I'm currently reading this lovely little book:
You've no doubt seen some of their other "eat this not that" books and this one if pretty darn good and interesting as well. I especially appreciated the authors' acknowledgment that I want to eat food that tastes good--there are enough "diets" out there that try to convince us not indulge in real food that tastes good; it is so refreshing for health experts to say your food should taste good and be good for you.
One of the interesting things I have learned is that research has shown that sodium benzoate preservatives and some artificial food colorings (such as Yellow #5, Yellow #6, and Red #40) are directly linked to increased hyperactivity in children--go check your child's breakfast cereal, and soda, or jellies. In Europe this research has lead to companies removing these additives from foods sold there (as in American companies removing these additives for their European customers but not for their American customers). Why not here? (insert your own comment about what this says about Americans and why we don't demand better here)
Probably the most valuable thing I've taken from this book is how to read and compare labels. Really that may sound pretty simple, but other than checking out the fat and calories of a product I didn't really know what I was looking at or for. Now I do. There are also a few pictures that help to illustrate what you should be looking for and what it really means. For example, there is a picture showing a 20 oz. bottle of Minute Maid Lemonade next to 5 Good Humor Vanilla Ice Cream bars with captions showing that they contain the same amount of calories and grams of sugar--and then they go on to say to work off that 1 drink you would need to do 60 minutes of vigorous housecleaning. That is the kind of information I need--and need to be able to understand.
On the what not to read front, please don't read Julia Child's My Life in France. I found it long, pretentious, unorganized, and unfocused.