Secrets From the Eating Lab

The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again

Traci Mann

Product Details


A provocative expose of the dieting industry from one of the nation’s leading researchers in self-control and the psychology of weight loss that offers proven strategies for sustainable weight loss.

From her office in the University of Minnesota’s Health and Eating Lab, professor Traci Mann researches self-control and dieting. And what she has discovered is groundbreaking. Not only do diets not work; they often result in weight gain. Americans are losing the battle of the bulge because our bodies and brains are not hardwired to resist food—the very idea of it works against our biological imperative to survive.

In Secrets From the Eating Lab, Mann challenges assumptions—including those that make up the very foundation of the weight loss industry—about how diets work and why they fail. The result of more than two decades of research, it offers cutting-edge science and exciting new insights into the American obesity epidemic and our relationship with eating and food.

Secrets From the Eating Lab also gives readers the practical tools they need to actually lose weight and get healthy. Mann argues that the idea of willpower is a myth—we shouldn’t waste time and money trying to combat our natural tendencies. Instead, she offers 12 simple, effective strategies that take advantage of human nature instead of fighting it—from changing the size of your plates to socializing with people with healthy habits, removing “healthy” labels that send negative messages to redefining comfort food.


Traci Mann

Traci Mann
Photograph by Lisa Miller

Traci Mann, Ph.D. , is professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota and is an expert on the psychology of eating, dieting, and self-control. She was a tenured professor at UCLA before moving to the University of Minnesota, where she founded the Health and Eating Lab. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA). She lives with her husband, University of Minnesota professor of psychology Stephen Engel, and their two sons in Edina, Minnesota.


Secrets From the Eating Lab exposes the flawed logic and faulty science upon which the diet industry is founded. It’s time we all look at the facts: diets are ineffective. Traci Mann’s innovative research reveals a better, more effective path to sustainable weight loss.” Jonathan Bailor, New York Times bestselling author of The Calorie Myth

Secrets From the Eating Lab offers a behind-the-scenes look into one of the most ingenious and creative labs in the country. In her clever book, Mann provides key insights and practical lessons that will make you think about-and then change-the way you eat.” Brian Wansink PhD, author of Mindless Eating and Slim by Design

“In a seemingly endless parade of ‘new’ fad diets, we are in great need of Dr. Traci Mann, an open-minded iconoclast who exposes the diet mega-industry’s hype-filled promises with watertight research and fascinating studies.” Kate Christensen, author of Blue Plate Special and Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award

“Mann - who has been on a diet only once, for just two weeks, and who loves ice cream, especially rocky road - does not suggest that we give up altogether. She offers some research-based ways to change unhealthful eating habits and get to that leanest livable weight.” Los Angeles Times

“While it’s scientifically undeniable that diets don’t work, there is also good news...In Secrets From the Eating Lab, Traci Mann offers a realistic alternative, providing a scientifically-supported path to achieving health and fitness goals while debunking the many myths surrounding this complex and emotionally charged topic.” Paul Campos, Professor, University of Colorado, and author of The Obesity Myth