sound, her recipes look great, and eating her way may help prevent the major diseases such as heart disease and cancer too.  8/10.

The Scandinavian Belly Fat Programme, Berit Nordstrand, Murdoch, £16.99  Yet another diet-ish book based around a version of healthy eating, with lots of good gut foods, whole grains, good oils, vegetables and so on. It’s okay, but really is no more likely to help you lose belly fat than any of the other plans in this blog, if you stick to it. I wasn’t quite so keen on the recipes in here as in some of the other books.  5/10.

So – if you like the sound of one of these they will probably help you lose weight.  I’d pick Rachel Kelly as my best choice for most of us. Ironically it’s the only one that isn’t aimed at weight loss and doesn’t contain a rapid weight loss diet. 

But honestly, if you don’t want to fork out the money for a new book, just dig out your old copy of any Mediterranean diet or cookbook (I even wrote one myself - Slim and Healthy Mediterranean Cooking - but you won’t find it except in a second-hand shop as it came out about 20 years ago!) or look up Mediterranean eating online and just do that.  It really is the healthiest choice – helping prevent heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and Parkinsons – and only this month, an Edinburgh study found it can even help prevent Alzheimers.  Add in a few fresh nuts every day, watch your portion sizes and there you have it – more or less the perfect diet for most people!

10 healthy Mediterranean foods

What makes the Mediterranean diet so successful?

Which diets are best for losing weight? Low-carb and Mediterranean diets compared

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