Read your way to better health

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Reading about health, fitness, nutrition and mental wellbeing is unsurprisingly a passion of mine. I regularly chat to my clients about the books I’ve read. I have reviewed a couple of books in detail on this blog before (‘Lights Out’ and ‘Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us’), but one of my clients has recently asked me to recommend some books to her so I thought I would take the opportunity to write a blog post on some of my favourite wellbeing books here.

All of Gretchen Ruben’s books

Like many other people, Ruben’s books have been the textual version of a lightening bolt to me. To date she has written ‘The Happiness Project’‘Happier at Home’, and ‘Better Than Before’. The first two put the concept of happiness and how to come by it under that microscope. The latter book looks at how to form habits that last.

All of her books are insightful, entertaining, fun and extremely enjoyable. I highly recommend them all but think that ‘The Happiness Project’ is the best one to start off with.

‘The Surrender Experiment’ by Michael A Singer

One day the writer of this book, Michael A. Singer decided to stop making decisions but instead to let life’s events and opportunities lead the way. The concept is brave but fascinating and the results are astounding. This a very thought-provoking book and well worth a read.

‘The Paleo Solution’ by Robb Wolf

I’m a huge fan of Wolf’s podcast, but finally read his book long after the concept of paleo living had been sold to me. I think it’s a great book for anyone contemplating “going paleo”. Wolf’s chatty tone addresses the many questions you ask when making the adjustment, in a fun but factual way.

‘Clean and Lean’ by James Duigan

I had to include this book here because reading it was the start of a massive life change for me. Like Ruben’s books, it was a real lightening bolt book. Reading it helped me see where I had been going wrong with nutrition for so long, and implementing the changes it recommended led to results I never thought possible. Ultimately this was what inspired me to become a PT, in order that I could help others who had been making the same mistakes as I had been.

‘The Village Effect’ by Susan Pinker

We live in a time in which we are more connected than ever but, as this book proves through data, we are actually lonelier than ever. I made huge changes to my own social media usage after reading this, and definitely feel better for it. Anyone who looses hours to Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram etc should give this a read.

‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman

Ever wondered why it bothers you so much when your partner forgets to run an errand for you, or why they seem to expect presents from you so often? If so check this book out. It states that there are five love languages and that if we “speak” a different “language” to our partner then tension and conflict can arise. This book helps you discover the language of both yourself and your partner and explains how to communicate in the way that each of you need.

‘The New Kitchen Garden’ by Mark Diacono

I love the idea of gardening, but find I rarely have enough time to bring my extravagant ideas to fruition. Often I am far too ambitious and achieve very little by setting out to achieve too much. I really enjoyed this book as it states that growing a little of what you eat is fine, and that you shouldn’t be put off by the fact that you are unable to be self-sufficient due to time or space restraints.

Best of all is the section which tells you when to plant various seeds and plants, and which varieties to choose depending on your preferred outcome (yield, flavour, shape etc).

This book definitely made growing my own fruit and veg seem more achievable, I frequently refer back to it and am definitely more satisfied with my garden as a result.

‘Gut’ by Giulia Enders

When I found myself reading about the digestive system and its produce(!) before going to sleep I realised that I was totally obsessed by health and nutrition. This book is a great insight into what is very much a developing area of understanding. The basic premise is that we are only just starting to understand the importance of the gut microbiome (bacteria), and that as we learn more we will discover how to eat in a way that complements its work in a way that promotes health and longevity. This is a fascinating and accessible account of what scientists have learned so far, what it all means to each of us and how we can best help nature’s processes.

I have previously written about my favourite cookery books so will not include any here, but to find out what they are go to: ‘Recipe books that help me stay healthy’.

Forget chick-lit and whodunits. Stick a few of these books in your suitcase (or on your Kindle) and you can broaden your mind whilst chilling on the beach this summer.

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Laura Hilton