Eating psychology and weight loss don’t always go hand in hand.
The field of eating psychology encompasses various themes, some of which are antithetical to weight loss.
For instance, eating psychology might include studies on the politics of body image, approaches to understanding emotional eating, cognitive and habit change approaches, and eating techniques such as Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating.
Some eating psychology practitioners consider that discussions of weight loss simply perpetuate the societal pressures and weight stigma that are the cause of the psychological distress around weight in the first place.
However, there are some eating psychology practitioners like me who aim to bridge this divide, and use conscious eating approaches alongside a greater understanding of the thoughts and self-beliefs we have inherited around food and weight, to change our relationship with food.
And, if we feel it is right for us to do so to please ourselves, to understand weight as a psychological burden better, heal our relationship with it, and perhaps also to lose weight.
Why Weight? By Geneen Roth
Do you ever wonder if there are psychological reasons why you’re holding onto your weight?
Why Weight? is a practical workbook is a great way to explore the meanings we attribute to being fat, and the benefits it brings us, as well as why we may fear it or hate ourselves for it.
With guided written exercises, the mother of emotional eating Geneen Roth asks the killer questions that’ll lead you to insight on your overeating.
My personal view: An eating psychology-driven weight loss can also be a psychologically healing journey for some of us.
Thinsanity, by Glenn Mackintosh
Glenn Mackintosh bridges the gap between intuitive eating, psychology and weight very knowledgeably.
Check out his podcast episode, in which he reads a bit from this book about how the BMI came to be a widely used measure of whether your body is overweight.
The Slow Down Diet, by Marc David
Marc David, who runs the Institute for the Psychology of Eating (where I certified as a coach back in 2014), switched my perspective with this book.
The premise is that if you focus on HOW you eat, rather than WHAT, you can create a metabolic shift out of your body’s sympathetic nervous system (stress) response (rush less, enjoy your food more, pay attention, fear food less), which is favourable to creating a relationship with food that’s better, and will help your body fully digest and burn what you fuel it with.
My personal view: Eating psychology and weight loss are intricately related, because how we rush and push ourselves to achieve cause us stress, and stress makes us both EAT and STORE what we eat.
Health at Every Size, by Lindo Bacon
This well-researched, game-changing book is both encouraging and discouraging.
It’s great for throwing off the fear that society has created around fat, and reveals the politics and falsehood behind making individuals believe they are a burden on the healthcare system and are solely responsible for their own bodyshape. Focus on health has better outcomes!
Readers may get discouraged, however the fact is that overeating, while only being one factor, is one element that IS within your scope to unlearn.
My personal view: Eating psychology and weight loss studies have shown that focusing on weight loss is the least effective in terms of health outcomes. In other words, if you WANT to lose weight and be happier and healthier, focus on HEALTH.
Thin Side Out, Josie Spinardi
Official intuitive eating practitioners (I am not one of them, though I use some of the tools in my work) generally agree that intentional weight loss is akin to perpetuating diet mentality, and that intuitive eating and weight loss aren’t really compatible.
But this book uses eating according to your hunger alongside debunking a bit of the false logic that makes you go all out and binge when you think you’ve ‘blown it’.
Slim from Within, David Brookes
I’d be remiss to not include the book and cassette pack that gave me my first taster of CBT, and that I used religiously to recover from binge eating. It laid the foundation for the coaching work I now do, using those exact same hypnotherapy and CBT tools.
You probably can’t get this book now except on eBay, and even then you’ll be lucky if you can find a copy with the accompanying hypnotherapy audio cassettes.
I Can Make You Thin, Paul McKenna
The value of McKenna’s hypnotherapy approach is the simplicity of this book.
He encourages you to eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’ve had enough, and come back later and eat again if needed. It’s the essence of intuitive eating.
My personal view: Eating psychology & weight loss isn’t as simple as ‘sit back, think new thoughts’. Most of us will need to get involved actively in interrupting the old habitual thoughts that compel us to eat when we’re not hungry together with hypnotherapeutic rehearsal of new ones.
If I Am So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight? by Brooke Castillo
Formerly self-published and now only available second-hand, this book has Brooke Castillo’s signature way of explaining things in a refreshing way that makes sense and is pared down to exactly what you need to know.