15 Best Self-Help Books for Weight Loss: Master Your Mindset & Psychology

15 best self-help books for weight loss

If you’re looking for the best self-help books for weight loss, you came to the right place. As both a connoisseur of self-help books and practitioner of eating psychology, my personal library is chock full of books right up your alley.

I like to update this list at least once a year with new books I’ve added to my shelf along with the absolute best weight loss psychology books that I keep on this list year after year.

While many of these books aren’t directly on the topics of weight loss, they are even better than books that are — because most of the psychological blocks to weight loss have nothing to do with food or diet.

Weight loss isn’t just about “calories in, calories out.” That old science has been debunked. What matters is human psychology, mindset, and tendencies. For example, overcoming people pleasing is far more important than counting calories; because reaching for a cookie because all your friends are eating cookies is much harder to resist than reaching for a cookie because it tastes good. Don’t underestimate yourself!

The Best Self-Help Books for Weight Loss: Start with a Workbook

As someone that has written books myself (you’ll see a couple below) I know how much time and effort it takes to write a book. When you drop $20 on a book, you’re getting enormous bang for your buck, because most non-fiction authors pour their life’s work into a book! (Fiction author’s too, of course.)

Up first, you’ll find powerful workbooks that will help address the psychology of weight loss. While some of them aren’t directly on the topic of health and wellness, I encourage you to give them a try. Workbooks are gold mines for self-help!

1. Why We Do the Things We Do by Kari Dahlgren

Cover of Why We Do the Things We Do: A Workbook to Curb Self-Sabotage

Why We Do the Things We Do dives deep into the subconscious beliefs that drive our relationship with food. Through provocative prompts and exercises, readers are empowered to unearth their unique limiting beliefs around food and body image to pave a compassionate path to self-understanding.

This digital workbook, written by yours truly, is not just a tool but a harpoon for limiting beliefs, shining a much-needed light on the deeper emotional narratives that drive our behavior around food. Some people say “feel it to heal it” and this workbook takes it one step further and helps you “see it to heal it.” After all, how can you work on your mindset if you don’t know exactly what you’re working with yet?

2. Don’t Believe Everything You Feel by Robert Leahy

Don't Believe Everything You Feel self-help book cover

I bought this workbook, Don’t Believe Everything You Feel, on a whim because, well, my entire approach to stopping compulsive eating (Psycho-Spiritual Wellness) revolves around feelings-work and belief-work. The workbook above addresses your beliefs. My Stop, Drop, & Feel tool addresses your feelings, and so does this workbook.

What I really enjoyed about this workbook is how the author explains “emotional perfectionism.” When we get caught up insisting that life be happy all the time, we actually make things worse. This aligns with my own beliefs about unraveling the reasons why we turn to food when we aren’t hungry: namely, an uncomfortable feeling.

If you’re a fan of my Stop, Drop, & Feel method to stop binge eating, and you want some extra help with the “feelings” aspect, this workbook might be a great fit.

Greatest Hits: The Best Weight Loss Psychology Books

While some of these books are directly related to food and weight loss, many of them are not— and that’s why they’re so good! Some of the best self-help books for weight loss dive into the psychological strengths we need to develop in order to reach our natural weight — and those don’t always relate specifically to food.

Here are some of my favorite self-help books on topics that I believe relate to eating psychology and the path to reaching your natural weight:

3. Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth

cover of Women Food and God, the best weight loss mindset books

In the universe of eating psychology, Geneen Roth shines brightly with her masterpiece, Women, Food, and God. Roth takes a unique approach: instead of focusing on what to eat, she explores the deep-rooted emotional and spiritual reasons behind our eating habits. This book isn’t about religion; when Roth refers to “God,” she’s delving into a broader, universal sense of spirituality and our connection to the universe.

Geneen illustrates how our relationship with food isn’t just about hunger but is deeply intertwined with our beliefs about self-worth, love, and our spiritual essence. Through her poignant insights and candid reflections, readers are guided on a transformative journey to understand their personal relationship with food. It’s a riveting exploration, making us realize that achieving a healthy weight is less about diets and more about understanding our spiritual and emotional selves.

4. Appetites by Geneen Roth

cover of Appetites, the best weight loss psychology books

Geneen Roth is back on my list (yes, she’s that fantastic) with Appetites. This enlightening read challenges the age-old question: What are we truly hungry for? Geneen suggests that our hunger isn’t always about food but often reflects our deeper longings and desires. The book invites readers to explore their true appetites – for love, purpose, and connection. By understanding our real hungers, we can start to make choices that nourish both our bodies and souls.

With her signature blend of candid storytelling and profound insights, Geneen helps readers see beyond the surface-level cravings and dive deep into the emotional undercurrents that drive our food choices. Appetites isn’t just about understanding your cravings for chocolate or salty snacks; it’s about understanding your cravings for life.

5. When Food Is Love by Geneen Roth

Geneen strikes again! Securing her hat-trick on our list is When Food Is Love. In this compelling read, Roth examines the intricate relationship between eating and intimacy. She dives into the ways food can become a substitute for love and affection, especially when love has been conditional or absent.

The brilliance of this book lies in its ability to make readers reflect on their past relationships – not just with others, but also with themselves. Through a mix of personal anecdotes and universal truths, Geneen illuminates how emotional voids can lead to food becoming a source of comfort and connection.

It’s no surprise that Geneen Roth occupies three slots on this list. If anyone can dominate a list on weight loss psychology, it’s Geneen!Her ability to delve into the complex web of emotions, relationships, and food choices is unparalleled. If you’re seeking to unpack the deeper emotional layers of your relationship with food, Geneen’s trove of wisdom is an absolute must-read.

6. Daily Reminders on Psycho-Spiritual Wellness by Kari Dahlgren

Allow me to mention a book that is very close to my heart: Daily Reminders on Psycho-Spiritual Wellness. Why? Because it’s penned by yours truly. Going beyond the conventional “calories in, calories out” narrative, my full-length ebook provides a heartfelt and in-depth exploration of how to stop overeating from a purely psycho-spiritual perspective.

Drawing from my personal experiences, the book juxtaposes heartwarming stories with technical guides, all aimed at helping you navigate the winding path of shedding the dieting mindset. If the thought of stopping diets fills your heart with hope but sends shivers of anxiety through your mind, this book is crafted just for you.

7. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Bessel van der Kolk’s magnum opus, The Body Keeps the Score, might not appear to be a weight-loss book at first glance, but its insights into trauma and the ways it manifests in our physical bodies are invaluable for anyone seeking holistic wellness. Van der Kolk delves deep into how trauma can impact both the mind and body, leading to various coping mechanisms, one of which can be overeating or disordered eating.

Understanding and addressing trauma is often the missing puzzle piece in many weight loss journeys. This book offers insights into how our bodies remember and hold onto past traumas and stresses, sometimes resulting in weight gain or retention. By comprehending these connections and working towards healing, we can better understand our relationship with food and begin the journey to a healthier self, both mentally and physically.

8. The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

8. The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet is not your traditional “diet” book. Instead of focusing on what to eat or what to avoid, Beck presents ten practices to bring more joy into your life. The premise is simple: when we infuse our lives with joy, our relationship with food naturally becomes more balanced. Overeating often stems from seeking comfort or trying to fill an emotional void. By adding genuine joy to our daily lives, we reduce the need to find it at the bottom of a snack bag.

With her engaging and witty style, Beck guides readers through actionable steps to cultivate happiness, connection, and authenticity. While it may not be a diet in the conventional sense, the nourishment it provides for the soul can have a profound impact on physical health and wellbeing.

9. Heal Your Body by Louise Hay

Louise Hay’s Heal Your Body is a transformative exploration of the metaphysical cause of physical ailments. This book isn’t for everyone. It’s a great fit for those who believe that physical ailments are a result of something much deeper — something spiritual.

In Heal Your Body, Louise Hay presents a comprehensive list of ailments, including weight-related issues, and offers potential emotional causes and healing affirmations for each. This is the book that inspired my blog post on trapped emotions and weight gain and the spiritual root of weight gain. If you like those posts, you’ll LOVE Louise’s book!

10. The Slow Down Diet by Marc David

Marc David’s The Slow Down Diet takes a refreshing approach to weight loss by emphasizing the power of relaxation and pleasure in transforming our relationship with food. Rather than offering another strict eating regimen, David delves into the metabolic power of joy, relaxation, and quality. He posits that by savoring our food and being present during meals, we can improve digestion, regulate appetite, and achieve sustainable weight loss. It’s a reminder that sometimes, slowing down is the quickest path to transformation.

11. Fat Is A Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach

Susie Orbach’s trailblazing Fat Is A Feminist Issue examines the intricate relationship between women’s body image, societal pressures, and eating disorders. Orbach makes a compelling argument that overeating can be a rebellious response to society’s expectations of the female body.

While the book is centered on women’s experiences, it’s essential to note that men too face their own set of societal and body image pressures. The universality of societal standards and the subsequent self-loathing they can induce knows no gender boundaries.

Whether you’re a woman feeling the weight of unfair societal beauty norms or a man grappling with unfair masculinity standards, this book offers an enlightening exploration into the socio-cultural dimensions of weight and body image.

12. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

This book is almost a decade old at this point but it remains on this list because it was this book that inspired me to start my blog 6 years ago! I wanted to own my story and release my shame by revealing my experiences navigating compulsive eating.

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown dives into the power of vulnerability and how embracing our imperfections can lead to more meaningful connections, a better understanding of self-worth, and personal growth. 

While not directly a self-help book for weight loss (not even remotely), Daring Greatly addresses the shame and vulnerability often associated with body image and self-perception. Brown’s groundbreaking research on shame resilience provides readers with tools to combat feelings of unworthiness, which can indirectly influence one’s relationship with food and body.

13. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron offers profound insights on how to face challenging moments in life. Chodron delves deep into the human psyche, addressing our innate tendency to seek comfort during times of distress. For many, that comfort is found in food, leading to patterns of emotional eating, which is why this book, though not directly on the topic of weight loss (not even remotely), still lands on my list of the best self-help books for weight loss indeed.

Through her teachings, Chodron encourages readers to confront their discomfort head-on, suggesting that embracing, rather than escaping, our pain can be the key to personal growth. By learning to navigate tough times without leaning on food as a crutch, we can cultivate a healthier relationship with both our emotions and our diets.

14. The Secret Language of Eating Disorders by Peggy Claude-Pierre

The Secret Language of Eating Disorders delves into the hidden psychological and emotional triggers of anorexia and bulimia. If you are someone that is struggling with an eating disorder or have in the past, I highly recommend working with a professional trained in eating disorders (NEDA has great resources) and reading this book.

Through personal accounts and professional insights, Claude-Pierre offers a compassionate approach to understanding and healing from these disorders. The book acts as a beacon of hope for those trapped in the cycle of an eating disorder and provides insights for loved ones seeking to understand and help. Even if you don’t struggle with an eating disorder, I highly recommend this book because you will be able to offer unparalleled compassion to those who do.

15. Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston

Anita Johnston’s Eating in the Light of the Moon offers a metaphorical journey into understanding and healing disordered eating. Through myths and stories from various cultures, Johnston paints a picture of food struggles as symbolic expressions of deeper emotional and spiritual needs.

The book emphasizes intuition, self-understanding, and reconnecting with one’s inner self. For those seeking a more spiritual and symbolic perspective on their food challenges, Johnston’s poetic approach is a refreshing solace.

And if you consider yourself a spiritual person, then you HAVE to check out my free ebook below. It is right up your alley:

Keep It Going: Get "The Spiritual Seeker's Guide to Stop Binge Eating" (Free Ebook)

The Spiritual Seeker's Guide to Stop Binge Eating

The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating will show you even more insight into the subconscious reasons why we eat past fullness — even when we really don’t want to! (It’s a free, 13-page, beautifully-illustrated PDF.)

When you sign up, you’ll also get a free 5-part crash course in Psycho-Spiritual Wellness to catch you up to speed. It’s perfect if you’re new to my blog. Sign up below:

You're On a Roll: Take the Eating Psychology QUIZ!

Even if you struggle with overeating, I bet I can guess your strength around food.

If you think food is your weakness, take the quiz and give me the chance to change your mind. There are just 8 questions.

Once you finish, you can either skip the email part (because I hate quizzes that force you to enter one!) or you can sign up to get a free 5-day crash course on Psycho-Spiritual Wellness. It’s perfect for beginners!

You're Really on a Roll: Get a Handle on Self-Sabotage

Bestseller: Why We Do the Things We Do

If you’re ready to take things even deeper, check out my most popular workbook, Why We Do the Things We Do: A Workbook to Curb Self-Sabotage.

By actually putting pen to paper, you’ll be surprised by what comes up. This is how you can discover your unique psychological blocks to compulsive eating.

I swear by workbooks!!! There is something about separating our thoughts onto paper that allows us to dig DEEP at our subconscious blocks around food and weight.

If you like everything you’ve read so far, this is the perfect place to make massive progress. (It’s my bestseller, after all!)

Since you're here, I would LOVE it if you dropped a comment on this post.

I read and reply to every single one! Just like I do with my emails. Since I don’t use much social media (outside of Pinterest and YouTube), I very much enjoy this opportunity to hear your thoughts and connect ✨

5 thoughts on "15 Best Self-Help Books for Weight Loss: Master Your Mindset & Psychology"

  1. Christysays:

    Just ordered Why Weight in Amazon 🙂 be here in two daysssss

  2. Laura Lloydsays:

    Hi Kari, I enjoyed this post so much. Thanks for flagging up Why Weight, I have ordered my own copy and am excited! It’s a joy to see the work you’re sharing, thank you for all that you do!

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      So glad you found it useful Laura! I would loooove to hear how Why Weight goes. Care to circle back once you get started? 🙂

  3. Johnsays:

    My weight is up right now, though I will get it back down as I have in the past with making better food choices. Your reviews of the “15 best self-help books for weight lost” is very much appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      I’m glad you like this roundup, John! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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