Fun fact about me. I think a LOT.
Especially when it comes to the journey to better health. I think about what made me get obesity in the first place, what events in my life formed my attitudes around food and eating, what I think about my body, why sometimes it’s very easy to control what I eat while at other times it’s very hard.
I just think a LOT!
And I also love to read books that present different perspectives about weight and eating. Now, some of what I read, I disagree with very strongly. But that’s ok because it’s good to consider opinions that differ from your own. But every once in a while I come across a book that rocks my world. Changes my thinking. Or, more significantly, changes my behavior.
In fact, these books were so thought-provoking that I’ve read them more than once (or twice…or three times) and, after finishing each reading, I thought, “this should be required reading for everyone who starts a weight loss journey!
So I thought I’d share with you a few of those books and how they affected me, in case they could be helpful for you. A note, though. I use affiliate links for these books. That means if you click on the links and order the books through Amazon, Bariatric Foodie gets a small commission, which very much helps keep the lights on! The feds say I have to tell you that so…now you know!
Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break the Eat, Repent, Repeat Cycle
This book is good for: Anyone looking to understand why they eat but especially those who struggle with compulsive eating and binge-eating.
I first encountered Dr. Michelle May at Obesity Action Coalition’s “Your Weight Matters” Convention. (Don’t ask me which one. I’ve been to so many they are starting to run together in my mind!)
And from the moment she started talking, I could tell she was going to change my life. Interestingly enough, I also signed up for a “Lunch with the Experts” that she was hosting at the convention so I got to speak to her in person and, at her table at the exhibitor booth, I took her up on a fantastic deal to buy every single book she’d published up to that point. Why?
In her book, Dr. May introduces a concept called the “Mindful Eating Cycle,” which is a way of eating that considers why you are eating, what’s tells you it’s time to eat, how you feel after you eat and what you do with the energy you ate. She outlines several different eating cycles: instinctive, over-eating, and restrictive eating. Depending on the cycle you are operating in, different things may prompt you to eat, select certain foods, and determine when to stop eating. Understanding these three cycles was really helpful to me in forming strategies to break the cycle of poor eating habits.
From there, Dr. May lays out a few really practical strategies for how to deal with hunger (or the urge to eat) on a day-to-day basis, including the Hunger-Fullness Scale (that helps you assess how hungry you are before you begin eating AND how satisfied or full you are after you eat) and the Mind-Body-Heart Scan, which is a tool designed to help you ascertain whether your hunger is, indeed, physical.
Now, the foundational book was not written expressly with post-ops in mind, but I’d encourage anyone who struggles with overeating to read it anyway. She also has a companion workbook for bariatric patients as well as a book for diabetics and compulsive eaters. So she covers the gamut of people who struggle with food, with the goal of helping you be more mindful about your eating choices.
Women, Food and God
This book is good for: Anyone, but especially women who identify as emotional eaters.
So we all know that our feelings affect our eating. But few of us really know how to approach fixing that broken relationship. Like how do you do it? Do you say incantations? Get hypnosis? Go to therapy? What do you do???
This book is not a new book, but it’s a good one. In it, Geneen Roth explores our emotional connections to food and challenges us to question ourselves about why food has taken such a central role in our lives.
I have to admit, the first time I read this book, I had a few moments of discomfort. There is a whole section in the book where Roth asks you to consider where, in your body, you feel hunger, and what adjectives you would assign to it. I thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard…until I tried it.
It turns out that by practicing this simple habit (asking myself where I feel my hunger right now) I was able to more clearly see when my hunger was not physical. And by assigning adjectives to it, I was better able to trace my desire to eat back to its source.
Through this book, for example, I learned that I don’t eat in reaction to emotional distress (rather, I do the opposite and stop eating), but I do tend to overeat when I’m bored or feeling unfulfilled. But Roth doesn’t just stop at the point of identification. Through examples from her expert women’s retreats, I began to break down where those feelings came from and how they got to be second-nature for me.
At the end of the day, I’ve figured out a lot about myself from reading this book. (And I’ve read it several times.) If you struggle with the emotional side of eating, I highly suggest you pick this one up and give it a read.
The Obesity Code
This book is good for: anyone, but especially those who who have experienced weight regain or those who feel shame about the fact that they have obesity in the first place.
This is a more recent find. I started reading this book as I considered doing intermittent fasting. He seemed to be THE guru that everyone quoted.
I should say that I am inherently distrustful of gurus but I figured that if I was going to give this way of eating a try, I should do my research.
I was blown away by what I read.
First off, Dr. Fung is not an obesity doctor. In fact, he’s a nephrologist (a doctor who deals with the kidneys). He became interested in obesity when he saw that most of his patients presented with renal disease after having suffered diabetes. Further, he noticed that when he would prescribe them insulin, it often resulted in weight gain. So he began to study obesity and this book is very much a culmination of all he’s learned.
With the precision only a lover of science could execute, Dr. Fung lays out a compelling argument for why the “calories in/calories out” view of obesity is false. I won’t give too much away here, but I will say that if you are rolling your eyes right now, know that Dr. Fung cites his sources! He draws from tons of studies you can look up yourself (and I did, in fact, look many of them up) and he puts it all in very logical order.
From there, he lays out what he believes all this science tells us is the real cause of obesity and how he believes we should address it.
I have to admit that a lot of what Dr. Fung says makes sense to me because it’s stuff I’ve been saying for years! To have actual science behind my opinions is really trippy.
Now, if you’re thinking “this will be about as fun as reading tax code,” rest assured. The book is laid out in language that anyone can understand and Dr. Fung actually has a lot of personality. Whether you ultimately agree with his views or not, this book will help you understand, in detail, how the body responds to food, eating, overeating, undereating and a bunch of other different factors that affect weight.