Annotated Bibliography

The book list is organized by section:

This list is not meant to be an exhaustive bibliography. It mainly contains books that I think are especially good, but also includes a few that are well known but in my opinion less good (with comments as to why). I include only the first three of Geneen Roth's books because I think these were the best ones.

Click the book cover or the "Purchase" link to purchase the book through

Non-diet approach to achieving and maintaining a normal weight...
Normal Eating for Normal Weight, the book featured on this site, also can be purchased through and Those from Down Under can order the book from Fishpond in Australia or New Zealand. It's in many other online bookstores, as well. If you already have read this book, please post a review! You can view the Table of Contents and read sample chapters on this site.

Mindful Eating does an excellent job of exploring all aspects of the eating experience, both emotional and physical. The book also is filled with interesting information about the experience of eating on a physiological level (the author is a physician and Zen teacher). My one quibble is with her assertion that mindfulness is the answer to all eating problems. In the recovery method I teach, Normal Eating, mindfulness corresponds to Stage 2, "Reconnecting". But then there are two more stages after that. With that one caveat, I highly recommend this book.

Intuitive Eating is a good basic text on attuned eating - losing weight by eating according to body wisdom - explaining what it is and why it works.

Feeding the Hungry Heart: The Experience of Compulsive Eating was Geneen Roth's first book. In it she asks women to describe their compulsive eating and how they feel in the grip of it. Her compassionate treatment of a taboo topic that was traditionally shrouded in shame was a first of its kind, and can help others with the problem feel more compassionate towards themselves.

Breaking Free from Emotional Eating (originally titled Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating), was Geneen Roth's second book, and offers much good advice on how to think about and approach your eating so as to minimize emotional eating episodes. She emphasizes conscious eating and a compassionate, non-judgmental attitude towards yourself. What's missing are effective tools for dealing with the underlying emotional triggers. Read more on Geneen Roth's method.

When Food Is Love: Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy is Geneen Roth's third book. It explores the symbolic association between food and love, and why people who didn't (or don't) receive enough love in their lives often turn to food instead.

The Zen of Eating: Ancient Answers to Modern Weight Problems shows how Buddhist principles can be used to explain and resolve the problem of emotional overeating. The author has a deep understanding of Buddhism. Even those without eating problems will appreciate its practical elucidation of Buddhist principles, using the example of emotional eating.

The best part of Diets Don't Work: Stop Dieting, Become Naturally Thin, Live a Diet-Free Life is the first chapter, where the author describes an experiment he conducted at his chain of gyms that convincingly demonstrated that diets make normal people crazy and cause everyone to gain weight. The anecdote is told with humor and is definitely worth reading. The rest of the book is less useful - just a bunch of writing exercises. As I explained in my discussion of Geneen Roth's method, post-facto writing is not an effective vehicle for change.

The Seven Secrets of Slim People is a very fast read - not many words per page. Everything it says is correct, but there's nothing on how to deal with the emotional issues that prompt non-hunger eating. It tells you what to do, but not how to do it.

Overcoming Overeating offers some useful insights, but can be enabling and destructive. It overemphasizes "legalizing" formerly forbidden foods, and underemphasizes the development of internal controls that naturally limit what we eat. The result is that people often gain weight without end. Read more on Overcoming Overeating.

The Tao of Eating: Feeding Your Soul Through Everyday Experiences With Food discourages turning attuned eating into the "eat when hungry" diet by recommending that food choices balance the needs of body, mind, and soul - for example, choosing a food you ate as a child because it evokes memories of comfort. However, the book does not clearly distinguish between this and using food addictively, as an emotional crutch. Nor does it clarify that the vast majority of food choices - 90% - should be based on the needs of the body since that's the primary purpose of eating. The over-emphasis on non-fuel uses of food is dangerous because it can be used to justify all manner of emotional eating.

Cultural pressure on women to be unnaturally thin...
Fat is a Feminist Issue was the first non-diet book ever published (the first edition came out in the 1970's), and it paved the way for all the others. It's especially useful for its insights into how fat serves us as women in this society. The book's numerous directed fantasies can help uncover the personal meaning of food and fat in an individual's life.

The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness is an insightful exploration of society's demand that women be thin - what's behind it, and the devastating impact it has on women..

The Beauty Myth is a thorough and detailed examination of how cultural pressure on women to look a certain way disempowers them and spawns eating disorders.

Losing It: False Hopes and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry is a must-read book that documents the history of the diet industry, and when/why/how female slimness became the cultural mandate. It wasn't always!

Coping with life problems that people tend to eat over...
Coming Apart: Why relationships end, and how to live through the ending of yours is the wisest and most clear-eyed description of what relationships are really about that I've ever read. Relationship endings are always painful, but this book helps you to make sense of what happened and why, and this makes the pain so much easier to bear. Kingma has a profound understanding of human nature and relationships, and beautifully explains why endings are not failures, but turning points.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay : A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship offers a uniquely insightful approach to making this hard decision. Trying to weigh the good against the bad doesn't work very well, so instead you're asked a series of questions that reveal whether the problems in your relationship are truly showstopping or fixable. The questions reflect the author's deep understanding of relationships. Very wise book.

When Smart People Fail: Rebuilding Yourself for Success is about the experience of job loss - or worse, career loss. It explains why failure hurts so much, and how how to turn the experience into a learning opportunity that leads to even greater success and happiness. This is a very special book filled with profound insights, practical suggestions, and real-life examples. Highly recommended.

Nutrition (for people at Stage 4 of Normal Eating)...
The Protein Power Life Plan was written by two MDs who are married to each other, and specialize in helping people to lose weight through excellent nutrition. This book has one of the best summaries of what makes for good nutrition that I've seen. It also talks about the other health effects (besides obesity) of eating of different foods. It's a great book. If you only want to read one book on nutrition, read this one. There are other books by these authors, but this is the one that has the great section on nutrition.

The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Weight Loss, Health, and Aging was writting by an doctor - and endocrinologist - whose practice focuses heavily on helping people to lose weight. She's Suzanne Somers' doctor. The book is an excellent source of information about nutrition, and explains very clearly why many widely held ideas are simply wrong - in particular, the erroneous belief that dietary fat is bad for you or causes you to gain weight. In fact, dietary fat is essential for health. Only damaged fats are bad for you.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats is a gigantic cookbook (about the size of the NYC telephone directory) filled with excellent, meticulously researched information about nutrition, and interesting anecdotes about food history. The recipes show how to cook in a way that's both delicious and healthy.

NeanderThin: Eat Like a Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body was written by a computer programmer with numerous, debilitating autoimmune diseases that conventional medicine could not cure. He did some investigating on his own, and discovered a mass of research strongly suggesting that obesity and autoimmune disease is caused by changes in the human diet that occurred at the end of the paleolithic age 10,000 years ago, when humans shifted from 2 million years of hunting and gathering to farming. He switched to a paleolithic diet and all his autoimmune diseases went away. Click here for a brief overview of paleolithic nutrition.