Top 7 Books to Help with Emotional Eating

I love to read.  It’s one of my favorite pastimes.  I read fiction – in fact I’m attempting to work my way through the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die – but it’s a monumental climb.  I also read lots of books on nutrition and psychology, and I’ve found them to be very helpful in my own journey through struggles with eating concerns and also deep and confusing emotions.  

This list is in no way final, and I hope to add to it as I continue indulging in my reading habit.  Some of these books are specifically about emotions and eating, and others are more geared towards those tough emotions and limiting beliefs that often underlie our struggles with food and body.  I hope you find them helpful in your own journey as well!

1. Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David

This book really illustrates how we are nourished by so much more than just food.  The people you’re with, your environment, pleasure, the thoughts in your mind at the time, and more all have just as an important impact on nourishment and even how well we digest food.  

This book is a great starting point to understand how our emotional and even spiritual lives impact how we nourish ourselves.

2. The Gift of Our Compulsions by Mary O’Malley

This book is like a nurturing bowl of soup you can keep with you as you start to snuggle up to your emotions.  Or at least introduce yourself to them. The author uses metaphors that make it easy to visualize your uncomfortable feelings and how to view them in a more compassionate way.  While not a quick fix, practicing the concepts in the book will slowly help you find the gift in your compulsions, from eating to shopping to substances.

3. Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore

While not specifically geared toward eating, this book is like a companion guide as you travel to the depths of your own soul.  A Dark Night of the Soul is anything that takes you to a dark or lonely place in life.

Dark nights have their own reason and purpose, and can color our lives with nessecary texture to develop character and depth.  It’s important to feel them, be with them, go through them and learn from them, rather than try and always make yourself feel better.  They can inspire a new kind of creativity. Their own luminescence is like the moon; dimmer than the sun, but magical in their own way.  If you don’t keep seeking out light, your eyes adjust to the dark and you can find your way through.

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

The subtitle of this book is How Women can Transform their Relationships with Food through Myth, Metaphor and Storytelling.  While geared toward women with disordered eating, this book can help any woman who struggles with food and body and a feeling of “not fitting in.”  Through beautiful stories, the author takes you on a healing journey that will change the way you view your eating struggles and help you appreciate your body in a whole new way.

5. Loving What Is by Byron Katie

Through a series of 4 questions called “The Work” you learn how to transform the conversations in your mind to fully accept and love what is real.  A very practical guide that takes you through exercises and opens you to a new perspective on the problems and relationships in your life, you will leave this book with a new sense of power that you can choose how you respond to your thoughts.  While not dealing directly with food, it’s very applicable to eating issues, and it gets to the root of emotional eating by addressing the root – your thoughts.

6. The Myth of Stress by Andrew Bernstein

Very similar to Loving What Is, this author formerly worked with Byron Katie doing “The Work” with people to improve their emotions through their thinking.  I have to admit that I haven’t finished it yet, but it seems like a version of “The Work” that’s more accessible to the average person, with plenty of exercises to help you practice.  

The myth of stress is not that stress doesn’t exist.  The myth is that it’s external situations and circumstances that cause stress.  In reality, it’s our perception and response to those external factors that causes stress.  And it’s our inability to recognize and accept these emotions that can lead us to use food as a coping strategy.

7. Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating can help improve your relationship with food by taking you out of the dieting mentality, connecting to your body, and learning and applying self-care.  For anyone stuck in yo-yo dieting or recovering from disordered eating, intuitive eating can help you re-learn the skills we’re all born with – knowing and asking for what you need.

I admit I haven’t yet read the book, but I have read and worked through the Intuitive Eating Workbook by the same authors, which takes you through practical exercises to apply the 10 principles.  

Again, this is not a complete list.  I want to know what books have helped you heal from your eating concerns.  List them in the comments!

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