Food and Lifestyle Book Reviews

Last year, I read some really good books that inspired me. Read on for the titles, authors, and quick synopsis.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan – This book was left in my office by a co-worker I never met and was going to be thrown out before I swooped it up. It sat on my shelf for a couple months before I finally started reading about Colin’s chronicles of living a life with little to no impact, in Manhattan of all places. I found this book to be eye-opening and inspiring. It really makes you think about how much we all consume on a daily basis. There is also the No Impact Man documentary which I watched after reading the book. Highly recommended!

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon – I’ve mentioned this book on the blog before and will likely continue to do so. Mike’s sister, Wendy, was reading it last year when we were in Australia for Christmas and she was expecting her first child. Wendy summarized the book as she read (and as we traveled the coast of  Australia) and I couldn’t get enough. I ordered a copy for myself right when we got home and devoured it. I’m not a mother but found this book insightful and very interesting. The author moves from Vancouver to France, where her husband is from, with her two young daughters and spends a year learning the “ways” of the French and their non-picky little eaters, very different from (most) kids here. The book describes cultural differences between how food is viewed, prepared, and eaten in North America vs. in France, along with antidotes and a few recipes for readers to try at home.

A Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub – This book was another winner and really helped me solidify my gripes against sugar. (I realize that sounds snobby but I don’t apologize because sugar is the worst and everyone should know it’s truths. …Not to be dramatic or anything.) Eve and her family* spend a year with a very limited sugar intake. I absolutely loved this book. For some unexplained reason, it made me feel nostalgic for a life I’ve never lived. Eve’s way of describing her hometown in Vermont (in my mind, seemingly perfectly simple… think: Gilmore Girl’s Stars Hallow); paired with her relentless quest for more knowledge about sugar; and her  detailed accounts of her findings, feelings, failings, as well as successes, made for a delightful and educational read!

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*I just realized a commonality in these 3 books are the author’s families and how they are kind of whisked (“forced” sounded too harsh…) into participating in these major lifestyle changes because the mom or dad decided to. As a writer myself this reminds me that we have little to write about besides our own lives, journeys, and stories. Which, for the record, is exactly how I like things to be.

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In the past years I have dabbled in quite a few other books about eating and living a compassionate, healthy, informed and educated lifestyle. Below is a list of those books and a sentence or two about each of them. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t make it completely through all of the following books and, for the ones I did read entirely, it has been years since I’ve finished them, so these descriptions are quick and unrefined.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan – This book is an obvious one. This is basically a staple in any “health conscious” person’s kitchen/home and though, as my grandpa pointed out, Mr. Pollan doesn’t have any credentials in nutrition (he graduated with a degree in Journalism), his thoughts and “rules” resonate with me (and many others!).

Eat only foods that will eventually rot …that’s just good sense. (Although I would respectably add a timeline in there because we all know there’s that smart ass ready to tell us that  McDonald’s goes bad too. Eventually.)

Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel – Bat shit cray or not, Bethenny has some good advice to give about letting go and just living, urging you to realize food should not be the devil or your best friend; like her rule You Can Have It All, Just Not All At Once – what a relief and a perspective shift! This book helped me let go of some serious stipulations I was putting on my diet and is recommend as a refreshing take on telling you how to eat. (Which everyone is doing, including myself! Ha.)

The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel – Bethenny lists tools and provides recipes in this book for healthy, non-stress noshing.

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin – I first read this book in college and still remember the authors advise to Trust No One (not even them). I love this advice to this day because it’s so true! In the end, you know your body better than anyone. With conflicting information from experts telling us Paleo Is The Only Way To Live in one article and then Veganism being The Cure For Cancer in the next, it is especially important to do your own research and come up with your own guidelines. (Expect please know, you can trust me and The Veg Voyage when I say vegetables are, in fact, the key;)

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone – This book is all about being a Vegan with a capital V and living well… kindly. Surface level, I felt kind of …judged while reading this book (which is certainly not a kind feeling!). Alicia outlines the steps for me to become a vegan and then a “superhero” vegan (someone who, if my memory serves me right, eats only nuts, seeds, and maybe a few leafy greens, like on their birthday, for a treat). But, if you can leave your ego out of it, this book is a good one with a meaningful message. It includes pretty pictures and recipes to start A New Vegan Lifestyle. Yeah!

Overall, I give Alicia props for putting it out there and bringing attention to the matter. You do you, girl – regurgitating your food for your babe and everything.

The Honest Life by Jessica Alba – Okay, I don’t know what the deal is with celebrities writing lifestyle books now (what happened to fragrances!? jLo wants to know!) but I’m completely on board with it. (Yes, I already pre ordered Balancing on Heels by Kristin Cavallari…) Like the next girl (who has dreams of having two kids and looking like Jessica Alba after; if she can do it, I can do it, RIGHT!?) I am a fan of J. Alba and …didn’t regret buying her book. Overall I didn’t LOVE the book – and was more interested in an inside glimpse of her life – but I highlighted a few tips and tricks here and there and I dig her message so, it’s all good. Money well spent.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz – I should probably give this book a second chance because I could barely get through the first chapter… I like Cameron Diaz well enough but I distinctly remember feeling like I was reading an unedited letter while perusing this book. To me, her thoughts sounded scrambled and sporadic… like she didn’t really have an end goal… but the book seems to align with what I’m interested in so I’ll make an effort to try again and let you know how it goes.

Let me know your thoughts on any of the above books or recommendations you have!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

Going steady…

Food relationships are a funny thing. Everyone has one because everyone needs to eat to live but they vary from person to person. (As, I suppose, all relationships do…)  Some people don’t think twice about what they put in their mouth and others obsess over it. Some only eat ORGANIC while others are sustained on fast-food alone. There are millions of food blogs, videos, tips and tricks on why, how and what to eat (The Veg Voyage itself is definitely food focused) but, in the end, it’s up to each individual to figure out their food relationship.

Today, I have a healthier food relationship than I did in the past but I still think about food a lot more than the average person does… (based scientifically on my own personal pool of friends, of course;) Not only do I think about food a lot but I love reading and writing about it. Those articles that have celebrities list what they eat in a day? I love those… And you don’t even have to be famous for me to care about what you eat! Who knows about What I Ate Wednesday?! (Though, the fact that this exists, does bring me comfort since it means what other people eat is, in fact, interesting to other people.) There are also these videos on YouTube where people record everything they ate in a day… These are pretty long (some around 20 minutes) and I usually get bored somewhere after their breakfast but … I know they are out there… so, there’s that.

For most of my life, my relationship with food was eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. I’m blessed because I’ve actually enjoyed healthy food my entire life. So, naturally preferring veggies to Big Macs (most of the time!) paired with not over-eating, left me healthy, anxiety-free and able to eat basically whatever I wanted. This way of life continued until one semester in college when I had the crazy idea to schedule my classes only twice a week instead of splitting them up over the five days. I was at school ALL day and, not wanting to be left hungry (or broke from eating out 3 meals a day, twice a week), I began planning my meals, coffee breaks and snacks. This snowballed and suddenly I was planning entire weeks’ worth of meals on Sunday evenings.

Like, every little thing I was ever going to eat.

Oh, and I don’t know if you know this buuutt… most of the time, when something is off-limits (which ALL food was UNLESS it was on my MEAL PLAN), it suddenly becomes the most desired thing you’ve ever  thought about.

So, you know, I continued my meal planning every Sunday, “cheating” most days by having a bite of something that was not part.of.the.plan., feeling bad about it, and then starting the whole thing over again.

My obsession amplified when I transferred to University where I felt out of my element. Scheduling everything I was going to eat went from an obsession to, in retrospect, how I felt … in control in a new environment.

Eventually, I broke free from my scheduling (along with not allowing myself to eat the same thing twice in a day but that’s an entirely different post…) and have mostly fallen back into the habit of eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. I can’t tell you how nice it is to let food just be food. It isn’t this constant source of worry and anxiety the way it once was. I rarely feel bad about eating anything and concentrate on balancing things out instead of making them perfect.

Because really? what is a world without Jack in the Box tacos, amirite?!

Of course, I still have my circumstance-induced moments where I can feel myself turning towards food for the comfort of schedule and stability. For example, on vacations, I get antsy when I don’t know when we will be eating next. Should I eat all of my sandwich because we are having a late dinner or 1/2 because we are getting ice cream after this? There isn’t necessarily a schedule and sometimes that stresses me out. Or, occasionally, if it’s dinnertime and we haven’t eaten, I will want to eat more for the stability on ending your day with dinner than because I am hungry.

No matter what though, everyday, I strive to make sure my relationship with food is healthy, balanced, is given proper attention and care but is not all encompassing.

Time to make dinner!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

Let’s Get Physical

Yesterday I completed a 30 Day Yoga Challenge and while I think yoga is an important part of working out – for it’s restorative benefits – I think there are also many other exercises that need to be incorporated into your physical health routine.  …Many other exercises that I have neglected for the past 2 weeks. It has been a really busy May and I decided only doing yoga daily would be enough for the last 2 weeks this month. In other words, I’ve been on a body-break AKA not really working out and …indulging more that usual.

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The Last Splurge

As I write this, I’m sipping on a margarita with every intention to have a giant piece of carrot cake for dessert after dinner. Hello, sugar OVERLOAD! Hello, I just watched the documentary Fed Up (you can read about that here) and should be way more concerned about the amount of sugar I am ingesting today. But, as mentioned, I’m on a little break. So, bring on the carrot cake!

Until tomorrow.

Tomorrow I am starting a 14 day sugar detox + TEATOX. I think 1/2 way through the year is a perfect time to get back on track health wise, if you’ve fallen off the wagon. Which, let’s face it, most of us have! So? what are the rules guidelines for this revitalizing cleanse? I’m not treating the next 2 weeks as a strict carrots-and-celery-sticks-for-lunch-with-chicken-and-broccoli-for-dinner regiment because it won’t be sustainable! Instead, I am going to drink my SkinnyMint tea every morning and every other night for it’s “boasting metabolism and detoxifying” properties along with eating* healthy, whole foods and drastically limiting my sugar intake.

  • This means NO ADDED SUGAR OR SWEETS for the next 14 days
  • LIMITED alcohol (if any!)
  • And AT LEAST 2 hours of physical activity a week – yoga not included.

This is probably going to be hard for me because, although I eat pretty healthy most of the time, I am a BIG believer in balance and that means it’s okay to have a cookie or a glass of wine once in a while. These next 2 weeks won’t be about balance though… (I think it is important to note, they won’t be about deprivation either!) The next 14 days are going to be about a body-revitalization. They will be about getting things back on track, loosing some bloat, toning up, and trying to adjust to a new life style with A LOT less sugar.

I’ll be posting on a semi-regular basis with updates on how both the sugar detox and teatox are going. I hope you’ll come back and read about it!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

*This is NOT a 300 calorie a day type thing!