Nutrition 101: The Textbooks

by Dr. Sean Landry on September 25, 2012

Navigating the Zoo

Atkins, South Beach, Vegan, Mediterranean, Gluten free, Paleo, Zone, Spectrum, the Cabbage Soup Diet, Skinny Bitch, and whatever else the so called “gurus” can think up and shove down our throats…

Over the last 10 years we have literally been spoon fed a plethora of diets in different sizes, shapes and forms. Each one claiming to be the answer to a smaller waistline and increased health.

You need a nutrition degree to sift through all the fluff and figure out what makes sense for you and your family.

Day after day in my practice I get asked the question, “What should I eat?”.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to help you get your degree in nutrition and finally make sense of the conflicting mis-information. I promise to keep the info simple, fun and easy to implement.

Where do we start?

Unfortunately our traditional Canadian food guide is way outdated and actually causes more harm than good with their recommendations. We are going to throw out the old text books and today I’ll introduce you to a few new ones.

They will be divided into 3 sections: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Jump in wherever you see fit. However, all the books are great- if you’ve got time, I’d recommend reading them all.

Get Your White Belt in Nutrition (Beginner):

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan- Michael Pollan solves all the worlds nutrition problems in seven words, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Meaning- do not eat the highly processed and refined foods that line our grocery store shelves. Stick to eating whole foods in their most natural state possible. Don’t over do it on what you consume and when filling your plate, pile onto it mostly vegetables and fruits, leaving a little room for good lean protein and carbohydrates in their most natural state.

He also covers how the food system got to where it is today and shows studies of people who reverse disease and illness by giving up processed foods and revert back to eating good whole food.

Excellent book to get your feet wet and apply common sense principles to healthy eating for a lifetime.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

Food Rules - Michael Pollan- In this follow up book to In Defense of Food, Michael outlines the principles behind why highly refined foods are terrible for us and presents easy to follow “food rules” to live by.

This book is perfect for the nutrition novice and a must read. He covers simple rules like, “Eat only foods that will eventually rot” and “Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients”.

I’d recommend starting with this one.

Get Your Blue Belt in Nutrition (Intermediate):

Why we get Fat and What to do About it by Gary Taubes

Why We Get Fat - Gary Taubes- Gary finished his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” which you’ll read about later only to realize to the average reader (and no one’s calling you average) it was too complicated.

With that in mind, Gary sought to write a book everyone could understand and apply.

In “Why We Get Fat and What to do About it”, Gary hammers home the message that what we’ve been taught over the last 30 years about nutrition is dead wrong and literally killing us.

The old model of eat less and exercise more spurred on by the famous “calorie in – calorie out method of thermodynamics” is not working and is responsible for the current obesity epidemic.

He gives example after example demonstrating that what you put in your mouth and how it affects your hormones is much more important than how much you put in your mouth. It’s the quality of the food versus the quantity of the food argument. And Gary is right, quality is where it is at.

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf

The Paleo Solution - Robb Wolf- Robb takes a popular and hot concept of eating what our paleolithic ancestors ate and contrasts their health with that of our neolithic ancestors after the introduction of modern agriculture.

He makes valid point after valid point showing since the introduction of grains into our dietary routines our health and wellness has deteriorated. Then he backs up the claims with sound science and education on the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your body and their influence on hormones.

He does a way better job explaining it than I do and has a great sense of humor (even when explaining the sciency stuff) so you are better off reading this one on your own.

The Paleo Solution incorporates the latest, cutting edge research from genetics, biochemistry and anthropology. Apply the principles in this book and you’ll not only shed pounds effortlessly, you will reverse serious illness and feel amazing doing it.

Get Your Black Belt in Nutrition (Advanced):

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes

Good Calories Bad Calories - Gary Taubes- When Gary set out to write a book on nutrition he had no idea he would be the leading man in an effort to change the way we look at food and how it affects us.

In “Good Calories, Bad Calories” Gary looks at where, how, and why we went wrong with eating. He delves into the research asking pertinent questions no one thought to ask about how we ended up in this obesity mess after all.

He argues we’ve been fed a lie in thinking fat is bad for us, carbohydrates are better and ones weight can be controlled by eating less and exercising more. He backs up his argument with sound science detailing how refined carbohydrates like starches and sugars contribute to hyperinsulinemia (the major problem) and hammers home the new paradigm that the type of food you eat is far more important than how much.

Get ready for an eye opening ride, one that might leave you a little pissed off (in a good way) at the governing bodies for what they’ve been spoon feeding us over the last few decades.

Healthy Ending

Healthy eating isn’t complicated and yet we’ve made it out to be. Have fun reading these books and applying the strategies they outline.

Over the next few weeks I’ll cover hot topics from these essential textbooks and help make some sense of them all while giving you the tools you need to eat well for the rest of your life.

Before I sign off I’ll leave you with some food for thought…

“You are tomorrow what you eat today.” – Sean Landry

Yours in health,


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