Twelve Books to Read in Eating Disorder Recovery

I’ve read a lot of books about eating disorders over the last 15 years or so, some of which have been helpful and some not so much.

There are a lot of books out there on this topic, and unfortunately a lot of them can be triggering and glamourise the illness, as well as inadvertently giving ‘tips’ along the way. In my recovery this time around, I made sure to choose books that I thought would benefit me, and I thought it might be helpful to collate these in case they help some of you too.

The Eating Disorder Recovery Journal – Cara Lisette
I am obviously going to use this opportunity to share my book as a resource, but it has been genuinely received very well and people have fed back that it’s been really helpful. It’s an interactive journal designed to help people to get to know themselves and their eating disorder better, with the aim of then being able to use the exercises inside to challenge it and make positive forward steps in recovery.

Rehabilitate, Rewire, Recover – Tabitha Farrar
I honestly think this book has changed my life. It is the best book about practical anorexia recovery that I have ever read, and I cannot recommend it enough. It is not really transferable to other eating disorders but for anyone with a restrictive eating disorder, I guarantee you this book will make you think about recovery and how you can achieve it. Tabitha writes about her own experiences of recovery and ultimately the book is about how to take responsibility for yourself and your own recovery journey, along with lots of tips on how to do this. It is a pretty big book but is very easy to read and well worth the price.

Hope Through Recovery – Hope Virgo
This book is a collection of lots of different case studies (including me!), and explores lots of different topics from onset of symptoms to relapse prevention. Having such a wide range of experiences makes it a really rich resource that I think will be helpful for people with eating disorders, carers and professionals.

MANTRA Workbook (A Cognitive Interpersonal Therapy Workbook for Treating Anorexia Nervosa: The Maudsley Model) – Ulrike Schmidt, Helen Startup, Janet Treasure
Again, this book is anorexia specific. MANTRA (The Maudsley Model for Anorexia Nervosa TReatment for Adults) is a new-ish treatment for – as the name suggests – adults with anorexia. The treatment is delivered by a therapist and is accompanied by a workbook. However, you can also purchase the workbook yourself and go through it at home. While I was in day patient, before I started CBT-E again, I started working my way through this book. It’s really useful and helps you to think a lot about the factors that lead to and maintain anorexia.

Inside My ED – Zoe Burnett
Zoe’s book explores her experiences with atypical anorexia, something that deserves a lot more coverage and discussion than it gets. It includes the experiences of others around her, as well as practical tips for helping somebody with this diagnosis.

The Reading Cure – Laura Freeman
A couple of years ago Laura approached me on Twitter and offered a copy of her book to me which was such a lovely gesture, and after reading it I can’t recommend it enough. It’s very different to a lot of books I have read about anorexia before, in that Laura documents her recovery through her love of literature, and how reading about and absorbing different foods through books motivated her to recover so she could experience the joys that the characters she was reading about were getting through eating. It’s beautifully written and completely captivating.

The Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook – Nicola Davies and Emma Bacon
Again, a really practical book with lots of activities, however this book is not specific to anorexia and has sections and tasks relevant to all eating disorders so I think there is probably something in here that could help everyone.

Body Positive Power – Megan Jayne Crabbe
Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda on socials) is a big advocate for body positivity. She struggled with eating disorders and compulsive dieting for most of her life and the book is all about how she learnt to accept herself whilst dismantling diet culture.

Just Eat It – Laura Thomas
Laura writes all about intuitive eating in this book, and it was really helpful for me to get my head around how I can listen to my body, and why it’s okay to do that.

You Are Not a Before Picture – Alex Light
This book is wonderful. It’s a really deep dive into diet culture and body image, and the relationship those two things have to one another. I found it an excellent resource with regards to feeling more at peace with my body, not only what it looks like but what it needs to be healthy.

Living with Your Body, and Other Things You Hate – Emily Sandos
This book is all about making peace with your body. It also has accompanying audio exercises that you can access online, and writing prompts throughout. It was recommended to me by my therapist and I really found it helpful.

Skills Based Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder – Janet Treasure
This is a must have resources for any carers or family members out there. It’s full of tips to help you to support somebody you care about who is experiencing an eating disorder, in order to help them and to help yourself. Janet Treasure is an eating disorder expert and has contributed to and developed many amazing resources over the years.

What books would you add to this list?

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