Written by Serena Benali, Registered Dietitian. Published January 2023.
Food addiction is a real thing. You especially know this to be true if you’ve ever experienced it firsthand… The secrecy, the feeling out of control, being unable to stop eating despite feelings of pain and discomfort and the feelings of guilt and shame you’re left with.
If you’re struggling with food addiction it’s important to know that it is not your fault. There is clear research showing us that food activates the same brain regions seen with drug addicts.
MRI’s studying humans have shown that certain foods activate the same regions of the brain as drugs (amygdala and insula). Furthermore, food cravings lead to changes in the brain (hippocampus, insula and caudate) that are similar to those involved in drug cravings that are only present in addicts (1).
In this blog post, we recommend eight books to begin breaking the cycle of food addiction. Many of these books explain the science and neurobiology behind food addiction in addition to processes to help break the cycle.
What books did we skip? Any book that focuses on severe food restriction or weight loss, as this is not helpful for people struggling with food addiction.
This library of books offers valuable support and guidance for breaking the cycle of food addiction. We hope you find them helpful!
Self-help Food Addiction Books
Self-help books provide education and tools that you can apply yourself. These books are a good place to start.
Food Junkies: Recovery from Food Addiction
Written in 2019 by Vera Tarman, MD
The author has a unique perspective as she is a medical doctor and someone who personally struggled with food addiction for decades.
The second edition of this book serves to be a guide with strategies to cope with compulsive overeating combining both research and personal stories from people struggling with food addiction and eating disorders. If you’re looking to be inspired by other food addicts who are now on the other side, this book provides inspiration and tools to treat and overcome food addiction.
Rezoom: The Powerful Reframe to End the Crash-and-Burn Cycle of Food Addiction
Written in 2021 by Susan Peirce Thompson Ph.D., Everett Considine
In this book the authors share how you can avoid the short-lived highs and inevitable vicious lows of relapses that come along with recovery.
This book helps you understand the psychological and biological nature of food addiction and provides you with a system for recovery. What’s unique about this book is that it offers Parts Work so you can overcome your own inner resistance and ensure every “part of you” is on board for a recovery and a healthy relationship with food.
Parts Work comes from Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. Susan is an IFS practitioner. IFS is an evidenced-based therapeutic modality that was developed by Dr. Richard Schwarts in the 1980’s after working with eating disorder clients. The process works with our own inner “parts” to cultivate healing.
At In Good Nutrition, our dieticians use IFS when counselling clients and find it is transformational and accelerates healing.
Psychology Today: Breaking the Bonds of Food Addiction
Written in 2004 by Susan McQuillan MS, RD
This book was written by a Registered Dietitian and details the whys and hows of food obsession and compulsive overeating.
Readers go on a journey of understanding food addiction and then breaking the bond with it by learning their personal triggers and developing a personalized plan for healthy living while learning how to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
The DBT Solution for Emotional Eating: A Proven Program to Break the Cycle of Bingeing and Out-of-Control Eating
Written in 201 by Debra L. Safer, MD, Sarah Adler, PsyD, and Philip C. Masson, PHD
This book is written by three researchers and uses the framework of Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). It is considered the gold standard for the treatment of binge eating disorders (2). It is typically delivered by psychologists and therapists but the authors developed a book to help readers learn and practice DBT in a self-help format.
DBT focuses on three main concepts: mindfulness, emotional regulation and distress tolerance. Each chapter is followed by homework to apply the material. This book can be beneficial if you know nothing thing about DBT as it was intended for people who have never done DBT.
I Can't Stop Eating: How To Break Free From The Cycle Of Bingeing
Written in 2020 by Sarah Dosanjh
Sarah writes this book as an eating disorder psychotherapist and as someone who has recovered from binge eating disorder.
In this book, Sarah teaches you how trying to control your appetite actually leads to out-of-control eating and how your intentions can at times hinder you. She shares her method to free yourself from compulsive eating, improve your body image and use your intentions for good.
Autobiographical Food Addiction Books
The book we recommend here was written by someone who has been through the trenches of food addiction and is now on the other side. These kind of books can provide hope and inspiration.
W.A.I.T.loss: The Keys to Food Freedom and Winning the Battle of the Binge
Written in 2016 by Wendy Hendry
Wendy shares her personal story of three decades of food addiction and her journey to recovery.
Like many, Wendy dieted herself to an unhealthy weight and food addiction. Through concepts of mindfulness and health she was able to escape her own mental food prison and now teaches others to do the same. Wendy’s book emphasizes that weight-loss should be seen as a natural consequence of healthy living.
You’ll find light humor throughout the book, bringing some light-heartedness to your journey of recovery.
Food Addiction Workbooks
Workbooks are a great way to actively implement what you are learning. They allow you to implement your new tools and reflect. We’ve got two workbook recommendations for you and they’re good ones!
The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook: How to Manage Cravings, Reduce Stress, and Stop Hating your Body
Written in 2017 by Carolyn Coker Ross, MD, MPH
Carolyn’s workbook doesn’t focus on what or how much to eat. It focuses on what you really need to end your food addiction.
The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook is a non-diet workbook that focuses on what they believe to be the real reason your food addiction feels impossible to overcome - it’s not about the food but it’s about how food is used to self-soothe, numb, and cope with stress. Ultimately food is misused to solve problems that have nothing to do with food.
Through reflective practices in the workbook, you’ll identify the true cause of your food addiction, map out your personalized anchor to relate better to your body, learn how to manage stress, regulate emotions and soothe yourself without relying on food.
The Binge Eating Prevention Workbook: An Eight-Week Individualized Program to Overcome Compulsive Eating and Make Peace with Food
Written in 2020 by Gia Marson, EdD., Danielle Keenan-Miller, PhP
The authors of this book are both psychologists and they understand that what helps one person doesn't always help another. That's why their workbook is the framing to create your own customizable eight-week plan to break free from binge eating.
We love how this workbook helps you break free from the dieting mentality and understand why dieting just doesn’t work.
You're guided to learn and recognize your triggers, the underlying cause of your binge eating, and how to cope with difficult emotions. With concepts of mindfulness you’ll learn to stay present when urges take hold and begin making healthful choices because you know they improve how you feel.
Key takeaways: best food addiction books
Food addiction is real. It can feel unbearable when you're in the throes of it, but it is treatable.
If you’re struggling with food addiction a book or workbook can be a great place to start the journey to health. Many books include the science and neurobiology of food addiction that can be helpful in understanding that it’s really not your fault along with personal stories of recovery and triumph.
As a registered dietitian and recovered binge eater, I personally know how hopeless you can feel when you’re in it but if I was able to overcome it so can you. There is nothing that you’re missing or that you don't have - you got this.
We’d love to support you on the journey to a healthy relationship with food and offer you our FREE Healthy relationship with food Starter Guide. In this ebook we share 3 pivotal strategies to be the beginning steps to helping you nourish a healthier relationship with food.