New Year, new diet books - the best healthy eating books for 2020

Judith Wills / 23 January 2020

Diet expert Judith Wills takes a look at the latest diet and healthy eating books on offer.



Two years ago, I wrote in my January 2018 blog here, “I find this new year peculiarly lacking in of the usual crop of weird and unwonderful diets”. Not that I was worried – I rejoiced. It seemed that the glut of healthy living manuals had finally come to an end.

But the hiatus could not continue – there’s big money to be made in heath, weight and fitness after all – and this time the diet ‘gurus’ have ‘excelled’ themselves with a blooming crop of new and sometimes dubious routines for us.

For 2020 we have, it seems, two opposing factions (if you discount the myriad of vegan programmes). Faction One – the Quite Far Fetched Promises Group, consisting of a fairly large crop of weird diets with weight loss and/or health promises and/or tough fitness regimes assuring you that at any age you can get incredibly fit and live forever if you will just buy this or that book or programme.

Within this group is, for example, the Celery Juice Diet by Anthony William … whose motto may be, never let the fact that an idea is around 40 years old spoil a ‘new’ idea. (My verdict – eat the celery whole (much more beneficial) and eat other stuff too.) Or the Clean 7 Detox, by Alejandro Junger, who has conveniently completely ignored not only that we are mostly completely done with clean eating and detoxes, but also all the medical research that shows that detox diets are not based on science and thus urges us to enjoy 24-hour herbal fasts. (My verdict – not going to bother reading, it sorry, doc.)

Then Faction Two, the Let’s Be Sensible Now Group, almost as large crop of books decrying the whole idea of diets and dieting, and promising that you can be your best self if you just ignore faddy eating, calorie counting, weighing yourself, portion control and so on and simply do what’s sensible for you.

Within this group we find How Not to Diet by Michael Greger – 600 pages by a US medic full of proper evidence-based information on what really works to help you lose weight and get healthier. Wonderfully – all income from its sales will go to charity. I can definitely recommend this, even if I’m spitting a bit as I do so, because my own paperback of The Food Bible is published at the end of January and is a similar sort of thing – reliable, detailed, not too hard a read. Others include The Last Diet by Sharoo Izadi, which is based around cognitive behavioural ideas and could suit suit people who’ve spent years trying to lose weight and failing.

I’ve got to go with Faction Two as the best option. Many of us have spent many years, or at least New Years, trying new diet plans and failing, putting up with hideous foods and tricky and expensive ingredients and recipes and found all of it just too depressing.

Getting fit and healthy should be a pleasure more than a chore, for sure. And when it turns out not to be, that’s when it fails.

All you need to do is decide which of the ‘no-diet needed’ offerings is actually the most likely to succeed for you. Read the reviews from people who’ve tried them, and really think about what will fit into your life and your preferences.

But honestly – if you don’t feel like splashing out on the cost of a book, you can always just get a piece of old-fashioned paper and a marker pen and in big letter write on it:

  • Eat when hungry
  • Don’t eat when not hungry
  • Eat lots of plant foods
  • Eat very little added sugar and highly refined foods
  • Stop eating when full
  • Fill your life with enjoyable stuff so you think less about food
  • Get active

Stick it on a cupboard in your kitchen. Stick to it (there is much room for personal preference here so it isn’t hard), and it will work. For good!

Nothing new on the list - but as we’ve just seen, there really is nothing much new in the world of New Year health and diet books, either.

The Food Bible

The Food Bible, Judith Wills, White Owl Publishing, January 30th 2020.

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