Most people in the New Year start with a resolution to either lose weight or eat more healthily. Following this, we have decided to review the hottest diet books to start 2014 with a BOOM!


The Fast Diet by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

What the book says: You can eat what you like most of the time on the ‘5:2’ intermittent fasting diet. By reducing your calorie intake for two non- consecutive days a week (500 calories for women, 600 for men) you’ll lose weight and enjoy a wide range of health benefits – the joy of the Fast Diet is that the side-effects are all good. Author Michael Mosley, the medical journo behind the book whose BBC Horizon programme kick-started the phenomenon, explains the compelling science behind it. There is a separate recipe book that accompanies this diet manual.

What Maxine says: There’s lots of evidence to support the theory that fasting – if done sensibly – can have major health benefits, from weight loss to reducing the risk of age-related diseases like cancer and diabetes. It feels like everyone is doing it this month, with some amazing results! But sticking to 500 kcals for two days a week is as hard as it sounds. Pret’s Misu Soup and Itsu’s Spicy Tuna Maki are lunchtime Godsends.

Who it’ll work for: People who like to have their cake and eat it. But remember, you can’t drink or gym it on your fast days, so you’d need to be happy to have two very quiet nights a week. 

The Paleo Diet by Dr Loren Cordain.

What the book says: Written by Paleolithic expert Dr Loren Cordain, The Paleo Diet aims to return us to what our ancestors ate: lean meats and fish, fresh fruits, snacks and non-starchy vegetables. Along the way, it claims to fight disease, provide maximum energy, and keep you naturally thin, strong and active – while enjoying every satisfying and delicious bite. A new and revised edition including information "drawn from breaking Paleolithic research".  What’s not to like!

What Maxine says: This is the most googled diet of 2013 and clearly has had some great results. The strict regime whereby most carbs are so heavily restricted in the initial stage requires not only determination but organisation.

Who it’ll work for: For those who have a lot of weight to lose and are determined and dedicated to do lose it. This has fast initial results, which can be motivating.


The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr Mark Hyman

What the book says: "The bestselling programme for preventing diabetes, losing weight and feeling great". Dr Mark Hyman predicts more than 4 million people in Britain will have diabetes by 2025 (yikes!) so in a bid to keep us all fighting fit, he reveals the secret solution for losing weight (while warding off diabetes, heart disease and other nasties) is balanced insulin levels, which result from regulating your sugar intake. What, no more cupcakes? *sad face*

What Maxine says: I need this in my life… Whilst the focus of the book is predominantly on the prevention of diabetes, we can all benefit from Dr Hyman's six-week healthy living  plan and the seven pillars of achieving good health - nutrition, hormones, inflammation, digestion, detoxification, energy metabolism and a calm mind. Complete with recipes and shopping lists, The Blood Sugar Solution gets you on the road to feeling healthy, with no more sugar cravings. Hopefully.

Who it will work for: If you're the type to reach for a sugary sweet snack when you need an energy boost, or you're worried about your long-term health then this is the perfect read for getting to grips with a healthier diet and lifestyle. If sugar is your vice then Dr Mark is your man!



Diet Coach by Kimberly Willis

What the book says: This is an inspirational diet book with a difference. It is a non-diet book - with no restrictions, point-counting, calorie-watching or danger foods. Instead, Diet Coach is a pocket-sized guide full of tried and tested practical tips and tricks that restrictive diet plans cannot compete with.

What Maxine says: A diet without food restrictions? I like! Forget about targets you’ll never meet, this book is all about baby steps. Gentle exercise tips and acupressure techniques to help get rid of any negative feelings towards food or exercise. Think more getting to love your body and taking control over your eating habits rather than crash dieting.

Who it will work for: Perfect for diet virgins or for those who’ve not managed to stick to any diets.

The Gastric Mind Band

What the book says: Married therapists Martin and Marion Shirran have put together The Gastric Mind Band which helps us to think we have a gastric band fitted and therefore helping us lose weight. Using alternative processes, the book coaches us to have a better attitude towards food, ultimately fixing our food vices. The GMB is not a diet but a method, helping you live a healthier lifestyle, with positive visualisations.

What Maxine says: In order for this book to work you're going to need some serious dedication to the cause! You'll need to be honest with yourself, have a strong focus and REALLY want to change your lifestyle rather than just your body. As it focuses mainly on the mind, it may also be worth investing in an exercise and a healthy meals cookbook alongside.

Who it will work for: If you constantly reach for the biscuits and have developed silly eating habits (for example, always buying a chocolate bar when you fill the car up at the garage) then this is the book for you. If you're determined to change your lifestyle and attitude then this book is ideal. Those wanting to shed a few pounds quickly need not apply.

The Headspace Diet by Andy Puddicombe

What the book says: If you’ve tried every diet going and failed, eat for the wrong reasons and feel guilty and anxious about certain foods then The Headspace Diet will help you find your ideal weight in an easy, manageable and mindful way. You will discover why you eat the way you eat, what type of eater you are, a ten-day plan and lifelong techniques to make a change for the better.

What Maxine says: It is super-interesting to learn if you’re a ‘binger’ or a ‘bear’, who knew you ate in such emotional ways? You discover how to be more mindful about what you put in your mouth and ultimately learn to appreciate eating – with healthy habits.

Who it’ll work for: People who have a big emotional attachment to food. Which is most of us - even if we don’t acknowledge it.


The reboot with Joe: Juice Diet by Joe Cross

What the book says: Joe used to weigh 22 stone and suffered from a debilitating skin disease. In a desperate attempt to turn his life around, Joe began juicing and managed to lose 6 stone in 60 days… Plus stop using his aggressive medication.

What Maxine says: If you are a lazy eater like me (chewing is far too much effort!) then this liquid magic is the way forward. This book includes exciting recipes for juices, smoothies and salads. His diets range from 3 days to 30. Don’t be alarmed by the sheer amount of fruit and veg you will be buying! Some recipes contain 3 carrots for 1 juice alone!

Who it’ll work for: Those who are on the go and want a quick fix. This has a plan that fit into the busiest of schedules.

Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast by Ani Phyo

What the book says: Raw food chef and guru, Ani’s cleansing plan will lower risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart diseases as well as granting radiant skin and boundless energy. The three-phase plan starts with a detox and ends with you enjoying surprisingly delicious treats, from veg wraps to raw fudge brownies. You can implement the diet into your life, armed with Ani’s tips and tools for lifelong wellness.  What Maxine says: You will feel clean and lean and learn some health gems, from the best fat blasting superfoods to how to eat yourself more beautiful! You will lose weight easily and gain great health habits.  

 Who it’ll work for: People who are committed to living a healthy lifestyle as well as losing weight. With a bit of planning and discipline you’ll be super-satisfied and enjoy the many benefits of eating raw.


Dukan: The Oat Bran Miracle (Dukan Diet), Dr Pierre Dukan

What the book says: By eating oat bran as part of The Dukan Diet weight-loss programme you can lose the weight you want like millions of others have around the world.  This is a low carb, high protein plan. There is no limit on how much you can eat during the plans 4 phases- providing you stick to the rules!!!!

What Maxine says: The Dukan Diet is famous for the fixing figures from film stars to the Middletons and the health benefits of oat bran are hard to ignore, but critics claim the side effects can be anything from disgusting (such as bad breath) to damaging (such as nutritional deficiency). Hmmm. In terms of whether you’ll lose weight, as long as you’re prepared to commit and plan your meals well, there is no reason why you wouldn’t.

Who it will work for: Though you can see noticeable weight loss in the first week, this is not a quick fix. Dr Pierre Dukan advises a life-long commitment to reap all the benefits. Suitable for those who are strict but not wanting to go hungry.

Metabolism Miracle: 3 Easy Steps to Regain Control of Your Weight by Diane Kress

What the book says: If your friend eats more than you, yet you always put on weight, it could be your metabolism that's to blame. By doing the Metabolism Miracle diet, and 'retraining your body' you will shift the unwanted pounds – especially around the middle – and you'll feel better. Author Diane Kress has worked with thousands of people with their weight loss battle by doing the three step programme – and as a result they've lost the weight, and kept it off.

What Maxine says: The fact that Diane Kress struggled with her weight prior to the Metabolism Miracle, it shows that she's a tried and tested success story. If you have a lot of weight to shift, and you're fed up after trying loads of diets, this could be the one for you. But you do have to go full throttle - it's an intense diet, step one is hard-core (NO CARBS WHATSOEVER!) and you have to go in with maximum willpower.

Who it’ll work for: Fed up, frustrated dieters. The ones who are baffled why they've dieted all week/month/year and still not lost any pounds. Ultimately, the dieters who think their metabolism is whack.



What the book says: In Greedy Girl's Diet, Nadia Sawalha proved that healthy food doesn't have to be dull and that you can still have treats without overindulging. Now Nadia's back, with a host of family-friendly, healthy and nutritious recipes (including her famous desserts!) that can be prepared and on the table in no time. Greedy Girl's Diet: Second Helpings is full of delicious, diet-friendly dishes, with one chapter specialising in ten-minute meals, another for half-hour dinners - perfect for a weeknight - and a whole host of lunchbox suggestions. There's a section on guilt-free 'junk' food, a guide to making takeaway-style dishes without the calories, and even an emergency three-day detox for when you just have to fit into that dress.

What Maxine says: This is a no nonsense, healthy and balanced approach to eating. Your gran would approve! The less oil, adding flavour and making better choices in meat cuts and choosing brown bread all mean you get to eat well and exchange your ‘bad stuff’ for ‘better stuff’…. I like it!

Who it’ll work for: Those who need to feed the family as well as wanting to lose weight. Great recipes and family faves.

We are looking for a narrator to tell the fantastic children's story of Banjo the flying pig! No experience necessary, we want everyone to audition! Description‘Banjo - The flying pig’ is a fantastic children’s story that shows that dreams really do come true! With beautiful illustrations and delightful rhyming, the story follows Banjo from being runt of the litter, ignored and pushed aside, to being granted a wish from a Fairy Queen.

Banjo is now being turned into an enhanced e-book and animation, and we are looking for the perfect narrator to tell Banjo’s story!
We are hosting auditions at the New Vic theatre in Stoke-on-Trent and are looking for all members of the public to audition. No experience is necessary, just a passion for story telling… parents, grandparents, actors, and teachers – get applying, this is your chance to make your dream come true!

To audition at the New Vic theatre please first post a video or voice clip of you reading a short extract from Banjo on to the Banjo: The Voice  Facebook page and we will be in touch. Silly voices, pig noises and enthusiasm are encouraged! Here’s the extract….

Banjo was a lovely pig whose tail was pink and short.
And early in the morning, he’d greet you with a snort.
When he got excited, his trotters used to fly...
from paddock to the meadow, from the farmhouse to the sty.
Now Banjo wasn’t greedy, he’d share his swill at the trough.
He didn’t barge or push or shout but politely stand and cough “Excuse me, my fellow pigs, but could I have a go?”
The other pigs would stand and stare and snort together... NO!
We’ve just launched a really exciting writing competition for key stage 1 & 2 children. Local author, Maxine Mallen’s new children’s book “Maggie The Wonder Dog” is on sale via Amazon and some Waterstone’s outlets and she’d like your children to get involved. All we’re asking you to do is get your children to write a story. The story has to be centred around being trapped. A great opportunity for your kids to use their imagination and win some really great prizes. It’s open to children aged between 5 and 11 years, and the winning story will be published in the Staffordshire Newsletter. They will also win a £30 Waterstone’s voucher, signed copies of Maxine’s books, a goody bag with pens and t-shirts, and Stafford FM will also throw in a nice prize too.

Entries must be with us by midnight on the 17th January 2014. So there’s a bit of time to get working on this. Once you’ve got your children to complete their story, make sure they put their name on it, their age, which school and year they are in, then send it to: Stafford FM, Suite D, 1-3 Mount Street, Stafford ST16 2BZ.





    Maxine Mallen is a lover of hot chocolate with marshmallows (the tiny pink and white ones) and a hater of tomatoes!

    She loves to write children's picture books and truly believes that with a bit of hard work, self belief and determination that dreams can come true!


    January 2014
    December 2013