Joyous Health: A Guide To A Healthy, Happy You

Toronto Life

In a world where there is an entire section of the bookstore dedicated to health and wellness, there's no doubt these are subjects that are constantly on our minds. Why is that? A huge part of why we're constantly reading up on nutrition tips in magazines and picking up books on weight loss is likely the fact that we all want the best for ourselves and our families. We want to feel our healthiest and happiest — and that's hard to achieve if we aren't taking care of ourselves and feeling comfortable in our own skin.

So if our goal is to feel happy and at peace, why have the books and articles we turn to for advice gotten so far from that key message? It seems that everything we read these days is saying "don't eat that," "you must do this," "drop pounds fast," and on and on the list goes. But will forcing yourself to eat foods you hate, depriving yourself of the things that bring you joy and pushing your body into a shape that perhaps doesn't come naturally help you achieve true happiness? Not likely. So take a break from all those "diet" books and give Joy McCarthy's Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting a read.

Joyous Health cover
Joyous Health cover

Joy McCarthy is a holistic nutritionist as well as the co-founder of Eat Well Feel Well — a six-week holistic nutrition and yoga program in Toronto. You can tell from McCarthy's writing style that she is a kind, open-minded person who really wants to help others become their more "joyous" selves. But she also isn't afraid to be firm when necessary. When you've had decades of diet marketing pushed at you, it's easy to catch yourself thinking, "Well, those other diets didn't work, but maybe this one will be the one." Nope.

Ditch the deprivation, guilt, and "one-size fits all approach to health," says McCarthy. "Because diets are not sustainable, period."

That's some tough love right there. But don't worry, McCarthy won't leave you hanging. From this brave statement in the first chapter, she launches into how you can get started on your path to wellness. To make these changes manageable and long-lasting, McCarthy has a great strategy. She explains,

"The idea behind my book is to read one chapter each week and slowly implement changes over a six-week period. This way, you won't feel overwhelmed."

What's really nice about McCarthy is how honest and open she is right from the get-go. In the introduction, as well as throughout the book, she touches on struggles that have affected her personally — body-image issues, hormonal imbalance, digestive problems, low sex drive — and how she started implementing changes to move away from medications and towards a life of natural healing. She also includes personal stories of some of her clients throughout, which detail the small changes they made and how those changes affected their lives (higher energy, clearer skin, et cetera). These personal touches make sure you know you aren't alone, you can take action, and change is possible.

Healthy Breakfast
Healthy Breakfast

McCarthy believes in ditching diets, quitting calorie counting, and instead focusing on eating real food and listening to your body. The book touches on a wide variety of topics such as mindful eating, starting your day in the best way, improving your digestion, implementing small but meaningful changes that can improve your mood, "green"-ing your beauty routine, and much more. She also gets into more technical aspects of your body such as how your digestion works, the functions of your different organs, some common physical ailments and how to treat them naturally, and how certain nutrients and vitamins affect your system.

The book teaches you how to read an ingredient list and informs you why you should avoid those foods that aren't likely to help you feel your best, such as processed foods, food additives, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners. What's really nice is how McCarthy explains why you should avoid these foods. She never implies that you should feel badly when you do consume these foods. Instead, she goes into the details of why these foods contribute to your not feeling your best. For instance, you've likely been told that caffeine is bad for you and you should avoid coffee. But why? Well, McCarthy explains that along with the short-lived energy spike, coffee's diuretic effect could cause you to absorb fewer nutrients from your food because it gets forced through your gut too quickly. Then she describes how you can cut back slowly and comfortably and offers some healthy alternatives you can switch to when you're ready. This approach of offering realistic alternatives you can easily implement makes every piece of advice she offers seem achievable.

Body Mind Spirit
Body, Mind, Spirit

McCarthy's focus on the "why" rather than the "what" is truly refreshing. Sure, we've been told we "should" avoid refined sugars, but why? The book doesn't weigh you down with complex chemistry lessons, but McCarthy does provide some of the negative affects that a specific food can leave you with (energy crashes, cravings, digestive issues, et cetera). The table she provides of "Instead of this..." (for things such as ketchup), "have this healthier option" (try salsa or hot sauce, et cetera) to help you give your fridge and pantry a makeover is such a valuable tool to get you on the right track.

Title pages, glossy photos, and even even a good deal of the text are all bursting with colour. McCarthy encourages her readers to become their most vibrant selves — and that positive, dynamic energy practically jumps off the pages. The layout and design, created by Carol Dano, breaks up the information beautifully so you never feel like you're working through a massive amount of text. And if you're in the mood to skim, the coloured titles and well chosen blocks of bold text make it easy for you to jump to the messages that matter most to you.

The recipe photographs in the second part of the book are bright but simple — allowing the fresh ingredients to really stand out and get you excited about eating nutrient-rich foods. The book tends to feature one recipe per page along with a photo on the opposing page, so it's easy to get an immediate sense of what the completed recipe will look like as well as see the ingredients required all with a quick glance.

Joys advice  eat real food and listen to your body
Joy's advice: eat real food and listen to your body

From physical activity to mental self-care, McCarthy points out all kind of ways we can take care of our bodies and our minds. But one of the most crucial components to long-lasting, joyous health, seems to be what we eat. In fact, when asked what's a good first step for readers to take towards achieving "joyous health," McCarthy replied,

"Cook your own food! I have created easy and delicious recipes to make your tastebuds joyous and nourish your body."

What's cool about McCarthy's way of eating is she doesn't necessarily subscribe to any one particular eating style, other than eating real food. But she does have a great awareness of popular or necessary food styles and so all of her recipes are clearly marked as gluten-free, vegan, raw, dairy-free, et cetera, which offers a little something for everyone. This does mean, though, that if you do have specific requirements, not all the recipes will work for you. So the recipe section may not be as satisfying to you as perhaps a raw foods cookbook if you follow a raw vegan diet, a vegan cookbook if you can't have dairy, et cetera. But all in all, it's a very well rounded recipe section and great for giving just about any eater a few ideas.

Start to Live a Joyous Life
Start to Live a Joyous Life

The recipe section also offers up some healthier alternatives to traditional comfort foods so you can chow down on coconut flour banana pancakes rather than the Betty Crocker boxed version in your cupboard or whip up some black bean chia brownies to replace the store-bought variety. We've already fallen in love with the delicious simplicity of her spaghetti squash with chia seeds — perfect as a substitute for pasta or as a yummy side — as well as her nutrient-packed detox juice. And we can't wait to give her sun-dried tomato arugula spelt crust pasta a go!

McCarthy really encourages practicing mindful eating and listening to your body. But if you need a little bit of structure to get you on your way, you can follow the ten-day meal plan she includes that's entirely comprised of recipes you can find in her book. You can also make use of her food and wellness journal to keep track of how you're feeling. This offers a practical, easy way to dive right in and start practicing all the healthy habits you've learned from your reading.

Berry Brie Almond Salad by Amazing Almonds
Berry Brie Almond Salad by Amazing Almonds

It's great to see a Toronto author spreading the word about what we can do become our healthiest, happiest selves. And what does McCarthy hope you'll take away from her book? She describes it in one word:

"Joyous." She says, "I want readers to feel empowered, inspired and joyous reading my book... Joyous health is truly a lifestyle approach to well-being. There is no fad diet or a quick fix to getting healthy. Eating and living should and can be a very joyous experience!"

We couldn't agree more!

If you want to start living a "joyous" life, we have good news. We're giving away a copy of McCarthy's book! There are two ways to enter the contest:

  1. Leave a comment below letting us know what you're most excited to learn about in McCarthy's book, Joyous Health, or
  2. Share a link to this review on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter and include the hashtag #JoyousHealthGiveaway. Keep in mind that the post must be made public in order for us to find it so that it can count!

The giveaway ends on November 1, 2014. Anybody can join, but we will ship the book only to an Ontario postal address.

The giveaway was closed. Thanks to all who participated! The winner of the Joyous Health book copy is Amanda Browning! Congrats!


24 thoughts on “Joyous Health: A Guide To A Healthy, Happy You

September 25, 2014 at 8:38 am
Jenna Oh says:

I´d love to learn those recipes!

September 25, 2014 at 8:59 am
Stephanie says:

I’m excited for all her healthy recipes!

September 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm
Amanda says:

I love Joy, so fantastic. I would love to learn what she has to say!

September 25, 2014 at 9:31 pm
Wendy E. says:

I’ve been following Joy for a year now and her book is so exciting because it puts all in one place her philosophy, teachings, recipes and joyous nature!

September 25, 2014 at 10:00 pm
Mariah says:

I’d love to hear her tips on eating for healthier and clearer skin!

September 26, 2014 at 7:03 am
Kate says:

I’ve recently become aware of Joy and her book; her lifestyle. I am at a crossroads in my life concerning my health. I have no doubt that Joyous Health would help me make the right decisions for my health; mind, body & soul!

September 26, 2014 at 8:16 am
Tasin Tucker says:

I have followed Joy McCarthy, shortly after I heard her speak during a health conference in Toronto about a year and half ago. At that point, I was actively searching for local resources for health and nutrition, and searching for the vegan community. Attending her talk, allowed me the opportunity to meet a lot of like minded people, with the optimal focus of health, wellness and honour system in regards to the body. Since then, I have always tuned in to the morning shows to watch her demonstrations, and have tried out a few of her recipes as well. Most of all, I am thankful for having professionals like Joy who focus more on “feeling joyous and your best” rather than approaching a one-shoe-fits-all approach when it comes to health and wellness. Continue on the great work Joy and I hope to see you in action soon again!

September 26, 2014 at 8:34 am
Jennifer says:

This looks like a great book! Excited to make small lifestyle changes that can have a big impact on overall health 🙂

September 26, 2014 at 9:06 am
Sarah Colbourn says:

I really want Joy’s book!!!!!!!!!! It would help me make such good decisions and change my lifestyle. I suffer from blood sugar problems, and i’m trying to do my research and I follow you on instagram, twitter, facebook big fan!!!! keep it up Joy and i’d love this giveaway!!

September 26, 2014 at 7:05 pm
Marlo Paras says:

I would love to learn more about specific foods and their nutritional benefits plus the recipes would be so fun to make!

September 27, 2014 at 6:52 am
Lee Ann says:

I have learned so much from the Joyous Health website and have incorporated many of the recipes there into my repertoire. I’m sure the information in the book would take learning to the next level. Haven’t picked up the book yet, but definitely plan to. I’ll take all of the delicious simplicity I can get:)

September 29, 2014 at 1:04 pm
Audra says:

I have been actively searching for answers. I’ve been experiencing problems with my digestive system. I’ve purchased a Vitamix – tried to eat what I think are healthy foods and I’m not making much progress. It would be awesome to understand the WHY. I know this would be a great tool and steps to health. The health would truly promote the joy. Which has been lacking in my life for the past couple of years – that stems from the issues I’ve been having with the “gut”. I would truly appreciate a resource (your book) that focuses on the “why”. Instead of blindly following advice of “experts”. When I can understand why certain foods affect my digestive system – this finally will give me the answers that I’ve been searching for. The “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work for me either. There is no “magic bullet” and every system is different – therefore understanding what works for me is paramount. It seems that this book would address these issues. I truly believe that this book could be the answer that I’ve been searching for. All I can say – FINALLY – there may be some answers that I need to resume my life. I came up on this book accidentally and I see HOPE. Maybe this wasn’t a coincidence/accident – maybe it was meant to be.

September 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm
Emily says:

Joy came to my work to teach a few seminars! I love her relaxed attitude and her vast amounts of wholesome knowledge! Learnt a bunch during her sessions and went everytime she came to our office – she’s awesome and super approachable. So glad of her much deserved success.

September 30, 2014 at 1:53 am
lisa says:

Would love to read and try her recipes! She’s definitely got some solid health advice and having struggled with food sensitivities I’m always looking for new sources of reliable food information.
Solid review, by the way! Super informative on what to expect from the book.

October 1, 2014 at 7:51 pm
loucheryl says:

I really want to learn how to eat clean and to help create clearer skin. Also, for my husband, to help him improve his metabolism.

October 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm
Michelle M says:

Been following Joy for 3yrs now . She’s great! Learning to eat to reduce belly bloating makes such a difference; something she likes to address. Would love to win her book. #joyoushealthgiveaway 🙂

October 3, 2014 at 10:08 am
Stef A says:

I’d love to learn more about healthy fats and how to incorporate them into my cooking!

October 6, 2014 at 10:39 pm
Irislee says:

I’d love to have Joy’s amazing recipes in a book format that fits on my cooking counter, instead of having to drag my laptop around the kitchen. I love her recipes and have been using them for a few years already. It’d just be so nice to have them all in ONE place. 🙂

October 8, 2014 at 9:49 am
Kathryn says:

Since I am an newly elite althete and newly moved-out, with goals to meet. I would love to learn some recipes for sustainable healthy life.

October 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Marla says:

I’m excited for all the yummy recipes !

October 11, 2014 at 10:53 pm
Tracey says:

I would like to learn how to read an ingredient list and how to avoid foods with additives, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners.

October 13, 2014 at 8:48 am
Maggie C says:

I am most excited to read about how to improve my current lifestyle. I think I am eating well and read a lot already, but learning more would be great! =)

October 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I’m most excited about the no diet approach and the WHY behind things. Not the chemical why but the REAL why. Hppy to share! Happy to share JoyousHealthGiveaway

October 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm
jenny says:

tips on eating for a healthier lifestyle

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