The best books on psychology of weight loss focus on the beliefs that fuel overeating and self-sabotage.
Even though we’ve been trained to think that weight loss happens through diet and exercise, that’s only 10% of the puzzle. The other 90% is your psychology — and it can be easy to overlook since we can’t physically see our brains.
But our brains are far more powerful than any diet or exercise program.
If you’re new, this is the home of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness, an approach to stop overeating based purely in psychology and spirituality. I have made it my life’s work to help compulsive eaters stop overeating without dieting ever again.
This post contains some of my favorite self-help books that happen to also help with weight loss. Many of them have personally helped me on my own journey overcoming compulsive eating. I update this list annually, so bookmark this page and let’s dig in!
PS. I have a FREE ebook called The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating for you at the end of this post. You don’t want to miss it! Click here to gain instant access to it!
The Best Books on Weight Loss Psychology (All-Time Favorites!)
Do you know your unique reasons for self-sabotage around food? It’s not because you lack willpower.
Self-sabotage happens when our internal beliefs don’t match our external actions. A great way to discover those internal beliefs is through workbooks.
While I update this list annually, the first two always remain at the top because they have both changed my life — including the one that I wrote! When I completed it, I still got something life-changing from it, and that’s with the disadvantage of knowing what to expect!
With that said, here are my top self-help books for weight loss that happen to be workbooks:
1. Why Weight? — by Geneen Roth
I love Geneen Roth! And while I intentionally buy all of her books, I actually bought this workbook by mistake. I thought it was a book, not a fill-in-the-blank workbook.
But honestly, I’m so glad I made that mistake! I believe that mistakes actually have divine fingerprints on them, so I figured it happened for a reason. And what I discovered through this workbook was pure gold.
It was very uncomfortable to complete though. I remember needing to assign myself pages like homework because I resisted this uncomfortable workbook like crazy.
And that’s how you know this work is deep, and addresses the root issue.
2. Why We Do the Things We Do — by Kari Dahlgren
Did you know that there’s actually a Positive Benefit with overeating? I know it sounds crazy! But most of us that struggle with compulsive eating are actually (subconsciously!) getting something positive from it…
And until we identify what that Positive Benefit is, we will continue to self-sabotage ourselves around food. Enter: Why We Do the Things We Do.
This workbook, written by yours truly, helps you discover the deep, subconscious reasons why we reach for food when we really don’t want to. Because most of us KNOW what a healthy diet looks like.
The problem is that our arm keeps reaching back inside the bag of chips when our brains are screaming at us to stop….
And the solution is awareness. They say “feel it to heal it” but this workbook helps you take it one step further so that you can “see it to feel it and then heal it.”
It was written by me, and it’s my bestseller. Doesn’t it just SCREAM juicyness?! You need this workbook.
See “Why We Do the Things We Do” on my website »
The Best Books on Psychology of Weight Loss — With a Spiritual Twist
I hope you knew some spiritual books would be on this list. After all, this is Psycho-Spiritual Wellness.
Up next are some great self-help books for spiritually-minded or open-minded folks:
3. Women, Food, and God — by Geneen Roth
This was my first wake up call to the idea that diets don’t work and that listening to your body actually does. I have read this more times than I can count! I have 3 copies: one on the bookshelf, one in my beach bag (always), and one to let others borrow. It’s that good!
See “Women Food and God” on Amazon »
4. The Gift of Our Compulsions — by Mary O’Malley
Even if you just read the introduction or first chapter, you’ll gain serious insight into the spiritual connection between food and life.
After all, the food-problem was never just about the food. It was about our relationship with everything else, and how that plays out with food.
It’s like Geneen Roth says: the way we do one thing is the way we do everything. This book pretty much explains that quote in great depth.
See The Gifts of Our Compulsions on Amazon »
Belief-Driven Books on the Psychology of Weight Loss
Are you sensing a theme here yet? All of these self-help books help you lose weight by focusing on the inner game. On your psychology.
And that means that self-help books that address your psychology can be helpful, even if they don’t talk about eating.
And that’s why I’ve included them in this list of self-help books for weight loss:
5. Fat Is A Feminist Issue — by Susie Orbach
Right off the bat, this one looks like a self-help book for weight loss, doesn’t it? But don’t be fooled! Susie will help you open your eyes to why you shouldn’t even be focusing on weight loss to begin with, because there’s nothing wrong with you!!!
The pursuit of thinness has been over-hyped and over-glamorized by our less-than-perfect society. And I hope that this book helps you be a little easier on yourself.
See “Fat Is A Feminist Issue” on Amazon »
6. The Big Leap — by Gay Hendricks
Do you want to dig DEEP into the biggest psychological blocks to weight loss? This book showed me that we can actually be afraid of success. And if we’re afraid of success, we won’t be able to lose weight, because weight loss is equivalent to success in today’s society.
This book strongly coincides with my own work on stopping self-sabotage around food.
See “The Big Leap” on Amazon »
7. Playing Big — by Tara Mohr
All too often, we keep our lives small by fixating on weight loss. And even more often, the weight naturally falls off when we step into a bigger life — but it can be scary to do that! And Tara shows you how to do it with courage and a kind heart in this book that happens to be a self-help book for weight loss.
8. Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol K. Truman
When we think of “comfort eating” we think of mac ‘n cheese and mashed potatoes and everything else good in this world that stops us from losing weight. But really, “comfort eating” is less about gaining comfort and more about stuffing down discomfort.
But as Karol will discuss in this book, feelings that are buried — by food or any other means of suppression — only come back stronger.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that knows or at least suspects that they use food to numb negative emotions. And again, while this book doesn’t talk about food directly, it’s still a great self-help book for weight loss because it addresses the inner work.
See “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die” on Amazon »
9. The Four-Day Win — by Martha Beck
Okay, this book is technically a diet — and while I believe that diets don’t work and never lead to long-term weight loss, I absolutely adore Martha Beck. And while I haven’t tried following the plan in this book, my biggest take away is that stress is really bad and does not promote weight loss.
After reading this book, I felt even more confident that not-dieting is still the best path towards reaching your natural weight, because the war with food only ever leads to stress.
See “The Four Day Win” on Amazon »
Heads up! You’re on a roll here, scrolling down this list, so be sure to grab my free ebook, The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating. If you liked the idea of these books so far, you’ll looooove this 15-page mini read. Grab the free ebook here »
10. Permission to Feel — by Marc Brackett
Anything you can do to improve your emotional awareness and emotional tolerance will help with weight loss. Seriously! It’s the entire idea behind my Stop, Drop, & Feel method to stop binge eating.
See “Permission to Feel” on Amazon »
11. Big Magic — by Elizabeth Gilbert
Ok, ok! I know this one seems unrelated to anything about weight loss, but here’s the thing… So many of us are putting our lives on hold until we “lose the weight.”
And I argue that we need to do the big scary thing before we can lose the weight. Otherwise weight loss is just a welcome distraction from facing our fears and chasing our big scary dreams.
You know, those big scary dreams of quitting your job to pursue your passion, and all other creative endeavours like that. And that’s what this book is all about.
(I had it sitting on my desk the entire time I was working on any of my books, because it’s the ultimate writer’s block-buster.)
12. When Things Fall Apart — by Pema Chodron
One of the biggest reasons why we turn to food when we aren’t hungry is because we’re avoiding discomfort. And no one talks about leaning into discomfort better than Pema Chodron.
Since overwhelming emotions are one of the biggest triggers for eating when we aren’t hungry, this book makes this list with ease. It’s one of my favorite books of all time.
See When Things Fall Apart on Amazon »
13. You Can Heal Your Life — by Louis Hay
What does self-love have to do with weight loss? Everything. Because self-love is not the result of weight loss, it’s the path. And this book is all about embracing self-love, particularly when it feels like the hardest thing to do.
So yeah, this book stays on the list of self-help books for weight loss, because it’s good for just about everything.
See You Can Heal Your Life on Amazon »
14. Daring Greatly — by Brene Brown
If you struggle with body image or tend to hide when you’re feeling fat (whether it’s factually true tends not to matter to our inner critic!), this is the book for you. It’s about unraveling the thick shackles of shame and owning your truth.
This book was actually the reason why I started this blog in 2016. It’s soooo good.
See Daring Greatly on Amazon »
15. Love Warrior — by Glennon Doyle
In this memoir, Glennon openly shares about her eating disorder and journey back to self-love. While I am not usually a fan of memoirs, this book was life-changing!
What Is Your Favorite Book on Weight Loss Psychology?
Leave a comment below to share your favorites too!
Oh, and if you want something to read now (immediately right this second), you can download my free ebook below!
It comes with a free 5-day course in Psycho-Spiritual Wellness (which is this weird blog that you’ve stumbled upon). It’s good stuff, you don’t want to leave it behind.
Originally published on February 25, 2018 // Last updated March 16, 2022
Just ordered Why Weight in Amazon 🙂 be here in two daysssss
Laura Lloyd says
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!
Kari Dahlgren says
So glad you found it useful Laura! I would loooove to hear how Why Weight goes. Care to circle back once you get started? 🙂