eathappybook.jpgIt’s the beginning of the year, and this is typically when so many people decide that they will finally get healthy. Then, inevitably, life happens. Kids start school and after-school activities, things get hectic at work, and it becomes so easy to slide back into old habits.

The reason diets often fail is that you’re forced to begin eating “diet” foods, which are mostly filled with junk. Low-carb diets like Keto, Paleo, and “Whole 30” are difficult for the first two to three weeks, and many people abandon them before they have the chance to reap the benefits.

In reality, there’s a mindset paradigm shift that must take place. If you want to become healthier by eating better, you are not dieting; you are adopting an entirely new lifestyle, which isn’t easy to do. By committing to learning about what goes into your body and how different foods impact you, it becomes more about thinking of meals as a part of your overall health picture. But have no fear: that doesn’t mean you have to give up eating delicious foods bursting with flavor.

In terms of hitting the reset button on how you think about food, there are four books that stand out for me. These have each had a great impact on my journey to eat a clean diet, as well as my career as a bestselling author and founder of Eat Happy Kitchen.

Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich and Dean Lorey

This was the first health and fitness book I read that wasn’t prescriptive. It wasn’t “7-Minute Abs.” This book gave me a foundational view of eating clean and getting healthy. It challenged many long-held traditional views on diets and exercise. Eleven years ago, I read an advance copy of this book, and I loved it so much I agreed to co-host and produce the Fitness Confidential podcast. Little did I know that this would change the trajectory of my career, as it has led me to writing two bestselling cookbooks, with a third on the way, and launching my own food company, Eat Happy Kitchen. That’s one powerful book!

Override by David Kipper, M.D., and Dr. Connell Cowan, Ph.D.

This is my current favorite read. It focuses on the science behind taking control of your brain by identifying your personality type. It gives you the tools to recognize chemical imbalances in your brain and the tools to make real change by reconciling those imbalances. Of course, my favorite way to start changing brain chemistry is to clean out the processed foods from the kitchen. But I love this book so much by Dr. Kipper, I also had to start podcasting with him on a new podcast we launched recently called Bedside Matters.

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose

This is among my favorite cookbooks, which is a testament to the cookbook since I can’t eat half the recipes because of my gluten sensitivity. More than just a bunch of recipes, Foose weaves her culinary perspective into her perfectly written recipes that give you the literary flavor of living in the South, where I’m from. This book influenced me to find more places where I can intertwine my life and perspective into my recipes.

Having been lucky enough to make a living as an actor, comic, and voice talent for 20 years in the entertainment industry, I needed to reference other people’s stories during the periods in between jobs.

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman came to me at the right time, and I learned from Silverman’s tales of perseverance despite having so many “big breaks” that didn’t pan out to her expectations. This is a quality that you also need in the food industry. You think one retailer is going to be your big break and it doesn’t materialize. Silverman’s stories are proof that although you may never get it all done, and there will always be ups and downs, you have to keep going.

You can find Anna Vocino’s books here, and see how adapt Anna’s Eat Happy Kitchen. Anna is working on Eat Happy Low Carb Italian, her upcoming cookbook.