The 3 best food addiction books

As someone with lived experience of food addiction from birth, AND a clinician in the field, let me share my top 3 food addiction reads.

It’s encouraging to see how much is written on food addiction now. The role of the contemporary food environment in obesity and mental ill health is being recognised and there’s a lot of research on food addiction. Key terms such as sugar addiction, carb addiction, and ultra-processed food addiction are commonly used everywhere. The challenge with so much information on the topic is what to read. Here are my three top recommendations. 

1. Food Junkies: Recovery from Food Addiction, 2nd edition (2019) by Dr Vera Tarman

    What I love about this book is that it’s suitable for a mixed audience of people who struggle with food addicting, overeating, binge eating, obesity, anorexia, and bulimia just as much as for medical, health and research professionals. Dr Tarman explains what food addiction is and the impact it has on the individual and society, giving scientific information as well as examples of people who she has seen struggle with the condition. But that’s not all. What makes this book unique is the author. Dr Tarman herself is a physician active in the field of addiction, and has lived experience of food addiction herself. Dr Tarman has co-created the Food Junkies podcast, as a living evolution of the book, with weekly guests from the fields of addiction, obesity, nutrition, science, psychotherapy to bring balanced and diverse perspectives to the topic. What’s more, Dr Tarman has set up the Facebook I’m Sweet Enough: Sugar Free for Life Support Group, an exponentially growing community of peers and professionals who are ditching the sugar to thrive.

    2. Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free (2017) by Dr Susan Peirce-Thompson 

      Dr Susan Peirce-Thompson is a genius! In this book, she introduces the concept of food addiction and its complex neuroscience in easily understandable terms. And there’s no better person to do this. She’s not only a self-identified food addict herself who has released a huge amount of weight; she’s also a neuroscientist and seasoned academic! In this book she gives practical tips on how people can break free from addictive eating by following her Bright Line Eating program, which is based on the tried and tested methods of 12-step peer groups such as Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. While Dr Pierce-Thompson's program is a weight loss program (and not everyone who has food addiction is overweight), it’s an excellent and accessible read with a lot of scientific backing and helpful recovery tips.

      3. Food Addiction, Obesity and Disorders of Overeating: An Evidence-Based Assessment and Clinical Guide (2021) by Claire E. Wilcox 

        Written by an expert of addiction psychiatry, this book is addressed to clinicians and researchers and written in a more academic style. It’s a seminal and hugely important publication! Why? Because it’s a comprehensive textbook that introduces the concept of food addiction as a model to understand some forms of overeating, and in some cases, undereating. It takes a balanced look at the evidence base of food addiction as a concept and whether or not it’s a valid clinical construct given that there are already so many diagnoses in the wider field of eating disorders. By looking at food addiction, obesity and eating disorders as separate yet overlapping areas, this book gives the clinician an appreciation of the nuanced presentations of people struggling with food, eating and weight we see in our clinics. Backed by the scientific evidence to date, it makes interesting conclusions about treatment implications. Above all, this book signifies for me that a) food addiction is becoming a respected concept in the field of science (which will ultimately lead to more research and better treatment options) and b) there is a need to for clinicians and researchers in the fields of food addiction, eating disorders and obesity to collaborate much more than we currently do, and be open to different perspectives to serve our clients better.

        I hope that you find these reading tips helpful. If you’re interested in learning more about food addiction or are seeking one on one or group support for food addiction recovery for yourself or others, feel free to contact me.

        Categories: Eating Disorders, Food Addiction, Sugar addiction

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