3 Books That Have Influenced the Way I Look at Food


{ From the Film: Chocolat }

[Warning: Long post ahead!  It’s been a while since I have shared any of my favorite reads, so I thought it was time to change that.  I included a backstory and lots of deets too, because I get really excited about this stuff.  If you have any recommendations, or points to add, please feel free : )]

 A few years ago, I became super interested in making myself healthier from the inside-out.  It was a very busy period of my life as I spent my days working full-time in Sales – which was also incredibly stressful – going to grad school at night, traveling a lot, and trying to maintain the normal social-life of a twenty-something.  While I was fit and healthy by conventional standards, I really didn’t feel well.  I was tired all of the time [which was somewhat understandable], but more so in the sense that I never had any energy, and even if I had had a solid sleep the night before, I was still running on empty.  And while I have always loved food and cooking, I was single and making big batches of things to reheat throughout the week, consuming the same stuff constantly, eating out with clients or classmates – sometimes catching ‘dinner’ after class around midnight (EEEK!) – and green juice was certainly not on my radar!

My sister meanwhile, was having some health problems and drawing her own correlations between them and her diet, and opening up to new ways of living in general.  I saw how even little changes were making a big impact in her day-to-day.  I was also following Katie Lee on social media at the time, and in one of her posts she mentioned that she was doing a cleanse outlined by Kathy Freston.  I was intrigued.  I immediately bought The Quantam Wellness Cleanse, and so began my journey into a new way of looking at food – as a healer, medicine, fuel, and something to really truly be savored.  I started reading everything I could about clean living, how the food industry works in our country (A lot of that was downright terrifying, even for someone who grew up in the restaurant business and had previously considered herself informed!), devoured writings by authors like Michael Pollan and John Robbins, and watched gazillions of documentaries (Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Hungry for Change, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, etc.)  When I am into something, I am All. In.  I revamped my lifestyle, inadvertently lost a lot of weight, and felt better than I ever had which was absolutely the biggest benefit of all.

As you can probably tell from this blog, I am not as stringent as I used to be because like all things in life, there are ebbs and flows, and I have found that certain principles work for where I am at right now, while others don’t.  I also know that there are some characteristically ‘unhealthy’ foods that I am never going to cut out completely since they are so deeply rooted to the traditions in my family – like this cake for example, or just make me happy (I think some of my most fun nights ever have been shared with friends over greasy slices of pizza and cold beers!), and that’s cool.  All good things, in moderation.

While there are so many interesting, insightful, eye-opening books that I can recommend when it comes to diet/food/lifestyle choices – including those by the authors listed above – the three that I am mentioning here are personal favorites for a few reasons.  The first being that these are all relatively lighthearted reads that have an element of fun to them – even the cleanse, I swear – but are still extremely informative.  I am a “Break it down for me!” kind of girl, so I really appreciate it when I can get the whats and whys of things in an easy to understand way.

The second – and most important [to me] reason that I love these books is that they all address the connection between mind and body, while emphasizing an overall balance, more about adding in the ‘good stuff’ (~ with several great recipes included in each!) and less about deprivation (The first quote above is actually from the Foreword of The Quantam Wellness Cleanse.) in the interest of creating a fuller, happier, healthier existence.  As Guiliano says in her tome “The joy of living is in direct proportion to how much pleasure you know how to derive from every aspect of life.”  That’s a philosophy I can get behind.



The Quantam Wellness Cleanse; Kathy Freston

In the interest of full disclosure, I have never actually done this cleanse in its entirety, however I have read this book 3x and referenced it dozens of times more.  I know that sounds odd, but the main reason behind why I like it so much is that Freston has a really gentle and sweet way of taking you through 21 days [in which you are advised to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, gluten, animal products, and sugar] and each day addresses how you might be feeling and why, gives practical tips on things like how to fill your grocery cart with energizing foods, and how to eat clean while traveling.  She recommends “leaning in” to the cleanse if you are having a hard time (i.e., If you are accustomed to having a cup of coffee every morning, start the cleanse drinking a regular cup, but replace half of it with decaf and gradually wean yourself off of it.), and spends a great deal of time talking about meditation and visualization, and how your diet can ultimately affect your mind.  Lastly, there is some great baseline information in the book on how eliminating these things from time-to-time (or altogether, if you desire) can ultimately benefit us.  I regularly go 2-3 days per week without any of the products mentioned and feel all the better for it.

Favorite Recipe: Ginger Greens with Shiitake Mushrooms



French Women for All Seasons; Mireille Guiliano

Her first book may have had a controversial title (French Women Don’t Get Fat), but I think Guiliano made some excellent points there, and makes even more of them here.  Plus, I love the idea of seasonal eating and the anticipation that comes when the calendar changes and new items hit the market – I just about jumped for joy when I saw sugar snap peas yesterday at my local grocery store!  I also enjoy the style tips that Guiliano imparts in this book, and find the sample menus to be really helpful as well as the guide to wine [where she deems it ‘food’!] in the back of the book – especially for a novice like myself.

Favorite Recipe: Spaghetti with Fiddlehead Ferns and Prosciutto



The Skinny Confidential; Lauryn Evarts

This book is very new, but I have long been a fan of Lauryn Evarts and The Skinny Confidential specifically for Evarts’ no nonsense take on all things lifestyle-related – She is hilarious and real; two things I think every good blogger should be!  Just like its namesake blog, the TSC book is enhanced by lots of pretty pictures, loaded with awesome tips on how to keep healthy, fit, and looking your best, and ultimately feels like you are reading something your BFF wrote.  Evarts stresses the importance of “Everything in Moderation” – citing her addiction to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which I can totally appreciate – and even includes recipes for cocktails!

Favorite Recipe: Cilantro Award-Winning Three Cheese Chile Rellenos with Fresh Papaya Salsa (I ate this 3x last week – It’s delish!)

4 Responses to 3 Books That Have Influenced the Way I Look at Food

  1. Pingback: Potatoes, Dairy-Free Herb Pesto, and Sprouts - Skinny Snacks | jjbegonia

  2. Cecile says:

    What a great post – I enjoyed it very much and I’m going to buy the book Quantum Cleanse because I did a cleanse two years ago and felt wonderful !! I love that you included a quote from ‘Chocolat’ – I’ve seen the movie twice and LOVED it !!!

    • jjbegonia says:

      I am really glad you enjoyed the post! I know what you mean about the cleanse – I love food of all kinds so much (Duh!), but I definitely feel better when I keep certain things to a minimum : )

  3. Pingback: Fiesta Wontons with Blender Salsa and Roasted Garlic Guacamole | jjbegonia

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