It's about 15 months since I decided that I would benefit by losing some weight, and exactly 12 months since I began keeping track of what I consumed each day. Result: about 34 lbs lost.
If you want my opinion - and why not, everybody else has got a view on diet - losing weight has nothing whatever to do with willpower. It's all a matter of attitude. And it's not a question of the 'right' attitude or the 'wrong' attitude either. You just simply have to decide whether you want to lose weight or not. In my case, having studied the facts, I decided that I would probably feel better if I lost at least 10 per cent of my body weight, and that, if I achieved that target, I would markedly reduce my risk of diabetes, heart problems, blood-pressure problems, et cetera. After that it wasn't very difficult.
As it happens, I haven't really been on a diet, in the sense of eating less, at all. I have simply changed the balance of what I consume. I now eat more bread, fruit, and vegetables than I did a year ago, and less dairy foods, fat, and sugar. In terms of volume of material consumed, I am eating more than I used to.
But you naturally want to know about books, since this is a book blog. Well, I began by reading Dr Atkins, of course. The UK edition of the Doctor's latest version of his famous diet has the ISBN 0 09 188948 0. This is an interesting book, and it's by no means aimed at the layman. I suspect that you need a degree in biochemistry to understand it fully, and it includes 24 pages of scientific references, which is unusual in a mass-market paperback. I read most of this book twice, and it certainly contains food for thought, though in the end I decided that the Atkins diet was definitely not for me.
Then I read Lyndel Costain's Diet Trials - how to succeed at dieting, which was written to accompany the 2003 BBC series about losing weight. This book bears all the signs of something cobbled together in great haste to meet a deadline. The material is less than perfectly organised, contradicts itself in places, and would have benefited from more careful editing. The index is pitiful.
However - and it's a big however - the book does contain some very useful information, if you have the patience to burrow for it. In pages 102-111 Costain outlines a 'personal weight-control guide.' Apparently, this approach is frequently used in large clinical studies into obesity, and I can testify that it is certainly effective. It's a rough and ready sort of approach, which does not require you to count every calorie.
Should you wish to count calories, and I for one have found it useful to do so on occasion, then you will need something like The Calorie, Carb and Fat Bible (ISBN 1 904512 00 3 in the UK). This particular Bible is yet another book in search of a better editor or proof-reader. 'Use the calorie tables on pages 15-16318', says the introduction. Huh? Finding simple but useful information, such as how many calories there are in a banana, can be something of a struggle in this book, but it's usually there somewhere.