Three years ago when I embarked on a journey to recover from an eating disorder, I found myself drawn to reading many books for disordered eating. Perhaps for a sense of understanding of a disease that had taken some of the best years of my life from me, or maybe it was to seek help and advice from someone who could understand my suffering. As someone who lived with anorexia, binge eating and orthorexia for almost 12 years, with each different disorder occurring according to whatever was happening in my life at the time that created internal stress, I felt like a complete mess on the inside and out. After reading certain books for disordered eating, I found that not only did I feel hopeful, but I also felt understood. If you’ve ever suffered any form of disordered eating, or know someone who has, I recommend these amazing books for disordered eating, which ultimately led me to a road towards a full recovery and the peaceful life I always hoped for myself.
1. Unbearable Lightness
This beautiful, poignant biography by Portia De Rossi was the first of many books for disordered eating that I read, yet it was the one book I credit towards giving me the initial courage to recover. Portia’s story is quite honestly amazing, and every word she said regarding her disorder struck a strong, resonated chord with me that I can’t explain. As I read her words, it was as if someone was reading inside my mind about the struggles with anorexia and binge eating I lived with. Most people don’t believe those two disorders can occur together, but one usually occurs because of the other, creating a vicious cycle. Portia's journey and full recovery inspired me so much that I read this book over 5 times during the three years of my recovery process.
2. Made to Crave
Part of me hated myself so much because of the obsession I had with food. It made me feel dirty, weird and “fat” inside. After reading Made to Crave, a book about learning why we crave foods and how to overcome the need to satisfy emotions with food, I honestly felt so understood and peaceful. This book is more spiritual than others, but it was one of the most effective books I read on helping me feel understood and making active changes in my life. I also felt like I could better grasp why food had such a hold on me. It ultimately was filling a void in my life when I had no direction, and wasn’t doing anything I was passionate about, such as writing. My life had no meaning, no excitement, and food was the only thing that did that for me for a certain amount of years. This book can help you understand what parts of you feel the need to obsess over food. I highly recommend it!
3. The Mood Cure
During one of my first encounters with a counselor, she recommended I read this book. I was at first turned off by the name. It sounded so strange to me, but I was desperate to heal, so I picked up the book and could not put it down. This is a book by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Julia Ross, who explores not only the minds of eating disorder victims, but also the minds of those with high anxiety, which I struggled with for years. Ross is brilliant in her book, which shows readers that many of the problems they are having, whether it be an eating disorder, an anxiety disorder, or obsessive compulsive disorder, are due to certain chemical and hormonal imbalances. She shows how to correct the imbalances with certain foods and supplements that I can honestly say worked miracles for me. I still read this book from time to time for inspiration.
4. The Diet Cure
Another book by Dr. Julia Ross, The Diet Cure chronicles Ross’s experiences in dealing with eating disorder patients and chronic dieters. She gives examples of patients she had who had various eating disorders and struggles, and she then tells how to correct imbalances depending on the disorder. For instance, in certain victims with bulimia, Ross explores root causes, chemical imbalances, and certain health concerns that bulimic women and young girls face, and she tells how to correct the obsession with dieting and heal the mind of a disordered eater to end the dieting cycle. This book was a great tool for finding what foods worked best for me to nourish my mind to prevent chemical imbalances that led me to disordered eating.
5. Goodbye ED, Hello Me
This book by Jenni Schafer is quite possibly one of the most popular books for those recovering from an eating disorder and was a wonderful addition to the library of books I was recommended to read on my road to recovery. This book tells the journey of a young woman’s road to recovery and how she learned to rid her life of the voice of ED, which stands for eating disorder. This book is great because it shows how the voice of an eating disorder can be so strong, it is as if we are listening to a person, which is just an inner voice. It rules everything you do, say, eat, feel, etc., and once you learn to say goodbye to ED, your eating disorder, it is then you find your true self, who you haven’t really even known for so long. This book’s perspective is really great for those who aren’t aware of how their eating disorder is ruling their life and how they are living like a slave to it.
6. Breaking Free from Emotional Eating
Geneen Roth is one of the most brilliant authors and experts on disordered eating, in my opinion. Roth’s words are so striking and really hit home with women from all backgrounds, disorders, and experiences. Roth has a powerful way of telling her stories with various eating disorders and struggles and how she overcame them. This book is phenomenal at helping someone make changes in their disorder and I usually reread this book once a year to keep me accountable on my road to recovery.
7. Lost and Found
This book is another fantastic book by Geneen Roth, who explores how much of a person’s emotions, finances and health can be spent on food, obsessions with food, and restrictions around food. She also explores how to overcome this vicious cycle and end the obsessions within. During the last few years of my eating disorder, it began affecting me in ways I didn’t even foresee possible, and even threatened my relationships with my family. I can honestly say this book helped me see how the choices I had made had affected me and how to actively make changes to reverse the cycle.
There are tons of amazing books out there for disordered eating and these are in no way the only books that may be helpful, but they are ones that made a tremendous impact on my life. Many days when I felt no one understood my thoughts behind my disorder, I found understanding and comfort behind each author’s words. If you’ve ever had an eating disorder, are there any books you recommend to others?