eating disorder

Must Read Books When You Are Recovering From Eating Disorder

I’m not the reader of the family. My brother is the one who reads 800-page novels as fast as I eat a plate of nachos. But when I got serious about recovering from anorexia and orthorexia, I knew I was in serious need of some helping words. You don’t have to be a book worm to benefit from other people’s experiences, lessons, and advice. And knowing you share this experience and this battle with someone else out there. It’s an encouraging and comforting feeling to know that you are not alone in this struggle.

What is Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are characterised by problematic and pervasive habits and behaviours in relation to food, body image and weight. They can be complex and severe and usually affect all different spheres of life of the individual who suffers from them.

The behaviour is considered ‘abnormal’ because it is different from normal eating practices, but more importantly because it has a negative impact on the physical and mental health of the individual. Eating disorders affect many more women than men, and often begin in adolescence or early adulthood.

Types of Eating Disorder

The main eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. However, there are several other types of eating disorders, and different variations of the same disorder are possible. More than one disorder may be present at the same time and the nature of the disorder may change over time.


A person with anorexia may refuse to maintain a normal weight (for their body) by limiting the amount of food they eat or by exercising much more than usual. Regardless of her actual weight, she may feel fat. She may think about her weight often and use it to assess her self-esteem.

Restricting food intake can have an effect on a person’s whole body. Anorexia can cause heart and liver problems, low iron levels in the blood, loss of bone mass, digestive problems, slowed heart rate, low blood pressure and fertility problems in women. Up to 10% of people with anorexia die from health problems or suicide.


Bulimia is characterised by the occurrence of binge eating or overeating episodes during which the person ingests huge quantities of food without being able to stop. This is followed by purging (to eliminate food, e.g. by vomiting or using laxatives). Regardless of their actual weight, people with bulimia may feel fat. They may also think about their body weight often and use it to assess their self-esteem.

Health problems caused by bulimia include liver problems, dehydration and digestive problems. Vomiting often damages the teeth, mouth and throat.

Binge eating

Binge eating involves episodes of overeating. People with binge eating may feel that they have no control over the amount of food they eat and experience distress, discouragement and guilt after an episode of binge eating or compulsive eating. Many people try to hide their compulsive eating. Binge eating can be a way of coping or finding comfort and it sometimes occurs after dieting. Some people may fast (not eat for a period of time) or diet after episodes of compulsive eating.

Binge eating may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or weight concerns.

Read also: Everything You Need To Know About Intuitive Eating

The 5 Best Eating Disorder Recovery Books

You may be surprised that not all of these books explicitly deal with eating disorder content nor are they your typical “self help” books. But each is warm, encouraging, comforting, and brilliant in its own way.

1. Intuitive Eating

If you’ve ever emailed me looking for some advice or guidance regarding hunger cues, fear foods, social eating, or pretty much anything – chances are I told you to go buy this book. It’s the very first thing I read when I needed to put on weight and one of the things that I loved about it (one of the many) is the emphasis on finding the healthy weight for you. For you. It won’t look like everyone else’s, but this book will help you discover and become comfortable at your healthy weight and show you that it is possible to maintain it after years of restriction. Intuitive Eating helped taught me to trust my body again, and it’s where I suggest everybody begin!

2. Fat

This is the one I warned you was not your typical ED self help book. In fact, it’s not about eating disorders at all. It is about how our society has formed an unhealthy relationship with the idea of fat. What I loved about this book is it challenged my one dimensional view of fat as a horrible, ugly thing. You’ll learn about fat’s religious connotations, its cultural significance in parts of the world, and even its role in the porn industry. Fat is truly a complex concept and for me, that helped me reshape how I viewed it on my body. It’s definitely the most mind boggling and “cool” of today’s selections!

3. Body Peace

The awesome thing about Body Peace is how interactive it is. Throughout the book you get to journal different memories and experiences, and discover new self affirmations. I’m so very into the whole “shooting yourself positive vibes” concept so if you’re into talking to yourself, and even if you’re not this will be an eye opening experience for you. This book got me in the habit of beginning each day with a goal geared towards self love, and even just writing it out helped it become a reality.

4. Life Without ED

I have the most vivid image of myself sitting on the porch at night, a cup of tea, and this book. And I’m not the porch-sitting-tea-drinking type, but this book makes you crave solidarity. It makes you want to be alone with the main character, and then alone with yourself. It makes you want to re-evaluate your life and most importantly, not miss out on any more of it due to an eating disorder.

5. It Was Me All Along

This one broke my heart at times. It takes you through one girl’s journey into disordered eating habits and shows you how she found food freedom, balance, and peace. With a similar tone to Intuitive Eating, I found It Was Me All Along incredibly personal, charismatic, and refreshing. You’ll be reminded that you’re never alone in this fight, and that what you’ve been through is not your fault. You can grow through it.

6. Health At Every Size

Health at Every Size is a weight-neutral way to approach health. It encourages healthy behaviors such as intuitive eating, body movement, and self-acceptance, without focusing on weight loss. You will also find scientific research on the book approach to health outcomes vs. the traditional diet approach and the results that show this book offers a better long-term solution for health improvement than any other weight loss program.

7. Overcoming Binge Eating

This is the best book for people struggling with binge eating. The book contains both a psycho-education and structured self-help components that have been proven to be extremely effective. The book is easy to follow and the self-help steps are supported by solid evidence.

I have each of these authors to thank for helping me beat my eating disorder, and discover a passion for inspiring self love in others.